So, here's the thing. I hate driving. Like, with a passion. I don't mind, nay, I actually enjoy, driving around town and anywhere that takes less than an hour. But road trips? Fuggedaboutit. I love GOING on road trips, but only if I don't have to drive. When I am a passenger I enjoy cozying up in the front seat with my blankie and pillow pet and taking nice, long naps interspersed with a little scenery-watching and some gas-station trips that are a good excuse to buy Reese's peanut butter cups "for the road."
I recently took a very long road trip with my husband. 1400 miles to be exact. We spread it out over three days and it was lovely! The scenery! The adventure! I only took one nap! And I didn't drive a single mile. When I asked my husband why he brought me along on this trip if he was just going to drive the whole way anyway, he said "for the company." I'm good company. But I'm not a good driver. Not like that - I've only had two speeding tickets and no accidents since I got my license at age 16. So, I'm a "good" driver, but I'm not a happy driver. Not when it means going long distances and/or driving in bad weather.
For instance, tonight I drove 141 miles one-way to pick up my daughter. She was visiting her mom on the other side of the state and the destination is our "middle ground." Mapquest says it takes 2 hrs and 15 minutes to arrive at my destination. That was about right. What Mapquest doesn't say is that it will rain and blow wind most of the way, and my car will suddenly hydroplane, leaving me panicked and confused. Mapquest does not tell me that on the way home, I will drive through miles of construction where the lines are "temporary" and, with the blinding rain and lights, nearly invisible so that I'm not sure which lane I'm in and I have to rely on my 13 year old son telling me I'm not running over the "lines" into the other lane. Add to this my son playing "dubstep" music at full volume and I am in serious need of a cup of calming tea, a chauffer, and my blankie and pillow pet. Oh wait, I'm the driver. Guess that rules out Valium, too.
I just don't like the fact that I'm on the road, going 75 or more miles an hour, in bad weather (or not) and I'm responsible for not only staying awake the whole time (ugh) but also taking care not to injure or kill my passengers by doing something stupid like, say, drifting into the other lane when I can't see the lines on the road. Or hydroplaning into a semi truck. Those kinds of things haunt me. Not to mention being on deer alert. I'm always expecting a strapping buck to come springing across the road in front of me in the dark. What would happen? Would I punt him across the freeway? Or would one of his antlers impale my eye? These are the things I think about as I white-knuckle it down the freeway.
I can tell that long distance freeway driving in bad weather causes me anxiety by the fact that I was unable to eat my hamburger that we picked up on our way because it would require taking my hands off the wheel for 3-4 seconds. When I'm driving around town I can text, eat and change the radio station all at once (kidding....about the texting part. Except at red lights. Heh.) The thing is, I am normally a very relaxed driver. I'm aware, I don't get too distracted, I know my way around and I don't even panic when I'm in an unfamiliar city because I know that I can just turn around at the next light or stop at a gas station for directions. But when I'm on the open road? Where there's not "civilization" for miles? (And by civilization, I mean at least a couple of national gas chains and a McDonald's, if not a Starbucks or at least a 7-11). I imagine all sorts of peril. I feel the need to stock my car with three days' worth of canned food and water, snow chains, heavy gloves, an emergency kit and perhaps a gun to ward off the creepy guy who might stop to give me a hand while I stare at my flat tire because I've never changed a flat tire.
Full disclosure: my leg got tired driving tonight because I could not figure out how to turn on my cruise control. I've owned my van since 2007 and I have never used the cruise control. And even if I did figure it out, I'd probably tap my brakes so many times it would cancel out any benefit of the chance to rest my foot now and then. And because I didn't have it on cruise control, my speed fluctuated from 65-85. Yeah, I know. I'm THAT person. At least I tried to get out of the way when I saw headlights bearing down on me.
So, I started thinking on the way home - do I just need "exposure therapy" to get over this loathe of driving more than an hour on the road? Do I just need a few long road trips, or perhaps one hellacious 24 hour trip to, say, California, to make me say "aw, it wasn't that bad!" Or do I just embrace the fact that I hate driving and be content with my little old lady mentality to keep it to the side roads and stay inside when it snows? Is it in my budget to hire a nice man to drive this Miss Daisy?
Thank God for my husband who doesn't mind driving. And if he's not around? Next time I'll spring for a plane ticket for my daughter. Because the airport is only 40 minutes away.