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How to Turn a 30 Minute Drive into 3 1/2 Hours

This was the day I let our friend Ken Hancock drive our manual rental. Ken’s career was in the trucking industry and he started out driving a manual rig and worked his way up to management. Driver safety was in his area of management. Obviously Ken drives differently than I. The trip from Bozen (Bolzano), Italy–where the famous ice man is housed in an anthropological museum–he is really crinkly and still frozen in ice–to our destination–Funes, in the Dolomites (Italian Alps) was supposed to be about 30 minutes. It took three and one half hours. How can that be? You will understand how when you drive using Ken’s safety rules.

Rule One–Never ever leave second gear. Using other gears wastes gas and ruins the transmission. Yes, you will be driving only 30 in a 90 zone, but you will be safe.

Rule Two–Take the high road. Not that Ken wanted to do this, but he repeatedly did. As he so colorfully put it, “It seems as if we are following this lady to hell!” This was because our GPS female guide repeatedly took us on harrowing trails. One laners at the top of mountain peaks seemed to be the only route GPS lady knew. Literally, we were driving on gravel paths on the top of narrow mountain passes. That was bad enough but when we met another vehicle and no room to pass and backing up was out of the question (Ken had very descriptive words about this–ask him to repeat it when you see him) and steep drops offs on both sides, we did what anyone from Texas on the top of a mountain in Italy would do. We waited and waited until the other vehicle backed up.

Rule Three–Honk loudly and slow way down to a crawl before going around switchbacks. There were many, many switchbacks. Also, have your traveling companion get out of the car and walk around the curve to make sure no one is coming. That goes along with having your traveling companion get out when you need to back up to give you directions.

Rule Four–Stop occasionally to develop new vocabulary to describe the experience you are having. I needed time for this, but for Ken it came naturally. I’m coming home with a whole new set of phrases.

Rule Five–Thank God when you get to your destination safely and remember the absolute beauty of God’s creation you were privileged to see on your three and one half hour journey. And be amazed that you have traveled the road less traveled and had vantage points that a very minuscule number of people have witnessed.

So far on this “encore” journey, amazing car rides have played a major part in our experiences. Each has been priceless and thank you, Ken, for driving so carefully and safely on this Dolomite drive. WEG


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