Tuesday, October 1, 2013


So last week I wrote about driving to Arizona.

My son needed his car. His car with the manual transmission, to be more exact. I probably hadn't driven a manual transmission for almost 20 years. I wasn't all that excited about trying to re-acquire that skill.

I had checked into transporting the car, but the cost was prohibitive. I had considered other alternatives- paying my nephew or some other poor starving college student, waiting until Thanksgiving, flying my son home and taking a couple of days off of work to drive the car back with him. And pretty much what my decision boiled down to was the fact that I'm a single mom, with two kids in college, and not a lot of left over funds at the end of the month.

So I was contemplating taking a quick weekend road trip. 12.5 hours down on Saturday, then flying back sometime on Sunday.  And I was terrified. Not really of the road trip- I've done lots of those by myself and I kind of like those hours of thinking and prayer; but rather of driving the darn stick shift. I hadn't driven a stick for years, maybe even 15 or 20. I wasn't sure I could get the car out of my neighborhood, let alone all the way to Arizona.

Last week I sliced about the drive. I also told about a million people that I was considering it. Most people responded pretty much the way I probably would. That's a long drive! Are you sure? Can't he wait until the next break?

Most people.  Penny, my roommate from college, saw the situation a little differently. Penny's husband works for an international engineering/construction company and she's an adventurer, a world traveler who's lived many different places-- Arizona, West Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Washington State. Her three kids are pretty much grown and Penny has spent the last two years teaching in Turkey, then recently moved to Malaysia. On the blog, Penny commented:
 "You can do it! I learned to drive a motorcycle at 53 years old. Go by sound..if the engine is revving, change gears. Use the parking brake if you have to start on a hill. If you're not sure about anything, push in the's a safe bet. Good luck!
 And those are the words I thought about when I got in the car on Saturday morning.

I was still terrified, still dreading the trip, but I kept thinking about Penny driving a motorcycle at age 53. As I started the car, I thought, "If Penny can drive a motorcycle in Malaysia, you can drive this dumb stick shift car to Thatcher, Arizona."

And as I lurched out of the neighborhood, I thought "If Penny can drive a motorcycle in Malaysia, you can drive this dumb stick shift car to Thatcher, Arizona."

As I drove the 700 miles down I-25 (and especially after I realized I had miscalculated and had to go one hundred miles farther south than I had planned) I thought, "If Penny can drive a motorcycle in Malaysia, you can drive this dumb stick shift car to Thatcher, Arizona."

And as I drove the last 180 miles over scary, narrow, one lane, curvy mountain roads in the dark, I thought, "If Penny can drive a motorcycle in Malaysia, you can drive this dumb stick shift car to Arizona."

And when I pulled up in front of the dorms, after 13.5 hours of driving, I thought about Penny. 

I'm so thankful for the spirit of risk taking and adventure that she has brought to my life for the past 35 years.

I'm so thankful for her friendship.


elsie said...

You made it! Sometimes we need those echoes in our mind to keep us moving along. Now I wonder what will be your next challenge? Whatever it is, you will be able to handle it.

writekimwrite said...

What an inspiration your dear friend was to you. Our fears are often tamed by friendly encouagement and example. I like the way you crafted this with a challenge calmed by the repeating phrase.

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

Woo hoo! You did it, have the adventurous spirit, too, which listened to the voice of your friend.

Nanc said...

wow...I love that you kept your girlfriend's thoughts front and center....I'm so glad that you made it through the winding hilly best suggestion is always put it in 2nd around the took me a while to learn, but now you will never ever forget! I know your son was happy to see his friend and you arrive safely!

Penny Jansen said...

Woo hoo!!! I'm so glad you made it and even happier that you had some time with your son. I'm sure he's happy to happy to have the car..I so "get" what you did!

Ruth Ayres said...

Carol, you can do anything!You are a child of the King.

Laura Lynn Benson said...

You did it! Like Ruth, I know that you can do anything! xoxoxo