I like driving. Which is good, because I have to drive about 30,000 km yearly. That’s unavoidable when living in Lapland where distances are long: I usually drive over 100 kms to work, one direction. The closest grocery store is 20 km from home, it’s even one kilometer to the mailbox!
For me, driving means independence. When I first got my driving license, I drove 800 km to visit a friend; just because I could. That’s why it is so difficult for me to understand women who stop driving when they get married. It is so often the man who sits behind the wheel, especially if it is bad weather, or dark, or the car is brand new... Or if you have to reverse.
Just Open The Window!
I got rid of the fear of reversing about 10 years ago when I acquired my truck license. I learned to reverse zigzag between poles with an 8 meter long truck using only mirrors. In the driving test I had to pocket-park with the truck. So I’m not afraid of reversing a car. But I have to admit, I avoid it anyhow. I haven’t done much pocket-parking with any vehicle since that test.
Just recently I upgraded my driving license to be able to tow our caravan. That’s an extension of 10 meters behind my car. And that forced me to do another driving test: reversing a trailer. Now that was clearly trickier! So many backwards things. Turn wheel to opposite direction where you want the trailer to go. But what is ”opposite” when you are watching the movement through a mirror?! My brain just screamed in confusion.
”Oh, just open the window and pop your head out!” my driving teacher told me. That simple thing really helped. But there were also moments when Hitchhiker’s Guide’s advice was needed: don’t panic! After some hours of practising, I started to feel I could manage the test.
My friend works at a local copper mine, driving a dumper. A BIG one. Mines like to hire female drivers, because they are more careful, take good care of the vehicle and have an economical driving style. Anyone can learn these skills, if motivated enough.
At the moment we have two choices for a car for the tour. We are now comparing fuel consumptions, technical issues, differences with road tax costs etc. On a tour this long some minor details can make a huge difference. A Danish friend of ours teaches economical driving and gave us good hints. Technology also provides many ways to follow economical driving, which I’m planning to take full advantage of on our tour. I like to challenge myself to be a better driver. Not only when reversing, but also while moving forward.
In Lapland I’m used to driving in the dark, on icy roads, in the middle of snowstorms avoiding reindeer, elk and flocks of black grouse. I’m not used to heavy traffic. My blood pressure rises immediately if there are more than two lanes on the road or more than three cars at a crossing. Driving through Helsinki feels exhausting. So this whole tour is outside my comfort zone.
That’s why I took the latest driving lessons in Rovaniemi. To collect experience points in driving in a city. I survived - and so did the city of Rovaniemi.
The next step will be a long weekend on the road with the caravan. We will go to Helsinki to install solar panels on the wagon. This means about 2,000 km of driving; sleeping and cooking in the caravan and creating some electrical innovations. Yes, I’m having nightmares... And no, I can’t wait to be on the road!