Friday, June 23, 2006


Everyone is in a bigger hurry than everyone else these days. I know. I get in a hurry myself sometimes, and we all make mistakes. So I try to drive as if other drivers don’t see me. But, It seems like a lot of folks on the road drive as if other drivers don’t exist. Scary.

I get cut off in traffic quite often. Sometimes it’s by the boys who souped up their moms’ cars and watched “The Fast and the Furious” a few too many times. Sometimes it’s by the guy in the Beemer who knows his car’s faster than mine and doesn’t want to ride in my wake. The worst, though, is the SUV or minivan that cuts in front of me with a Jesus fish on its rear end.

I often wonder how would Jesus drive. Would he be in such a hurry to pass his fellow man that he’d cut him off in traffic – without so much as a courtesy wave – and potentially cause an accident? I think not. The man turned water into wine. I don’t think he’d need to speed around me to get to the Starbucks drive through first. He waited three days to rise from the dead. I don’t think he’d run a red light just to get to another red light on down the street.

If you’re going to advertise your religion on your car, you might want to try to display some of the qualities that made the religious figure you claim to worship worth following. And I don’t mean following as in tailgating. I mean following as in emulating. I’m no theology scholar but I have a feeling that the whole “love thy neighbor” thing didn’t involve road rage.

You call yourself a writer?

I’m a writer. Well, that’s what my job description says and technically I do write for a living. But I sometimes think I’m not very good. Maybe my job is too easy. Maybe it’s too rote. Maybe it’s just the same thing day after day and I haven’t learned how to creatively say, “This four-door sedan excites me more than the last four-door sedan I drove” or “This over-priced three-bedroom, three-bath home has features you’ll find nowhere else.”

So, what does excite me? I really do like driving new cars and writing about them. I can’t say I critique them because I really don’t. I get to list their features and talk about why those features are great. But, I really don’t get to say what bugs me about a car. I can mention Mercedes-Benz locates their cruise control in an inconvenient spot but I have to put a positive spin on it. I can say the seats of the Impala are “a little too roomy” when I really want to say the seats are designed for fat American men. I can say that the GTI is fast, fun and good looking – which it really is. What I can’t say is that it is overpriced for the size of car it is and the insurance would probably also be too expensive considering the demographics of the target market. I’d love to work for a publication like “Car & Driver” but I have a feeling the boys over there don’t take kindly to a little woman thinking she knows anything about cars or driving. Well, I’m learning.

Soon I will begin my new car hunt in earnest, and when I do, I’ll be armed with the knowledge I’ve taken from my work doing test drives. Minus the positive spin of course.

Trip to Lincoln

Back in late March, I took a trip to the UK with my boyfriend. We started out in London and ended up in Edinburgh, Scotland. We took a train from Kings Cross to Newark North Gate and then on to Lincoln to visit friends.

Lincolnshire isn't as large or as well known as some of the other shires in England. But it's a lovely town that houses a cathedral that’s over 800 years old, a castle and Joe Cook, who gave us a private tour of the Stonebow and Guild House.

Our hosts, Steven and Dorothy Roper took us first to the cathedral. "The Da Vinci Code" filmed some scenes there and we were able to see and photograph some of the left over props. Afterward we had hot chocolate at the hotel where Tom Hanks stayed and learned that Ron Howard had eaten at the Old Bakery where we had our room. The food at the Old Bakery was quite good although we only had breakfast there. Our room was cozy and comfortable with a small bathroom at one end.

It's too bad the movie wasn't very good. The cathedral is beautiful and more people should see it.
Later we met Joe Cook at the Guild House. A friend of our hosts, Cook entertained us with the history of Lincoln, the Guild House and his time in the army. He works for the mayor, and has since the early ‘80s. He had stories of Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana.

He explained, “You address the office not the person” so “Mister Mayor” is appropriate – and even insisted upon – whether the office is held by a man or a woman. The current Lincoln mayor is a 4-foot, 8-inch woman, who is tough as nails, according to Cook.
Later we visited the castle, whose walls offered great views of the cathedral and surrounding Lincoln. Inside the castle we visited the old prison, or gaol, and stood in the prison chapel where prisoners were separated from each other by high stalls that resemble cattle chutes.

For dinner we drove to Louth for fish and chips at Mr. Chips. Albert, Steven and Dorothy all ate mushy peas, which, to me, looked like radiated refried beans. They’re a sickly green mush made of peas – thus, the name. They really did look like radioactive refried beans. Just looking at that pile of goo covering the tasty fish and chips made me feel ill.

Our whirlwind tour of Lincoln was much too short. There's more to see and I recommend anyone visiting the UK make a stop in Lincoln, even if only for a day.

The grass is greener

I’ve discovered a downside to test driving new cars for a living: it makes me have disparaging thoughts about my Jeep.

I like my Jeep – most days of the month. It’s gotten me through hard times. It’s taken me to great places. Normally, I sing the praises of my Jeep. I’m proud of its 215,000+ miles. I feel safe in it. I don’t know if I would be as safe from hit and run drivers (I’ve been hit twice on the same quarter panel) in a smaller, newer car. Most of the time, I love my good ol’ 1993 Jeep Cherokee Sport.

But on the days I test drive a new car for work – whether it’s a car I’m really excited about or not – my Jeep loses all its luster. Yes, the honeymoon has been over for awhile but we’ve settled into a comfortable relationship, like an old married couple or a favorite pair of jeans. And then here comes a hottie – a Mazda CX7 or a VW GTI – to turn my head. It’s hard to be loyal to my heap after driving something with all that horsepower and torque, eight-way power adjustable heated leather seats and radio controls on the tilting/telescoping steering wheel. Not to mention shiny new rims and a 6-disc CD changer (the Jeep has cassette deck – yeah, cassette, it’s a ’93 people!).

After driving a new car, especially one I’m excited about, like the CX7 I drove today, I don’t love my Jeep. I want it to go away. I don’t want to sit in its busted old seats and listen to its tinny radio and not know if the intermittent wipers will work. The Jeep is lifted so it rides rough. It’s loud. It doesn’t have a moon roof or power windows or a sport shifter or a voice-activated navigational system or keyless entry.

It also doesn’t have a payment. I own it free and clear. My name on the title and the title in my possession – when I think about that, I remember the good times and why I love my Jeep and it looks a lot better.

I still wish it had a moon roof.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Welcome to my ramblings. Here I plan to write about things that interest me -- mainly cars (test drives), travels (when I get to), books and things that bug me. I'll try not to whine too much though.

If you're here to read my thoughts and maybe comment on them, welcome and thanks. If you're here because you're a crazy stalker, get lost!