Archives for posts with tag: cars

One of the big milestones in life is learning to drive and getting your driver’s license. Here’s my learner’s permit from way back when…

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I was one of the youngest in my class, so I had to wait and wait. I took Driver’s Ed in the summer before my junior year when everyone else was already getting their license. The only restriction was that you had to drive with a licensed driver, but it could be a friend. By the time I got my license in December of that year, I felt more than overdue. I passed the test with just one missed question for a 95 & a few points off for a wide right turn for a 93 (why do I remember that?). That was good, but it was the experience that taught me. My mother or father gave me one of their cars & I took off with a flash. Stupid kid – piled everyone in the car & drove everywhere we could. My parents were awfully patient…and it was just beginning.

I had three wrecks, fender benders, in the next few weeks. Two of them were in the school parking lot & not really my fault, but my father had to get his car fixed each time. Then someone hit me in an unmarked intersection, something that I would have avoided with a little more experience. My parents were more than nice about it. They said I couldn’t drive for awhile, not because they didn’t trust me, but because they couldn’t afford it. I’ve never forgotten their patience with their first driver.

Not many of us had cars in high school. Mostly some of the guys had old cars, but not that flashy. There were a few really cool cars that were the envy of everyone, but it wasn’t something you automatically got when you turned 16. Most of us had to go through the routine of asking to borrow the car and then coming up with a reason. I’m sure that I always did what I said I was going to do…I just added a few stops and other places and people while I was out. A trip to the grocery store involved picking up a friend, stopping for a coke, dropping her or him off, and getting home with the groceries. Over an hour for a 10 minute errand, at least.

I was almost embarrassed when my parents gave me a new car for my 20th birthday. It seemed like too much. That shiny silver 1966 Impala with white leather seats, two door, automatic on the floor, probably cost $2,000 new, a fortune to me. I quickly got over the guilt & had a lot of fun driving it while I was in college and early marriage.

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Since that time, I’ve driven thousands and thousands of miles. I must have driven a hundred carpools over the years, having four kids and all. The flashy Impala got impractical with the two doors and I moved to sedans, then a station wagon and then an SUV, a cute Blazer. I drove when there were no seat belts, and nothing but a radio. We had air conditioning, which we didn’t have when I was little, and my second or third baby had the first real safe car seats. Thank goodness the older ones survived! I’ve been hit from behind a few times, but no bad wrecks. I’m not afraid to drive long distances by myself and spent a lot of time driving kids to college and back.

I started using my seatbelt when my kids were learning to drive, wanting them to be safer than I was. I’ve gotten smarter and safer through the years, slowing from my earlier years of pedal to the metal teen, rushing mom driving every which way to pick up kids, to the grandmother I am today. Not an old lady driver, but wiser than before.

It was a shock the first time I put a grandchild in the car with me. First, there was the ordeal of the ultra-safe car seats we have today. Mostly, it was the jolt of responsibility I felt, the realization that I had been entrusted with my child’s and my most precious treasure. I don’t remember feeling that with my own babies, but I was a 21 year old mother. I really did drive like I had a car full of eggs that first time with a grand baby. After eight, I’m past that, but still always aware of who my passengers are…

The reason I wrote this today is that two of my grandsons recently got their licenses and one is starting driver’s ed. By the end of the year, I should have three driving grandchildren. Whoa! Last week, I took one of them to dinner and he picked me up in his new, new to him, car. He’d only really been driving on his own for about a week and we were just going about half a mile away. I’d driven with his cousin, watching him try to get his pace, slowing down or driving too fast. This one was nicely cautious and nervous about turning into small parking lots, finding a parking place. The inexperience was endearing.

But, I couldn’t help but put myself in his place and wonder if we hadn’t traded places. I wonder if they are as scared to drive their grandmother as I was to drive them as babies. I wonder if they feel responsible for my safety. I amused myself with these thoughts, smiling to myself. They are all great kids. I trust them ever so much, even remembering my own inexperience and the tendency of youth to feel invincible. They can’t drive with more than one person in the car unless it’s family, for six months, so they won’t be tearing around with a car full of friends like we did. For now, they are happy to just be driving Miss Mimi…Oh My!

Cars are one of those things I need and I need them to work. The last car I bought was selected to not have too many gadgets to break or things to go wrong. Right now I’m sitting in the Customer Lounge at the dealership, waiting to get the thing you plug your phone charger, a gadget I do need, fixed. Really.

What more can I say? Everything is built for planned obsolescence these days. I have replaced a fancy coffee pot after a year or so of medium use. We replace our phones, our computers. Of course we do. The new ones work better, faster, do more cool things.

My grandmother must be laughing right now. Once my mother bought a nice new arm chair on sale for $200. My grandmother, who never had much & raised three kids alone in the depression, heard my mother and said, “I thought you said you got it on sale.” The three of us looked at each other and burst out laughing. We recognized the difference in generations, life experiences.

Anyway, the dealership is nice. Everything is fine. I just want everything to work so I don’t have these little annoyances in life. Just dream in’…Life is made up of little annoyances to test us for the big ones!

El Mirage, California, was a place I’d always heard about but didn’t really understand.  It’s basically a 6 mile long dry lake used by by fans of off-road vehicles and seen in movies, car commercials and ad shots.

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What I really wasn’t prepared for was how much fun it was.  When you drive up, it looks like…well, it looks like a flat desert.  You can see dusters forming in the distance, fascinating twisters of dirt rising up from the ground to create funnels that race across the landscape. They’re not like the tornadoes of Oklahoma that form in the sky and drop down to scoop up everything in their path.

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When you drive at El Mirage, you can literally chase the lake…or the mirage of the lake.  You can drive as fast as you can and never catch it. It’s always up ahead of you.  I’m not the greatest thrill seeker…I hate heights…but I do like to go fast.  At El Mirage, you can drive as fast as you want to because there is nothing to run into unless there are other drivers out there.  You can go in circles, drive straight ahead, anything you can imagine.  As fast as you can…  We saw a couple of motorcycle drivers, but it was quiet on the day we were there.  It was a beautiful California sunshine day with a wide open desert, mountains in the background, dusters forming and all you had to do was press the accelerator and go!  Awesome fun!

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