Monday, 11 March 2013

Road Trip

Okay, I can do a road trip. Sunday was my experiment with long distance driving solo in my truck. I drove down the Pincher Creek on Highway 2, then drove back up on the Cowboy Trail. Leaving at around 10:15 AM, in total it was a five hour drive but I stopped in Pincher Creek for an extended lunch. No beer, just coffee and seafood fettuccine. On the way back I detoured out to Bragg Creek, just for the heck of it.

I learned a few things about driving long haul on my own. First of all, and most importantly, I learned that I can do it. With the wheelchair crane, seat lift and hand controls I can, for the moment, independently get into my truck and hit the open road. I am still mobile; I can still go when and where I want.

The next thing I learned is that I need to use cruise control a lot more. For much of my driving life I have not used cruise control. I've always preferred the feeling of the gas pedal and brake, the sense of contact with the road and my vehicle, that awareness that comes through sensing the motion and pulse of the road beneath the wheels. Holding the hand control for the gas pedal for long periods of time is extremely tiring. I need to use the cruise control more often, switching to hand controls when road conditions demand it. If I have to do a long stretch with only hand operated acceleration, I will need to rest more often.

Thirdly, I learned I have to go slower. I need more time, if only a fraction of a second, to respond to changes on the road with the hand controls. Today I had an occasion to have to slow down rapidly. My instinctive reaction was to move my foot. Of course my foot didn't, and for a moment I had to think about what to do. Given that reaction, I need to be sure I have extra space and time when I need it.

Fourth, I learned that driving along with a coffee in hand is pretty much impossible. From this point on if I am driving, I have to stop, and I mean really stop, in order to enjoy a Timmies. I simply don't have enough hands to drive at the ready, be on the brake, and use the hand accelerator while holding a hot coffee. I didn't try it today; I imagined what I might do had that been the case. I didn't like the possibilities. So now a stop for coffee means parking the truck and enjoying it and then heading out again.

Finally, I learned that my days will be shorter. My own sense is that I could still do Calgary to Vancouver in a day. Now, though, it makes more sense than ever to take a little extra time, be a little safer, and get a bit of rest along the way. Being tired is an unnecessary risk; it means staying somewhere along the way, going slow and enjoying the ride.

Now, if someone comes along with me and shares the driving, so much the better.


  1. Good experiment Rick. And I toohope you can find a friend to help you make the drive or can you do it with Ricky?

  2. Ricky is flying down on the 16th. He has some things happening that week.

  3. Exciting! Does that mean I am not hoping in vain to see you on the island at some point?

  4. No, Mary, you are not hoping in vain. It is a real possibility these days. I need to get to Vancouver first, then figure stuff out.