Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Perils of City Driving: Have the streets shrunk or has my van grown?

Wow - where did last week go? My Different Nest has been a Neglected Nest of late, but here is a story about driving in "the City" that I posted recently in the 50-something Moms Blog:

City Driving: Not so fun anymore

Portland Today I drove into downtown Portland (OR) from Camas, WA, the "suburban utopia" I call home for a mid-day appointment. I often go visit the Portland neighborhoods but it has been a while since I've been to downtown, let alone driven in on a week-day.

Either my mini-van has gotten bigger or the streets have gotten narrower, but this trip was a bit harrowing. The simple, and embarrassing, truth is that I'm not used to sharing the road with so many pedestrians and cars. The streets in the suburbs are so, well, wide. The stop lights are fewer, and further in between. And the rush hour traffic home. Oy, I could never deal with it every day.

While I was driving downtown, destination: Smart Park garage, Goal: Don't hit any one, I remembered how I used to drive over to to the East Village from Long Island in my parent's car. At night. At age 17. And it didn't faze me.

As I was driving home, I recalled how I learned to drive on the Long Island Expressway. Yes, our high school driving instructor used tough love to teach us how to merge. In retrospect,he deserved a medal for bravery. But, this afternoon there I was on the freeway, shoulders scrunched up to my ears and hands rigidly set at 10:00 and 2:00 o'clock battling "traffic" that DC Beltway drivers wouldn't bat an eye at.

Now I'm home safe and sound, wondering if it's middle age, suburbia, driving a Dodge Caravan instead of a Dodge Dart - or a combination of all of the above. All I know is that when I retire I want to live IN a city, so I can walk or ride on over to the Early Bird Special.

This is an original 50 Something Moms post. When Carol is not driving her minivan with the largish carbon foot print she writes in her blog A Different Nest.


Pam said...

Hello dear Carol, I have a teen driver in training. I had the wise idea of letting her drive me to Beaverton to visit a friend (two bridges, a tunnel, numerous merges). The drive home by me was not much better........Pam

Lietta Ruger said...

Appreciated your post driving from Camas to Portland and finding something has changed in how you experience driving. I am midlifer and found myself having a reaction not unlike yours a few years back. It didn't get much better over the years either. I decided that I-5 corridor had changed or that I had changed and could no longer drive on I-5 without great deal of anxiety.

I stick to backroads when and where I can, and off I-5. My husband does what I call the 'heavy driving' when it comes to trips that require us to use I-5 or other major interstates.