Written 2~11~99

Night Driving

    This February, I drove down from Washington to Oregon. I did most of my driving in the dark, since I filled the precious winter daylight with outdoor activities. I figured the darkness and driving were two lag times I could overlap, and didn't realize in advance that driving in darkness on Highway 101 becomes anything but dull.

    Sixty miles an hour, on a road where at any moment a car can pass in the opposite direction only feet away; which means that with regard to other vehicles, you are traveling over 120 miles an hour. The flash of a yellow reflective surface is your only warning of which way the road will curve next, and nothing but a vague glow to indicate an oncoming car.

    Most of the time, however, you are alone in the darkness. Trees and other side-of-the-road things spring suddenly into existence as your high beams illuminate them, fading again into blackness in your rear view mirror. More intimidating than the short-lived appearance of nearby trees is the absolute mystery of the stretches without trees. The stretches where all your headlights manage to create are faded yellow lines and a strip of pavement, where the inkdark blackness stretches as far to the side as you can see. And the darkness is so dark that the impossible lack of even a single light dances in your peripheral vision. You know that you could be driving past farmland, or maybe the ocean, and wonder which of those surfaces your car will hit if one of the splitsecond curves catches you by surprise and you plunge off the road into the dark.


home > life > night driving