That’s how long it took for me to realize and pay attention to a few things I must do when I am on the road, driving long distance. By long distance, I mean, driving in the car longer than two hours. And the few things I learned after all these years make a difference between enjoying the trip and suffering.
Driving is stressful, both physically and mentally. And the stress doubles when driving at night and in hazardous condition such as snow and heavy rain. It’s tiring even if you are just a passenger, because sitting in one position for hours on end, hinders our blood circulation.
I remember when I first learned how to drive. It was barely three months since I arrived here in the U.S. Ramon was only five months old, and we moved from South Carolina to Jacksonville, Arkansas – Willie’s new military assignment. In his job, he had to travel a lot, away from home. When we arrived at his new assignment, he was to be deployed to another city for a temporary duty and therefore only have 30 days to teach me how to drive. That meant – within 30 days I had to learn how to drive… and get my driver’s license. Or I and our five month old baby will be stuck in the apartment, while he is gone, and nowhere to go. And we both know this is not going to work. At minimum, I had to be able to go to the grocery store to buy food.
At first learning how to drive wasn’t so bad. He enrolled me in a three day class, for one hour each day. The driving instructor was boasting my confidence, but in reality it was a FALSE confidence, because after that first day, when Willie had me practiced driving in a parking lot, he was horrified. He thought: “Oh my fucking god! She didn’t learn shit from that driving course. And the worst thing is… she thinks she can drive! What the fuck! If I let her think she can drive, she’s going to kill herself… and my son. Oh no no no… NO!
So… he pulled me out of that driving course and taught me himself.
Every day, for the next 30 days after work, he taught me how to drive. It was hard. It was frustrating. For me and especially for him.
He said: “You have got to be the worst, most hard headed student I’ve ever taught…” And each time we were on the road, I scared the bee Jesus out of him…
I was like, well… what do you expect? I was never around cars when I was growing up. We walked everywhere! And if we didn’t walk, we boarded small boats, jeepneys and buses…
Never in my young life had I dreamed of learning how to drive!
But of course… there are a lot of things that happened in my life that I never, ever imagine or expected. Like marrying an American. And coming to the United States. This is just how life is. It takes us in places we never expect…
Here in America, driving is a NECESSITY not a luxury. Yes, there are buses, especially in big cities. But in smaller towns, it is impractical to think that I can get around in a bus. And besides, I find it demeaning to take a bus. I know it’s hypocritical considering where I come from. But that’s how I feel. And that’s why I had to learn how to drive. It really wasn’t a choice, in my case, it was survival. I had a young son to take care of while living in a new country, in a new city with no one to turn to.
So despite of my hardheadedness… I learned how to drive. Not great at first. But I got my license within 30 days. Just in time before Willie left for his TDY (military term for “temporary duty.”) I didn’t know how I got it… but I got it.
It was very scary.
I survived three car accidents during my first three years of driving. The first one was very minor – I hit another car in a parking lot. The second one involved another car. I was making a left turn and got hit by an oncoming car. Both incidents were my fault. The third one, I was involved in a “hit and run” accident. I was getting ready to get on the interstate in Little Rock, Arkansas and I was hit by a red pick-up truck on my right side. The driver, knowing that he hit me, just sped off into the highway. I was so furious, I was cursing: motherfucker, sona-mabitch…how dare you hit me and just drive away… I was so angry! Red, hot steams must have been oozing out of my head. I stopped thinking. I took off after that truck. But the traffic was so heavy that I lost him. Finally, after 5 miles of chase… I pulled over at a gas station and called my husband, and called the police. My husband was horrified on what I had done. He couldn’t believe I actually tried to chase the guy who had hit me, while our son was in the back seat!
“What the fuck were you thinking?” He asked angrily, after he made sure Ramon and I were alright.
“What do you mean? That guy hit me and did not stop. He hit me…!” I defensively fired back.
“But that guy could have pulled out a gun and shoot you and my son! Did you realize that?!” he’s still pissed off and horrified.
“I didn’t care. I was going to get him back! You can’t hit me and get away with it!” That’s how silly I get when I am mad. All common sense goes out the window.
This is not the first time I had done something like this – chasing after somebody. Several years before in the Philippines, in Angeles City, I was in the market with my sister shopping for Christmas. When all of a sudden, a guy yanked an 18 karat gold chain off my neck. Over a split second, when I realized what had just happened, I took off running after the guy. All I could think of was: Oh shit, my husband is going to chew my ass for wearing jewelry to the market. He’s warned me not to do it because I might get mugged. But I did not heed his advice. I would rather wrestle the mugger than face my husband’s wrath. And because of me running and yelling after the mugger, I alerted the cop, who stopped the mugger, who dropped my necklace so he won’t be caught “red handed with it.” I got my necklace back, and only sustained bruised and painful feet.
When I came home I told my husband what had happened. He said: “You’re crazy! I can’t believe you did that. What if the guy had other accomplices, so that… one could have stabbed you while the real mugger kept on running?”
I’m thinking: Hmmm…he’s right, while suddenly having a sick feeling in my stomach.
My last auto accident happened 17 years ago, and I never had an accident since. (Knocking on wood and crossing my fingers.) I have so much more sense now compared to back then, it’s unbelievable. I guess it comes with getting older and becoming mature.
I have also learned so much from my experience of driving long distances.
During this past 4 weeks, I have driven over 5,000 miles (roughly over 8,000 kilometers) between Tulsa, Abilene, Dallas and Fort Worth. And good thing I now have a proven method on how to make my life easier on the road. And believe me, it wasn’t always like this.
Here are the things I do before I get on the road:
(1) Map out my route. Thank god for Google Maps, knowing exactly where I’m going and mapping out my exact route is a breeze. I print out a detailed directions and maps for my whole trip. So I know exactly what exits and turns I need to make.
(2) I make a note of the towns in between my route. How far apart are these towns? This is good information, in case something bad happened and I get stranded on the road, and in case I need to use a restroom, when rest areas are not available. I also plan ahead where I am going to refill my gas tank. For example: A good stopping point between Abilene and Oklahoma City is Walters, Oklahoma. I gas up here, take restroom breaks and eat if I’m hungry.
(3) The night before my trip, and before I go to bed, I drink a quart of Pedialyte to hydrate my body. And then, I drink another one when I wake up, preferably three hours before I hit the road.
From years of suffering while on the road, I learned that I cannot drink at least two hours before I hit the road. This way I can avoid using the restroom for two to three hours. And I cannot eat. I like to drive in an empty stomach. If I do eat, it’d be stuff like macadamia nuts, peppered beef jerky, and chocolate. These are foods that keep me awake and alert. And then I wash it off with a gulp of Pedialyte. Not a lot… just a gulp.
“Pedialyte is better than water in keeping our bodies hydrated. It’s like getting an IV.” According to my husband. He learned this trick from a Para Rescue guy while he was in the military, in an elite unit. And he’s saved my life countless times with Pedialyte.
I remember one afternoon in my office while working in Las Vegas. My left arm started to feel numb. And then about half an hour later, my left body, down to my legs started to feel numb too. I panicked. I thought I was getting ready to have a heart attack. I called my husband:
“Honeyko… I don’t feel good. The left side of my body feels numb. My left arm… my leg… I think I am getting ready to have a heart attack. Should I call 911?” I was afraid and in tears. I’m only 38 years old. How could this happen?
“No… Tell you what. Come home right now! Can you drive?” he asked with a concerned voice.
“Yeah… I think so…”
“Are you sure…?
By the time I got home, he had already went to Wal-Greens and bought several bottles of Pedialyte.
From his years of experience in the field, he knew I was simply dehydrated and knew exactly what to do. He had me drank one bottle (32 ounces) of Pedialyte every 2½ hours. And since my body temperature was also high, he put me in a tub of ice.
That night I felt much better… This was my first introduction to Pedialyte…
(4) Whether I am driving alone or I am with Willie or Ramon, I make sure I have the following items:
- Cash – between $100 – $200. This is to be used for food and drinks, and in cases where I can’t use my debit or credit card. (My husband taught me this from his many years of traveling around the world.)
- Drinks: (a) small bottles (8 ounces) of Pedialyte, so I can sip on them if I feel thirsty. My body uses this more effectively than water. (b) Diamond tea. I drink this as my last resort, if I can shake off my sleepiness. (c) And a case of bottled water. In case we get stuck in the middle of nowhere.
- Snacks: macadamia nuts, beef jerky (Ramon introduced me to peppered beef steak jerky, and I like it), and chocolate. I like chocolate, though messy to eat, because of its caffeine and minimal sugar content. I usually like the Lindt chocolate bars.
- Music. My husband and I have similar taste in music. Really… I think most of the music I listen to are the same music he listens to. He introduced me to most of them. When I am driving, I like to listen to music I am familiar with and can sing along to. During the first leg of the trip, my adrenalin is usually high, so my husband suggested I listen to slow music to calm me down, so I usually listen to Christopher Cross, The Beatles, The Bee Gees, and Jim Croce, etc.. And I listen to The Very Best of Doors and Lenny Kravitz’s Greatest Hits during the last leg of the trip, where I need to kick my energy high to reach my destination
- Misc. items: paper towels, toilet paper, and microfiber kitchen towel to clean my glasses. I always like to have a clean, clear eyeglasses and sunglasses especially when I’m driving. So… I make sure I bring a microfiber towel – usually a microfiber kitchen towel that’s been washed and dried without fabric softener. Way better than the little cloths you get from the optical shop.
- EMERGENCY Supplies other than what’s listed above:
> Antibiotic Ointment
> Cortisone cream or ointment
> Dimetapp (the only cold and allergy medicine we all could tolerate)
>Children’s Motrin Fever Reducer (good for me and Ramon)
> Activated Charcoal Capsules (I used this a lot especially if I eat food that I have no tolerance for)
> Candles and matches
> Heavy blanket (during winter season)
> Long – heavy coats, hats and gloves (during winter)
(5) Decide who is going to drive and who is going to navigate. If I am with Willie and Ramon… I usually drive the first leg of the trip, and then Willie drives the other half. But when I am with Ramon, I do most of the driving. I have more confidence in my driving skills than with my navigating skills. And since Ramon is a great navigator, I have him navigate, especially when we are going to a big city we have never been before.
(5) If I can help it… I prefer to drive during the day. I find the drive to be more enjoyable during the day than at night. Besides, my vision is much better during the day.
(6) Observe the rules of the road:
- Keep enough distance from the vehicle in front of you; do not tail gate. (I think one of my pet peeves when driving are people who tailgate and cut in front of me.) I keep a good distance away from the vehicle in front of me especially when driving at a high rate of speed.
- If possible, I do not like to be behind big trucks and trailers. Long ago, my husband told me: “Try and stay away from these big trucks. Stay away from their rear, and do not stay beside them. Their big tires blow off all the time, and when it does, the debris could hit your windshield and cause you to have an accident. It could mean a life and death situation.”
- Drive within the speed limit. I might drive 3 miles over the speed limit, but that’s it, unless I am passing another vehicle, and then I maintain my normal speed. So this way, I don’t risk getting a speeding ticket. And besides, Ramon is my ‘speed patrol.” He reminds me when I’m speeding! He adheres to the principle of “haste makes waste.”
- Have my headlights turned on when it’s dark and cloudy, and especially when it’s raining.
(7) Drink more Pedialyte when I reach my destination. I am certain that I am dehydrated again after 3 – 6 hours of driving. So instead of drinking water, I quickly hydrate my body with more Pedialyte – one 32-ounce bottle, every 2½ before I go to bed. When I week up the next day, I feel rested and refreshed .
I will add more this list as I learn along the way.
These cashews are so good, they’re highly addictive!
These are great especially on the day they are made, and they stay fresh in 3 days at room temperature and one week if stored in the refrigerator. Though I try not to eat sugary stuff when I’m on the road… I like to snack on something like this once I get to my destination, especially when we are staying at a hotel. It’s cheaper and better than buying snacks from the vending machine.
I just make them a few days before my scheduled trip, and pack them in plastic containers.
You need the following tools and equipment, and ingredients to make these:
Kitchen Tools and Equipment:
1 large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
Wooden spoon or spatula
2 quart heavy bottomed sauce pan
1 quart sauce pan for boiling water
When making candy or other sweet confection, I always have a pot of hot water to hold the spoons or spatulas, and other utensils I am using.
Also I prefer to line the cookie sheet with parchment paper as oppose to oiling it. However, if you don’t have access to parchment paper, you can go ahead and just butter the cookie sheet so that the candy won’t stick to the pan.
Since my goal for this recipe is to have crystallized sugar coating on the cashews, I kept stirring the sugar syrup throughout the entire process.
You will note that I did not use a candy thermometer for this recipe. I pretty much just gauged it based on the consistency of the sugar syrup – not too thick.
1 pound roasted cashew nuts
½ cup brown sugar – firmly packed
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup raw cane sugar
¼ cup water
3 TBSPs. coconut oil – available in health food stores, (you may use 4 TBSPs. butter in place of coconut oil)
½ tsp. coarse sea salt – the best is Celtic sea salt
In a 2 quart heavy bottomed sauce pan, combine all the sugars (brown, granulated and raw cane sugar), water and salt.
Over medium heat, stir the sugar mixture with wooden spoon until all sugars and salt are dissolved.
Bring sugar syrup to a boil, stirring constantly, until syrup is slightly thick, about 4 or 5 minutes.
Add the coconut oil and roasted cashews. Keep stirring until the cashews are well coated with the sugar syrup, and until the syrup is reduced and has thickened into a soft caramel texture. (This process will take about 4 or 5 minutes.)
Immediately pour and spread cashews into the cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cool to handle and then separate the cashews into small clusters or individual pieces. Store in plastic container or tin containers.
Serve as snacks, appetizer, and travel food.
Enjoy and Happy Cooking!