Driving Experience

This summer I’ve driven at least 9 different vehicles. 3 trucks, 2 vans, and 4 cars. 4 owned by the Cullers family in some way, 3 owned by Highland and 2 owned by other Highland employees. 4 of which had cruise control (2 of which I used it on), 2 were stick-shift. I also drove a trailer for the first time, and went 4-wheel driving on several occasions in the two trucks that were 4×4-capable.

Mark’s car I drove very briefly, and found it to be very heavy steering for such a small car. It was also jerky idling. Other than that it was problem-free, despite it’s reputation for poor performance. It was a Ford Mondeo, I believe.

The blue camp truck was a stick shift, and a rather menacing one at that. A 1987 Ford F-150 (2-wheel drive, long wheelbase), I drove it on a couple of occasions around camp, and then out on the trash run. It was evil to begin with, but after driving Randy’s truck as well, the skills applied back and forth. The clutch was a long way out, and near the end I stalled it multiple times trying to find it. It also had cruise control buttons on the steering wheel, though I never got it to work.

The red camp truck was awesome, a 1997 Chevy 2500 with 4×4 and automatic transmission. It was this that I towed the trailer with, as well as 4-wheel driving some. Being a camp truck, something had to be wrong with it somehow. I can think of 2 things, the first being part of the connection for the electric brakes didn’t work (though that may have been trailer-side), and 4-Low didn’t engage, and if you could get it to, it didn’t engage the 4-wheel drive. Cruise control didn’t engage below 25mph, but it proved useful on the trash run when we got it out onto the long 55mph stretch.

Randy’s truck was also a stick, but not quite so menacing. A 1983 Ford F-150 (4-wheel drive, short wheelbase), I used it to commute to camp a couple of times. I took it up the 4-wheel drive track a couple of times when needed, and it performed really well. The clutch is a lot closer to the floor, and I don’t stall it nearly as much. It’s also the Gilbert-mobile until we buy a new car.

I also drove Gordy’s car (maintenance guy at Highland) when the other vehicles were in use. A Toyota Tercel wagon, it did the job assigned.

I drove our 1999 Ford Escort until it died last week (see last post).

I drove the green camp van on one occasion during the last week, when I needed to go to the tab and pick up some large items and the two trucks were in use. Didn’t really drive it long enough to get a feel for it, but it seemed nice enough. It was a Dodge or a Chrysler.. not sure which.

I also drove the Culler’s van to Harrisonburg and back tonight to drop off Marsha for discussion group, and got to use the cruise control – much fun. Pretty sure it is a Dodge..?

Lastly is the ’91 Chevy Corsica, Matt’s car now (was Randy’s long-time vehicle until he bought the Explorer). Not much to say for it, it does its job well enough. I’ve driven it several times, mostly to Harrisonburg and back for various things.

This is a much unneeded rundown of the vehicles I’ve driven this summer, but I felt like posting something.

What have I learned from these vehicles? Several things.

  1. 4-wheel driving is fun. Vehicle doesn’t make a huge difference in terms of fun-factor – it’s more about the driver.
  2. Vans aren’t as bad as some people make them out to be.
  3. Stick-shift in trucks, while not awesome, aren’t really all that bad – they just take a little getting used-to and some practice.
  4. Cruise control is also really awesome. I look forward to inter-stating with it, rather than 8-hour drives to OBX in a vehicle without it 🙁
  5. Driving with the park brake on is not advisable.
  6. Check you know how to engage 4×4 before setting out. Some older 4×4’s require the hubs to be locked 😉
  7. Driving with a trailer is pretty easy. Backing with a trailer is slightly harder than normal. I was able to turn the consist 180 degrees in a space about 6′ wider than the truck and trailer in about 5 points.
  8. Always consider that other people with different habits may have driven the vehicle before you. Check the park brake’s position, and that it isn’t in gear, for example, before beginning your normal routines.
  9. Listen to those who have driven the vehicle before and know it’s quirks. Especially when you’re learning about a vehicle. This happened twice for me, once in the blue camp truck (stalled several times with Gordy beside me trying to help me hill-start it), and once in Randy’s truck, when Randy was explaining the intricacies of starting and driving a carburetor-driven vehicle.
  10. Find out where the keys are before you set out. It saves a lot of time in getting to the vehicle, not being able to find the keys, only to find out that a) the owner still has them, or b) they’re in an obscure hiding place that you didn’t think to check.

Enjoy my experiences. Or ignore them. Whichever.

Church and a Lawnmower

Yesterday I mowed the lawns around the house. Usually my brother-in-law does it, but he was busy helping his girlfriend and her mom do yard work at their house, and after being offered the chance to try last week (and enjoying it) I decided to take the opportunity again.

I got out my iPod and started the Christian playlist, thinking I would have my own mini-pentecostal service while mowing the lawns. I thought that an awesome song would come on, that I’d just rock out thinking how awesome God is. I thought that God and I would have a moment, and how cool it would be to blog about what happened. I mean, it’s not the most normal place for God and Man to connect..

But it didn’t happen. I guess God knew that I would have used it for a completely wrong purpose, making it about me rather than about him. Don’t we do that all too often? When things go wrong, it’s God’s fault. When things go right, we’re such awesome people that do such a good job. Right? How often has God done something good in your life and you’ve shifted the focus from the greatness and awesomeness of God onto yourself, whether it be by taking all the credit or by focussing on how funny it was to happen when/where it did, with the intention of building self and intentionally or otherwise detracting from whatever it was that God did for you.

Yesterday I got my full Virginia drivers license, and am now fully prepared to drive to work in Washington DC alone every day (assuming I get the job I’m interviewing for tommorrow morning). Speaking of which, I’ll have another 4 hours tomorrow to church alone (well, with my wife), and if I get the job I’ll also have 4 hours a day to church (really alone!) as well.

In other news, last night I made two phone calls to New Zealand, the first being to my Mum, and got to talk to my Dad and my brother as well. Mum was doing well, Dad was getting over a cold/flu thing, and my brother was doing pretty well also. I asked my brother if he had given any thought to what he wanted to do in the future (work/study-wise), and he said “Film and Media, or higher English” and on asking to clarify the higher English, he suggested he would like to write fan-fictions (fiction stories using famous characters in a prequel/sequel-type situation, think a continuation of Star Wars or the Matrix, or episodes of CSI or Law and Order). I suggested he could try to create his own characters and write something original as well, or even go so far as writing stick-figure based cartoons, since he described himself as a poor drawing artist.

The second call was to my only living Grandma (my Mum’s Mum passed away nearly a year ago now), again to wish her a happy mothers day and to catch up a little. She also had a chance to talk, for the first time, to her grand-daughter-in-law. I was worried about calling them after Dad mentioned that my Grandad wasn’t doing well mentally, warning me that “..if the man who answers the phone sounds like Grandad, but doesn’t recognise or seem to know who you are, don’t be surprised or upset..” He’s in his 9th decade (80’s ;-)), and after a stroke or two these things tend to happen! I was rather pleased when he did answer and was very quick at responding to what I was needing, seeming at least to recognise me (may have had something to do with sounding like my Dad and calling him Grandad?)

We’re also house-sitting for a friend (who was housesitting and had to go to New York with her family for the weekend). It’s a pretty awesome house, we’re planning to take photos of some cool things we’d like to try to make or remember when our turn to decorate comes around. They don’t have a lot of things on display, so there is minimal clutter, but what they do have is high up and generally pet friendly.

Lastly I wanted to mention that we’re going to stop in at Front Royal on the way home from the interview tomorrow and check it out for size and shopping facilities etc etc. It’s apparently somewhere between Broadway and Harrisonburg for size with a population of around 13-14,000 people and we wanted to get a feel for what was there and what was close by compared to what we would have to drive for.

Anyway, thats more than enough rambling from me for another day or two. Happy Mothers Day!