Thursday, April 27, 2006

1 Weird Thing

OK - so you guys are all sharing 6 weird things about yourselves. And, I have thought and thought and can really only think of maybe 1 thing that might qualify as weird - so for what it's worth... here goes!

Driving: My parents had to force me to get a driver's license when I was 18. They even bought me a bribe truck - a brand new Chevy S10 - in order to tempt me to drive. The only problem was - there was something majorly wrong with the truck - like it would slip out of gear. So, I would be sitting at the red light, it would go green, I would step on the gas - and go ... ummm... backwards (that is just one example)!!! Oh yes, it was giving my poor Mom absolute heart attacks sitting over on the passenger side, stomping her imaginary brake and going "aaahhh, aaahhh, aaahhh", which in turn just put my nerves on edge! I don't think driving lessons were the highlight of our relationship, to say the least!!! In anycase, that truck and I just weren't a good match. Finally, Dad brought the truck to the shop - and the mechanic was - should we say - a bit patronizing? I mean, afterall, we are talking about a brand new truck and a teen-ager trying to learn how to drive - who is at fault? Nonetheless, they agreed to put it up overhead and take a look - and after determining that there was nothing wrong with the thing, they lowered her down and she promptly took off, across the shop, knocking over all the toolboxes and colliding with the back wall. Hummm, very interesting! Dad took the truck to another dealership and traded it in for a full sized truck and that was the end of me having a truck. The only good thing that I could see that came out of it, there was no more talk of me getting a drivers license for another year!

But eventually I had to learn how to drive. And with a driver's license came a series of very interesting cars. I used to have a Mustang in San Francisco and you absolutely had to STAND on the clutch to get it to go in - really fun while parking on those steep hill, let me tell you. If you tried loosening the clutch cable - the clutch would fall off - oops! Oh yes, that car was a real beast - at any stoplight you had to be standing on the clutch, and then the other foot had to be pushing in the brake WHILE also keeping pressure on the gas at the same time or else it would stall out on you. Not a fun car in traffic! Well, come to think of it - not a fun car for me at all!

I moved back east and for awhile drove a series of what I call "disposable cars". I even had one that my poor mechanic finally just decided not to work on anymore - he even offered to help me find a new used car! Eventually, I went through all my disposable cars and bought a used Mercury Cougar - and talked one of my sister's into going to look at it with me - she did the test drive! Nope, I did not drive this car before I bought it!!! I was too chicken to drive such a nice car that didn't belong to me - I mean, what if I crashed or something?

Skip forward to last spring - I was on the Cape and DH wanted me to bring a tractor up to Canada for him. Um, hello! We had a tiny little, beat-up, pick-up truck, then add a tow trailer, a tractor - is that little truck really going to make it up over the hills of Maine? I don't think so! But DH dearly wants that tractor, plus some attachments - like brush hog, post hole digger, rotar tiller... My brother had told me that the tractor was 4' across. I had been wanting a bigger truck - a truck with a front facing back seat for Little Boy's car seat instead of those side jumper seats. So, kill 2 birds with 1 stone, right? My bright idea was to get a new truck big enough to fit the tractor in to, so off I went to a truck dealership with a tape measure and started measuring truck beds. Came home with a new/used truck and was feeling pretty plucky! Except then my brother had to explain to me that, yes, although the truck bed was 4' across and so was the tractor - the tractor still had side pieces, etc. that came out further than 4', so no, it wouldn't fit in the back of the truck - I would need a trailer. Deep breath. OK, no problem. I got a truck with a factory installed tow package so a little landscaping trailer was my new plan. But then my Dad told me that it was easier to backup/tow a big trailer than a smaller trailer. He explained that 2 wheeled trailers swivel - much better to get something with more wheels - they are just all around much easier. Ah, ok - makes sense to me. Dad has been towing trailers for years so he must know what he is talking about, right? So, went off with Little Boy (not yet 2 years old) in my new truck to get a 16' car transporter. No doubt about it - 16' can't possibly qualify as a little trailer - I just knew Dad would approve! And more good news - I mentioned to the very nice sales lady that I had never towed a trailer before, that the plan involved a 2 day solo drive to Canada with a tractor (and a baby) and could she give me any pointers? You know - sometimes it helps to ask for help in life, because, boy was that lady ever a BIG help. She taught me everything I know about driving a trailer, how to hook it up safely, umm - the fact that with such a big trailer it would be a good idea to get an auxillary braking system, and all kinds of good stuff! And when I drove it into Dad's yard and he had me back it into the most impossible place in the entire world - I was right on. Dad was crowing with glee that I was a born natural. And soon after having the truck equipped with an auxillary braking system, Little Boy and I were off on our adventure. Sort-ov! One of my sister's was there when I pulled out and she definately didn't think my load was tied down correctly - so she called her DH to chase me down to double check everything. Well, brother-in-law prompty grounded me for another night while he rushed off to buy more heavy-duty tie downs and proceeded to make sure everything was ship shape and safe for the journey! Thank goodness, because now when I think about it... phew!

And brings us up to... BIG BOY. Yup - that is my RV in that photo. My DH drove it the first 2 years. I don't think I even ever sat in the driver's seat! Except now DH has a different agenda and so if I want to use that RV, well it is up to me to get it from Point A to Point B. And lucky me, my girlfriend from FL came up north for vacation last summer and taught me how to drive it - I mean, at this point, I could drive a truck with a trailer, so why not an RV? And I've been driving it solo with Little Boy ever since! Towing the car (my BMW which I love, love, love after some of those other cars I suffered through). And drive Big Boy I have - along the New Brunswick coast, on ferries (yikes!) and down to the Cape (that 2 day drive trip). In and out of different campgrounds and different parking spots and so far I've done pretty well. OK, so I took a wrong turn once and ended up on a dead end street - and no, you can NOT back up with the car behind you because that is a really weird tow dolly that swivels one way and the car goes the other. It is IMPOSSBLE to back up more than - say 2 feet. So that means the entire car has to be unhooked, etc. But, that was really the only jam I got into - otherwise, I've done fine (with my Little Co-Pilot!).

And, if that isn't a really weird thing - going from being forced to get a driver's license, being too chicken to do my own test driving for a Mercury Cougar, to buying a truck and trailer to tow a tractor, to driving that RV because I want to use it - well, I don't know what is weird. And, oh yeah - forgot to mention that DH drives a Chrysler Pacifica which I absolutely REFUSE to drive because I think it is too big!!

Big? Well, Big Boy is 37 feet long, plus the tow car. He has all the creature comforts of home on board - including a washer/dryer. AND, Little Boy and I absolutely LOVE him - he is like a part of the family.

So, if you think you can't do something - I am here to tell you that if you want to do it badly enough - you CAN do it. Just remember - ask for help along the way if you need it!
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Jeanne said...

Oh, Evelyn, I am LOVING every word of this!!!!! I can't believe you can drive that thing, with a tow, yet! Haha, and I don't even like to venture onto the freeways here. ATTA GIRL, Evelyn!!!!!!
{{{Huge hugs}}} Jeanne :)

Jeanne said...

And wait -- I forgot!
NO, I don't think that's weird. You're just waaaay above and beyond me ... but of course now you are my automotive role model!

Dave's first car was a Celica 5-speed. Tony went with him and after they brought it home, Dave wanted to push it out of the driveway and then start driving forward. He didn't know how to let out the clutch in reverse.

{{Another hug}} Jeanne :)

Vicky said...

What a great story! And not weird at all! Just great!

Funny thing is I've been wanting a motor home for a couple of years now. But I was afraid I wouldn't be able to drive it! Now I know I can!!

Oh, and I hear you on the disposable cars! I had one that wasn't that bad, until the whole dashboard fell out and almost broke the foot of the attorney riding in the front seat with me! Talk about get rid of that puppy in a hurry!


Ann said...

Evelyn.....WAY TO GO!! You are woman, hear you roar! I loved reading this story! Thanks for sharing!

cher said...

nope, not weird, just amazing! this is a great sure grew in your driving ability and must feel you can do anything if you want to-way to go-

Patti said...

I can't imagine driving such a huge rig - and towing a car! What a good job you have done overcoming your fears. I wouldn't call this wierd at all - except for the fact that you didn't want to learn to drive. My daughter took drivers ed as a 16 year old, but she didn't like driving. I had to force her out of the house 6 months later during Christmas vacation to go get her license so I wouldn't have to cart her around any more.

Inga Helene said...

Okay, there's hope for me driving also, hehe..........


YankeeQuilter said...

Great story! I'm impressed you got through the hills of New England but how did you get around Boston? Route 128 with a trailer and you live to laugh about it!?

I learned to drive a standard on an army 2-1/2 ton truck with blocks tied to the pedals because I am too short to reach that not embarressing!


Dawn said...

I loved your learning/not wanting to learn to drive story! I have an 18 year old son who has no desire to learn to drive. We have yet to get him behind the wheel!