The drive is 33 minutes and 21 miles long from Camas, Washington to St. John’s, Oregon which I endure today to visit my long time friend Walt. Walt recently started a business there and I’ve promised to stop in so today is that day. Instead of takeing the direct route, Washington State Highway 14 to Interstate 5 into Portland, Oregon I drive the surface street SE Mill Plain Blvd west first through Camas and then Vancouver as a bank deposit is necessary and once complete I will enter the freeway system on Interstate 205 then onto Highway 14.
Driving and the drivers that drive fascinate me as they jockey for car positioning as if in a race. Pulling up to a stop light I get into the far right lane of two left turn lanes that spill onto SE Mill Plain Blvd a string of cars fall in place behind me and in the other turn lane. A few minutes go by then the traffic light goes green and the race is on! The driver of a new Honda Civic next to me accelerates from the light so fast the car’s front end lifts off the ground then cuts in front of me and into a strip mall entrance obviously in a hurry for caffeine or a sale at the Wal-Mart as others speed away in a hurry to go nowhere fast. But why, there is plenty time to make the light if behind me in the same lane?
Motoring down Mill Plain another Honda Civic, red with black tinted windows, pulls along side then accelerates past me eager to fill the spacious gap between himself and the next car in front. As I watch moments later the brake lights come on as the Honda has now caught up to slower traffic. How wasteful! What is it about motorists that have to race to the car in front them only to slow down, I don’t understand. Could it be a fast food mentality to get done quicker? Are they blind to the traffic ahead? With gas nearing $4.00 a gallon here in the Pacific Northwest, as well as other parts of the country and the world one would think people would be slowing down not going faster. Maybe some feel the fuel-efficient car/suv/truck they own will help in this department, eh? With the bank mission complete and back on Mill Plain cars in front of me form packs, like wolves on the hunt, each car within inches of the automobile in front of them and traveling AT LEAST 5 miles per hour over the speed limit if not faster. I prefer the sane approach driving right at the speed limit which traffic lights are timed for but my friends on the road seem to think that if one drives really fast to the next light they are making good time. Also those constant lane changers are an interesting lot do they think that if they bounce between lanes and avoid those pesky, speed limit driving drivers that lost time can be made up. More times than not I see these drivers at the next stop light brake lights aglow and as I, one of the speed limit driving drivers, approach ease off the gas pedal and coast through the now green light. Yeah! I greatly appreciate the assistance in saving wear and tear on the brakes and the expensive gas in the tank. It is kind of the like the children’s story about the rabbit and the hare, eh?
As I accelerate off of I-205 and merge onto Hwy 14 I ponder the question of speed limits, constant lane changes and wonder if because cars are engineered for such a smooth ride that 40 mph feels like 20 mph and the driver wants that rush of speed. Now if this the case the auto industry should take some blame for these driving habits and if one believes in conspiracies maybe the smooth ride of the modern car was done so more gas is used which means higher prices and more money and bonus for oil executives. The world may never know, eh?
A few minutes on Hwy 14 and I notice something very odd, everyone is driving the speed limit and not a police cruiser in sight, huh what gives? This is a nice surprise even the merge onto I-5 goes smooth which brings to thought how this more often than not doesn’t happen and how drivers intentional (so it seems) drive so close to each other not allowing merging space which slows traffic and it is like they are saying, “like h!@l you’re getting in front of me!” as if this will slow them down, race track mentality. I‘ve seen drivers that got cut in front of race past the car that cut and cut them off! What good is this? It may be upsetting to some but I am going to stick with driving the speed limit and leave the pack well in front of me so that way if something happens I have time to avoid it. Would it not be great to have the ability to beam someone and their car out of your way aka Star Trek, eh?
A little more than 33 minutes have passed when I arrive at Walt’s buisness as he is surprised to see me, I didn’t call ahead for this reason and I am glad to be off the road for now planning to take the “off the beaten path” roads back home to avoid rush hour traffic.