With each year of advancing age, Bob, always a cautious driver, longed with ever greater desire, for a new car with state of the art safe driving features. Finally after two years of wishing and dreaming, he decided to do it and bought a 2019 Buick Enclave Avenir. It’s a beautiful looking car with an overwhelming array of dashboard icons, keyless access (with fob) for door locking and un-locking, and a push button start system. We both got the hang of the fob and keyless access quite quickly, so how hard could it be to learn the rest of the features?
The Owner’s Manual identified safe driving systems that included ABS braking, All Wheel Drive, Tailgating and Backup Assist alarms provided by a total of ten forward and rear mounted cameras. Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist, Lane Change Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, Cruise Control, Adaptive Cruise Control, and an On Star navigation system with accident alert notification were, for us, the most important safety features of the car. After three days of studying the owner’s manual, and with as many associated hours of solo practice in the driveway, Bob threw his hands up in despair and called the dealership for a lesson.
When he returned two hours later with frustration etched on his face, I asked hopefully how the lesson had gone. “I don’t know why I bothered, I didn’t get a thing out of it. She went over everything so fast, I’m more confused than I was before.” When I pressed him for details, he described his humiliation when ‘She’ had asked for his phone. “I’ll set up the blue tooth and Apple Play for you.” The lesson fell apart for Bob immediately after he handed her his flip phone.
It took all the power I had to swallow my laughter. Maintaining what I hoped was an appropriately supportive facial expression, I suggested he go back out to the car, study his manual and work through the safety features one at a time. Once he’d successfully managed to understand the first one, I’d come out and he could explain it to me. That would give him a chance to reinforce his own knowledge and as his co-pilot, I’d be his back up.
With much grumbling and resistance he did just that. It was a time consuming process for him, but after his first success, the others followed more quickly. It was at that point that I implemented the strategic maneuver I’d been holding in my back pocket since the day he came home with his new car. “We should take a road trip so we can get used to the car. I want to learn to drive it too and we could test out the safety features together.” I suggested we go to Maine for a few days to visit our friends, Pat and Howard. It seemed too easy, but without any need for further convincing, he agreed we should do that.
Pat & Howard are a couple we met ten years ago in our Texas RV Resort during our first winter of retirement. We’ve been fast friends ever since and have visited them in Maine several times. There is a problem though: there is no easy way to get from Ontario to Liberty, Maine where they live. Maine is a beautiful state: vast forests, several mountains, and two lane highways winding through hills and valleys that introduce the traveller to Maine’s beauty. There is no direct north/south four lane highway; the journey is apparently, meant to be savoured, as the speed limit is 35 mph. We knew it would take a full day’s drive on the 401 to get to Cornwall from the Windsor, Ontario area. From there, we had previously crossed into New York State and knew it would take almost another full day’s drive to get to Pat and Howard’s.
View of St George Lake from Pat & Howard’s yard