Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wide Open Spaces

Southwestern Utah
We've done the drive between Oregon and Colorado many, many times, and it always reminds me is how big and sparsely populated the United States really is. We have so much open space, especially in the western states.

Eastern Oregon
 I have made a number of observations on space, after living in Italy.

You expand to fill the space available to you.  You know when you first move from a small apartment into a house or larger apartment, and you wonder how you will fill the space? Then, after a few years, if you move again you realize that you have filled the space, without even thinking about it.

This is true for homes, and for countries too. I think this is why everything is bigger in the US - cars, roads, houses... We have the space, so we fill it. You don't have to conserve space, be efficient with it, if you have a lot of it. Cities spread out, people move to the country, the car becomes required to get anywhere. The spreading out, the using of space, gets perpetuated.

Our personal space, the "bubble" of space we want around our bodies, is much larger in the US than in Europe too. You really notice it when you need to ride an elevator in Italy.  A bit too close for American comfort.

Utah, near Colorado border
But for the proponents of denser housing and public transit, I have bad news. There is a lot of space left in the US. We are not even close to using up the space available to us. And until the space is at a premium and the prices go sky high, I don't think behaviors are going to change.

There's your thought to ponder for today! See you on Monday, back in Oregon, after 24 hours of driving through a lot of wide open space.


  1. Strange you should post this today. I was listening to the man who wrote The Horse Whisperer on the radio today and he was telling about the time he went to Montana when Robert Redford was making the film of the book. He talked eloquently and beautifully about the immensity of the space and the beauty of it and how he began to feel more comfortable with his own company in the vastness of nature which he never had before. I live in an overcrowded part of an overcrowded country and the thought of all those wonderful vistas is a compelling one!

  2. Beautiful! I love the photo of rock and flowers at the Utah and Colorado border. I miss wide open spaces sometimes. They help me re-set.

  3. hope you have a good trip back. i don't have much space living here in NYC! i dream of having more, but don't want to trade my urban lifestyle just yet.

  4. Those blue skies and the expanse are home to me even in Fargo. I get almost claustrophobic in big cities and even in crowds. They make me feel small and closed in. But having a lot of expanse doesn't necessarily make one wasteful or greedy. Look at all the centuries the American Indians lived here. The industrial age made people crazy for stuff. The suppliers of stuff became crazy for money. And there you go. ;)

  5. I'm always in awe at the beauty of our country! Your photos are all so stunning!! Beautiful colors!! I live in the suburbs of the largest city in Arkansas and it still amazes me how much room we have!! Acres of trees right in our city! Yes, we're gradually filling it up, but hopefully it will take a long, long time!! Great post!

  6. I find myself thinking about this topic a lot - I think it is because I was raised in one of those sparsely populated areas, but have now lived in places more densely populated. I love them both, but think we need to take care while we still have some places that are wide open because the world would be less amazing without them.

  7. we live in a condo, in a beautiful location (a few miles from the beach - on the coast of California, halfway between San Francisco & Los Angeles). We drive both directions to visit family + fly to Wash DC to visit a daughter & OH to visit husband's family. All nice places but I wouldn't want to MOVE! Personally, I think Americans are "too hungry" for more "stuff" & "bigger cars" & bigger houses" --- it upsets me to see a forgotten building (like where Circuit City did business) & its doors have been shuttered, yet, instead of new businesses moving into empty buildings, our City Council has approved the construction of a NEW building. URGGH... frustrating! I don't think we need to use up all the space!
    And don't get me started on transportation issues... I love using public transportation when we travel, yet I am so dependent on my car when I am home.
    Great topic!


What's your view of the world? I love to hear yours too!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.