Odyssey in the Odyssey

Part 1: C’ville – DC

Everyone makes the occasional dunderhead move while driving. As an Asian woman driver, I have always felt unduly burdened by the weight of negative expectations on the part of other drivers on the road. I worry that to them, my occasional driving blunder is no mere momentary lapse, but rather: further evidence that Asian Women Can’t Drive.

“Damn!” I think when a wheel goes over a curb, or when I am forced to make an inelegant seventeen point turn in my big honking Honda Odyssey minivan. It’s not the action itself that bothers me so much as the reaction I imagine witnesses having.

“Mmmhmmm,” I imagine them saying to themselves, “Asian Woman Driver.”

This is all to say that our trip to New York City was somewhat tortuous, and maybe even a little torturous. I started out in Charlottesville and picked up our friends at a hotel in D.C. From there, we planned to drive on to Gettysburg to pick up my son, who was there finishing up a weeklong field trip with his school.

As I have written before, navigation is not my strength. In preparation for the trip, I had printed out a sheaf of google maps for every leg of the journey. I had also set up my iPhone maps to help me navigate. Despite my best efforts, I was in trouble not five minutes after leaving my parents’ house in Arlington to pick up our friends. As I approached I-66, I called my sister in bewilderment.

“There’s a huge sign that says HOV-2 and motorcycles only! Is that a general prohibition, or just in the lanes with the diamonds?”

“Just the lanes with the diamonds!” my sister reassured me over the phone. I was still rattled. If I could have possibly figured out an alternate route, I would have, just to be sure not to get hit with the whopping $1000 fine single drivers are threatened with on those big electronic signs dotting the highway. Finding an alternate route on my own? Obviously, that was just not an option for the likes of me. I kept nervously glancing over at other cars hoping to spot other single drivers, but didn’t see any. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I managed to make it to the hotel hotel without getting pulled over.

When Rosita got in the car she immediately set up her own iPhone with google maps. Even with two different iPhone navigation apps and a set of printed directions, we still managed to get lost in D.C. None of our sources took into account the vagaries of D.C. traffic patterns, which change according to the hour and the day. At one point, we quite literally were directed straight into oncoming traffic. We kept having to make sudden last minute U-turns and lane changes. I was getting so frazzled that I started to make genuinely boneheaded driving maneuvers. I may have driven through a red light, for example.

“We’d make a lousy Thelma and Louise,” Rosita observed.

I followed her train of thought, “Yeah. We’d be like, ‘How do we get to the cliff? Which way should we go?! What does google maps say? Where’s the freaking cliff?! Oh, never mind…’.”

Later in New York, we met up with a high school friend of Rosita’s. He listened to our harrowing tale of escape from D.C. and told us that he had learned an expression for this when he lived in L.A.: “DWA,” or “Driving While Asian.” Whatever.

Part 2: Gettysburg – NYC

We made it to Gettysburg and met up with my son. We decided to kill some time walking around Gettysburg to wait for a cafe to open so we could have lunch before pushing on to NYC.



I got yelled at by a little old lady in Victorian garb in the Gettysburg Emporium for taking this picture:


The Cupcake Café! This perfectly pink and frothy venue was just the place to start our adventures with our two adolescent boys. They let us know how they felt about it:


Pit stop at the Cracker Barrel:


We finally made it!





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2 thoughts on “Odyssey in the Odyssey

  1. Pingback: Wait … I’m Asian? | mothermade

  2. Pingback: Home | o wonderful, wonderful

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