Everything I ever needed to know about driving, I learned in New Jersey

IMG_20170430_120611049I followed the Italian woman for a hour on local roads.  Her Audi wagon slipped neatly through the rush hour traffic, and my hulking 12 passenger van chased close behind as we whirled through circle after circle after circle. My GPS was constantly beeping an alarm, flashing red and warning of an imminent forward collision, and sometimes of the possibility of going off the road to the right.  Tiny cars that would fit in the passenger compartment of my van trembled to a stop, yielding the road. Larger vehicles might have noticed the multitude of dents on either side of my vehicle and decided that it was better to just let me pass by than to add to the collection.

The real fun started when we left the final town and began to climb a mountain. The visual of the road on my GPS looked like spaghetti. Switchback followed switchback. Once, I thought I’d have to put the van in reverse, but I just barely made it around. On another one, I did have to let my van roll back enough to clear the corner, throwing the van in and out of reverse with rapidity.  Stone walls marked the border on one side, and guard rails sometimes, but not always, protected against taking the fastest path down the mountain.

Finally we reached the drop off point for our scouts who would have to hike to their campsite. My guide had an appointment and wasn’t interested in dawdling. I wasn’t interested in trying to get down that mountain by myself – the journey around blind curves on a road barely wide enough for one car is much more fun with someone in front of you. She could worry about the head-on collision; I only had to try to keep up.

Once back in the town, we went our separate ways, and after I arrived at my destination, I sent her a text thanking her for leading me up and down the mountain. She responded with, “You’re the best American female driver I met in the last 20 years!!!!”  I’m not bragging; I just want to remember the complement.

And maybe I’m bragging, a tiny bit.

On Facebook, I’ll post a video showing one minute of our trip down the mountain on Sunday afternoon. Bill was driving, and we didn’t have somebody in front of us, so the speed was a bit slower than when I had followed la mia amica on Friday evening.  As we drove up the mountain, George had been singing, “We’re going up the mountain, the mountain, the mountain…” Repeatedly.  Tormenting Mary.  On the way down, he provided the background music, singing, “We’re going down the mountain, the mountain, the mountain…” Repeatedly.

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