Friday, April 13, 2007

One Good Turn

The streets where I grew up were mostly laid out in a grid, although there were a few exceptions. The most interesting exception to me was the street that my street ended into – South Park Boulevard. South Park Boulevard is a twisty street that works its way uphill, following the line of the infamous creek. After I learned how to drive, it was only of my favourite streets. I liked following its curves and twists. As an added bonus, the street only had 1 stop sign, so it was the street of choice for getting to the main road.

There was no parking allowed on South Park, mostly because there was no place to park. Nearly all of the other streets allowed parking on the "even" side. Of course, there's always an exception. For reasons I never understood, Marioncliff Drive, home to a giant Ukranian Orthodox church, only allowed parking on the "odd" side of the street.

The upshot of this is if I was driving back from the grocery store or my best friends' houses, the best route was to drive up South Park and then turn right onto Marioncliff. No need to stop before turning and no need to worry about parked cars on my side of the road. I taught my brothers this trick, when they were old enough, and also taught them about how to properly execute The Turn, as we came to call it.

Making The Turn correctly was fun and challenging. As you came around the bend before The Turn, it was important to maintain your speed. Then you made The Turn as though it were just another curve on the road. For best effect, you avoided using the brake during The Turn and, once you'd gotten through the guts of it, a little gas made The Turn feel even more fun. Taking The Turn in icy or snowy weather is definitely not recommended.

We teased Peter, on his first few trips to my parents' house, that he wouldn't be a real member of the family until he was able to make The Turn. Lucky for him he's a quick driving study.

As I drive around the twisty roads in the Middle of Nowhere, I think about how The Turn prepared me for driving here. I also think about how I'd really like to take a rally driving class. I'd love to know how to go around a corner practically sideways.

Don't get the wrong idea here. I'm hardly a Girl Racer. There's just something exhilarating about coming around a bend and accelerating out of it. Blame it on my love of The Turn.


At 13 April 2007 at 12:08, Blogger laurie said...

i like making turns (when there is no one around, obviously) on very snow-packed and slippery streets. there's a trick to it that i don't think i can describe, but if you do it just right--turn the wheel, step on the brake, and sliiiiiide--your car turns with almost no effort from you. it's almost like execuing a cop u-turn.

when i come home from work on snowy days, that's how i like to get into my alley. so far, i haven't yet ended up in a snowbank, instead.

At 18 April 2007 at 11:29, Blogger Terri said...

The Turn sounds like fun :)
Driving in Ireland is not as much fun as driving in SA used to be - it took ages for me to get used to the narrow roads and potholes.

btw Loved your previous post about dogs in cars!!

At 27 April 2007 at 13:23, Blogger laurie said...

i was very glad we had no car on this trip. i woudln't want to try driving in paris, for instance, even though i wouldn't have to worry about driving on the "wrong side" there as i do in ireland.

everyone there clearly understands the rules, though, even though we didn't, and there was almost no horn-honking. saw only one accident--a rear-ending fender-bender on a busy street at rush hour down by the seine. the drivers got out of the car, approached each other, and the first thing they did was to shake hands.

this is why americans think europeans are more civilized. they are!

At 2 May 2007 at 06:37, Blogger -Ann said...

Laurie - I saw a traffic accident in Dublin the first time I moved over here in 95. Peter and I were going to look at an apartment in a rough-ish part of town. A car rear-ended a delivery van and the driver of the van jumped out with a giant wrench and started yelling about how he was going to beat the other guy (who had gotten out of his car to check out the damage). Wrench Man chased the Other Man around the car for a bit and then Peter took me into a pub because I was a bit freaked out by the whole thing.

Terri - The roads here are really something, although they have improved a lot in the last 15 years. Glad you enjoyed the pups-in-cars post.


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