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Stuck Between A Rock & A 60mph Hard Place

2010 August 21
by shana

highway

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program for a public service announcement.

(Ok… so there is nothing regularly scheduled about this… at all, and it is not technically a public service announcement. Regardless….)

As you may have read earlier, I have already touched on the subject of the new experience of “getting hitched.” One of the effects that this is a slower traveling speed. Not only does the handbook for my vehicle recommend not using overdrive while towing, and yes I actually took it out and read it, it just isn’t safe in most instances to drive much over 55mph or 60mph on the high end. This is in part because as a single axle trailer, it can have the tendency to morph from a portable abode to the wagging tail of a happy dog. As you might imagine, this can get a little scary, especially on considerably bumpy, winding, and otherwise uneven driving surfaces loosely referred to as paved.

So, as a result of this, I tend to drive slower than… almost everyone. Which in itself is a little bit of an irony, since I am almost always running behind schedule and would normally tend to drive (an acceptable amount over) the speed limit to try to make up some time. In fact, if someone were to keep track (which I am sure no one probably would, thankfully) the most common phrase used in my posts would probably be some variation of “I wanted to leave/get there sooner, but…”  (Although please note, hopeful OC statistician with nothing better to do: my awareness of this might alter my future writing behaviors.)

I think I am slowly learning to come to terms with my struggle with time… always running out of it or after it. Driving slower and pulling a camper might actually help me with this – help me put things into perspective. Life threatening situations tend to do that.

Rock = Highway

60mph Hard Place = Long bed semi-truck hauling second flatbed trailer behind it.

Pretty much everyone passes me eventually: cars, motorcycles, RVs, double and triple axle trailer haulers, Sunday drivers, and yes even semis. I am usually thankful when the speed limit has been reduced to one I am comfortable with and yay! for passing lanes. But occasionally, I get on a stretch of road without these perks and can find myself with vehicles behind me anxious to get around. Most drivers maintain a safe distance until they are ready to pass. (a second yay! for safe and considerate drivers)

However, sometimes I get an anxious, late, stressed, or otherwise rushed driver behind me that creates a difficult situation. Such was the case with the aforementioned long bed semi. He wanted to pass me and had even started to a few times. I was prepared to even slow down as he passed if needed to allow him back in the lane. He started out a couple times, and then would slow down and swerve right back. I didn’t understand why,  and was thinking to myself, “just pass me already!” until I saw later that he had a rather long load.

This is why it becomes a hard situation: 1. I have a big semi anxious to get around me which makes me nervous in itself of how much risk he is willing to take. 2. I have a big semi on my bu…mper and even if I wanted to pull over at a turn out to let him by, it is too dangerous to hit the breaks without notice to turn off for fear of him playing bumper cars with me.

So, unless I can see the turn out from a half mile away, to see if I can safely transition from the highway and also get back on the highway which is sometimes tricky with the trailer, I have to maintain the max speed I can safely drive. Also, pulling the trailer makes it impossible to stop on a dime and pull off the highway without a nice pullout or exit where I can do so with minimal turning.

I longingly glanced at several turnouts as I drove past that I couldn’t scope early enough. Eventually I made it to a large accommodating turnout, pulled off the highway, came to a stop, and watched the rather long semi roll past me. I then took a few minutes to take some deep breaths, allow the blood to flow back into my fingers, and then snapped a few pictures.

I am fully aware that it serves no purpose to get angry with something that you have no control over, even though sometimes it seems like we have no control of our own anger. I also realize that there isn’t always a purpose or meaning to everything, at least one that we need to know about. But, if attempting to put a meaning or purpose to something allows me to focus on something positive rather than submitting to anger or fear, I will allow myself these moments to over analyze.

In these instances, I tell myself that maybe there is a reason I am getting pushed down the road; why I am not allowed to pull over or delay my driving. Maybe I am missing an accident that I would have been in had I stopped or been going slightly slower. Maybe I needed to slow up the other driver so he avoided an accident, which is something I tell myself when I am the one stuck behind a slow driver and am starting to get anxious. Or… possibly it is simply to remind me of my mortality.

Reminders of mortality are great things. They give us a little shot of adrenalin. They remind us time is short. They make us re-evaluate our lives: how we are spending them, the path we are on, and the level of fulfillment we have in the areas of our life that are most important to us. Have I told my family I love them recently? Am I smiling and laughing every day? Do I need to spend more time doing…? Do I need to remember to take care of myself so I have more to give to others?

I will wrap this up with one last yay: YAY! for life: the reminder of it and the ability to live, share, and enjoy it.

(Disclosure: This post has been slightly dramatized for effect. I was actually in no more perceived life-threatening danger than any other day that I am driving on the road with other drivers. However, it was still a bit scary and still made me do a bit of thinking.)

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. Jonas Esten-Thomas permalink
    August 21, 2010

    Best post yet. I love it.

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  1. Camper (mis)Adventures – Part IV: Frozen or Flame Broiled? | The Road Taken Project

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