Road Trips

Posted on: September 11th, 2012 by Donna 2 Comments

Odd how one’s perspective of riding in a car changes with age. Infants fall asleep before you’re hardly backed out of the driveway. Toddlers are still bouncing in their car seats two hours later. Grade schoolers can come up with a million questions per mile, interspersed only with the ultimate challenge question and statement: “Are we there yet, cuz I gotta go…”

Tweens, who once buried their noses in chapter books, now ignore all else but their own thumb output. Along with older counterparts, they are welded to communications devices and wired by the ears to hair-splitting, molar jarring music with no discernable lyrics. They can not only sleep in these accoutrements, thumbs twitching, but manage their Sonic ordering, tray, and eating as well.

One of the first cars I recall from my youth was a dark green, torpedo-shaped Kaiser with seats covered in a brown sheered fabric that was at once soft, but prickly. In the north county, where winter temperatures sometimes drop ten to forty degrees below zero, front seat passengers (always Mom and Dad) endured scalding heat from the floor vent. For the comfort of us three kids, a large woolen lap blanket hung from a thick leather cord stretched across the seat back. A strap hung from the door post to aid passengers hoisting themselves up and into the car.

By the time I arrived at high school in the early sixties, newer cars were long and low with  pointy fins. Convertibles, of course, were the ultimate. Transportation for my summer jobs involved a series of bargain cars, each of which had more than its fair share of serious issues. Most notable was one with no reverse gear. The next one knocked so loudly that my approach could be heard for blocks ahead. I worked hard at making that darned thing throw a rod. Blew past a cop going almost eighty in a fifty. No car chase was involved, no accident, no ticket. I clunked through the entire summer with a constant red face.

Nursing school graduation involved a brand new midnight teal Mustang Fastback. That baby was a joy to drive and brought me much comfort. Crammed in with a lot of stuff we gathered along the way, my mother and I drove and laughed together from New York to California and back. Fair warning: think twice about a road trip with someone who doesn’t drive and has no clue about navigation, road maps, exit signs, minimum stopping time at high speeds for missed turns, etc.  Detroit must have heard some of my frustrations and you can probably thank me for On Star, Tom-Tom, and all the rest of the navigation equipment in your new car now.

Later in life, some couples end up as one driver. One can’t see and the other isn’t able to control the wheel, brakes, or gas pedal; turns involve one saying when and the other easin’ around the corner, applying the brakes every two feet until they reach the closest rest stop bathroom.

And life comes around full circle. I’m often asleep before Sweetie gets us out of the subdivision, but so far manage to always wake up to tell him I gotta go before I find I already went.

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