Yesterday, I drove about an hour and a half to the VA clinic for my appointment with my doctor. The appointment was in the afternoon at one o’clock. As I started driving down the two lane country roads I started to feel happy. There’s nothing like jumping into a car or truck, firing up the engine and going for a ride. The area that I am driving on in is mostly farmland and ranches. The roads are blacktop covered and most do not have a shoulder to pullover on if you needed one. But the feeling of freedom and excitement both accompany me as I drive down the road. There are no mountains here but there are some substantial hills. There are many curves and turns the take you from one Vista to another. Many places along the road are like something out of a picture. Acres and acres are fenced off with white fencing and in the background are cows and horses. There’s even the occasional llama or donkey in those fields. The speed limit on these roads is usually 60 miles an hour. And I think as a young man I would’ve driven at least 60 miles an hour or faster. Now that I’m older I’m usually at 60 mile an hour or under. Here in Texas many of the roads are called farm to market roads (FM). I know when I first got to Texas I was living near Houston Texas and a street signs displayed FM 1960. At first I thought it was an advertisement for a radio station. Yesterday, even though it was raining a little bit, the drive to the doctor was fun. There is something about having a hand on the steering wheel and your foot going from the gas pedal to the brake pedal. The freedom that you feel and the fact that you determine where you are going are great. Driving on the old country roads you run across all kinds of vehicles on the road. They could be a large John Deere tractor or an 18 wheeler. I think out here there are more trucks on the road than cars. But that doesn’t mean that there are not some beautiful looking cars out here. Last week I saw a Studebaker convertible driving down the road. I didn’t even know Studebaker made convertible. Of course there are a few jacked up trucks with loud mufflers attached to the diesel engines. There are the older vehicles, called farm vehicles running the roads too. My 1991 Ford F1 50 long bed is one of them. They don’t look pretty but they take care of the job of bringing feed back to the house. It is also exciting to be driving this old truck. You know the anticipation of a possible break down while on the road. It is a lot of fun setting up tall in a truck. My truck is four-wheel-drive and so I am fearless as to what kind of terrain or road I drive on. But it is also fun to drive a Corvette down the road. It seems like the closer you are to the pavement the faster feeling like you’re going, even though you’re going the same speed.
I realize that sometime in the future I will probably have to give up driving. I know I had to work with my mom and dad, before they passed on, to get them to give up the keys to their cars and quit driving. But until that time comes along I will have some fun out there driving around. I really enjoy the years that I owned a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and drove the roads with even more of a feeling of freedom. There’s just something about sitting on the motorcycle, hands on the handlebars with the wind flowing around you. Of course I’d be lying if I didn’t say I love the roar of the engine. With every Harley-Davidson that I bought the first thing I did was change out the factory mufflers for some loud aftermarket mufflers. I like the fact that whether it’s a motorcycle, a truck or car; you can take the time to customize it.
That brings to mind another reason I like to drive. There is a lot of pride to be had when driving down the road in a vehicle that you’ve taken the time to customize. For a lot of people in my generation that means spending a lot of money to either fix up an old car or buy one that has been fixed up by somebody else. Whether it’s a very old model A Ford or a 1932 Mercury, is a thrill to see them and more of a thrill to drive them. In my wish list I would like to have in 1950 Chevy 5 windowed pickup truck. That doesn’t mean I would not have a thrill driving a brand-new Camaro, Mustang or a Charger. I like the concept of cruising, just slowly driving around your area. Sometimes the windows are down and you start waving at people you don’t even know.
For me one of the big thrills early in my life was getting a driver’s license. And as soon as I could afford one I bought my own car. Of course my parents put me on their insurance policy so I could afford to have insurance. My first vehicle was in 1960 Renault. To customize it I bought some wheel covers with some spiked like affects, like an old Roman chariot. You may not have seen the car driving down the road but you saw the flash from the wheel covers. The only problem was that the rings were shot on the engine and if I had to stop at a stop light or stop sign there was so much smoke coming out of the car you cannot see behind. I’m sure there a lot of people behind me at that time who curse my name. But as I kept on working I was able to buy in 1965 Ford Mustang convertible. It was blue with white interior. It had a 289 ci engine with the four speed. Even today when I see a picture of the car I wish I still had it to drive. As a young single man before going into the service, I bought a new 1970 MG roadster convertible. After getting married I went from a very big Monte Carlo with swivel out seats to a Honda Civic. I owned a long list of cars, trucks and motorcycles. The common theme in all of them it was the feeling of freedom and excitement that I got from driving them.
I did not enjoy my two hour drive to work in heavy traffic while working and living in Los Angeles. But it did teach me a few driving techniques that are still used today. As I’m getting older I do not enjoy driving at night as much as I used to. But whether it’s sunny or raining I still really enjoy driving my truck. It gives me the freedom to go anywhere I want and it provides me with the excitement of driving the roads.
I don’t know if or when I will buy another vehicle, but I know that I will customize it so that I can feel that it represents me. I know that in the future there is always been talk about the car driving down the road without human driver. I am pretty sure that I will not alive to see that day. But I still hope that it does not happen. I hope that every future generation can have the thrill of driving a car.
As I said in the beginning, I love to drive. I hope you do too.