There was this herd of elk…

When discussing the issue of illusory superiority, there is an oft-cited study that indicates that ninety-three percent of drivers said they believed they were better-than-average drivers. While the actual numbers can vary depending on the study, the point is that most drivers, factually speaking, overstate their competence.

Me too.

I think I’m ready to admit the truth.

My driving record

My reasons for concluding that I am a-less-than average driver.

  1. 2006 – a long story, but through a series of events that was not my fault, my car ended up on fire at the side of the highway (which was my fault)
  2. 2008 – fell asleep at the wheel, slow impact rear-ended
  3. 2011 – I was rear-ended at about 40 MPG while waiting to make a left-hand turn.
  4. 2015 – The great technicolor window incident
  5. 2017 – Ruined two tires (probably other incidents… remember one in 2020…)
  6. 2021 – The flat tire 
  7. 2022 – Yesterday

Where the deer and the elk play (not the Subaru)

Yesterday, after I took a drawing class (more about this later) I decided to run an errand up north in the Pacific City area. It’s a pretty drive at any time of year, and I moseyed up the coast, enjoying the scenery. After my errand, I turned around to come back. It was starting to get dusk and I saw several groups of deer.

Reminding myself to be on the lookout for critters, I continued back home. Then I saw a herd of elk in a large green field.

In the top two photos, do you see that brown area. That’s a little farming road. And it was open from the highway. As I was currently stopped in the middle of the highway, worrying about passing traffic, I decided to nose the car onto the road. A little more… a little more. I stopped when Key started to bark, realizing that the elk weren’t going to let a big car with a barking dog get any closer. I was only about a hundred feet down the road. I was a pretty good road, not too muddy and slick. Not even that narrow. I thought about trying to turn around, but I thought the road wasn’t quite that wide. So, I used the camera to back up the road to the highway.

Now, if you are counting, I’ve done three stupid things to this point: 1) Driving near dark when it’s cold and rainy; 2) Driving my car onto muddy private property to get reference photos of animals which I have already thoroughly documented, and; 3) Trusting the backup camera.

I slowly backed down the road and was about 10 feet from the highway when there was a noise. I looked around and didn’t see I had hit anything, so I backed up a little further. And the Subaru’s left rear tire went into a watery ditch. The car was tilted at around 30 degrees, with the tires showing no sign of being able to grab through the mud, water, and gravel to get us out. It’s not a matter of horsepower, it’s a matter of traction.

I got out my phone, preparing for a stressful wait. No signal. So, I put Key on a leash and clambered out over the passenger side to get out of the car. I walked up the road. No signal. I crossed the highway. There was more signal, but it wouldn’t last long. I would get through to AAA just long enough to tell them who I was and what happened and then the signal would drop. Five minutes later the earth or satellites would rotate enough for me to get a call back and we’d try again. Repeat for about 30 minutes with the tow truck still not dispatched. I was upset, cold, wet, and had a barking, hungry dog. Not my best moment.

But maybe the lesson here is that when you are down, others rise to the occasion. I was floored by the generosity of the people who went by. More than half a dozen people stopped to offer help. I told them I’d be okay and thanked them. But time moved on, and it was raining (snowing) more, and getting darker. Another guy and his buddy asked if I needed help. I said no, but then he said, “I just got this new winch on my Jeep and I’m dying to try it.” I looked at him doubtfully and explained I did want to hurt his car, the farmer’s field, or my car. “I’m a longshoreman,” my hero said (must start getting names…). So… I let him hook us up. I can’t say it was easy, but my hero and his buddy were so careful. And once the car was out, they helped me get back on the highway. They were concerned because I was shivering (thoroughly wet and scared) and followed me back to the city where I had cell service and was able to call AAA to cancel the truck. I love my hero and his friend. Though I don’t know (or more accurately, don’t remember) your name, please accept my cosmic good wishes!

In other news…

Before the transportation meltdown yesterday, I took a drawing class by Nora Sherwood with my friend, Mary Margaret. She came over to the house and we Zoomed the class together. And, really, we were very good about not getting too distracted. (Other than not understanding how many homework assignments we had been given. Weren’t you paying attention, Mary Margaret?)

I have admired Nora Sherwood‘s work for years. I was introduced to her via the Art on the Edge studio tour (did I mention I am in it this year? And that it’s June 15-18!) Mary Margaret and I were walking and she mentioned signing up for another round of classes, and I thought that was a great idea. I signed up as well, and thus our Saturdays are set for a while. We are taking her “Basic Drawing and Pencil Skills” class followed by “Shading and 3D Form Boot Camp – Graphite”.

Nora led us through some basic exercises and understanding. While this might be reasonably termed review for me, it’s review from 34 years ago. I can use it. One thing I’d like to work on is erasing; I have a heavy had when drafting, and I’d like to keep my paper in better condition so paint will go on more evenly.

We started with some basic circle warm-ups.

Next, Nora laid out a series of three cardboard shapes in a variety of relationships, overlapping, beside, etc. Relationships!

We also went onto that beloved drawing basic, blind contour drawing.

We did blind contours as timed exercises.

There were some little lectures or demos, during which I drew various things.

Then we did a session of drawing a bunny from a video.

And finally we draw a photo upside down. Nora gave us a photo, but I didn’t like it. So, I worked on my image for future painting “Emerge”.

Over the next week we have to do daily drawings (6 in all) as well as three specific exercises. I’m excited about the project. I’m also liking being with my friend and having the ability to good off without disrupting the entire class!