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Traveling Out West Going Back East

Traveling Back East —

Americans say, “Traveling out west,” to indicate that your direction of locomotion is westerly, and “Going back east,” to indicate travel in the opposite direction.

“Traveling out west, going back east.”

It is automatic to use these terms.

“I am from back east.”

“I was out west.”

Arizona, Southwest USA, North America
Early December, 2009
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This is how, historically, we have been raised to view the geographic lines of motion across our country. Traveling west means that you are going somewhere new, somewhere fresh, it means that you are taking a chance, staking it all on a pot shot, looking for adventure. Go back east means that you are going home. Boring old home, the boring old east.

The manifest destiny of modern dreams: the west is for living wild dreams, the east is for doing what you have to do. it is my impression that he people in the western fringes of the USA work less, have less money, smile more. The landscape is too beautiful to live otherwise.

Americans move out west to enjoy the moments of their lives. They stay back east to make money.

Or at least this is how I have grown accustom to viewing my homeland — perhaps because I am from the east.


Chaya was on the phone with her parents. She was telling them that we are getting ready to travel back east — northeast exactly, to New York.

“But we are traveling south,” she said, “no real surprise there.”

Chaya and I seldom travel a direct path to our destination. As we sit relatively close Interstate 40, the great east/ west thoroughfare of northern Arizona, we are traveling south — way south. We are going down to the Mexican border, south of Tucson.

To Palominas — wherever that is.

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Filed under: Archaeology, Language, Road Trip, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3165 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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