Country Roads

My first car was purchased from a sketchy looking little auto pace in my hometown that was too small an operation to even consider calling it a dealership. I don’t remember much about getting it except that my mom and I went together to test drive it and the sky was cold and dirty looking, much like the little tan Mazda 323 itself. Apparently, it passed the test though because that little car became mine which meant I could finally start driving myself to and from school and activities – a pretty big deal when you live eight miles out of town and do a lot of school and lot of activities IN town. 

That said, I was a reluctant driver. In South Dakota you could get a learner’s permit at 14 and then you had to take your written and your practical driving test before your 16th birthday, but I waited until the last possible day to do my actual driving test. In fact, I waited so long, the test wasn’t even being offered again in Yankton before my temporary license would expire, so my dad had to drive me to Tindall, a tiny town in our county that apparently had DMV hours on certain days, and that was were I did the excursion with the driving examiner. I can’t remember now if we even saw another vehicle out and about that day but they did at least have four-way stops and one stop light, so I got to show off some of my “city” driving skills all the same. Actually, maybe I was a genius for waiting so long and getting to do my exam there instead of the larger and therefore busier roads of Yankton! 

If I practiced much driving in town, I don’t recall it because it certainly got overshadowed by my country road driving. Our house was on a paved (pink!) road but all around us the land was divided up into mile-sections and those cross roads/back roads were a majority of gravel. That’s where I really learned to drive. And that’s what really freaked me out at times because gravel roads are narrow as all get-out and you’ve got to learn how to drive with one side of the car basically in the ditch when you meet another car/truck/or, heaven forbid, semi or tractor, which can get pretty dicey. Throw in a few rolling hills throughout the terrain where you always have to skirt the edge because you don’t know who might be coming up the other side straight at you, and you’ve got the stuff of nightmares – literally in my case as I can still remember some bad dreams I had about meeting semis on exaggerated versions of our gravel road grid that surrounded our farm. 

Before I got the Mazda, I learned how to drive in my parent’s old (blue!) Jeep Wagoneer. It was our former family car before we got into minivan life, and because we had space on the farm, we kept it for an extra farm vehicle and learning one, too. I don’t know why I didn’t just get to drive the Jeep and went to look for a smaller car, but perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I hit stuff with the Jeep and my parents weren’t too keen to turn me loose on the open roads with it. LOL. What actually happened was one of our neighbors stopped in to chat with my dad about something farm related and I was out by the machine shed, in the driver’s seat of the Jeep. I decided I was going to back up and drive over to see them in the main yard of our place, and, in the process, show off my cool new driving skills. Instead, I showed off my ability to back up into an electrical meter outside the machine shed. Again – LOL! 

Eventually the Mazda got passed on to my brother when it was his turn, two years later, to start driving. It wasn’t the best car and was known to die on us from time-to-time but between our dad and our friends (and probably each other), we got where we needed to be. From there, I started driving a little red, two-door Ford Escort which would be my car for the remainder of high school when I would then inherit my mom’s old (blue!) Toyota Camry for college. I loved my little Escort and it served me well over the years of driving into town for school, work, and hanging out with friends, and sometimes all three on the same day. 

I was a busy kid in high school and, once I got over my slight apprehension of independent driving, my little cars did a fantastic job to taking me here, there, everywhere, and then, of course, back “home, to the place I belonged.” (Sorry/not sorry for the John Denver earworm.) 

*Post 32/52 for year-long writing challenge.


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