Monday, March 15, 2010

The Roooad

Americans love to drive. I love to drive. I am an American. When I was traveling the world I was quite happy to enjoy unique local treasures, the things that can't be found at or appreciated from home. Now that I'm home more than ever before the drive to drive has come alive. Give me time away from the rest of the world, a good car purring beneath me and a selection of favorite tunes to add shading to the scenery and it just sets the skin to tingling.

My dad had a station wagon when we kids were still in early elementary school and I used to love to ride in the "Way Back" cargo part of the car. When he traded that for a sedan Mom would bring all the pillows in the house to make a bed in the floor of the back seat for the oldest while one slept across the seats and the smallest of the three road in the rear window! No matter where we lived in the country and no matter how far the distance one of my favorite road trips was literally over the river and through the woods to Grandma's House.

U.S. Highway 58 started the anticipation building the closer we got to Grandma's. It rose and fell with the land as if it were some sort of asphalt roller coaster. My dad used to get a kick out of flying over the hills and down in to the gully to elicit squeals of delight from us kids while Mom held on for dear life and watched out as best she could for any of Virginia's finest lurking about. When we made it to the church - of the hundreds up and down that road - that was the signal to turn everybody perked up in anticipation. Mom was that much closer to home and family, my dad was closer to the end of driving, my sisters were closer to favorite cousins and I was almost on...the rooooad.

"Grandma's Road" started for me as a one and a half lane dirt and loose gravel affair. I marked time on that road over the years slowly watching state and county coffers pay up to pave the road little by little, farther and farther back in to the deepest tobacco country of southern Virginia, inching ever closer to Grandma's House. It is paved all the way through today, wide, smooth and two full lanes but that road for me is truly where the love of driving began. My aunt and my cousin, her son, influenced me heavily even before I was old enough to drive just by watching how they anticipated turns, eased off the gas just at the right time so the car would roll through without needing brakes to take the curve.

No, my cousin never ran 'shine but he was famous up and down the road for being one of the fastest drivers in the area. I wanted to command a car with the same level of confidence that he possessed and I wanted to enjoy that feeling over long stretches of pavement and time. Time and Grandma have passed but to this day I look forward to the next opportunity to "shoot" Grandma's Road, to move with it as it bends and rolls with the land, the car and I rolling as a single being and locked in rhythm with the pavement.

That and a rockin' tune by Jr. Walker & the All Stars to bring it all back to the day! Shoot Grandma's Road and "Shoot Your Shot!"

Gotta go!

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