Friday, February 7, 2014

Learning to Operate an Automobile


I have begun with learning to drive Tobbit which has been an exhausting adventure in itself. Few things terrify me more than driving cars. One of the only things I can think of that is more frightening is the prospect of being "in love" with another human. Luckily, that's pretty easy to avoid. Not driving has also been easy to avoid up until now. I still could avoid it but, then, well, with owning Tobbit my '81 VW diesel Rabbit truck, that might not the be wisest of ideas. I gave myself the choice of learning to drive or selling the truck that I'm learning to call home.


The first person to ever teach me to drive was Alex S. He took the time to work me through driving a manual back in 2008 in the rural realms of Eastern Washington. It was a short lesson and pretty soon I was going around 65 mph down the road. He gave me another run through in a parking lot earlier this month.

Papa Duck was the first human to take me on the road with Tobbit. We spent a few hours going in circles and I learned to be more confident in changing gears.

Tobbit is a manual truck without an rpm gage (revolutions per minute) so I have to learn to change gears based on the sound. I'm starting to learn what the different sounds mean. When I shift into a higher gear as we speed up down the highway, his sound changes into something more comfortable and it reminds me of the sound that a human makes when you give them a really good massage and hit all the right spots.

 At one point, I was trying to start Tobbit on a hill. That didn't work. That's where I got to start a collection of photographs called, "Tobbit Is Not Running."


Alongside that collection is a series of photographs that will be called, "Big Guys in Little Tobbit."


Papa Duck is a tall lanky man and seeing him in Tobbit made me laugh each time as it reminded me of a big kid getting in one of those red and yellow toy cars, his knees hitting the steering wheel. The next day, Dustin, from the word of competitive square dancing (we met because of the Pacific Northwest Teen Square Dance Festival, PNTSDF, and both started competing back in 1999), was another tall guy to get in Tobbit. He took me out driving the next day.

There was a huge difference between driving with Papa Duck and Dustin. With Papa Duck, the world was sunny and bright - with Dustin, we managed to make it in the rain at night which was a whole other experience.

I hate driving at night.
I hate driving in the rain.

I hate barely being able to see anything while going some 60 mph down the slippery road. But it all ended well and we only got into two pickles. We drove around Tuesday night and ended up at the home of Callie, Lorilee, Gary, Brett, and Dustin. I spent the night in Tobbit, parked in front of their house. The night was pretty loud and served as the perfect white noise for my sleep as the rain pounded on Tobbit's roof. I discovered a new leak and will have to try and fix that this upcoming week, once I travel again away from Lopez Island and on to where my parents live.

In the morning, Dustin and I headed out again - I had a quick appointment with my periodontist. That morning, I managed to accidentally do my first freeway driving. Dustin was super good at keeping me calm, "Everything is ok. It's ok," he would tell me, which was exactly what I needed to hear. I also did a weird left turn on Bothell Way which was not my favourite thing to do - but I did it.

Later that afternoon, we were just about to head home for lunch (quinoa parsley salad and cabbage/broccoli/carrot/carrot/parsley juice) when I decided I wanted to do one more loop, taking Dustin out on a route that had been crafted with Papa Duck the day before. It had the craziest winding turns up and down hills and made me want to laugh each time I drove it.

Well, I found it (North Castle Way in Lynwood, in case you wanted to experience it yourself) and away we went... until it was time to go up the hill. On dry pavement, Tobbit did fine climbing up that hill but now that it was wet, it was en entirely different story. I'm now learning that I have to be in first each time I want to go up super steep wet hills. Mid-way up the hill, Tobbit gave up. It was right before a hairpin turn (awful viability) so I knew I didn't want to get stuck on the wrong side. Luckily, there was a small overgrown driveway on the right so I did an emergency pull off, hoping I could get Tobbit started and back him out and back down the hill.

Ha.
Ha ha.
Ha ha ha.

Me? Back up properly? In this weird situation?
Thank goodness for AAA.

I backed up wrong so I pulled up wrong and soon, we were a few inches away from going down the ravine. To make things a bit more uncomfortable, the emergency brake had just stopped working recently (within the past few hours - my emergency brake is held together with a zip-tie) so taking my foot off the brake wasn't my favourite thing to do.

The man came and winched us out of the situation.
I was grateful.
Home for food.

Driving is kind of crazy - especially with an automobile that doesn't like going up steep wet hills or even starting on a hill. Hopefully I can work on starting on a hill with Alex soon.

2 comments:

  1. I've been driving since 1986, and a stick since 2000, and I managed to get my car stuck on the Gosses' (friends from the contra world and TX) driveway the last time I visited them alone in Portland. I had to call AAA to come push my car forward enough that I could back down the driveway without AGAIN getting it stuck on their concrete barrier to the right. The AAA lass stood behind me to wave me out so she wouldn't have to help again. So, I feel your pain and want to underscore that it's nothing to be ashamed about.

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  2. Nice tips dear. I learn form your blog and get answers of my questions. Machine Casters & Hand Truck Casters

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Your words make me grin.

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