The Artful Dodger

Yesterday I drove across Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, on my way to see my son and his family in Dallas. More than once I encountered torrential thunderstorms that reduced visibility to less than a handspan.

My knuckles are still bone white from holding the steering wheel in a death grip. At least most of my fellow travelers kept their speed in check; although, occasionally a hotshot would come barreling willy nilly through the downpour as if the roads were dry and the sun shining fiercely. I'd have flipped them the bird if I hadn't feared taking my hand off the wheel.

In addition to dodging the aforementioned would-be NASCAR drivers, I also had to avoid an odd variety of other objects, including, but not limited to the following:

1) a blue and orange striped beach chair
2) one canvas bag approximately three feet long.
3) an infant car seat (no baby, thank goodness!)
4) a tennis shoe

But the best thing I had to dodge was a large alligator. He was dead, thank goodness, but still gave me a fright as I saw him just in the nick of time. Apparently some other driver wasn't as fortunate as I'd been.

Hopefully today, as I head north and west away from the coast, the weather won't be as crazy, the drivers less aggressive, and the gators safely in their proper habitats. I'm tired of being the artful dodger.

Peace, people!

Driving Home

In another life I might have been a truck driver or a race driver or even a cab driver. The act of driving is one I thoroughly enjoy. Others seem oblivious, though, to the joys.

One afternoon this week I sat at a stop light and watched as the twenty-something woman in the car next to mine immediately slouched into her seat and began texting on her phone once her brakes fully engaged. 

For a few seconds I watched her intently typing a message–most likely something earth shattering like, “LOLZ!” Or “WTF man?!” before I scanned the other traffic around me that included an unevenly loaded trailer two cars ahead and a motorcycle with a dangerously low tire in front of my texting friend. In addition a group of elderly pedestrians was crossing at the indicated walkway a few car lengths in front of me.

My texting friend noted none of this. In fact, once the light changed to green she continued to sit and text only moving forward when those behind her began honking their displeasure.

This isn’t a treatise on safe driving; although, as a motorcyclist few things infuriate me more than a driver who texts while behind the wheel. No, this is a post about noticing one’s surroundings and enjoying the drive.

Many years ago (I might’ve even been a teenager!) I read a fluff piece in a doctor’s office magazine about the connection between women and driving. The magazine, I recall, was a religious publication, perhaps Guidepost, or something similar. Something about that article stuck with me all these years, even though I couldn’t quote a single word from it if my life depended on it.

The heart of the article was that women had gained a great deal of freedom in the preceding decades (this was probably written in 1975) and that perhaps the greatest freedom outside of being able to vote was that of being able to drive, and with that freedom came great responsibility.

The author of the article noted that female drivers always looked proud and responsible, that they seemed particularly aware of their surroundings and relished their independence. The author went on to say that since female drivers often had children in tow they seemed to take extra care with their precious cargo and to spend time pointing out interesting and educational sights along their routes.

Perhaps I was young and impressionable, but I took that article at face value and decided that I’d be an exemplary driver–and I probably succeed 85% of the time. 

I enjoy engaging with the road, noting how different driving surfaces interact with my tires. I love solving the puzzle of traffic, figuring out where my vehicle fits into the bigger picture as Car A moves into the space vacated by Car D while avoiding Pedestrians X, Y, and Z. And I’m keen on listening to the engine and how the gears shift in the transmission.

When our children were small I helped them learn to read by calling attention to billboards and signs on the sides of trucks. Our youngest could spell “Toyota” before her third birthday.  And time spent at stop lights wasn’t wasted either as we sang along to the radio or counted the number of blue, or red, or white cars around us.

Maybe my texting friend will at some point look up from her screen and realize there’s more to driving than pressing on the gas pedal and steering the wheel. Let’s just hope she doesn’t get rear-ended before then.

Peace, people!

  

Skating By

slipping on black ice
skittering wildly on by
hoping for a brake.

  
once out of control
look out kiddies, here i come
screaming yeehaw, y’all!

  
’round and ’round again
spinning donuts whip whapping
as hood chases boot.

  
May I never have to drive on snow and ice again.

Peace, people!

One for the Road

This morning I set out from Doright Manor near Tallahassee, Florida, on a trip to see my daughter and her family in Illinois. I’ll tally over a thousand miles on the trip to Illinois, necessitating an overnight stop.

Right now I’m relaxing in my hotel room in Paducah, Kentucky. Paducah is a pleasant community, home of the National Quilt Museum and a terrific arts and antiques district. On this trip, though, I’m only seeing the inside of my room.

 

Part of a Japanese quilt exhibit from 2013
  
Dream Catcher quilt

 
Friends and family wondered why I decided to drive rather than fly, and to be honest a couple of hundred miles back I was wondering the same thing. Driving all day in sometimes brutal interstate highway traffic has every muscle in my body wound tightly and in desperate need of a massage. 
 
if only!
 
In spite of that I enjoy driving when I have the time. It gives me a sense of control that flying doesn’t. I have my own car at my disposal instead of needing to rent or commandeer one at my destination.
Early on this morning I promised myself I would resist the impulse to load up on junk foods and diet sodas during my journey. In fact, I decided I’d stick to healthy foods only.

That promise lasted for approximately an hour into my drive when I stopped to use the ladies room at a Burger King and exited the establishment with a large diet Dr. Pepper and a cinnamon roll. 

 

Pretty sure my cinnamon roll topped 500 calories.
 
It all went downhill from there, but I do think there might’ve been a carrot or two in my Mexican food dinner. The lime in the Corona Light I had an hour ago was most likely the healthiest part of my day. Note to self: must do better tomorrow.

  
Paducah is more than half way to my daughter’s home, and there aren’t any major metropolitan areas between here and there. If I get up early I can be there by early afternoon. And tomorrow, I’m eating healthy! Although, I think there’s a Krispy Kreme on my route….

  
Peace, people!

To Drive or To Fly?

To say I am a logistics dunce is an understatement. Creating schedules, arriving at informed decisions around dates and times, brings on a headache every time. 

I stand in awe of those who fit together master schedules for schools, making sure each child in every class in every grade gets the required amount of time for the core subjects as well as physical education, music, library, and art, and builds in time for lunch and a recess as well. I’ve watched the process and trust me, it’s incredibly difficult. Never did I complain about scheduling lest someone hand the job over to me. 

But I digress. My current problem is trying to figure out whether it’s more cost efficient to drive or to fly to my daughter’s home in Illinois. If I were working it’d be a no-brainer. I’d need to fly to cut down on lost time at work. But, that’s not an issue.

Help me figure this out:

Flights: The lowest priced flights start at $456, but they have multiple connections. I hate multiple connections.

Driving: The distance from Havana, FL, to Rapid City, IL, is 1004.6 miles. Let’s call it an even grand.

My car averages 27 miles per gallon.

Studly and I used all of our hotel points on our last vacation, and I’ll need to stay two nights on the road. Let’s say I’ll spend about $120 per night.

If I choose my meals carefully I can eat for an average of $10 per meal. If I eat 10 meals on the road that’s $100. Let’s add in some snacks and call it $130.

Have I left anything out? 

There’s no prize for figuring out my best option, and I’ll most likely do what I want anyway, but if this stuff turns you on, go for it!

Peace, people!

  

Long Shortcuts

The road from point A to point B is 30
semi-straight, lackluster interstate miles.
I drive it most days on my way to work,
But I always look for shortcuts.

There is a road just west of Point A
That leads to a road intersecting Point B
And when I have a bit of extra time
I scoot on over and follow its curves.

Never mind that this route
While two miles shorter
Adds 20 minutes to my drive.
A shortcut in name only,
But well worth the time.

IMG_1953.JPG