• Automotive Essence

The Ridge: Where I Really Learned How to Drive

Our experiences shape who we are. My love of cars and driving was sparked by where I grew up. My parents chose to build a house in the Wisconsin countryside. To get to my parents' house you have to drive through twists and turns up a 400 foot bluff passing by a bed and breakfast, an old farm, over a creek, passed a bright lit ski hill (in the winter) and through acres of corn fields overlooking the Mississippi River valley. The Wisconsin DOT named this road a Rustic Road for the inherently unique and breathtaking qualities it possesses.

Not only is this road beautiful, it also could be quite dangerous (read: fun). The hairpin turns, while providing a breathtaking view of the ski hill at night, left little view of an oncoming car. Deer often appeared suddenly from the corn fields and froze to oncoming headlights. This became even more treacherous in the winter when the wind whipped over the ridge leaving freezing rain and snow covering the road with no way to see where the edge was. The topographical map below offers you some insight for how the road moves its way up the bluff and onto the ridge.

The Rustic Road steered my parents' car purchasing decisions. Their priority was to find a vehicle with four wheel drive capabilities that could combat the climb up a potentially icy and snow drift covered bluff. They became trusted patrons of the Audi dealer in town buying 8 Audis of which I eventually owned 4 of them so far.

When I became a teenager, my parents became even more focused on the safety of the vehicle's drive. I would venture out on my own at night to hang with friends, and since I lived the furthest away there was plenty of driving to do. I began to appreciate the engineering that goes into a car's ability to handle the terrain. I soon became so familiar with the drive I began to unleash my free wielding teenage spirit coasting through the curves with no attention for what was on the other side. Thankfully I was able to slow my vehicle for an unsuspecting deer or the peering headlights of an approaching car.

There was something about the drive on the ridge that created a bookend for my adventures. The decent down the bluff on the way to town and the ascent up the bluff when returning home. I think it brought a familiarity to every day and night that I traveled. If the drive into down was for something exciting, then the quick turns and straights were taken just a bit faster. Likewise if it was just a routine drive then the motions of driving were more prolonged or casual.

As I got older and my trips home became more spaced out, I still carried with me this same sense of familiarity with the road. Except now with all of my kids in the car I am probably less likely to exercise my youthful teenage self, but rather enjoy the views.

What was a memorable road for you? Share it with our forum or comment on this post.

Thank you for reading,