06 May 2011

Time to Travel -- Driving

Welcome back. Yes, there’s no place like home. But don’t you agree that traveling would be a nice way to spend some of my retirement time? 
If my wife, Vicki, were also retired, we could drive, cruise or fly off into the sunset. Would I travel without her? Naaah. No problem. I’ll plan for about a week, which will be a warm up for longer adventures ahead. 
Regarding destination, we haven’t been Type A hermits for our umpty ump years together, but vacations have normally been visits with family in Upstate New York or Wisconsin. We’ll reserve time for that, too.
Budget-wise, fortunately, we’re fine, especially if Vicki continues to work. (Go Girl!) Still, raised by depression-era parents, I’d have a hard time going hog wild, even if we weren’t riding a global economic roller coaster. 
For travel, then, I’ll start with driving. I’ll deal with the getting there, and let Vicki pick the where. 

The Vehicle
We could take Vicki’s car, a 2002, small SUV, automatic transmission, with lots of miles, or my 2006, standard shift, compact, with many fewer miles. Vicki is the quintessential packer and is always prepared. Her car offers space and spaces for her running gear, EMT gear, and whatever else gear. My car offers better gas mileage, so we’ll take mine.

Hey, that was easy.   

                            You know, Vicki, we could save money on gas if we...

Public transportation in Bangladesh, 1986.
Country driving in the Philippines, 1972.
The Drivers

Vicki grew up on a dairy farm. If it had an engine and at least two wheels, she was driving it as soon as her toes reached the pedals. I’m sure she wasn’t allowed to drive heavy equipment before she was what, 10?

Vicki’s father teaching our son, Noah, how to drive a payloader.
Me? I excelled in high school driver education. Then I failed the New York State drivers’ road test. Twice.  
On the first test, the car rolled too much when I stopped and restarted on a hill. That the car was an automatic shift was most embarrassing. On the second test, the guy said, “Turn left. This is a one-way.” I thought he meant I was turning into a one-way street.

I eventually got my license and improved. (The cracked axle incident wasn’t really a driving error.) My parents had a small business that required a VW bus and a few cars, one of which I could usually borrow. Although the bus had the business name not psychedelic flowers painted on its side, it was fun to drive if there was no wind or hill or pothole.

My First Car
Generously (and wisely separating the business from my driving), my parents bought me my first car before I graduated college. Toward the end of our life together, she looked so abused I felt guilty. Parked innocently on a side street, she was attacked brutally by a tree, leaving a dent—more like a gorge--in the hapless car’s roof.

When, in protest, she refused to release rear-seat riders, I finally sold her for $75, tossing in snow tires. For the next year or two, Bill, who ran the gas station I frequented, would tell me whenever he had seen the car. You couldn’t miss her. 

My daughter’s car, attacked by a deer not a tree, but you get the idea.

I hope to continue traveling in about a week. Thanks for stopping by. 

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