Monday, June 23, 2014

On the Road Again—Alone

Driving 600 miles in a day by myself never used to phase me, but it sure does now—especially when it’s unknown territory. I attended my first professional Christian writers workshop in Cedar Falls, Iowa, a short jaunt northwest of Waterloo where one of my nieces lives.

After 30-minutes of grip-the-steering-wheel driving at the Kansas City exchange, I drove state highways for most of my trek home and turned a 9-hour trip into a 12-hour one.

I thought I would feel safe. Safe away from speeding traffic. Safe with my speed. Safe that a little town would be coming up soon for a pit stop. Safe knowing if I made a wrong turn, I would not be 20 miles or more down the road before I could legally turn around—I did almost end up driving back to Waterloo the morning I left. So to return home, I took the less traveled roads and I ended up feeling all but safe.

I discovered I cannot see. I could not read the road signs until I was about as far away from them as I am at the doctor’s office when I sit in that chair reading those giant letters—now that may work for an eye exam but not for driving on highways.

My lenses are up-to-date, so maybe it is my age, but my husband sees fine. I just have bad eyes. Worn glasses since I was 8-years-old, pay the max for thin, light-weight, scratch-resistant, glare-free lenses, and gave up most night-time driving years ago because my astigmatism makes it more difficult. I just have poor eye sight. Must have been all that sitting too close to the TV when I was a child. Mom used to make me back up.

Garmin GPS is my husband’s friend, so why did I not plug her in? She was in time-out for not being up-to-date with the names of streets in Waterloo. I got all twisted around when I arrived, but a simple phone call to Jessica, my niece, straightened me out. Had I used Garmin on my way home, she would have announced the names of turns long before I could read them, so I could prepare. But no, my grudge kept her in the back seat. Yes, Garmin is a girl.

I enjoyed the morning view of storm clouds in the west, but that didn’t last long. The drive turned out to be as stressful as any clover leaf highway system. This time my wheel-gripping went on for more than 30 minutes as I contained the car to my side on the two-lane highway in blinding, pounding rain.

My wipers worked well and the sermons and radio talk shows kept me company. I wondered if I should pull over and ride it out, but no, I wanted no delays. I wanted to get home.

My prayer life was pretty active that morning too. I thought of my husband’s nephew, Daniel, who while I was gone, had a dangerous accident on the interstate near Tulsa. He’s okay, but a couple of vehicles are not. That was another reason I took back roads. Hearing of accidents when one is on a long trip is unnerving.

Driving in new territory never freaked me out like this trip did. I was more nervous about driving than I was to show published authors what I had written. How weird is that?

What would I do differently? A couple things. Call for person-to-person directions to my destination and use Garmin on the interstate back. Even though the turn-offs and exchanges by large cities make me nervous, it would have been less stress driving in torrential rain on a road with more room.

The road less traveled by, in this case, wasn’t worth the stress on my body and mind. And one more thing, I should have had a massage scheduled the morning after the trip—or in my case, maybe an eye doctor appointment.


  1. I've driven all over the States myself. Mostly by myself. Heck, when I was stationed at Fort Bliss, TX I would drive 10 hrs one way to see my parents in Oklahoma. Now days a 3 hr drive hurts. Age affects us all. I still love to drive, but man I can't drive straight through like I used to.... haha

    1. I hear you, Bobby! I ache too sometimes. My problem is psychological. I've driven the rush hour interstate exchange out by Denver three times. Never phased me a bit. Now if I was planning a trip out there by myself, I'd have a restless sleep the night before. Old age seems to make me aware of danger.

  2. Whenever I drive home in bad weather, my shoulders always ache for a long time after I arrive. Hold all my tension up there. By the way...our Garmin is a girl to. Her name is Sally. :o)

    1. we calls ours Garmina and I'm still sore--gotta get back to my exercise routine