I could have taken the usual route, I guess. I wouldn’t have had to think too much. The car could possibly have driven it on its own. It may have taken a bit longer but the roads would have been familiar and I knew they were of a safe standard.
I decided, though, to put on the GPS and take a back route. It was unfamiliar and different. I harboured a little nervousness but, with that, came excitement: new territory, new turns to negotiate, new towns to glimpse.
So, I jagged diagonally across Central and Western Victoria in defiance of the established road network radiating from Melbourne. I passed through hungry goldfields country, skirted the Grampians and traversed rich grazing lands. It was, in some ways, circuitous – many intersections, some counter-intuitive turns to the east or north, back roads between highways – but it was also direct – as close as you could get to the crow’s flight.
It was much more interesting than the usual route because of its novelty. It may have taken me to the same destination but the travel was lively and interesting – an exploration of previously un-traversed byways. Nothing was off the table – if a side road was suggested then I took it.
There wasn’t much traffic compared to the arterials heading back to the capital. Sometimes I travelled for significant periods without seeing another car. I felt like I was beating a new path that no one had travelled before. I was breaking new ground.
I arrived home, as designed, but was unusually uplifted by the journey. I’d seen new things, encountered new places and forged a new route. It wasn’t the comfortable way, or the easy way, or the normal way. It was better.