Seatbelts: Arrive alive

There are some places you just don’t go, like the bad part of town or a gated army base, or the highway entrance from de l’Eglise Ave. toward the Decarie in Verdun.

The merge lane is deathly short and truck traffic headed across the island stays in the right lane. Traffic slows in the merge, but you have to gun it once there’s a brief opening. It’s not safe and so I avoid it.

Except for that one time in early June, when I was late for a funeral. Part of the lady’s family was with me, including her grandson, and I was worried about the time.

The entrance is a long, blind curve and I took it slowly because, as I’d suspected, traffic was stopped in the short merge. I was almost at a standstill when I looked into my rearview mirror and locked eyes for the briefest of moments with the driver of the white pickup truck behind me.

He was going at least 50 kilometres an hour and I saw his face the moment he realized he should have been more cautious. A fraction of a second later, he was crushing my trunk and I was instinctively steering into the cement barrier, away from the fast-moving traffic in the right lane.

We missed the funeral, but the most serious injury was whiplash that took a couple of weeks to heal. Seatbelts. Without seatbelts, gods know how bad it might have been.

Buckle up. I’m serious about this one.

Wild West Adventure begins

 My wife, Melani, is the planner. She researched and mapped for a year. Her itinerary, while flexible, was a showcase for some of her favourite things: quirky museums, bizarre restaurants, Frank Lloyd Wright and rock hunting.

 Trevor, at 12, is a veteran roadtripper. He doesn’t much care where he haul him off to, so long as there’s a Ripley’s museum and his parents don’t sing too loudly in the car. This will be the first big trip for his half-sister, Kendra. She’s 16. At first she balked at the idea of leaving her friends and boyfriend behind for three weeks. But our spirits lifted when we saw she’d put snowy mountain pictures on her desktop.

 Me, I’m into blacktop. I cherish those moments when there’s miles of open road, just me and a convoy of truckers, and everyone else is asleep, trusting me to get them there – wherever there happens to be – safely. I love driving, and it’s a good thing, because I’m the only one of us qualified to take the wheel and we had more than 10,000 kilometres ahead of us.

 Fasten your seatbelts; we’re taking you on one helluva ride as we hunt the tacky and the sublime.

I love my car. I do.
Like most families over the decades, we play the licence-plate game. We had a long-standing payout – $100 to the first person to see a Hawaiian plate. You can’t drive here from there, after all. When Melani claimed to have seen one in Montreal, even though none of us witnessed it, we dropped the bet to $50. Just in case.