Those who know me know that I am no stranger to traffic school. My last session, in January, had to do with a disagreement with a camera perched on top of a traffic signal on my way home from work. I said, “The light was yellow.” Unfortunately the camera disagreed. Bad news, good news—that self same camera, while capturing an image of me in my big red Suburban perfectly, did not capture the cell phone held up to my left ear. I paid my dues and did my time, and I did not cheat on the test.
And so it was no surprise today, after only three hours on the road out of Cedar City, Utah headed towards Las Vegas, when I saw the flashing blue and white lights behind me, signaling me to pull over. I was six hundred miles into a nine hundred and seventy mile road trip transporting my father, and his Volvo, back from Colorado to San Diego. The officer said, “Ma’am, do you know how fast you were going?” I said, “I don’t know Officer, I think about 80?” He replied, “No ma’am. I clocked you at ninety miles an hour.” My father, in the passenger seat, piped up helpfully, “I thought you were going a little fast when you passed him.” When I passed him? Thanks, Dad. The officer looked at him, still a bit pale three months after open heart surgery at nearly 88, then at the heat shimmering up from the road and sighed. He said, “The speed limit in Nevada is 75. But I’m not going to give you a ticket today.” Since he had K9 Corps emblazoned on his uniform, I felt compelled to chat him up about his dog. He waved me on my way.
Between helping my daughter drive from Texas to Boston Memorial Day weekend, and now traveling from Colorado back to California, I figure I will have passed through seventeen states in three weeks—not bad for an old road warrior. It’s hard to stop and smell the flowers when you’re driving 500 miles a day. But last night, at a truck stop near Moab, Utah, I captured a perfect western sunset through the lens of an iPhone, the twin rain shelters over the pumps framing the darkened silhouette of the convenience store behind them. I was reminded of taking this same route nearly seven years ago with my then sixteen-year-old son. As we headed east from St. George on his first trip through the West, my son said to me, “Mom, now I see why this country is worth fighting for.” He was right. I think I’ll just slow down.