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Reckless Driver

Last weekend I was a reckless driver.

I went the speed limit.

I was in Seattle, making my way down I-5 toward some kind of shopping that seemed important at the time, traveling, as I am prone to do, at the legal velocity.

Big mistake.

A black Escalade with one small woman inside rocketed by on the left. Startled, I checked the rear view mirror. The glare from the driver just inches behind me was like Superman's heat vision and the jockeying of cars behind her trying to get around looked like Daytona just before the big fiery crash.

It was immediately clear that obeying the law was one of the most dangerous things you could do on this roadway and I needed to accelerate or die. But when I punched the pedal on my dusty 2006 Forester all I got was an overworked tractor sound and another 2 mph.

Plan B? I could exit to the safety of the downtown snarl but that was two lanes away – lanes full of drivers who now wanted to see me perish. Then I remembered there were two of us in the car, which constituted "high occupancy" and made the carpool lane an available option.

Even bigger mistake.

The diamond lane, it turns out, apparently has no speed limit and moments later I was looking back at not one but three pair of angry eyes.

I thought I might be able to play the east side country bumpkin card and find kind souls who would let me out of the mess. The car was dusty enough and probably had a weed hanging from it somewhere. But that seemed dishonest, particularly since I learned to drive in Seattle. So I decided the dust and the weed and the ugly homemade cartop rack might signal that I didn't care about denting my car and went for an Aunt Iney move – changing lanes without waiting for an opening.

The next day, still a bit rattled from traveling Seattle's femoral artery, I looked forward to the trip home on the North Cascades Highway of Peace and Serenity. Climbing past Diablo Lake toward Ruby Creek I eased off the accelerator to enjoy the pace and the view. Somewhere in the snaky curves I checked the rearview.

The mirror was filled with the grill of a Dodge Ram 3500 pickup. As we rounded the next curve I could see it was carrying a camper and pulling a boat. Close behind the boat was a fuel efficient-looking sedan with a Thule box and bikes on the back. Behind them, six rumbling Harleys were weaving back and forth in a way that made them look like a turning DNA molecule. The line continued. I couldn't really see their eyes but it felt warmer in the car as they stared.

Eventually a wide spot without loose rock in it appeared and I dove off and waited, looking down the whole time.

From there I dutifully traveled the speed limit. By the time we reached Washington Pass we had been parade leaders at least six more times, forcing innocent happy vacationers to risk their lives trying to pass.

Apparently one of the most dangerous things you can do on a scenic highway is slow down to enjoy the scenery.

I wonder if there's any good shopping in Molson?