Rendered Fat Content


John Singer Sargent:
Entrance of Blue Grotto, Capri (May 21 1869)

"Wider recognition only spoils the intention."

The Muse and I have been trying out new routes between our heres and theres. Most prominent at the moment, a route through Washtucna, a town of little note and far less substance. Access comes via two lane blacktop, up through the very least densely populated portion of our county and into an even more lonely stretch in an adjacent one. The road twists unconscionably, which makes for slow going. Yet we've taken to making our way up the Road To Washtucna wherever we head West, toward Seattle. Faster ways exist, though none shorter. This route features no semi-trucks, the bane of every traveler's adventures. It's a backdoor route, one not obvious to first-time tourists and uninteresting to those who equate freeway driving with freedom. We can toodle our way away and back again without any fear of anyone spotting us getting away or returning. We're Backdooring.

The older I get, the less interested I seem to be with status and notoriety.
I once felt I deserved that first class seat and to enter through the grand front entrance. Now, I much prefer entering via the service entrance out back, through a gaggle of idling smokers, the center of the underground universe. The front door projects airs. It tries to show its very best profile. Entering on the Road From Washtucna takes us right past the prison and on past an eyesore junkyard or two. There's no mistaking this town, recently named the number one wine tourist destination by Conté Nast publications, for anything other than at root a regular place when Backdooring our way back into it.

The alternate route, the front door, if you will, seems by comparison dangerous, for it's loaded with people who always seem to be in a big hurry to get where they're going. Somebody's forever finding another compelling reason to pass on a blind curve or over a bridge, and I spend my time there tangled up in defensive postures, suspicious of every other vehicle's motives. I become more than distrustful, but paranoid. Who can enjoy a toodle when tail-gated around every corner? Who can even breathe when treated like an unwanted barrier to forward progress? The Road To Washtucna and back posts a fifty miles per hour speed limit, but doesn't always offer the topography necessary to make achieving that possible. It's slow but steady going without the expectation that I should even be trying to maintain seventy on a surface finished to support about forty-five. I can drive confident that I"ll most likely arrive alive. Not so along the so-called front door routes in and out.

Few sensations beat the sense that I'm getting away with something. Backdooring delivers that sense in spades. Yesterday, The Muse found a route that kept us on county roads for more than an hour, roads which almost nobody else seemed to think worth their while, judging by the absence of other vehicles. An occasional farm pick-up would overtake then pass us with no sense that they were competing with or trying to beat us. We were free to toodle at whatever speed we chose, making steady progress, absolutely anonymous. We will continue to seek out the roads less travelled. I will not often disclose the routes we've chosen. I'm careful to turn off the navigation app on my phone lest it learn about and broadly advertise our Backdooring passages. If everyone understood how to get from here to there via the backdoor route, there'd no longer be a point to ever trying to get there that way. Wider recognition only spoils the intention.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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