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Today's car-errand was getting gas, using a 50¢-per-gallon discount I'd earned because today was the last day I could use it (thanks, Kroger gas rewards!). So today gave me a good excuse to do more driving, to stay used to driving. Got up on some freeways: up I-205 to I-84 out to Troutdale before turning around and retracing. Weather was dry and traffic wasn't too nuts.

It's a route I took for a time back in 2004 when I temped out around Gresham: that year I spent some weeks working in two different food processing plants. I phased that out and looked for other work because it turned out to be a 30-mile round-trip drive from my then-apartment in Brooklyn. Bad idea when you're working not much above minimum wage. That fall I got my first hospital job, an easier and bus-friendly commute. That was a good idea.

It was also a good idea to brave I-84 around Troutdale and Gresham. It's a freeway stretch I started to dislike in the late Nineties, when I lived in Hermiston, Oregon and would visit Portland. On the nine miles from Troutdale to the 205/84 interchange, traffic picked up significantly, and so did — it seemed — bad driving. I'd get annoyed and nervous on that stretch. Eventually I started getting off the freeway at Troutdale and using surface roads to get through Portland. But avoidance only gets you so far. Vigilant driving gets you farther. And I did a little of it.

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