Driving Lessons

We are learning so much about driving and the differences as we move about the country. Learning how to drive in Scottsdale, Arizona where everything was on a grid system was nice. I remember drawing out a map with a ruler in English class at Horizon High School. I added my home and school and then two miles out from that and I was so proud to show my friends how many of the streets names I knew. Most of them were oblivious and I really liked how my world seemed to open up. As a kid you hop in the car and it mostly all rushes past you in a blur, but now those blurs meant something and becoming a driver was exciting.

In Arizona, since the streets were planned out on a grid it was important to know where North was. Back in Massachusetts, where I’m from and my parents learned to drive, that really didn’t matter at all. There you knew landmarks and needed to keep coins for the tolls if you were doing any distance driving. Mom had to adjust to envisioning her world through a compass when we moved to Arizona. She learned quickly though driving all around the state for my competitive soccer league games with Sereno!

There are no tolls in Arizona. There are also no Turnouts or Parkways. As we drive across the country my world is expanding more and my lessons are continuing.

Navigating the California mountains near Yosemite I first encountered Turnouts.


I was climbing the road in the RV and picking up some travelers behind me and I missed one Turnout and oh my did I make them mad. Once the road opened up I had several angry California drivers pass me. One passenger looked up at me with his mouth gaping in what I thought was amazement and then quickly realized was disgust. He mimicked swerving on the road and looked really angry. Thanks to that experience I will never forget what a Turnout is.

Now the second part of Turnouts is how to use one. It’s not big like a passing lane in Arizona and many other places where you have lots of space to plan it out. It’s short and curvy. It’s about the length of 5 trucks. To use a Turnout in a 35 foot RV you have to slow down enough to enter it, let the multiple cars pass by and then keep momentum to then get back on the road and oh yeah there are blind turns because Turnouts are on curves of mountains. Agggh! By the time we got to Jackson I was done driving for the night. Too much 20, 30, 40 mph variations, turns and tight roads. We actually had our friends from www.simplelifefullhearts.com following us in their RV with their vehicle trailing them, so to be fair I understand the California drivers being a little upset…

I came up with a catchy slogan to go on the back of my RV for future times when a small angry car wants to get around me but has to wait. “I drive slow for my precious cargo”

Our first Parkway happened following the Waze directions from Concord, MA to Pelham, NY. We had a small red car in front of us that was directing us to pullover. He was relentless. After we passed one exit he started waving again adamant that we pull off the road. I pulled off into a town, walked the perimeter of the RV and was really upset to see nothing wrong with it. I thought he had played a joke on me and was making me later to visit my brother, Mike, which was already going to be a short trip. When we got back on the 15 Parkway we immediately had a driver shake his head at us. Then the warning signs started on the bridges above us. The heights were low. We passed through all safely, but I lost my cool. Then there was an exit because all over height vehicles had to exit at that point because the next bridge was 10′. Thank goodness! We were free to leave.

This was super stressful rush hour traffic. This I also believe is the kind of stuff that keeps my mother awake at night worrying about us. We are always very careful to look for signs like truck routes and bridge heights. It turns out this time Waze tried to take us on a quicker route and not on the 95 which would have had no height restrictions. My brother said we are lucky we didn’t get a ticket since trucks aren’t allowed on the Parkway. Parkways are only for cars. Not 35 foot RVs.

Our newest philosophy with parenting our 12, 10, 7 and 4 year old these days is to learn through mistakes. They are necessary. It’s how you learn.  This is also true for adults… I will never forget what a Turnout or Parkway is.

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