WRITTEN BY BEN DUNGAN / PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALEXANDRA LOVE
I was told the other day that I drive like an old man. Which may be true. However, the difference between me and an old man is that I choose to drive slow.
The old man drives slow because it’s the only speed he knows. After all, the older we get, the slower we become.
However, the slower we are, the more we actually see.
I’m just rarely in a hurry. I sound like my Dad. That sounds exactly like something he would say. So, maybe I am an old man. Or just slowly becoming my Old Man.
I just like to take it all in when I’m cruising down the road, especially when visiting new places.
I’m like a distant relative of the Duke Boys. Only I don’t live in Hazzard County. And I don’t drive fast. And I don’t climb in and out of my truck through the driver’s side window.
Maybe I’m more like Uncle Jesse. So, maybe I really am an old man.
But I do love to travel on the byroads, backroads and the two-lane highways. You can have your interstates and bypasses all day long.
I don’t hate them. They are necessary, especially if you are trying to make good time. There’s just more to see when you get off these 4-6 lane main roads.
That’s one thing I love about Gaston County. There is plenty to see. The sad thing, most never do – because they’re too busy driving down I-85 or US-74.
Our county has fifteen incorporated towns – ranging in various shapes and sizes. And they all have their own unique look and feel.
More and more, these unique special places are being chipped away at. Nature abhors a vacuum. So do developers. They’ve never met a new construction project they didn’t love.
Main Street is becoming endangered. It’s given way to “Brand Street” – where there’s a big box store on every block, surrounded by every restaurant chain known to man. Don’t forget the dueling drug stores at the intersection. You have to have those.
One look at Brand Street and you don’t even know where you are anymore. Gastonia looks like Hickory, looks like Lincolnton, looks like Shelby. Every city has a Brand Street. And they all look the same.
That’s why I take the backroads on my way to work each day. I travel from Dallas to Belmont, and stick to the two-lane roads for nearly the whole way there.
I pass through Stanley, Spencer Mountain, Lowell and McAdenville. I see opens fields and grazing cows. I see old churches and their clever church signs. I even see old dilapidated buildings and broken down vehicles.
Sure I-85 is a faster, straighter shot. But the traffic is unpredictable. My way is a sure bet. Unless I get stuck behind a tractor.
That just gives me an excuse to drive slower. And take in even more.
Photos courtesy of Alexandra Love of Love Gaston & Love Real Estate. See more of her work by visiting her online at www.LoveGaston.com.