Posted by: Rob | July 9, 2008

Driving My Life Away – conclusion

I started my driving experiences here and continued them here.

Now it’s time to draw this reverie to a close.

I don’t think I’ve driven a million miles…yet.  Maybe a million kilometres though.  Over all that distance, there’s only a handful of anecdotal conversations worth sharing.

1) February ’94: We were on our way from Kansas back to Calgary.  My dad had died and it was necessary to make an unplanned trip home.  It was the usual driving straight through journey.*  It was dark.  It was the middle of the night.  We were somewhere in Nebraska, not far from Chimney Rock.  It was very foggy.

Shelley, riding shotgun, wakes up and opens her eyes.  All she can see is a wall of fog.  “How fast are you going?” she asks.

I look down at the speedometer.  “Sixty-five.**  Why?”

“Can you see?!?”

2) It’s July ’94.  We’re headed north again for a summer visit and a family reunion.  It’s Saturday.  I can’t get as much time off of work, so I’m just driving the family as far as Calgary.  We left home Friday after work in two vehicles, stopping to leave my car at the airport in Wichita.  The plan is for me to fly back to Wichita from Calgary and return to Canada a bit later in the month in time for the reunion.

We’ve driven all night through severe thunderstorms, high winds, torrential downpours and even some hail.  (Yeah, there might have been tornadoes around, but we never saw any.)  In the bright light of a sunny day after a storm, we pass the odd semi that’s been blown over and off the interstate.  We’re westbound on I-80.  I’m itching to make some time.

Suddenly a white one-ton van passes us in the left lane.  I recall a flag hanging in the rear windows (not sure which country) and there are other soccer related stickers all over the back doors.  The guy driving the van is not wasting any time.  Moments later a Ford Explorer passes, traveling as fast as the white van.

Ever hear of the white rabbit?  I decided that van was mine and I picked up speed to pace those two.  The van was about a mile ahead of me and the Explorer in between.  I had trouble keeping them in sight sometimes.  I continued to signal in and out of the right lane, overtaking the slower traffic.  Only an idiot stays full time in the left lane all the time.

Suddenly, Shelley looks over at me and says, “How fast are you going?”

I look down at the speedometer.  “Ninety-four.***  Why?”

“That explains all the dirty looks we’re getting.”

It didn’t last too long.  It wasn’t many more minutes before I could see red and blue lights on the far horizon.  Throttling back to a speed more reflective of traffic we eventually passed our white rabbit.  I think the Nebraska Highway Patrol was giving him a good going over.  Better him than me, I guess.

3) Deja vu time.  It’s March of ’07.  Ann and I are returning to Iowa from our first vacation together in Arkansas.  Our original plan was to make the drive – a day long drive in itself – from Devil’s Den to Ann’s place in Des Moines in one day and then drive up to Dubuque to retrieve Katy from Ann’s folks place the next.

But in talking with her mom, Ann learned Katy had the flu and pneumonia.  Stricken with worry, the travel back plan was changed to go directly to Dubuque from Devil’s Den.  Across Missouri.  A much, much longer day.

As soon as we entered southeast Iowa we encountered foggy patches.  By the time we were on Hwy 151 from Cedar Rapids towards Dubuque the fog had socked in like a solid wall.  Between fatigue and Ann’s desire to reunite with Katy I was pushing it a little.

Finally, Ann said, “Can you see?!?”

“Yes, I can.  Why?  I wouldn’t do anything unsafe.”

“Because I can’t see a thing.”

Ann busied herself by singing along with the XM radio until we arrived – safely – in Dubuque.

Having just completed yet another marathon road trip, I find myself less and less inclined to do much driving anymore.  On the most recent trip down to Iowa we passed a few Amish buggies.  I wondered to myself if they haven’t got it right.  They are certainly immune to the current staggering increases in fuel prices, aren’t they?

Maybe I could be Amish too?

* Shelley and I shared driving duties.  I would drive for 10 hours and she would drive for 2, then me for 10, she for 2, and so on.

** That’s mph, not km/h.

*** Um, again, that’s mph, not km/h.



  1. 2hrs, eh? Hmmm.

  2. The way things are going we may all wish for the life of the Amish. But not yet, I still like fast buses.

  3. Only 94 mph? c’mon, you can do better than that… i’ll look forward to that story (likely written from jail, of course [chortle])…

    but 65 in the fog? [shudder] oy!

  4. ugh, driving. almost as bad as flying.

    I want a bicycle. except when it rains.

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