The driving skills of a flatlander

by Katie on May 3, 2010

It’s no secret I’m a flatlander. Straight out of the swamps of Southeast Texas. Where anything above sea level is considered to have “elevation” to it.
In fact, one of Brandon’s primary complaints about the area (aside from “it makes him sweat like a hog”) is the lack of topography.
But I live in Arizona now, where there are mountains (hence, Brandon’s “topography”). Lots and lots of mountains. So to get pretty much anywhere, you have to drive through mountains. Which, until last week wasn’t such a big deal. Brandon usually drives when we go anywhere far, and being a native, he has plenty of experience driving through mountains, canyons, valleys, etc.
This girl? Not so much.
Brandon likes to give me a hard time because anytime we get over 1000 feet my ears start popping and I can’t hear a thing he says for the next half hour (which, now that I think about it, might not be so bad…).
Anyway, early last week we headed north for a couple days and had to drive separate halfway so I could return to the farm when Brandon went to judge a fair.
Which meant I had my first taste of driving myself through mountains.
As the road first started climbing and dipping, I began to think this little adventure wasn’t going to be so bad after all. Brandon called a couple miles in to see how I was doing, since it was my first time and all. I reported all was well.
Then I got to what must have been the daddy mountain. This one was steep, y’all.
I started to climb. Not far in, I had to give my little standard F-150 more gas. And then a little more…and then some more.
You see, I have this “service engine soon” light that’s been flashing for about a year now. Whatever is making it do that affects the power my truck has while driving. Or so I’ve been told, anyway. So I’m thinking my little truck is having trouble because of that.
I accelerate more. And the speedometer falls in the wrong direction.
Pretty soon, my foot is slammed against the floor board. And my speed? At 40 and declining.
I started to panic slightly, imagining my truck slowly powering down before I reached the summit, and rolling backwards uncontrollably down the windy mountain. Not something I really wanted to experience.
I frantically grabbed my phone to call Brandon.
“Something is wrong. I don’t know what to do. The accelerator is on the floor, but I’m at 35 and going down. What do I do? I feel like I’m going to start rolling backwards any second.”
And after a solid 15 seconds of laughter, he finally answers me: “You have it in fifth gear, don’t you? You gotta shift down coming up something like that. You didn’t know that?! How could you not know that?”
Me, frustrated: “No, I didn’t know that. You have to tell me these things. We just covered the fact that this is the first time I’ve driven in mountains. I’ve hardly so much as driven up a big hill, much less a mountain.”
“Well, just shift down and get with it. I bet I’m five miles ahead of you now.”
I mean really, he could have warned me, right?
P.S. I made it up the mountain (obviously, I guess). In fourth gear.

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