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I’m so pleased to announce that I have completed the first task of my 101 in 1001 challenge!

#13 – Drive to Naples without getting lost

Now this might seem easy, but it’s not. I have a paralyzing fear of driving long distances because of the fact that one of my god given talents is getting hopelessly lost.

This talent was discovered when I set out to visit my best friend, who lived in Clermont at the time. Now, he insists to this day that he provided me with fool proof directions. He did not. He forgot like, 3 parts. And the names of exits. For example “Take exit 51″…. 51A or 51B? He didn’t say. So I took exit 51B when I was supposed to take 51A. So, I ended up going the wrong way on the interstate. I got off on a familiar road and gathered that I need to go the other way. Then I took the wrong exit on to the damn road and kept going the same wrong way. Finally, I got back on track… just in time to have the same scenario repeat on a different road. The drive that was supposed to take an hour and a half took 4 hours.

I remember the highlight of the trip vividly… I had to pull off to the side of the toll road and call my parents. I will admit that I, an 18 year old college senior, wailed like a 3 year old. My mother was not enthused and promptly ordered my father to procure an atlas. I overheard dad in the background asking my mother why they decided to have children. She had no answers for him. Likewise, because I had no idea where the hell I was, he was unable to locate me on said atlas and figure out where I was supposed to be going.

I hung up the phone and attempted to call my best friend. 5 times. He didn’t answer, and I was not amused in the slightest. So I sat there, with my hazard lights on for a good 10 minutes contemplating my mortality. Finally, I turned the car around at the next exit and headed the other way. The best friend finally called me back and gave me directions. I spent the entire weekend with his family in a cold sweat thinking about how the hell I was going to drive home.

And that is how I developed a crippling fear of driving. I bought a GPS shortly thereafter, but somehow decided that GPS directions were made to be ignored. I know how illogical this entire deal is, but it’s the truth. I cannot find my way out of a paper bag, let alone a city.

Therefore, driving to a city 5 hours away was a huge deal. And I was terrified. I took my car to the tire dealership to get the tires rotated and such, then I was off. I knew the first interstate I had to drive on, but not the second. I made the merge well, managed to stick to my GPS, and arrived ahead of time and in once piece. Success was mine!

Likewise, the drive home was uneventful. I ignored my GPS, which wanted to send me through these creepy back roads and I stuck to the interstate. Some creepy dude flipped me off because I refused to race with him, but that’s life. I mean, seriously. If you are driving a black, spray painted VW beetle you can barely fit in and you have the facial hair of a rodent, I am not going to risk a ticket on you. There is no need to be obscene.

So that is the story of my drive to Naples. I am no longer afraid of driving there! Clermont? Another story and another challenge. More on that after Thanksgiving…