Monday, August 31, 2009

Take This Tune

My friend Jamie at Duward Discussion has chosen the song “Life Is A Highway” for this week’s prompt on her new Take This Tune meme and considering I’ve been doing an awful lot of driving around the countryside this summer, it somehow seemed appropriate for me to do this meme!

This past weekend I put another 756 miles on the odometer when Amanda and I went down to Baltimore for a couple days but I’ve also made several other trips this summer on highways in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and New Hampshire. I probably should have kept track of the number of miles I’ve driven but alas, that’s one of those ‘hindsight 20/20’ things that I didn’t think of at the time!

In thinking about it, though, it would have been a lot more interesting to have started a log of miles driven way back in the Dark Ages of 1976 when I first got my license as I’ve no doubt that I have racked up an impressive amount of mileage over the years starting with my very first car – a 1974 Chevy Chevette. It was that first car that carried myself and my best friend Carol on a journey from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and back to Connecticut when we both were but 18 years of age and equipped with a couple of maps, two cases of 8-track tapes, a major sense of adventure, and the resiliency of youth! We were footloose and fancy-free and, except for the occasional call from a payphone to let our parents know we were still alive, we were out of touch with our lives back home as there was still no such thing as the internet and email or cell phones. I bet kids these days would wonder how we managed to survive but we did and we had a great time.

With Amanda fast-approaching the same age I was when I took my first epic road trip across the country in my own car I’ve got to think that if she approached me with the same plan today, I’d have major serious doubts about the whole thing. Even with the technology to keep in touch just about every step of the way were it necessary along with electronic GPS to make getting lost virtually impossible, the highways of America have changed drastically since 1977 and road-trips are no longer the fun-filled journeys that they used to be.

As I’ve relearned from firsthand experience this past summer, the roadways are clogged with traffic and the act of driving - something that used to be fun and enjoyable - is now more of a white-knuckle experience as you grip the steering wheel and try to keep an eye out in all directions for drivers cutting in and out of traffic, cars mysteriously slowing down in the middle of the highway for no good reason, and people who obviously never learned how to merge while training for their licenses. My Dad’s best advice to me as a new driver was to “pick a lane and stay in it” but alas, you can’t even do that anymore as there are those people who seem to think that going ten miles below the speed limit in the 3rd lane over on a 4-lane highway is okay while people fly by on the right at speeds that make you look like you’re sitting still even if you’re going the 65 mph maximum.

If I’m tense and on the verge of road-rage simply driving from Norwich to New Haven with over 33 years of driving experience on my side, what makes me think that Amanda – with zero years of driving experience – is ready to get behind the wheel of a car? I don’t and that’s rather frustrating for her as she’d really like to get her license while I have no desire at all to see her do so because I know what it's like on the highways these days and it ain't pretty!

There are too many cars on the road these days, there are too many people not paying attention behind the wheels of those too many cars these days, and there are too many people who are bad drivers that are not paying attention behind the wheels of those too many cars these days to make me feel comfortable as the parent of a future driver (times two considering Jamie is also of licensing age). Heck, I’m not comfortable as an experienced driver these days and that’s really too bad because life really is a highway and it’s a shame that the joy of a road-trip has been diminished by the very act of getting there in the first place.


  1. The awful driving has a lot to do with so many people's lack of common courtesy IMHO. Scary, isn't it?

  2. And lack of common sense! There are a lot of crazies on the road...

  3. We rented an RV and drove from the DC area to Nova Scotia and back this summer. Our 'almost' driver learned a LOT about how people drive these days by watching how her dad handled all the crazies. If you think people are rude when you're in a car, you should see how they behave when you're in an RV! Yikes!

    Love the memories though!

  4. I can't believe the number of miles you have logged this summer! I would be exhausted.

    Sorry I've been a stranger, Duchess Linda. I haven't been around in the blogosphere or on Facebook and have totally lost touch.

    Don't forget you have to make one more trip to the New Haven area in the near future -- the Trolley Museum beckons.

  5. Thank you for taking part in Take This Tune with a totally appropriate and absolutely correct view of the modern world. I really feel sorry for kids trying to drive freeways today. A little courtesy would go a long way.

    This is one of the reasons I want to make a Blue Highway trip. Stop signs going through small towns seems better than dealing with someone who can't merge.

  6. Anonymous9:06 AM EDT

    I can go one for days. Hot subject for me. I'll be good and refrain from comment...


  7. It's indeed crazy out on the roadways. Living in California if you don't get out of the way they will run right over you. Being cordial has gone by the wayside as well.

    I hear you about being worried having your kids on the road with no experience. It is indeed frightening.

    Have a terrific day Linda. Big hug. :)

  8. Yes, it is crazy out there. And so many more cars than when I got my license.

    You sure have done a lot of driving this year. Don't forget the few days of driving around Northern California and Lake Tahoe areas.

  9. I avoid highways if I can. I prefer the country backroads, for many reasons!

    I hate to think how many miles are behind me!

  10. Ok, I'm going to totally disagree with you, so grab a hold of something. (No not a rock to throw!) I drive everyday in my job. I find that those who get road rage and consider "how manty stupid drivers there are" are usually one and the same. We all make mistakes driving. Here's my first law of the road: Don't get mad at anybody doing some lughead mistake that you have made befoere saccidentally. If you have accidently cut someone off, [pulled out gtoo soon, tried to change lanes without are just like anybody else. So why rage when they do it to you?

    I have no idea at what age Amanda woill be ready for a road trip. You are the mom, you get to decide. But tio get her liscense? She'll never have 33 years of experience until you allow her to start. Oh and your dad'd advice was brilliant. I think yu've done a great job with her. She won't disappoint you...(often!)

  11. Believe it or not, Bud, I'm not going to totally disagree with you as I know for a fact that I've made some pretty lugheaded mistakes myself from time to time (that darned 'blind spot'!) however, I do know that I don't cut in and out of traffic at high rates of speed, I don't go below the speed limit in a "high speed" lane, and I've learned the fine art of merging though it's one of the biggest headaches out there being that the engineers who initially designed most of the outdated roadways here in the East didn't take into account the massive boom in the amount of cars and drivers that would eventually be on the road when they made those short merging lanes or - worse yet - the merging lanes that coincide with an exit lane (oh the horrors!).

    Yes, we do all make mistakes driving (hence the reason they're called accidents and not intentional car-bashes!) but a little common courtesy and common sense goes a long ways behind the steering wheel and sadly, that's what seems to be lacking on today's over-crowded highways.

    And you're right, Amanda will never learn to drive if I never let her get her license but one of the other big problems is the fact that I can't really afford to put her on my insurance at this point in time as the cost of that has risen proportionately with the number of cars on the road and my income has not kept pace at all.

    I know, excuses, excuses, right?!?

  12. I didn't learn to drive until I was 38 years old! I did pass my driving test first time though. I can understand your worry about Amanda driving - traffic is just manic here too - but better she does it now whilst she has loads of confidence. :)

  13. i remember that dilemma like it was yesterday. you will not win the battle. sorry...

    and thanks for your support linda, it really means a lot to us!

    smiles, bee

  14. Anonymous9:30 PM EDT

    Ahh, Linda- The Merritt Parkway. The ONLY nice way to drive to NYC or points west! Though the last couple of years even the 'rude' ones have seemed to have found a hidden 'gem' of an old motor-route. Oh , I do enjoy the old Merritt...........

  15. I missed this week due to my computer trouble. I may have had to discuss my own challenging commute.


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