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Close Calls

Spending eight months on a scooter driving all over Europe, one would seem bound to have some close calls. My first was in the mountains of Southern France, the morning of my third day out, having begun my tour of Europe in Rome. Driving the narrow mountain roads, I drove straight but the road curved left. I slammed on my brakes, slid to a stop maybe six feet off road, and was looking at the tops of trees - a sheer precipice another half dozen feet ahead of me. At times like this, I would think things like, well maybe I would have sailed out into space, hit the top of that tree, grabbed hold and held on and been able to climb down from there. But mainly I thought - I have to do less sight-seeing and more driving, when navigating these curvy roads.

The worst close calls or series thereof was driving probably west, from Austria to Venice on the Italian coast, where I got onto a toll-way by mistake, and by the time I realized it - I couldn't turn back - all one way. The road was beautiful, two lanes in either direction high up on the cliffs and steep inclines of the coastal mountains, with a panoramic view off to the left of opalescent blue and turquoise sea and sky, as far as one could see; verdant rocky patched mountains transpiring high into the sky on the right. The problem was gusting off shore cross winds. These gusts were periodic and my scooter being very light would be blown from the slow lane into the fast lane, which would be no problem except, that vehicles in the fast lane might be going twice as fast as I was.

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