First Day Driving


Recreational Vehicle

Recreational Vehicle (Photo credit: *Grant*)


To prepare myself for my maiden RV voyage from its home base in Ramona (San Diego County) to Los Angeles, I started the ignition, took a deep breath, and said aloud, “OK, grow some balls.” Then I invoked the family tradition of starting vacations by reciting, “One, two, three, h..e..r..e we go.”

I pulled up on the emergency brake to release it and  . . .  couldn’t.

Abe the mechanic had set it. The difference between his strength at 40 after 25 years of manual labor and my strength at 63 after 40-plus years of strenuous typing is significant. Even using both hands to pull up the lever was insufficient. So I had Abe sit in the driver’s seat and release the brake. Then I grew some balls and drove off.

I was terrified. I was exhilarated. I made it a full 30 minutes before swearing.

Driving along a two-lane highway, traffic soon piled up behind me. When the road broadened to four lanes, I signaled right, checked my side mirror, and saw that many of the vehicles couldn’t wait the 10 seconds it would take for me to move. They were zooming past me on the right, making it impossible for me to change lanes. “Damn it,” I yelled, facing right. “Let me get over!” The cars behind me must have heard, or perhaps noticed my right-turn indicator and the circumstances preventing me from changing lanes. They waited and were rewarded by my slow-moving vehicle moving into the right lane.

My language for the following 45 minutes was rated PG before employing the root word “fuck.” By then I was on the freeway, in the far right lane that is, theoretically, for slower-moving traffic. Unfortunately, the far right lane also accommodates vehicles merging onto the freeway. I let as many cars in ahead of me as I could without necessitating any vehicles behind me to slam into the back of the RV.

The stream of merging cars, SUVs, and trucks at one entrance included a small blue car that would need to take its place behind me. Or at least that was my judgment based on physics. Checking my right-side mirror, I couldn’t see the blue car. Looking out my right-side window, I saw him. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me! You’re playing CHICKEN with me?” I screamed. The driver either heard me or took into account the narrowing lane and looming RV on his left, because he fell back.

SoCal drivers won’t be surprised to learn that incidents such as this one occurred with increasing frequency the closer I came to my destination: Los Angeles.

6 thoughts on “First Day Driving

  1. One of the many things in The Rig I gave away when I sold it was an honest-to-God Claxton train horn. Paul was going to mount it – but I strongly disapproved. Maybe I should have willed it to you? Just remember, do us proud and DO NOT stay in Walmart parking lots just for the free night.

  2. Were you on I5 by any chance? Nightmare road. But then all busy interstates are nightmares when busy and you are driving an RV. We are 40 feet long truck and trailer and other road users have no idea whatsoever that you cannot maneuver as easily as they can. My stomach is in knots the whole time we are on busy highways and I’m not even driving! And, sorry Karel, SoCal drivers are not the best. May the Gods be with you.

    • Yep – indeed I was driving on I-5 and the 405. I have made a solemn vow to never again drive between San Diego and Los Angeles. I’m proud to note that so far (about 14 days into my journey) I’ve kept my promise.

  3. Hope you’ll soon describe your RV (in and out) so I can make a mental image of your immediate surroundings …

  4. Ha, ha – oh my; if you’re barely out of the city and swearing like a sailor already, we’re all in for a bumpy ride! Take a d-e-e-p breath and r-e-l-a-x … it WILL get better. You’ll be an “old hand” in no time.

  5. LOL. Wait til Lyle reads this. Pretty soon you’ll have a list of RV stories, all of which, Lyle can relate. Keep em coming. BTW: what is your tow car? Hidden Valley Lake has an RV park if you ever get up our way. Have fun!

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