On being a late-blooming driver, backroad adventures, and this TWIN business.

I was 19 by the time I hopped off the procrastination train and learned to drive. And it’s not like I lived in the city and didn’t have a reason to drive. Oh no, I lived in the backwoods and mountains of Virginia and had a great many reasons to learn to drive. But, I’d avoided it largely out of fear. At 16 one of my closest friends was struck by a car while crossing the street and after that my desire to be a licensed driver atrophied. It suddenly seemed like an awful lot of responsibility I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with at the time. So I didn’t. I had my learner’s permit, of course, but I didn’t put it to any real use until years after I got it.

So there I was, 19, about to join the Army without the ability to drive and my recruiter told me point blank to stop being a brat and learn to drive.

So I did. A neighbor taught me in my mother’s 1999 Toyota RAV4. I lived in the Virginia mountains then and so learned to drive on winding county routes, mountain interstates and a handful of narrow side roads until I deemed myself ready to take the driver’s test.

I remember nearly nothing of that experience, save for that I forgot a turn and become convinced it had earned me enough bad marks to be barred from driving forever and ever amen and so I spent the last ten minutes of the ride sweaty palmed and nervous and convinced I was a failure. I wasn’t. I didn’t fail and the woman who administered my test said I’d done a fine job. And I didn’t even have to parallel park.

And then it happened. Me and that RAV4 established a tradition of exploration.

From the very day I got my license,  I’d set off, with no particular destination in mind. I’d turn left off some vague county road and just drive. Sometimes the roads were paved, sometimes not. I’d drive until I found myself back home again, coming to intersections and picking a direction based on the direction of the wind, or on which side of the road had more trees on it. It was a special sort of solitude, a time when I was making a lot of great big decisions about the direction I wanted to point my life in and that time alone – windows down, music on – was a perfect time for me to work on figuring out the direction I wanted to go in.

That RAV4 was my getaway vehicle, my escape from a lot of relationship and life stress, and a vehicle I trusted to get me down random gravel roads and back to civilization again.

I felt brave, picking roads at random and driving down them just to see where they ended.

I saved a snake once. He was in the middle of the road. Huge and black and sunning himself. I didn’t want to kill him, so I got out of the car on this random deserted road and started jumping up and down and yelling at him hoping he’d feel some strange vibrations and move his snake ass out of the middle of the road so I could continue my totally random journey. He didn’t care. He did care when I poked his fat ass with a stick. I screamed, he slithered off and I continued on toward some unknown destination.

I was recently invited to join the Toyota Women’s Influencer Network, or TWIN (you may have noticed their button to the right over there), and, being a lifelong Toyota lover, I jumped at the chance. TWIN is a women’s online discussion group designed to let some ladies of the internets talk about all things car, Toyota and driving related.

My Toyota loves runs deep – after that first Toyota RAV4, I bought another one. And then after that I bought another one. I’m on my third RAV4 and can’t imagine driving anything else.  Toyota is my jam.

What was your first car?

I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of the Toyota.

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14 thoughts on “On being a late-blooming driver, backroad adventures, and this TWIN business.


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    I learned to drive at 15, but I didn’t really drive until I was 19. 🙂


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    KT

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    I was the youngest person in my high school class (and college) so I couldn’t wait to get my license when I turned 16!! My first car was a Saturn Sports Coupe. But now I have a Toyota Prius and LOVE IT. Will not get rid of it until it dies or is totaled (in which case I would get another one).


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      Everyone I know LOVES their Prius – I’m thinking it might be our next car when we replace my husband’s.


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    My first car was a silver Ford Taurus–the Silver Bullet we called it; it looked like a spaceship–and I remember thinking it was SO COOL, and now a Taurus is the equivalent of a minivan, ha. I now drive a slate Altima and loooooove her.


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      Silver Bullet – love it! Makes me think of sex toys for some reason…


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    if it makes you feel any better i didn’t learn to drive until i was 20, also out of fear and laziness, haha. my first car was a hyundai but sadly had to see it go last year and now i’m in the rav4 club with you and i love it!


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      Yay – glad I’m not alone in my late driving. And I was so excited when you got a Rav4 because I knew you’d love it!


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    San

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    In Germany you can’t drive a car until you’re 18 – I got my license when I was 19 (but most people try to get it ON their actual 18th birthday!).

    As you might know, in Germany you take driving lessons and theoretical lessons to get your license, so it wasn’t all that scary, I thought.
    I also learned in a medium size town, so it wasn’t in a big city or anything.

    My first car was a Ford Fiesta (really small car, so it was easy to drive around in it :)).


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      I’ve a little bit about European driving schools and how it’s more intense and you have to wait longer. One of our friends is in Sweden and I feel like she said it was more expensive to get her license there than it would have been in the states.


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    Very odd, perhaps, but the Rav4 is my dream car. Every time I see them, I get a little giddy. They are such a gorgeous little vehicle! 🙂


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    I love this story. =) Sounds like you had an awesome experience with your first Toyota. No wonder you kept picking them.


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    I got my learner’s permit when I was 14 (I could not WAIT!) and learned to drive in a 1985 Chevy Celebrity… those bitches were everywhere at that time. “MY” first car was a 1994 Chevy Cavalier in bright blue. I loved that thing. It was small and cozy and easy to navigate parking spaces. Then when I was in college my dad deemed it unsafe and we traded it off for a 1997 Pontiac Grand Am, which, ultimately, is a shitty car that has lots of mechanical problems, but it got me through. My new baby is a 2007 Chevy Cobalt that I got last spring and I love it. It’s small like my Cavalier, but it’s a more “grown up” version. And it has pretty low miles so I’ll probably have it for a while. (We’re a GM family, can you tell?)

    I love driving. I prefer to have a destination but I don’t mind if I have a nice long open road along the way. I like to sit there with my thoughts and my music.

    If only I could write and drive at the same time, I’d be golden.


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