Posts Tagged ‘Driving’

Much of our recent trip west was spent enjoying The Great Outdoors …what splendor and awe we found, most often in the most secluded and rugged places.

Boy meets Pacific Ocean

Redwoods at Jedediah Smith State Park

Yup, I drove through one!

Majestic Mt. Shasta

Beach boy meets snow for the first time!

Fortunately there were only two spots where there were rocks in the road with no place to swerve but off the cliff. Woo-sah, I can still drive high elevations after all these years!

Smith River…my favorite place to see a shade of blue you never see except deep in glaciers or geyser pools

Oregon coast

Now we know what a “sneaker wave” is!

Multnomah Falls

Thank You, God, for an incredible trip, for the privilege of being able to share Your inspired creation with my son, for spectacular shows of nature and for happy memories. God, may all people experience the natural revelation of You. May we serve You through caring for this world and its people, preserving these special and awe-some sights for generations to come.

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Many dear friends here know that I spend about two hours commuting on any given workaday. Much of it is dreamlike, flying over expanses of cerulean waters capped with tangerine skies, with other-worldly cloud formations.

Sucky photo which doesn’t do justice to the thunderhead yesterday, but captures a typical artistic distraction during my flight:


I often drive with my middle finger (not what you think! click the darn link!), do my best thinking and reverie-ing, and enjoy some of the most pleasant moments of my life. Mysterious and distant cargo ships, playful dolphins and close calls with dive-bombing pelicans are not uncommon.

Sure, the usual hazards of commuting present themselves on a daily basis – outdated traffic reports that land me in a veritable parking lot on a bridge with no way out, the idiots who tailgate at 80 mph or use the “2 car-length” rule as an opportunity to dart in front of me causing a mile-long trail of brake lights.

And don’t forget the uncovered dump trucks which spew windshield-knickers, Bubba in his pick-me-up-truck who didn’t bother to toss the trash before he attained higher speeds and the morons who bumble along in the left lane going 50 who fail to observe the “slower traffic keep right” flashing signs all across the loooong bridge.

These things don’t make me flinch anymore, nosirree Bob. I know I’m supposed to be watching the road, but as a writer/photographer, this gem from this morning is the type of road hazard which most gets my grammatical goat and induces editorial road rage:

Commute from Hell

Dear God, may Jesus be Lord also of proper spelling and editing…

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Blanket of clouds…every day around 4pm, subtropical downpour brewing:

30 mph on the interstate – woo hoo! Wipers on fast & still can’t see…but, free car wash:

Cotton eye candy…All clear!

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Wrong…is having to explain this spectacle to four young and curiously bemused boys in the back seat.

I had a particularly difficult time explaining why the vehicle owner chose to sport the state’s “God Bless” license plates which tend to be favored by Christians, in addition to the other adornments.

Oh, to borrow little David’s sling shot for just one traffic light, to tackle this testicular testimony…this Goliath of hypocrisy!

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Yesterday, I surreptitiously became one of “them.”

I always swore I wouldn’t, but I did. I didn’t see it coming. But now I know how perfectly good and decent ladies turn down the dark and heinous path of crime, the crime of Makeup Application in Public, an etiquette Class 2 Misdemeanor. It sure as heck wasn’t an upper class misdemeanor, this I know. But I do know what I’ve always thought of “those women” whom I’ve observed doing “that.” Not my cup of tea, dear. Why, I nevuh!

It started quite innocently with a busy week, a healthy dose of preoccupation and five consecutive nights with less than six hours’ sleep. I should have seen the warning signs. There were actually only two signs (forgetting to charge my iPod and having it go dead on me at the bottom of the steepest hill I had yet to climb in 105 heat index – that, and on another day forgetting my jewelry and winding up at the office feeling utterly naked)…but I shoulda known this one was coming.

I will forgo all the excuses I am convinced are perfectly legitimate, like working late Thursday night followed by a mess ‘o hot sex libidinous diversion (how else can I tone that down?) which kept me up even later, restless sleep, toddler interruptus at 0330 and then having to arise extra-early to start my commute at 0630 instead of the usual 0700.

I was on top of the world making it work anyway and ejecting out the door precisely on time, with that nagging feeling I was forgetting something. Keys, check – phone, check – coffee, check – nourishment, check – iPod, check – earrings by gosh, check. Love ya, bye!

About 15 minutes into the commute, I caught a glance in the mirror as I went to bypass the usual left-lane-creepers who don’t know to move it on over. There I was, in all my plain-Jane glory, without makeup – and no way, no time to turn back. I would have to face the world with, um, just my face. Hoo-wah!

The next 5 minutes were devoted to the most wasteful of mental debates. Will anyone notice? Will they tell me what they told my coworker the other day when she forgot hers, how tired she looked? Yah, not enough sleep – no way to hide. Who cares, really? Dare I? Yes! So onward I steered, fearing naught and ready to take on the world, sans makeup. Done it before, often at home, just not left the house like that in awhile. It’s probably more for my sanity, anyway, than for others’.

I dedicated not one more thought to it until I found myself in the right turn lane headed into a store – what’s this?! I never stop on my commute. My alter-ego had grabbed the wheel and took over without my permission, better judgment and common sense combined. Before I knew it, I was at the checkout with brand new items of my favorite makeup, recklessly risking running late.

The rest of me was perched up in the rafters of the store peering down at the woman at the checkout, having an out-of-body experience.

That was not me, I swear. That was some Other Woman.

I would never do such a thing – I mean, how totally stupid and vain. How futilely silly! Gadzooks, it’s just one day.

This other woman at the checkout proceeded to the car where she drove off in my car, steering with one hand, using her other hand in cahoots with her teeth to open the new packages.

A short time later, this other woman came to an abrupt halt at the World’s Longest Traffic Light, and lickety-split fast as lightning, this bubbleheaded-other woman flipped down the visor and opened the mirror and went to work in methodical order, as though she were in the privacy of her own mirror at home.  (*POOF*) Fellow commuters simply did not exist. Lalalalala, can’t see meeee!

(Step aside, ladies of the night, here comes the Hussy of the Highway!)

Packed it up right quick, stored it in her purse and returned the visor to its rightful position in the blinding morning sun as though nothing had happened, and suddenly that other woman was drifting in spirit over to the other cars to see what the Joneses were up to – sure enough, one other car contained a hair salon event in progress, in another was some intense texting and yet another was too into his chicken-fried steak biscuit to notice the light turned green. Nobody raised stones to stone her. Geez, no one seemed to notice.

And off I went.

Later that day while digging for my phone, I was perplexed to discover a brand new eyeliner in the bottom of my purse.

How’d that get there?

Wow, that’s great, I thought…I was just about to run out at home! Great timing…I usually run out before I’ve purchased a new one, leaving me limping along and making do and engaging in a mad-dash to the drug store on my lunch hour and paying too much for my lack of planning and patience.

I got caught up in traffic and my mind wandered away somewhere into a song I once knew, forgetting about my alter-angel.

That night I was awoken by distant thunder, a comforting rumble approaching along the water. I suddenly remembered the Other Woman and how she commandeered my psyche, and where I was lacking, she filled a need – a need I never in my right mind would have ever condoned. She did something nice, fleeting but terribly off-course, and then it was gone. But the nice lingered like magic dust catching my eye like a little sparkle here and there, like the stars in the sky you can only see more clearly when you don’t look directly at them.

She had disappeared into the traffic of the daily buzz of life, and I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again, or if she’d ever veer me off-track and catch me unawares. I wanted to thank her for taking that short moment of time to do something so simple that really wasn’t a necessity, but it made everything so much more, well, everything. I didn’t get to, and now she’s gone. But I’ve got a nice new supply of makeup out of the deal so I can keep my game face on, and carry on, as though I was never lacking.

Thanks, God, for life’s little detours and for making our brains have the capacity for dual operations when needed, so between You and us and the unknown, we are made whole. Thanks for teaching us to withhold judgment until we’ve walked all paths. And thanks for the extra makeup I can now keep in my desk at work (next to the spare pair of earrings) in case I ever have another moment like this week’s. Oh, yeah, and help me to go my way and misdemeanor no more.

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No, not that……


Please don’t read between any lines on this one, friends – just a funny thought from this week as my mind wanders through the miles and time.

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In the spirit of our fellow blogger Brainrants, I momentarily shed all manner of female Southern décorum to address the issue of driving:

1.) I had the misfortune – or blessing – of learning to drive in the nation’s 2nd largest city. Drive or get the hell out of my way.

2.) My very first driving lessons took place in a cemetery. “You can’t hurt anyone, they’re already dead,” I was assured. I may subliminally assume those around me on the road today are also dead (even zombies, the way some of y’all drive), unless you get my attention by trumping my driving skills.

3.) I knew nothing but manual transmissions until fairly recently – therefore, driving, to me, is an active sport, (note to texters and makeup appliers:) not a passive or secondary activity. Pull over, ya lackluster lollygaggers.

4.) I leave in plenty of time to get to my destination. It is you who is making me late. Likely causes of tardiness are typically due to the left lane-hog who believes it is their right to occupy the left lane at a speed equivalent to or slower than the speed-reverent driver in the right lane. On the west coast these scofflaws typically sport a Washington state plate. Elsewhere it is usually someone with a handicapped plate white-knuckling the wheel for dear life at gosh-awful speeds of 35 or below. I am not discriminating: I also have handicap designation on my car, too…but I do not drive with such overcompensating caution that I cause an accident by going too slowly or blocking lanes. At least go the limit, folks, or yield to those who do. Or surrender your license if you can’t handle the basics. You are not teaching anyone a lesson by forcing them into co-bumbling on the road. You are inviting road rage and use of impulsively creative sign language.

5.) I will cheerfully block you in the handicapped parking space by double parking or worse if you are parked there illegally just to “run in real quick.” I will wait for you to come out of the store to behold your dilemma, while I herd my handicapped child back in the car and sweetly say, “Oh, here they come, dear…we won’t have to wait now. Is your tummy still hurting? We’ll wait for the nice lady to give us ‘her’ space.”  I will pause and linger and savor every moment of your discomfort as you avoid eye contact with me and my disabled child. This topic probably deserves its own post.

6.) If I am not driving the cumbersome family tank and am in my sleek little commuter car, you better bet your bottom dollar I will zip into the nearest parking spot. When I lived north of the Mason-Dixon line (bless my heart!), I would have visually broadcast my victoriously smug gloating, as is customary. Here in the South, I will feign appropriate mea culpa and delicately cup my hand to my mouth and gesture for you to take the space as an afterthought, knowing full well it’s MINE. Then we’ll strike up a friendly conversation at the deli counter and I’ll let you go first. Then I’ll beat you to the checkout.

7.) Curses to you who pull out into oncoming traffic. You know who you are. Worse are the offenders who pull out into oncoming traffic, then slow to a grinding halt while you turn into the very next driveway. You make me want to tie you to the top of my car like a newly-cut Christmas tree and take you for a loooooong ride. With lots of sharp curves. You people should have your licenses revoked, honestly.

8.) Please do not slow to 25 mph as you approach an interstate exit (“freeway,” for our west coast friends who insist on calling it “free” when it really is not). Just the other day I passed a moron on a very long exit ramp (while I still had a legitimate lane to pass) who pulled this number. And yes, they had a handicapped plate. The speed limit on the ramp was 45. I think. Actually, I wasn’t paying attention. But long ones are usually higher limits, something like that. Either way, I was right, he was wrong. I’m pretty sure. go gO Go GO GO!!!

9.) Get off my ass. If we are enveloped in fog, heavy rain, heavy traffic or we happen to know it’s the last of the month and the cops are out trying to fulfill their quota for the month of speeding tickets, don’t ride me. There are plenty of other lanes. I will not hinder you or I will get over if I know there’s a cop ahead and you’re being an idiot. I would love nothing more than to see you tailgate me only to get pulled over ahead. Go ahead, buddy, ride my ass. I know you’ll enjoy the extra-bright lumens my newish car on regular beams foists upon your rods and cones once you’re happily ahead of me. And I’ve been rear-ended before – the pleasure is all mine from your insurance company. Blowing you a kiss! Mooowah…

10.) Hail (same pronunciation as “hell” in the South) to the multitude of idiots who are clueless that just because their car CAN fit between me and the guy in front of me (especially going at very high speeds), doesn’t mean that’s why I was maintaining a car’s length between me and the guy in front of me. Conditions, anticipation, experience and wisdom all contribute to that car length – or two – between me and the next guy. On a trans-water commute, there is nowhere to go but in the soup, if you screw up. Follow my lead and wait before you impose your vehicle in the safety space. Think, dope. I mean, really…where do you think you’re going to go so fast with all that traffic in front of you and nothing but water everywhere else? And hope you’re carrying a life vest in your car in case you decide to go take a dip with the sharks, jellyfish and the alligators. See ya.

11.) Do not, repeat, DO NOT tailgate me when I am going 82 or something like that, regardless of what lane I’m in. Unless you are the law and it is because I am  totally unaware of you behind me as I am blaring my favorite song for several miles or the song ends, whichever comes first. See #9. You are sharing the road with someone who once lived in open desert, where towns were 2 hours apart and the fastest way to get there was doing speeds close to or in excess of 100 mph. You kind of forget what the speed limits are out there, since the last posted sign was last seen over an hour ago.

12.) My being lost in thought does not give you permission to be lost in yours. I am counting on you for mercy when I need it, and you’re supposed to know when that is. I give the same to you in most cases. I even let some of you go first when you are trying to turn onto a busy highway from a same-side-street driveway. BTW, I’m not not paying attention, I’m probably busy praying for you.

13.) Speaking of which, I saw the ultimate act of driver generosity result in a horrible accident once last year: do not try this at home. Some bonehead decided he would be Sir Gallant and let a pitiful driver turn left, who was attempting to turn from the opposite side of a 4-lane highway. Sir Gallant stopped in the left lane headed north, there was no traffic (so they thought) in the right lane headed north, and pitiful southbound driver was trusting Sir Gallant to let him go ahead and make that turn – and he turned…just as an unsuspecting northbound driver in the right lane barreled into him, which he had not anticipated because Sir Gallant was blocking the left lane, stopped for no apparent reason to those in the right lane. Use good judgment and common sense when you try to be courteous – your courtesy may cost someone’s life.

14.) I am amused at the driving of my coworker-superiors and subordinates when they don’t realize I am driving near them. I will refrain from elaborating on this one for obvious reasons. Just know that you are being analyzed. But please don’t analyze me; I like to believe that I am invisible in my impenetrable auto domain. And I didn’t mean to cut that stupid curb in the parking lot trying to steer around the pothole. Twice in one month. Damnit, and right in front of the administrative offices. Hopefully they were poring over financial statements or something similarly riveting, and didn’t notice. Fix the damn pothole, already.

15.) My IQ doesn’t go down when I get behind the wheel, yours does (if I don’t know you).

Now excuse me while I go whip up a big ol’ pot of Jambalaya for game day. We now return to our regularly scheduled Southern décorum (straightening and smoothing my dress, here, along with a fresh re-application of lipstick. Ahem).

And thanks, God, for getting me everywhere I need to go, safely.

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