Thursday, March 5, 2015

Think Time and Long Car Rides


I am a good long distance driver.   I enjoy driving by myself for long trips.  My 10-hour journeys from Rochester to Cincinnati (my grown-up home to my growing-up home) are ones that I have relished.  Even when my children where very young, putting them in the car to travel to grandma and aunts and uncles and cousins was something I did with joy.  If I start out on the trip with an unresolved problem, by the time I get done with that long ride, the problem is resolved or my mind has shifted in my approach to the problem so that it no longer seems insurmountable.  Often I have a path toward a solution.  That space of uninterrupted time does this for me.   Unless it is too much of a good thing.

Recently I have found myself traveling back and forth from Rochester to Buffalo several times a week for a position I took with a charter school where I provide curriculum support and direction. I love the work.  And most of the time I like the drive.  The trip is one hour and 15 minutes on a good day (when I don’t stop for coffee) and with the winter as it has been, on a bad day I might be in the car for 2 ½ to 3 hours.  One way.  Because of this, my uninterrupted car time has been ample.  At times to the point of abundantly overflowing.   At times, actually, to the point of dreadfully overflowing.

Yesterday, I parted Rochester in the morning, with a beautiful sunrise in my rearview mirror as I headed to Buffalo full of anticipation for the day before me.  I arrived, full of energy, having reflected and planned in the car for my upcoming day, one hour and thirty minutes after I left my house in Rochester—I stopped for coffee.  What was dry, blue and sunny one way was the total opposite by 4:45 when I left on the return trek.  Snow started mid-morning, changing to sleet, snow and ice.  My one-hour trip became a three hour white-knuckled, steering wheel clenching nightmare. Countless cars had spun off the road.  Ice formed on my windshield, topped with muddy slush sprayed  by passing cars and trucks.  My thought time became one of angst due to road conditions and frustration because of the amount of time I spent in the car on a night that was slated to be a somewhat relaxing evening.  

Yes, I am a good long distance driver.  And much of the time I look forward to long road trips with nothing to fill the time but my thoughts and music from my car radio.  On those days, that expanse of time allows me to shape my thinking…almost effortlessly.  And then there is that short (by my long-distance driving standards) trip to Buffalo.  On good days, the time is delightful—even rejuvinating.  And then there are the bad days (and quite honestly this winter there have been many, many bad days).  During those times, time to gather my wits and think about what is happening and what might need to happen (or what I want to happen) evades me.   I just grip onto the week, bear with the drive and finally get there.  

Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.  I cannot wait till spring!

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for dedicating space and time for teachers and teachers of literacy to come together to share ideas, practice and life experience.


  1. After having my car covered with ice, and then blowing ice pieces from any cars on tho road this week, I am ready for spring as well! Wishing you safe driving until our long waited friend, spring, arrives!

  2. My single response is that I'm glad you are safe now. What a time. Our 'drive' to see the extended family was about 12 hours, & I remember the car skating on ice some of those times, wondering why we didn't just stay home! Come on spring!

  3. Safe driving for the rest of this too-long winter!

  4. Safe driving for the rest of this too-long winter!

  5. What a drive! I also enjoy a little pondering time in the car, but there's no room for thoughts when your eyes are trained on the road, hands grip the wheel, and my jaw becomes tense. That was my drive home from the conference last Saturday. Not a practice I want to do on a regular basis. Hope the snows melt away and you get thinking time back.

  6. What a year Mother Nature crafted for you as you took on this new position. Know that if you ever need a place to stay in the Buffalo area......