We all have traits, habits and idiosyncrasies that we picked up from our parents. Some of these are bothersome (embarrassing?) and we expend quite an effort to remove them from our personal repertoire. Others we fully embrace as a sort of family honor. One of these later traits I picked up from my mother.
Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska my mother always had a funny way of driving around town. She never seemed to take the fastest or most direct routes to places. We were always driving down residential streets when the faster thoroughfares paralleled us just a few blocks over. When I was old enough to realize this, I finally asked my mom why she wasn’t taking the more traditional route. She just said, “This way is much prettier and it gets us there just as fast.” Well, I doubt it got us there “just as fast” but it definitely was prettier. While throngs of cars clogged 72nd Street (the ultimate offender to my mother’s aesthetic standards), we would pick our way through tree-lined streets, past beautiful homes, parks and smaller commercial areas. As a child, I didn’t truly appreciate the “scenic route” but I’ve noticed that I have embraced it as an adult.
I started taking the scenic route in college when I would run errands in Lincoln, Nebraska. The habit then intensified once I moved to Seattle (why take I-5 to the airport when the Alaska Way Viaduct bisected downtown and the waterfront and led to the tree-lined 509?).
Now that I am in San Francisco, taking the scenic route is de rigor. Unless it is an absolute necessity I never take Highway 101. The 280 is far prettier when going up and down the Peninsula. I would much rather cut through the Presidio when traversing the north part of town and I try to take Skyline Boulevard and the Great Highway to the west whenever possible. Taking the scenic route probably isn’t faster, but it is better.