Blues Travels

The Driving Enthusiasts Web Site

Westminster, Maryland – EIP Tuning and Crazy Drivers

Well, someone once told me that when you drive you have to be aware of your surroundings. Well, talk about idiotic understatements. Sheesh :crazy: But let me ask you his: How can you be aware of your surroundings if you are UNfamiliar with your surroundings??? Hmmmm??

If I have learned one thing in the last 2 weeks, it is that no matter how comfortable you may feel when you travel somewhere, you have to remember that you are a stranger in a strange land. Sure, the people basically look the same. Yeah, the radio plays pretty much the same music. The stops lights work the same. The grocery stores sell the same food and it tastes the same too…but you should not allow that to lull you into a state of complacency. No matter how similar a place may seem, the habits and tendancy’s of the locals are completely alien because they are reacting to familiar surrounds….surrounds which are anything but familiar to you….so their behavior will be unfamiliar to you and yours to them.

I am not saying this is a bad thing, but in terms of personal safety, both inside your car and outside of it, you must, must, must be cautious. Keep in mind that the locals know the roads better than you do. They know where the pot holes are. They know how the stop lights are arranged. They know where the construction sites are…etc.

Drive conservatively, unless doing so increases your risk of danger. For example…..

I drove North from Central VA to Maryland to visit EIP Tuning today. Tomorrow (Saturday) Rich and EIP will install my first CAI. Pics coming.

What was really fun and at the same time harrowing about this trip was the traffic on the Capital Beltway. It has been about 20 years since I have lived here, but one minute on the Beltway with my Blue Boy was like a bad LSD flashback (or a very good one, depending on your perspective I guess).

People on the Beltway FLY! I mean they drive FAST! The Capital Beltway (Interstate 495) is America’s answer to that European Paragon of Speed known as the Autobahn. Although a somewhat anaemic facsimile of its European counterpart, for poor lil’ white boys like me the Beltway is a true appraisal of ones intestinal fortitude. Everyone is driving like their homes are on fire and they just realized that they left their puppy in the house.

It’s both fun and insane at the same time. You definately need to have your wits about you along with an ample supply of driving skills and Valium.

Once on the Belt, I found myself flying at 85 MPH just to keep from getting stomped on….and I had a blast! I have a Reflex Silver GTI on my ass the whole way. We were both hanging close and made quite a pair screaming along the Belt along with the Jag’s, the Benz’s and the Beem’ers. I also sweat so much I felt like I should have wore a pair of Depends. But is was kill or be killed out there….and I wasn’t planning on being anyone’s meal today. That said, it was clear that these locals know these roads better than I do. Twenty years is a long time, afterall. I stayed far left in the fast lane, where there were the fewest cars and ironically, in spite of my speed, I felt the safest. That all changed once I hit Westminster, MD. though.

All the self-assurance and memory-driven reaction time that came with flying along the Belt came to a screeching halt in Westminster. The town was under construction. The roads were a tad confusing because of it, too, and I had NO idea where the hell I was. Unlike the familiar confines of my Beltway, I now felt like a stanger in a strange land. The bravado with which I attacked the Belt simply was not going to work here. So, I drove as slow as I could. And STILL, I almost got nailed two times.

People were impatient with me. I mean, hey, I am from out of town for Pete’s Sake. Have a heart people! But they did not have a heart. People were beeping their horns at me, passing aggressively on my left AND right. I nearly was rear ended once just because I dared slow down for a red light for crying out loud. And all of this was at night time. Which brings me to my initial point. It is impossible to be aware of your surroundings when you are unfamiliar with them.

Word to the wise: Drive conservatively when you are traveling to new towns. Take nothing for granted. Assume that people will assume YOU know what you are doing when you in fact may not know what you are doing at all. People will assume you are from their town, unless they see your license plate, and hence they will assume you will behave in a predictable fashion. It may never occur to them that you might be lost, looking for a street, unsure of which way to turn or which exits to take etc…and so they will not expect you to behave erractically. So, when you do something unexpected, so will they. And that is how accidents happen. Make sense? Just be careful out there.


October 8, 2004 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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