Posted by: Rob | June 23, 2008

Driving My Life Away – part I

I’ve never really tabulated how many miles and/or kilometres that I’ve driven in my life. My driving “career” is now a little something past 30 years. When I was younger (just young) I loved to drive. I loved to listen to tunes while driving. I would drive a longer distance to get somewhere than it would have been to walk. Just because I loved to drive.

Do I feel the same about driving now? Not so much.

Driving is now more about getting somewhere. In as short a time as possible with no muss and no fuss. (And hopefully with no traffic tickets).

The occupant of the shotgun seat seems to have usually been okay with my driving. I haven’t heard that many complaints (well, aside from my dad), so I thought that all was good. Well, maybe I’ve been a little over confident on that regard. Here’s a few examples of my adventures in driving over the last, oh, thirty-odd years:

1) Age 12:

My dad bought a cut down Volkswagen Beetle to make into a “bush buggy”. By the time he acquired it, all that remained of the original body and trim were the front fenders, the “boot”, the windshield and the two front bucket seats. While the “bush buggy” awaited it’s final body transformation into a hunting and fishing machine, it stood service as my driving trainer.

We lived on the shore of a lake and there was a great expanse of beach in front of the house. I took to driving the Beetle around in a figure eight on the beach. It was a manual 4 speed and I gradually learned all about clutching and shifting. This was before I had started any of the years of informal mechanical aptitude type training that was yet to come, so it took a few laps for me to figure out why there so many gears.

I eventually tired of the circuitous route on the beach and started straying up the gravel road that went past our house. The gravel road ultimately dead-ended after about a half-mile, but the track continued for a ways beyond that. I got into the habit of bouncing along over the track at a heady rate of speed until the road essentially petered out. I would turn round and roar back the way I had come all the way home and into the driveway.

I was out for my usual spin one sunny summer afternoon and had achieved a decent head of steam as approached the end of the gravel and the start of the two rut track. I was unprepared for what happened next.

All of a sudden it dawned on me that there was an oncoming vehicle!

Having had no formal driver training and being – at 12 – a bit susceptible to panic, I did what any other inexperienced, non-thinking driver does. I slammed on the brakes!

I think all the wheels on my Beetle locked up, but the momentum was too great. The other driver had essentially stopped as my cut down Beetle skidded up to and collided with his Toyota(?).

I was flabbergasted! I jumped out of the Beetle and immediately asked the occupants of the other vehicle (there was a guy and a gal) if they were okay. They were. Next I turned to survey the damage. My Beetle’s nose was pushed in a bit, but that was no biggie as it was all slated for demo anyway. But, horror of horrors! The guy’s Toyota was a mess! The grill was all mangled, the hood was bent up and the whole mess was pushed back so far that the fan was lightly scraping the back side of the radiator.

I was falling all over myself apologizing for doing the damage to his car. We’d go see my dad and get it fixed up. (Keep in mind that I was not a licensed driver and there was no insurance on the Beetle.) The guy then charitably mentioned that I did not cause the full extent of the damage. Seems he’d been in a car wreck a while previous and had not had it repaired yet. About all I’d done was push the whole mess back so that the fan was – yeah – scraping the rad.

He got a pry bar out and managed to lever the front end mess out and away from the fan. No leaks. No noise.

He followed me home whereupon he and my dad had a heart to heart discussion. I don’t really recall what was said (or even if I stuck around to hear it). My dad had the gift of gab and was not one to be bamboozled.

Later, I think that dad said the guy tried to get a few bucks out of him, what with the underage, uninsured motorist and all, but dad said he had no proof, and just what were he and his girlfriend up to down that road anyways.

I think the guy left empty-handed.

I never saw him again.

And, no that did not end my Beetle or “bush buggy” adventures, although there were no more like that.

To be continued…



  1. …and your Dad let you live? Would’ve been to the stockade for this GnuKid…

  2. […] June 24, 2008 Driving My Life Away – part II Posted by Rob under life | Tags: Driving |   Continued from here: […]

  3. gnukid: Yeah, my dad was aware of what I was doing. Being number one son, he didn’t really intervene all that much to “correct” me. Even when I probably needed it.

  4. […] silverstar98121 Living in a rural area, learning to drive was a rite of passage. I was amused by Rob’s tale of his early driving escapades, but I have nothing similar to offer. My introduction to […]

  5. […] Away – conclusion Posted by Rob under Uncategorized   I started my driving experiences here and continued them […]

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