Two milestones and a very big carrot

After about six years of not driving, I’ve decided it’s time to get my UK driving licence.  I’ve had my California drivers license since I was 16, but was unwilling to exchange it for a UK one because it would be taken away from me.  So what?  But in America it was my ID and I just didn’t want to let go of that talisman of who I am.

I got my provisional UK licence about 1.5 years ago, but to be honest, I needed a tangible reason and goal to start the process.  I take the bus to work and Steve is quite happy to do the driving when we go out.  Anyhow, the time has come!

I got a 3 DVD set and a couple of books and set about studying for the DVSA Theory Test and the Hazard Perception Test.  I’ve really enjoyed studying.  I’ve also realised that this is the first time I’ve set and worked towards a specific goal in a few years.

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I was worried about the Hazard Perception Test, which involves watching a 30 second scenario and clicking the mouse when I see a potential hazard developing.  Apparently experienced drivers click too soon, because we see it sooner and get in before the window of time governed by the test.  I struggled to do well on the practice video clips.

I took both tests on Friday.  I ain’t superstitious, but I wore the Converse All Stars I’ve been wearing to my driving sessions and my silver Hopi bracelets & hishi and bird fetish earrings, both bought on solo road trips in the American southwest.

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The Theory test was a cakewalk: 49/50 was my score.  I had a 3 minute break and went on to the Hazard Perception Test.  There were 14 scenarios in a row and unlike the practice DVD,  I didn’t get my score after each clip.  So after the first one, I had no idea how I was doing.  With trembling hands and sweating palms, I carried on.

Well hey!  I passed!! 🙂

The other thing I have to get is refresher driving tuition and specifically tips on how to get through the Practical Test.  I spoke to a couple of people I found online, but how does one know who to go with?  Serendipitously, a friend recommended a new driving instructress who can meet me in Exeter before and/or after work.   She is showing me not how to drive, but how to get through the test.  So now that I have passed the Theory Test I have booked my Practical Driving Test at the end of August.  One milestone down and one to go.

Now let me tell you about my carrot.  As I stilled myself before I took my tests on Friday, I closed my eyes and saw this.

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Steve and I are going to California for 3 weeks this October!  California is my home state and I haven’t been back for a proper visit since I moved to the UK in 1998.  We’ll be about 6 days in the L.A. basin where I lived for 35 years, then plan to hit the road.  We’ve hired a camper van, not an RV.  We’re planning  a 2 week road trip up the coast beyond San Francisco to Point Reyes, then will hang a right and go through Yosemite, nip up to Bodie, visit my beloved Mono Lake and head down the Owens Valley and swing by Joshua Tree.

All travels and journeys are potentially life changing, but this will be one of the ‘trips of a lifetime’ for both of us.  For Steve, to travel through the most beautiful state in the US with me as his guide and for me, to go to where I come from and the giganticness that that’s about, and for both of us to experience it all together.

Now, that’s what I call a very big carrot.

BTW, my California drivers license expired in 2012 which is why I’m going through all of this malarkey.  I’ll get an International Driving Permit before we go.

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