Driving Across America in a Van Full of Videotapes

In terms of literal size, the United States is about a fifth as big again as Australia. Driving across the country, though, the US feels substantially smaller. Even driving through the least densely-populated states in the lower 48—Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas both North and South—it’s impossible to drive for a few hours in any given direction without finding yourself suddenly nestled within the bosom of a town. Australia is not like this. Australia is big and empty. The state I live in is about three times the size of Texas and has just one sixth the population—it’s not even the emptiest one. We fall just about in the middle, population density-wise.