Tag Archives: driving

A List of Things to Be Determined in the Near Future

26 Sep

1. Weather

I hear that snow, also referred to as “winter” in this region, may occur soon. How soon? Who knows?

2. Appropriate Footwear

Clothing is on my mind each time the weather changes — especially now that I live in a different climate. In California, I wore open shoes unless it was raining. Sandals, thong toed footwear (my toes being the only place thongs are allowed), clogs, and a variety of other open-backed shoes — these are what I wore in my daily life. I own one pair of athletic shoes (seldom worn before I moved) and one pair of rubber rain boots. I also own a nice pair of wooden-heeled leather boots which I acquired shortly before the move and which would almost certainly be ruined by inclement weather.

My current plan is to wear my sneakers every day, but I expect this will cause shoe odor rather quickly.

3. Ability to Drive Safely in Snow for Sustained Periods of Time

I am proud to report that my first real snow driving experience, which occurred in a nasty snowstorm in Wyoming during the trek to Nebraska at the tail end of last winter, was a success.

The snowfall was such that I was unable to see the road. I drive a white car, which also happens to be low to the ground. On the plus side, I (accompanied by a child) was driving behind a very tall rental truck driven by my husband (accompanied by another child), and I was — fortunately — able to see the top two feet of the back of the truck’s cargo area.  I followed the roof of the truck until the rest of the world eventually reappeared and my sanity was restored.

I exaggerate. I was sane while driving. In fact, remaining calm in stressful driving situations is one of my specialties. I will, however, admit to a case of nervousness in the above situation. If I had been unable to see the truck roof, I would have been altogether uncertain whether to continue, or to simply stop in the middle of the white oblivion and hope that people (wearing appropriate footwear) would say nice things about my son and me at our funerals.

Again, I exaggerate. I think I would have continued to drive very slowly into the white oblivion, hoping to stay on the road I couldn’t see. I shouldn’t joke about snowy burials because my husband reads my blog and he won’t think it is funny. He worries, you know.

4. What People With Appropriate Footwear Will Say at Our Funerals

Just kidding, Honey.

5. The Location of My Camera Cord

I’m sure it will turn up somewhere, and then I can post digital photos again. In blog posts, for example.

6. Many Other Aspects of My Life

Life is always “to be determined”.


Surprise! I Moved Halfway Across the Country

21 Jan

This week, my husband and I and our two children moved from the West Coast to the middle of the country. Goodbye California coastline, hello cows and corn!

We packed in one day.

We drove our two vehicle caravan through California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska for the next four days.

On the first day of driving, we made an unscheduled restroom stop at a gas station in the Truckee area. My husband climbed out of the 16 foot truck and noticed this:

This is NOT the way you want your tires to look when you are driving thousands of miles through freezing temperatures and mountain roads.

Unfortunately, the nearest roadside assistance was over an hour away.

However, our long delay actually turned out better than we could have expected.

"Where the Hell is Truckee?"

We were lucky, not only because we noticed the tire problem before we had a blowout on the road, but also because there was a restaurant next to the gas station. Donner Pass Pizza, owned and operated by a native of our home area, kept us warm and made us feel at home while we waited nearly two hours for our tire to be changed.

The owner's sports memorabilia. There was a 49ers game playing as we ate.

We enjoyed pizza, minestrone soup, sourdough bread sticks, and some of the most delicious homemade french fries I have ever tasted. I would have taken a photograph of the fries but they disappeared pretty quickly and I didn’t get nearly enough of them.

There was a pool table, which saved our children from getting too bored. We even saw some of our first snow there.

There may have been some cheating...


Thank you, Donner Pass Pizza!

Driving Down Memory Lane, Or Why I Don’t Like to Drive

19 Apr

Driving has never been simple for me.

Driving requires multi-tasking and navigation, two things I’ve never been able to properly manage.  The first time I learned to drive, even I knew it was a bad idea

One of the first cars I drove was the family car, a Volkswagen bus, which may not be the best starter vehicle because it has a flattened front end, in contrast to most automobiles.

My poor mother in the passenger seat always had white knuckles.  She tended to grab at the dashboard, and make small squeaking sounds while stomping her foot on the floor in search of a brake.  She was always a nervous driver; having her child behind the wheel didn’t make the experience better.  I inherited my bad sense of direction from her, too.

During driver education class, I was too distracted by far.  I noticed that although other teens were excited about the process of learning to drive, I would rather have been somewhere else…anywhere else!

My driver education instructor noticed that I didn’t check the traffic before I tried to merge on the freeway during the final test of the class.  For some reason, he wanted me to pass the test anyway, so he asked me to return on another day for a do-over.

I suppose it was kindness on his part, but I thought if he took his job more seriously, he would realize that excessively spaced-out teens were a danger to society.  I don’t recall if I returned for the driver education do-over, but I do know that I decided not to try for a license.  I wasn’t ready, and I knew it.  Public buses and my bicycle served as transportation for the next several years, and I was satisfied with those methods.

I finally tested for my license in my early twenties.  I passed both the written exam and the driving test easily enough.  I even knew how to parallel park.  My boyfriend at the time had coached me in parallel parking my late Great Aunt Gertrude’s powder blue 1972 Ford Maverick.  (My photographs are packed away somewhere since the move, but you can see some other Mavericks at http://www.fordmaverick.com/.)

That particular model of car was often categorized as a muscle car.  I think this expression refers to the fact that it was a masculine car with a strong engine, the kind of car young men might “race for pinks”.  In this case, I thought the term muscle car was appropriate because it took muscles to drive it.  Someone had to turn down the engine idle for me, because whenever I took my foot off of the brake, the Maverick lurched forward like a racehorse out of the starting gate.  It was a little bit too much car for me to handle.

Parallel parking a heavy vehicle without power steering is a challenge to a petite girl with skinny arms, believe me.  Sometimes my boyfriend had to help me turn the wheel when my arms got too tired, which was most of the time.  My arms would ache from holding up a hair dryer back then, but they developed a little bit more muscle from maneuvering that steel monster.

With a black interior, vinyl seats, and no air conditioning, the Maverick was a bad car for summer driving.  I burned my hands on the metal seat belt buckles more than a few times.  Winter was also a difficult time, because the only way to defog the windshield was to leave the windows open — not a good option on a rainy day!  Forget about the vent system, too, because opening that up meant launching an endless hissing torrent of dried leaf fragments into your lap.  To make matters worse, between the Maverick’s rumbling engine and the traffic noise from the open windows, I could barely hear the AM radio — not that there was anything to hear.

The day after I passed the final license test, I was driving alone for the first time when a police car signaled for me to stop.

I hadn’t done anything wrong.

I was pulled over because one of the Maverick’s tail lights was out.  They test the lights during the test, so I knew that the light must have gone out in the past day.  I didn’t even have my real license yet, just the official dot matrix paper printout from the Department of Motor Vehicles.  The officer seemed to feel sorry for me.  I felt sorry for me, too.

A couple of years after that, I was pulled over because the tiny light over my license plate was out.  Someone told me later that I was probably pulled over because of my car.  The Maverick was apparently popular with young men who were up to no good, and sometimes those no-gooders deliberately dimmed the light over the plate so the car could not be identified during late night misadventures.  I was a victim of profiling!

Why dear old Great Aunt Gertrude, who was neither young nor a man, had purchased this “suspicious looking” vehicle, I cannot say.  At least it wasn’t red.  In that case, I might have been pulled over more often.

I don’t mean to disparage the car.  It was a classic, with some real personality.

It stood out, and I could find it in a parking lot when I had forgotten where I had parked, which was (and still is) most of the time.

Now where did I park my car?

When I realized the Maverick’s operational days were numbered, I sold it to a restorer.  A man in the neighborhood had three or four Mavericks parked outside of his house.  He was using the parts from multiple bodies to rebuild a single Maverick.  The body on mine was banged up, not from my driving, but from Gertrude’s run-ins with a few trash cans and walls, so my vehicle was to provide the interior for the final restoration.  Dear old Gertrude had parked her car in the garage for twenty years, and the inside was almost entirely intact.  I was happy to sell the car to someone who appreciated its classic charm.

The next two vehicles I owned were totaled, with me inside.  So was a third vehicle, not my own.  Each time, I was on the receiving end of a hit from another driver, and I sustained minor injuries like whiplash and contusions.

These days, I drive my unclassic car without incident, and even parallel park once in a while.  My car hasn’t been pulled over or smashed into for at least a decade, so I feel safer on the road now than in the past, but I still don’t like driving.  I still get lost without GPS and I almost always forget where I have parked.  Even with air conditioning, power steering, a CD player, and seats that don’t melt the skin on my thighs if I wear a skirt… I would still rather be doing something else.