Driving my life away

I hate to drive. I really do.

Driving today is nothing like it was when I was 16.  I would drive anytime, anywhere, just to get behind that wheel.  But now the thrill is gone. I find myself mapping out my driving plan in my head so I can take the shortest routes, in the least time frame, with the most minimal construction possible (which has not been easy this summer).  I become frustrated when I am forced to spend even more time in my car.

The other day I noticed that I have put over 13,000 miles on my car since I bought it eight months ago. Thirteen thousand! A 13 with three zeros behind it!  That’s like driving across the United States four times (it’s 2,900 from New York City to San Fransisco).

OK, so I drive a lot.  I drive to work, at work, to school, to Iowa City and North Liberty, where my kids live.  I interned in Solon and North Liberty this summer and sometimes made two trips a day back and forth from Cedar Rapids. I also drove to Colorado and back  this summer.  I drive, but only because I have to.

But not all driving is bad.  I have seen a lot of the United States because I chose to drive instead of fly.  I drove from Cedar Rapids to Las Vegas with my daughter, Lori, her boyfriend, my brother and his son last year. Most of the drive was nice.  We took the southern route on the way there and avoided the mountains.  We saw the adobes of New Mexico and the beautiful deserts (yes, beautiful) of Arizona and Nevada.  

Coming back, however, was a different story.  We decided to cut some time and drive through the mountains.  Lori decided that she would drive for a while. But when it began to get dark and hard to see, she realized that she was in over her head.  She found herself driving down the side of a mountain (which is not a great idea in the middle of winter anyway) with a huge semi on her tail, whipping around the tight corners like they were nothing. I held my breath for the last five miles down the mountain and didn’t  let it out until we were safely pulling into the next gas station. Needless to say, I have gained a greater respect for flat ground.   (Nebraska, I love you!)

But even though I hate to drive, I have come to accept the inevitable.  If I have to drive, I must share the road with idiots.  I don’t mean to say that all drivers are idiots, but a few that I have to question just where and how they got their license. I can handle the occasional forgetfulness of not using your turn signal or the person who goes slower than the speed limit, but one thing I can’t stand, is the tailgater.  Interstate 380 is notorious for tailgaters who think that going 80 is not fast enough.  I can cuss, I can slow down, or I can pull over and let the jerk pass.  For the sake of safety, the latter usually wins out, especially if I have my grandkids in the car. 

I admit I’m not perfect. I have absent-mindedly stayed in the left lane doing the spend limit when it clearly says, slower traffic stay right.  I have lingered at a green light longer than I should and have upset that poor man behind me, causing him to toot his horn to wake me up.  And I have purposely not let someone ahead of me in line because she ignored the “merge left ahead” sign and found herself unable to move over.

But I will keep driving, putting mile after mile on my tired odometer.  But just for the record, I hate driving.

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