When my husband and I lived in Bellevue, Nebraska, I learned how to drive there and got my driver's license a couple months before my husband left for Officer's Training School in Texas. On Memorial Day, a few months after my husband left, I had a three-day weekend off. I decided I to go on a road trip. I didn't plan for it. It’s just that when I woke up in the morning and saw that the weather was nice, I told myself that I didn't want to just stay at home. I called my sister here in Cheyenne and told her I was going to visit them. She was worried about me making the long trip alone, but I assured her that I’d be okay. I packed a small suitcase, packed a few snacks and drinks, stopped at a gas station to fill up my gas tank, bought a map, and off I went.
The drive from Omaha to Cheyenne is the most boring ever. Okay, that’s not entirely true because from Omaha to Lincoln and a few miles past Lincoln is scenic. But, definitely, after that it's the most boring ever. The landscape is very flat and the highway is very straight. Straight is, however, good for this newbie driver. I don’t think I would have been able to follow so many twists and turns of diversionary roads. Unfortunately, the flat and straight highway was very hypnotic, to the point that I became very sleepy. At one point, I caught myself dozing off momentarily. I knew this because I was driving on the right side of the 2-way, four- lane interstate 80. When I opened my eyes, my car was about to go into the grass median grass, left of the passing lane. Fortunately, in those days, the traffic on that highway was pretty sparse. I got quite startled and was alert after that. My fear was that if I didn’t wake up in time, I could have easily driven into the oncoming traffic on the other side of the interstate. God had to have been watching me that day.
I stopped once for gas in Pine Bluff, at the Nebraska/Wyoming border, about an hour’s drive away from Cheyenne. In 1983, the highway speed limit was still 55 miles per hour. So, to drive 495 miles, it took 9 hrs. Now that the speed limit is 75 miles per hour, it only takes 7.5 hrs. Come to think of it now, my little 1968 Honda car was very fuel efficient. I think my car could only hold 6 or 7 gallons of gas?
Kentucky Fried Chicken was our choice of picnic food at that time. I still love Kentucky Fried Chicken. This is why I can never lose weight. I love greasy, fried foods. But, lets not talk too much about my weight right now. That will be for another post.
On Monday, when I had to leave, my car wouldn’t start. My brother-in-law checked my car over and found my oil dipstick reading empty. He was amazed that I made it all the way to Cheyenne with little or no oil at all! He shook his head at the situation and at my ignorance. All I can say was that God knew I was naïve and ignorant; he had watched over me.
My car didn’t have the lights that came on when the oil level was low, you know? Unlike nowadays, there’s a light to alert you about almost everything. When your tires are low on air, there’s even an alert light for that. Every so often your engine light comes on and you think that something is wrong with the engine, right? So, you take it to the shop, only to be told that you needed a scheduled oil change after 30,000 miles of driving. I guess that’s a lot better news that actually having an engine problem.
Car technologies have come a long way. I’m thankful that the car makers had taken into account for ignorant drivers like me when they made the improvements.
I made it back to Omaha safe and sound. I’ve made solo trips since then, from North Dakota and back, when I was still living there while my husband was stationed here in Cheyenne. The drive in that part of the country is more interesting and much more scenic.