You Call This a Road?

I seem to have backed myself into a corner with only a nightmare that barely resembles a road as a way out.

Ever since I returned from my road trip, I’ve tried to find a room or an apartment to rent without any luck. I considered just heading out again, but it’s way too hot to drive in a car without an air conditioner, and even if I drove two days north to find cooler weather, there would still be the problem of summer vacation. Not only is it harder to find good camping sites during the summer, but it’s almost impossible to find the quiet I crave. Too many screaming and squealing children everywhere. In fact, the motels and hotels I have been staying were unpleasant for that very reason.

I’d run out of alternatives when I got an answer to my ad on Craig’s List. A woman wanted to rent a room, and offered full house privileges at a reasonable price. I went to see the room, which was pleasant, the woman was nice, the area was beautiful in a desert-y sort of way, and her friend (who was there to offer help in case I turned out to be a nefarious character) assured me that the aura of those highlands would help my creativity. Even though the place was many miles from the dance studio where I am back taking classes, I figured the distance was doable.

What wasn’t doable was the one-lane dirt road leading to her house. Imagine the worst road, the steepest hill, the most rutted and rocky dirt track you have ever driven, and times that by two.

If I hadn’t fixed up my car and was still driving what I considered a throw-away car, I might not have minded. If I were driving a modern car with great suspension, I might not have minded. But driving my 44-year-old vintage Volkswagen was terrifying. No matter how slowly I drove, very rock, every rut jolted the poor relic until I feared the ancient welds and rusty bolts would give way, and my car would simply fall apart, leaving me sitting, holding the steering wheel, in the midst of a thousand pieces, like a character in a cartoon.

After the friend left, after the woman and I visited a bit, I stood there in her living room, totally flummoxed.

If it weren’t summer with temperatures over 100, I would have packed my car and hit the road, but I am still a month away from that being a viable option. So, what to do? Find another unsatisfactory room in a noisy motel? Or deal with the road from hell?

I finally told the woman I had no place to go and asked if I could pay for a couple of weeks on a trial basis. She agreed. So far, we get along fine (well, it’s just been one night and we are both still on our best behavior), and it would be a good situation for me . . .

But oh, that road! I dread the very thought of it.


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)


5 Responses to “You Call This a Road?”

  1. LordBeariOfBow Says:

    Many years ago I travelled over such roads in Western Australia, and I can’t imagine how you feel as at that time I was a young bloke in my mid 30’s, however what I did find after a bit of practice on these roads is that it was better not to sit right in the middle of the road but to run my wheels along the rims/ridges up from the middle where all the other vehicles had been gouging their way through , it was a bit awkward at first but once I got the hang of it it went well and the ride was a great deal smoother and easier.
    It might be worth a try Pat, good luck

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you for the suggestion. I am truly intimidated, not just by the road, but the clunks and clanks from my car. The poor thing.

      From: “Bertram's Blog” To: Sent: Saturday, July 16, 2016 6:24 PM Subject: [Bertram’s Blog] Comment: “You Call This a Road?” #yiv9818609603 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv9818609603 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv9818609603 a.yiv9818609603primaryactionlink:link, #yiv9818609603 a.yiv9818609603primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv9818609603 a.yiv9818609603primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv9818609603 a.yiv9818609603primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv9818609603 | | |

  2. Katherine Says:

    Wowzer….glad you found a new place to rest yourself, sorry the road is so terrifying and hope that perhaps you can find the “sweet spot ” to drive.

  3. Larry Kahaner Says:

    Eventually, you will know every dip, every crack and mound of dirt. You will give them names. Your steering will become muscle memory as you weave. Good times.

  4. No More Bad Roads | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] You Call This a Road? […]

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