Linda Bittle - West Plains, Missouri 65775

This is Not Where I Thought I Was Going

#15-Driving (Reluctantly), Part II

It’s embarrassing to admit to being afraid of something that most adults do every day – like driving a car – without even considering all the ways that things can go horribly wrong.

Even though I was scared to death to drive, I realized that I was going to have to learn to do it if I was going to do any of the things I longed to do after the divorce.

See part I here: .

A rural 2-lane blacktop road passing through farmland. There's a red barn in the distance on the right, and power lines along the left, disappearing into the distance.
This looks very much like the rural Missouri roads that I learned to drive on.  My town, the county seat, had only 1 stoplight! Tractors and combines were as common as cars on some roads in the summer. Still, accidents were also common. Alcohol, youthful indiscretion and/or inexperience, or sheer stupidity account for many wrecks. Stock photo.

But what did I want to do that was worth my voluntarily taking to the highway?

There was no money to go shopping. And I’m not the type to go to the city for entertainment, unless I go with friends…friends who drive.

I’d already started driving on the back roads to the next town to the north on Tuesday evenings to shoot skeet. And I was getting involved with a new local chapter of a national conservation organization. They had a woman’s program. And there was going to be a woman’s skills day nearby…if 83 miles of highway and a right-hand turn into Kansas was considered “nearby”.

Most people wouldn’t think twice about that drive. I was terrified! And I really, really wanted to go. I’d had some terrific experiences with another organization’s program, and this one looked like a lot of fun. It was only one Saturday. And it was only 83 miles.

Unleashing My Inner Naturalist

One of my earliest memories is of sitting with my brother beside the groundhog den in the field that bumped up against our neighbor’s farm. Both Mom and the neighbor kept tabs on us as we waited patiently for the big rodent to come out. Of course it never did when we were sitting so close to it’s entrance, casting our shadows across the burrow opening.

As farm kids, we grew up learning about the local deer, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, and other wildlife. We caught crawdads in the creek, and tried – never successfully – to raise baby birds that fell from the nest.

Nature made me happy. And learning new outdoor skills made me happy. I wanted to go to the program more than I feared driving the 83 miles.

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”

~ Edmund Hillary

And that’s how my paramedic friend found me back at the big map on the Emergency Department wall. Again, he helped me plot the best way to travel, and gave me helpful information about traffic patterns and suggested the best times to leave and to start for home to avoid the heaviest traffic.

More importantly, he honored my commitment to overcoming a huge barrier to a better life by assuming that I could, indeed, conquer those 83 highway miles and return home without incident. It was a great boost to my confidence that someone believed in me.

In my next post I’ll tell you about 3 exceptional women’s outdoor programs, and why they are important.

1 Comment

  1. Jan Cheverton



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