Long ago I realized that apparently the sound of tires on asphalt is my own special brand of therapy. How else can I explain all the miles I cover and time in my car?
I graduated from Auburn 53 years ago. I doubt there have been many of those years when I didn’t drive at least 30,000 miles. (I just checked my records and have driven 35,000 miles since last November. And yes, I do have the record.) At that rate I’ve covered 1.5 million miles in the last half century.
And I have often given thanks that I have never had an accident, that every log truck I’ve ever met stayed on their side of the road, that someone didn’t run a red light and find me in their way. Surely the good Lord has played a role in my safety. For which I am certainly grateful.
However, my luck almost ended on a recent Thursday afternoon.
If you get off I-85 at the Tuskegee-Franklin exit about halfway between Montgomery and Auburn and head north, you are on highway 49. Stay on it long enough and you get to Cheaha Mountain. But this day I was only going as far as Oskars, a restaurant near Still Waters on Lake Martin, to have lunch with Joe Windle, superintendent of Tallapoosa County schools.
While highway 49 is very serviceable, it has its shares of twists and turns as it heads into Alabama’s Piedmont region. If you come up from behind on a slow moving vehicle, patience is your friend, Straight stretches where you can pass someone are few and far between.
It was raining when I headed back towards Montgomery. Not hard rain, just a slow drizzle.
I was rounding a curve when it happened. In a microsecond I was off the road on the right side. Was not speeding, did not slip. Just somehow I was suddenly staring at a washed out gully and pine tress. There was no shoulder. My first thought was “this ain’t gonna end well.”
I jerked the wheel and to my utter amazement made it back to the pavement. Fortunately, there was not an on-coming vehicle because I was on the wrong side of the road. Debris I gathered on the underside of the car was dragging the road. Coming to a place to pull off I got out and tried to clear some of it away.
I will never understand how I got the car back on the road. My only thought is that an angel was riding with me and grabbed the steering wheel.
Needless to say, it was a sobering experience. So much so that a few days later I went back up highway 49 to find the spot. I still don’t know what kept me out of the gulley and pine trees.
We are now celebrating the Thanksgiving season. It has special meaning for me this year.
And I hope it does for you as well. But not for the same reason.