All of these car posts brought up memories of my past driving experiences.  Some of which I had documented back in the late 90s.

In high school, I had to keep a "daybook" all four years for Spanish 1-4 and my senior year for my dual-credit English class.  I had to make five entries per week.  It was somewhat like a diary, but I didn't really write the deepest, darkest details of my life.  It was more a collection of themes in my life, big events, photos, and for spanish, a lot of spanish words with pictures.  It was right up my alley, which made it an assignment I always enjoyed.  It melted my heart to see this note on one of the pages of my senior daybook as I flipped through it today.

So, all this car talk led me on a search for a daybook entry about my bad driving experiences, which caused me to stumble upon a guest daybook entry by my sister.  I remembered having her make an entry, but didn't remember what it was about.  Turns out, it was perfect for this post:

It starts:
"I can't believe you're getting ready to graduate!  I don't know what I'm going to do!  Who will I fight with and call names behind their back?  What clothes am I going to wear?  I always steal yours, and you'll be taking them to college!  Can you believe you're only 16 in this picture?  Remember before you got your license--we always talked about how we would always just take off when mom got on our nerves?  Well, we forgot one very important thing.  Mom owns the car, and she probably wouldn't give us the keys.  (She probably knew how bad of a driver you would turn out to be!) Ha! Ha!"
Then she goes on to describe two of the events listed on my daybook page titled, Bad Driving Experiences.

This list sums up my first two years of legal driving (and two experiences before I was legal) and it goes like this (with some added details):
-Sliding in to the ditch on Brook's hill {this was in the Chevy Caprice Classic}
[Ashley's describes in her entry above: " were taking me to a party, and it was the middle of the winter.  We were in Huntsville, right across from Prenger's, and you turned left to go up that steep hill.  I asked you if we could make it-and you ignored me. We got halfway up, and we slid backwards.  We went in a ditch, and I couldn't hardly get out to push because our front was up a lot higher than our rear, therefore, making my door so heavy I couldn't open it, and since yours was stuck in the ground, I had to force my way out.  Then you got the great idea for me to push the back and I thought you were going to run over me that way because every time you pushed on the gas pedal, we just slid further backwards - so I pushed from the front.  This only suceeded [sic] in making the ditch bigger and getting us more stuck.  So we called Shane [our cousin] and he came and pulled us out.  (I got to the party 1 hour and a half late.)] 
-Backing the Vega out of the garage, hitting the shop, and getting stuck
[This happened when I was probably 14.  Our sweet, elderly neighbor had died, and we were parking the Vega in her garage, which was perpendicular to my dad's shop.  The new owners of the neighbor's house had stopped by to move in some of their things.  Ashley described this incident in her above entry as well: "Remember when the neighbors asked you to move the Vega and you thought you could handle it so you backed it out of their garage, hit the shop, and got stuck?!?!  then, you made me push while you gunned the engine and spun the wheels.  Finally, you gave up on my abilities to lift a car out of a RUT (you made) and you called David Earl [another cousin] to come get us out."
-Almost sliding into Rox's garage door on the ice 
[This one actually wasn't me.  I was just a passenger.  My friend, Roxanne, had just gotten a white Mustang convertible for her 16th birthday in January and we took it out for a spin.  As we got back to her house, we came into the driveway a little too fast, she hit the brakes, we skidded on the iced over concrete heading straight for the closed garage door.  Luckily, we came to a stop just centimeters from crashing through the door.]
-Fishtailing and almost going over the bridge at 12:53am.
[I have no clue.  I don't remember this.  At all.]
-Sliding off in the ditch with Dianna after church
[Again, not me.  I was just a passenger with my friend Dianna. This had something to do with staying out too late the night before, snow and ice, and a sharp curve on a gravel road.]
-Being a designated driver (before I had my license) and having to drive 10mph between two trucks
[I was 15.  I was at a party with a bunch of seniors and got nominated to drive someone's car home.  But for "safety", they sandwiched me between two guys in trucks.  Apparently, they thought I couldn't handle driving because they literally drove with their brakes on the entire 15 miles home.  It annoyed me.  Even at 15.  Even with senior guys.]
-Having a flat tire at Trevor's at 2:00am
[This was the Caprice.  Trevor was my boyfriend.  Apparently it bothered me to have a flat tire.]
-Passing for the first time and almost getting run over by a semi {this was in the Chevy Caprice Classic}
[This was a truly bad experience.  I had my permit and my mom was the passenger.  We were behind a slow car on a two lane highway.  My mom encouraged me to pass (remember, she had been driving the "sporty" Vega for years) when we got to a long straight stretch.  It was my first time ever passing.  I was nervous, yet excited.  I put on my blinker and stepped on the gas.  I remember not having any idea how fast I should go or how much room I needed.  I also didn't have any idea that I should check my rear view mirror.  I veered into the oncoming traffic lane and was startled by the hammering sound of a semi truck horn.  I jerked the wheel back just in time for the semi that had apparently been right behind me to pass me and the car in front of me.  Seriously.  I almost lived the beginning of the movie Christmas Vacation when Chevy Chase pulls the car under that semi while driving down the road.]
-Fishtailing up a hill into a field {this was in the blue Ford pickup}
[I was taking Ashley to yet another party.  (Apparently she attended a lot of parties in middle school and I was her chauffeur.)  This happened on a gravel road not near our house or the party, so I'm not sure why we were where we were.  I was going too fast, as usual, fishtailed around a corner, and instead of overcorrecting, I just drove straight up an embankment and into a field.  Luckily, it was an un-fenced hayfield.  And luckily, my dad hayed it so I knew the exact lay of the land.  I drove right out without stopping and on our way we went.]
-Going into the ditch driving KT's car
[This was my bff Katie's cute little Saturn, but I was the driver.  It was the middle of the night.  It was on gravel.   It was snowy and icy.  I tried to pump the brakes, but the Saturn insisted on going straight into a ditch instead of around the curve like I wanted it to.  We stopped.  Katie and I looked at each other.  I put the car in first gear and we drove right out.]
-Almost getting hit at a stoplight--getting flipped off.
[Don't remember.  No idea.]
-Annavee backing into the light pole at McDonald's
[Again, I was just a passenger.  Annavee and I were in her aunt's huge van taking her cousins to McDonald's.  She backed up right into a light pole.  And we drove off.]
-Muffler falling off the Vega/Vega overheating
[As if the Vega wasn't embarrassing enough, the muffler fell off and you could hear me coming from miles away.  Then it overheated and that was the end of its days.]
-Driving the truck off into the ditch by Shane's {this was the blue Ford pickup}
[People were at my cousin Shane's house and I was in a hurry to get there.  I popped over a hill on a street in town, going way too fast, and off in the ditch I went.  It was a deep ditch.  I remember the truck being practically on its side.  Either Trevor or Shane pulled me out, I can't remember.  Sorry Mom and Dad, that you're just now finding out about this.]
-Getting stuck at the lake in the Vega
[We piled in the Vega with a portable grill, rafts, and some sunscreen.  By the time we left the lake, I had the Vega stuck in a serious mudhole.  We were all pushing and finally got it out and on its way.  Revving out of a mudhole without a muffler is even louder than regular driving without a muffler.]
-Bumper falling off the van in front of Hardee's
[This goes back to the light pole at McDonald's.  A week later, we took Annavee's cousins to Hardee's and the rear bumper "mysteriously" fell off the huge van.  I'm sure it didn't have anything to do with backing into a light pole.  Sorry Linda, if you're just now finding out about this, too.]

So there you have it.  I see a theme of late nights, winter weather in Missouri, and gravel roads.  And maybe sixteen year olds.  And parties.  And being in a hurry.  

That brings me to my first road driving experience, at age 14.  My mom and I had been to my grandparents' house and were driving the two-lane, hilly, curvy highway home.  Like me, my mom is prone to motion sickness, and she had it bad.  She laid down in the seat and let me drive all the way home!  Then she screamed "put on the brakes" as I barely slowed for a ninety degree curve.  We made it, but I never drove on the highway again until I was 15.  Luckily, she wasn't with me for any of the above adventures, except the scene from Christmas Vacation, which she can't really be mad about since she told me to pass. 

And at age 32, I feel like I turned out to be a pretty good driver.  But, I guess you'd have to ask my passengers to be sure.

Here's my old blog post about the Caprice, as promised:

Summer vacations meant all five of us loading up in the 1985 white, two-door Caprice Classic.

This was the “good” car, and my parents’ pride and joy for many years. I remember all the trips we made to Columbia, walking around car lots, talking to salesmen, asking about options, and test driving different vehicles. I remember the list of options my parents put together for the big day when they finally ordered the car. I remember that the day we went to order the car, my dad forgot the list they had worked so diligently on and had to re-think of everything they wanted. He knew he had filled every line of a college ruled piece of notebook paper, and therefore there were 32 options they were requesting. (In my mid-20’s, this made a very fun bar game—guessing and writing out the 32 options on a cocktail napkin.) And I remember the Caprice’s maiden voyage when we drove the car home and took pictures of it in the backyard from every possible angle.

This car had everything my parents wanted: navy blue cloth interior (that a drunken college friend once deemed velour), air conditioning, hand crank windows (so we wouldn’t get our fingers smashed), Whitewall tires with spoke wheels, only one side mirror (so the car would fit in the garage), two doors (so we couldn’t open them ourselves) and a coordinating navy blue pinstripe down the sides.

On day two of Caprice Classic ownership, we went to buy plastic covering, which was custom fitted to the entire inside of the car floor, in order to avoid any stains from spills. Next, we purchased navy blue towels and covered all of the seats. To this day, I don’t understand all the precautions because we weren’t allowed to eat or drink in the car anyway.

Twenty-five years later, the Caprice has over 200,000 miles on it, has gone through ditches, fishtailed on gravel roads, rolled four deep in the front and five deep in the back, has seen the east coast, west coast, and Gulf of Mexico, moved all of my furniture to college, survived three children and then three high school and college aged drivers, and is still going strong.

Many times, in the ghetto of Kansas City, great proposals were made to me at stoplights and gas stations, offering much more money than the ‘ole girl was worth. (She’s too old now to even look up in the Kelly Blue Book.) The plastic and towels are long gone, but my dad still keeps the faith and plans to restore her some day. For the time being, my brother enjoys the boat and uses it*, even though the muffler is missing.

*Jacob no longer drives the Caprice, but did manage to really add some damage to her before he bought his own car.

I’m guessing she’ll be getting special antique car plates in the near future.

[I found this picture of interior cloth options. Look how many choices there were in 1985! There's nine different shades of gray!]

So, just after Cliff read my last post about his car, while laughing he said, "I'm glad you didn't drive it at night."  Which reminded me that the headlights are so poor that he leaves them on bright at all times, still can't see more than a few feet ahead, and never gets bright-lighted by other cars to turn them down.

Also after making my last post, my dear friend Julie reminded me that I had quite a history with my own set of vehicles.  Which in turn, reminded me of my sketchy teenage past with bad driving experiences.  (Post on that to come later.)

Just after my parents were married, they bought their first new car together.  A 1973 Chevy Vega.  Canary yellow.  Stick shift.  And then my dad had a black lace pattern added right down the middle of the hood and trunk, which seems to me to be some kind of racing stripe gone bad, but he claims it was totally in style at the time.

Here are some examples of other Vegas from 1973, which prove a solid black (or white) stripe was in style.

And here's an ad for the Vega, which even mentions the stripe.  This is the color of my parent's Vega.

Two years later, they bought a brand new bright blue Ford pickup.  Here is what it looked like in a different color.
And here is the color it actually was (without those wheels).

And 10-12 years later, those were the two vehicles my parents still owned.  As a child, the Vega was cool.  The back seats folded down and there was no separation from the trunk, so we could roll around back there, stretch out, and watch the sky out of the glass in the hatch.  Since it was a sporty car, my mom treated it that way.  She peeled out a lot and revved and gunned the engine a lot.  She also got several speeding tickets. 

When I turned five, after much deliberation and shopping, my parents finally bought another brand new car.  They had saved and saved and paid cash for their special ordered 1985 Chevy Caprice Classic. 

It looked just like this, except with only two doors instead of four (you know, for extra safety with their three young children.)

(This car inspired a post on my old blog, which I will post again soon for your enjoyment!)

The Caprice became "the good car".  Every time we were shuffled out the door, we begged and begged to take "the good car."  Usually, we still drove the Vega. 

But, by the time I turned sixteen, my parents were mostly driving the Caprice and the Vega had pretty much been parked.  The year I turned sixteen, they bought a brand new, white, Ford one ton dually, flat-bed truck.  Obviously, I wasn't interested in driving that.  So, I inherited the Vega as "my" car.

That's me driving to school in "my" car just after getting my license on my sixteenth birthday.  I had to time it just right to get to school every morning when the least amount of people would see me.  And I had to drive a certain route so that the least rusty side showed toward my schoolmates.  But that little Vega got me around.  If it hadn't been for the rust, it would have been a really, really great car.  Besides the fact that every time I pushed in the clutch the whole car lurched to the right and all of my friends screamed and hung on for dear life. 

By the time I left for college, my parents had decided to buy a brand new 1998 Ford Explorer to take a road trip to California and back.  And about one year into my license I had burned up the engine in "my" Vega.  So, I then inherited the Caprice, which had no rust, but was even more embarrassing since it practically took up two parking spaces.  But, that baby could get me and about seventeen friends wherever we wanted to one carload. 

After that, I ended my bad car history (which also included several times of driving the blue Ford pickup) and bought my own first new car, which was worthy of a post on my old blog.  I'll re-post it soon, too. 

So, Cliff and I are now even with our bad vehicle pasts...or maybe I'm even a little in the hole. 

Dating Cliff means the addition of several things in my life: some insane legal clients, extra taxes, the hounds, and an 85 gallon fish aquarium, among other things.  But there is one thing that comes with Cliff, that just doesn't agree with me.

His Grand Prix.

This car is a real piece.  Mostly it just sits in the driveway, but every once in awhile, we'll start 'er up and take 'er out.  But regardless of how much I complain about riding in it, Cliff is ever-so-proud of it.  He's proud that it was in a million pieces when he bought it and now it's put together.  He's proud that he paid for it in one lump sum.  He's proud that it got him through law school and to and from Michigan during that time. 

It's not bad from the outside.  Just one small flaw.  A kid backed into the driver's door one night, and Cliff took it to a mechanic friend for replacement.  Cliff still quotes the friend as saying, "All grays are the same" and so Cliff ended up with his new door looking like this:

It's kind of difficult to tell from the picture, but the door is a flat gray, and the car is more of a silver.  It's less hard to tell in person.
So, our other options for burning gas and miles are my Jeep Grand Cherokee and a truck.  Therefore, most of the time, we end up taking my Jeep everywhere.
On most Wednesdays, I drive to a school 45 miles from our house to do a group with the 7th and 8th graders there.  I have always taken my Jeep.  But this week, we have been to Court in Linn County (75 miles away), to our office in Brookfield (60 miles away), to our office in Keytesville (30 miles away) twice, and tomorrow we have to go to Court in Linn County and our office in Keytesville again.  So, to save some gas and miles on my Jeep, I had the "great" idea to drive Cliff's car the 90 mile round trip for my school groups today. 
Typically, my complaints come from the passenger seat.  Little did I know, the driver's seat is even worse.
First of all, I had to actually use the shifter thingy.  When I'm the passenger, I try to put it out of my mind.  But as the driver, I actually had to touch it.
Okay, so the actual handle isn't as gross as this, but I like to exaggerate for Cliff's sake.

I got on the highway and looked down to see I was traveling at zero miles per hour. 
Thirty miles into my trip, the speedometer finally started working.  Cliff claims this had never happened to him before.
What had happened to him before was the driver's window falling down.  It stopped working a few months ago and he warned me before I left: If the window falls down a little when you shut the door, just jiggle it back up by putting a hand on each side of it. 
What he didn't tell me is that the window might gradually fall down the longer I drove.  By the time I arrived at school, after 45 miles in Missouri winter morning temperatures, the window was like this:
I thought I could forget about it all; just tune it out by listening to NPR.  I looked down to find my station and saw this:

The clock doesn't light up, so I didn't know what station I was on or what time it was. 

I finally found NPR, turned it up all the way so I could hear it over the wind coming in the window and the resulting heater turned up full blast, drove however fast I was going, and made it to and from school just fine. 

And then I got home and teased Cliff more than necessary.

And next week, you'll find me in my Jeep.
The original purpose of re-starting my blog was to share the hysterically funny things that happen in Small Town, USA...where I now live.  It has started off as being more about the funny things that happen in my personal life, rather than the things that happen because of my move to the Boonies. 

So, I do plan to blog more about my country life in the future (you know, like meeting more Amish buggies than cars on the highway).  Today, I may already be meeting my goal.  I think this is a small town thing, but correct me if I'm wrong. 

Trivia Night.

Trivia Night is a Saturday evening fundraising event, usually held at a school gymnasium or local community hall.  It consists of about 20 teams (or 3 teams at one in which we participated) of 8-10 people each, answering 8-10 questions each in 8-10 different categories.  Answer sheets are graded at the end of each round and points are tallied.  A limited number of mulligans can be used.  And there are usually side games, like word association or movie titles based on dvd covers, for extra donations happening throughout the evening. 

Is this happening in the cities? 

We. Love. Trivia Night.  Especially the ones that have free beer.  Oh, I forgot to mention (and this has to be a small town thing) that everyone brings a homemade dish to share with all participants.  So, they set up a long row of tables, full of snacks, several coolers full of beer and soda, and everyone feeds their faces and has a really good time. 

In 2012, we competed in six Trivia Nights.  In all six we came in as the second place team.  Our motto became: Always a Bridesmaid, Never the Bride.

Saturday night we competed in our first Trivia Night of 2013.  We had honed our Trivia Night process.  We had set up the octfecta of trivia perfection--my mom, my dad, my uncle Bob, his girlfriend Chris, my aunt Lisa, her fiance David, my brother Jacob, and me.  (Cliff couldn't play because he was hosting the gig.) 

We each played an integral part at least once.  I'm sad to say my moment of "ringer" fame was when I was the only one that could identify Gary the Snail from Spongebob.

After ten rounds of ten questions each, the scoreboard was final and the winner was announced.


Our team--Dog Without A Bun--took the blue ribbon!  We came in FIRST PLACE! 

And Cliff swears, that as the official scorekeeper, he did not rig our score.

So, here's to 2013 being our year.