Continuous Commute

Commuting alone has its advantages.

I commute 56.9 km from my home to work and the same for the return. It takes about 45 minutes on average each way. I’m lucky in the sense that I usually miss the bumper to bumper driving because of my start and end times at work. Usually.

I don’t mind this commute. I listen to the daily news report on the radio as I drive. It also clears my head after a day of working. This allows me to devote my time to my family when I arrive at home.

Mornings like today are spectacular to drive home in after a night shift. I get to enjoy the sun peering over the trees and casting a light onto my destination- my home. My neighborhood lights up with activity as well. Birds, rabbits and squirrels darting around the streets. As if my drive home has turned me into a Disney Princess and the small woodland critters are greeting me on my journey home.

Or else I’m just really tired and need to get some sleep and stop tripping out. At least I made it home alive…

U-Turn!

Having a day off before the weekend is fantastic. Shopping is easier when the stores aren’t crowded. This morning I thought I’d get a good jump on my day off. Out the door at 8am to drop the kids off at school, then down to the good ol’ U.S. of A for some reasonably priced gas and dairy. I’d even beat the other parents since most school drop off is at 9am.

What a great plan. Or so I thought.

Today was the only day I wasn’t listening to the news radio. Turns out there was an accident at a major intersection that I needed to go through. I was wondering why the traffic was so busy going the opposite direction from me. Got to the detour and instead of heading south I was on my way north.

My brain went into re-routing overdrive. What roads connect where? Which ones won’t be busy? GIDDYUP U-Turn! Followed by a quick right and I was headed down a quiet street. I got this. Smooth sailing so far. Hang a left… traffic looked a bit busy up ahead- just a school zone to get through. Crossing over the other busy street when complete stop. Still about five blocks away from my planned route.

A couple minutes went by and we’ve moved two car lengths. There’s a driveway to my left…U-turn number two! Heading north again in order to go west down another back road. But I need to head east and south! Now I have a Pet Shop Boys song stuck in my head. “Go West- life is peaceful there…”

Finally a road that isn’t busy. The road that takes me home. I can’t go that way- I still need gas! I’m finally heading south. Back roads are fairly empty. Phew. I can begin to head east again. Alright- smooth sailing… construction zone!??!? How in the world is a person supposed to get anywhere? Am I living the traffic jam scene from “The Truman Show”? I gave up and just sat in the lineup. It was a bit of a wait, but not too bad.

I finally made it to the border. Which was not busy at all. My guess is people gave up trying to get through the blocked intersection I was frustrated with that begin my ordeal. Zipped to get fuel and zipped back across to come home. No waiting either way. Going home was easy as well. No traffic this time.

Two hours gone from my day however. But it was my day off without much in the way of plans- so that’s okay. Next time I’ll listen to the radio for traffic reports.

Night Drive to the Airport

Last night I had to pick up my wife from the airport. Since I was working out in North Vancouver during the day, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to drive home first. I’d have driven eastward for 45 minutes just to have headed south west and drive for another 50 minutes to the airport. So I decided to kill some time in North Vancouver and had a quiet dinner by myself followed by a drive through Vancouver.

It was a route I don’t normally take. As I’ve mentioned in the past- I rarely travel to Vancouver. So I took my time and drove over the Lions Gate bridge from the North Shore past Stanley Park and into Vancouver. To my surprise, I really enjoyed seeing this part of the city at night. I can see why my wife would like to spend some time living in this area.

There’s something about city lights and a clean part of the city that becomes enticing. My wife may be able to sway me into buying our next place out that way once our kids are adults. I never thought of myself leaving the ‘burbs. But a nice view of city lights seems plausible. Only time will tell.

Madonna Sing-a-Long

C’mon Girls! Do you believe in love?

I’m just going to put this out there.

I enjoy listening to Madonna.

The other day, I pulled out her “Immaculate Collection” CD from my music assortment. I popped it into my car’s CD player and put it on shuffle.

You know, commuting in and out of Vancouver is much more pleasant when you sing along to music. Boy, do I love to sing along!

Sitting in my car is a crocheted BB-8 that hangs out by my cup holder. I’ll pick him up by the head and flip him around as I drive. His ass makes a great impromptu microphone. Occasionally I’ll stick it in my family’s face to try and get them to sing along as well. A lead singer needs his back up vocals!

Rocking down the highway to some classic Madonna makes me happy. I know most of the lyrics to Madonna’s songs from the 80’s and 90’s. Some of the lyrics I mumble or sing incorrectly for fun. Even though I belt them out, I still have to have her music cranked up. It drowns out my inability to sing. But I sure look like I’m having fun.

So I take a note from one of Madonna’s lyrics:

Express what I got,

oh baby ready or not

Express yourself!

Christmas Eve Close Calls

Today as I was driving to work, I almost got in a car accident. There was practically no one on the roads at the time. I was in a roundabout when another driver nearly hit me. She was clearly not paying attention. Probably distracted thinking about Christmas because she was in a real hurry.

There are certain rules of the road that people need to follow. Yielding to those in a roundabout is one of them. I wasn’t angry at the other driver, just a bit frustrated. But I’ve been on the other end as well where I’ve made a mistake driving nearly causing an accident.

Christmas Eve 1993, when I nearly got in a car accident. I was 17 at the time and my mother had asked me to go get gas and a car wash up the road from our place. My younger sister came along for the fifteen minute car ride. It was probably to get us out of the house in order for my mother to do last minute gift wrapping. It was evening time and the roads were getting frosty with patches of ice.

I was approaching a stop light and wanting to take a righthand turn. That’s when my wheels locked and I slide towards the car that was perpendicular to us. I must’ve stopped inches away from t-boning the driver’s side door. When I stopped, I quickly reversed and then proceeded to make my turn- waving apologetically to the other car.

Once I had turned into the gas station, a police car pulled up behind me with lights flashing. The officer had seen my close call but was kind enough to let me off with a warning and some friendly advice to be careful during the holidays.

I’ve always remembered that moment and taken it to heart. Even with your mind elsewhere, you need to pay attention to your immediate surroundings.

Stay safe over the holidays everyone!

Candy Cane Can’t

I was driving to get the kids from school like I usually do on a Friday afternoon. Being the cool Dad alone in the car- I was grooving to some Christmas tunes on the radio. I also decided that I was going to eat a Candy Cane. Because- Christmas of course!

So I’m driving and trying to open the wrapper with both hands- while still holding the steering wheel- safety first. Just bopping along to some tunes and smiling as I struggle with the heat shrinked wrapper. My smile is now fading as I try and use my teeth to rip into this unforgiving clear plastic of pure evil. I want to eat my sugar treat!!! Why is this so difficult???

I finally got a little tear opened on the bottom of the candy cane. So I went back to multitasking with my hands on the steering wheel and opening my treat. The nearly impossible plastic protective shield was outsmarted by this man! I was about to revel in my Christmas Sugar Rush when the unthinkable happened.

The wrapper split open from end to end to reveal a shattered candy cane.

Nay! Not reveal- but rather EXPLODE!

Candy Cane shards went everywhere. All over the floor mats, the dashboard, my cup holders, and even into my steering column. Instead of a loud cursing scream, my voice let out a cracked whimper of defeat. I was beaten by a cheap Christmas confectionary. The rest of my drive was met with a taunting Christmas jingle pumping through my stereo.

No treat.

No joy.

Just a flaccid piece of plastic wrap in my right hand with a few bits of red and white dust falling out. This is the perfect example of why I don’t like sweets.

Auto Pilot Driving

This morning I made it home on autopilot. I’ve done this numerous times. Just like an ant- I know the route home off by heart.

I caught myself twice that I had zoned out. Once was driving past a police car with someone pulled over. Next, I was suddenly at my exit off the freeway without realizing it.

It still worries me though. I don’t like the sensation of losing the time. Once in a while I’ll take a different route home from the freeway just to change it up. I usually do that if I’m really tired. But it’s that long stretch driving for twenty minutes that has my mind wandering.

I can’t think of a good way to keep myself focused. I’ve tried a variety of music, podcasts, talk radio, even hands free calling.

Who knows. Hopefully one day I don’t have to drive anymore. Then I can zone out all the time.

Driving On 9

Today I chose to drive everywhere by doing the speed limit. I know-crazy.

I’ve always been a Mr. heavy foot when it comes to driving. Over my 25 years of driving- I have had about 20 speeding tickets (3 of which were in my first two years of driving) and numerous warnings. It’s about time that I stopped handing over thousands of dollars in fines and started behaving.

This morning I decided to drive at exactly the speed limit on my way to work. It was early morning, meaning no traffic on the roads. Surprisingly, any other driver I met on the road was speeding. I just stayed in cruise control in the right lane and let them whiz passed me. It was the same on the drive home.

I also chose to follow the rules of the road a bit more closely in order to be able to showcase to our daughter that following these rules are important.

If I’m going to help teach her how to drive- I want her to have a good role model. Time to be that person.

Jacked

We insured our Honda Element today in order for our daughter to learn how to drive a 5 speed manual transmission. I thought it was a good idea at the time of deciding it. Only cost us $708 for four months insurance. OUCH. But at least it won’t cost us much more… except…

Whattheeverlovinghell?!?

Ok, not gonna lie. I knew we would need a tune up service for the car. It had been sitting for about 18 months. So no big deal. Really. I have started it up and moved the car a few times. My daughter and wife had driven it a bit today. They filled the tires and got some gas. I decided to take it out for a drive when I came home from work.

It probably wasn’t the best idea. Lots of driving for a car that has been stationary for far too long. That “Check Engine” light did not disappear. On my drive back to the house from the store, my little Element began to “Jack Rabbit” when I was in 2nd and 3rd gear. I pulled over and shut off the car for a bit before driving again. The car ran smooth for a bit, then began Jack Rabbiting once more. I made it home and have decided that I won’t drive it this weekend until after I get it looked at.

Hopefully it won’t cost a small fortune and that all it takes is simply a couple of twists and turns to tune it up right.

Hmmm now I want to watch “Pulp Fiction” again.

“In The Shape of An L On Her…”

Car!

Random did it. She turned 16 yesterday and went and got her learners permit today! She passed the test without issue.

So my oldest is now learning to drive. I raced home from work so that I could take her out for a spin. She slapped the “L” on the back of my car and we got ready to head out. Being her first “official” driving experience (she may have moved the cars a few times over the past year in our driveway, but I won’t tell) she did everything by the book!

She walked around the car- twice. She sat in the driver’s seat and adjusted her mirrors, steering wheel and seat. Her seat belt went on, she started the car and the radio got turned off. As we drove, she used signals, drove just below the speed limit, shoulder checked, and focused. Our trip up the road to the gas station was one of the most perfect by-the-book rides I have had since probably my road test 35 years ago.

Starting with the good habits is difficult. I know how I drive. I know what my car is capable of. I also know how to *ahem* bend the rules a bit. I had to put all of that behind me and talk with her about how to drive properly. She did great- and her smile afterwards was worth it all. Like back when I taught her how to ride a two wheel bike. She was so proud of herself. That was eleven years ago…

But she’s still my little girl. And I am proud of her accomplishments as well.