Today was a gloriously beautiful day here in Oregon. It was warm, but not hot, dry and sunny, and with a gentle breeze blowing through the trees. Such days simply must be enjoyed in some fashion, so even though I am not usually the sort of person who takes a pleasant and somewhat random drive in the country, I decided that such an occasion could not be missed, so I went a different way home, one I had never taken, relying on my knowledge of the area, my somewhat innate sense of direction, and a straightforward working assumption to only turn on large enough roads to have a stop sign or a stop light to avoid getting stuck in any cul-de-sacs. I had a few goals, some of them explicit and some of them implicit. Implicitly, it was too good of a day to waste sitting in traffic, and I wanted a drive through the countryside rather than seeking to travel through the busiest roads possible. Explicitly, I wanted to verify some of the maps I had seen that showed a way to get to Scholl’s Ferry west of Murray Blvd from the area of Hillsboro where I work, and never having taken that path, I wanted to verify that it could be done with a minimum of backtracking.
So, off I went. I took 185th Street south and continued past Farmington Road, to the point where it started to turn west, away from home. I then took the first major road going South, and then followed it as it meandered to 175th Street, and then took that up a very pleasant rural hillside route to Scholl’s Ferry, which I then took home, going through some road construction but not having to deal with a lot of traffic in my way. Despite the fact that it was a rural route of some extended territory (certainly not the most straightforward route), it only took me 35 minutes to get from the parking lot of my job to my parking spot in front of my condo. It also managed to verify that the route I had seen on maps could be taken indirectly, if not directly as I had previously attempted to do last week when I found a slightly less lovely and slightly more crowded route that was still somewhat pleasing.
Why would I do such a thing, if one has a variety of routes that are more direct? What is the point of seeking a deliberately indirect route and risking getting lost in somewhat unfamiliar countryside? There are a few reasons I can think of, and I could no doubt think of more if I chose to take the time to do so. For one, I like to deliberately travel away from the flow of traffic if it is reasonable and practical to do so. I simply don’t like doing what everyone else does or going where everyone else does. I must admit that there are times where this sort of native enjoyment of niches and gaps and empty spaces makes me somewhat difficult for other people to deal with, because I prefer to avoid areas that are too crowded by recognizing opportunities that others would neglect.
There is also another profound and deeply personal reason why I would prefer to drive on a quiet country road, and that has to do with the way in which I find gently rolling country and the sight of beautiful fields (with a nice flow of limited amounts of traffic) immensely calming and relaxing, and find it a pleasure to see such beautiful scenes close to the suburban areas that I call home. I was raised in the country, and even if I am someone for whom the country was unpleasant in terms of the mindset of many of my old neighbors, I have never appreciated being too crowded or being too far from the beauty of creation. So, when I have the chance to enjoy that beauty in such a way that is both efficient in time as well as pleasant and relaxing in the drive, it is an opportunity to be enjoyed, not only tonight, but in the future as well.