Over My Shoulder: Adventure is what you make it.

by Ann Robson

Adventures are all around us every day. Sometimes we don’t recognize them. While climbing Mt. Everest would surely be an adventure, we don’t have to go to extremes to have adventure. There are those who would say going to the grocery store is an adventure, and for some it is.

An adventure is something that is specific to the person. In general, it’s something you do for the first time on a whim or for the twentieth time because you enjoy it. Some of us seek adventure and some of us have adventures just happen to us. Some of us see adventure in small things and others find it in major events. 

A major adventure that I remember was driving alone on the Autobahn in Germany. My husband was there on business and I tagged along for my first European trip together. While he was working I usually tried to sightsee, often driving a rental car. The Autobahn route has everything you need in an adventure — I was all alone in a gorgeous Audi heading for Cologne to see the cathedral. This was before GPS and cell phones. I had a map and a desire to see that cathedral. It looked like an easy thing to do; after all it was less than 50 miles, so what could go wrong? The car was a standard shift, which I did know how to handle, so off I went.

Getting on to this world famous road where speed was the name of the game, I decided to stay in the right lane and let everyone pass me, but it seemed that lane was reserved for big trucks. After getting several blasts from a truck horn, I moved over one lane until he passed, then moved back to the right. Another truck, another blast, another lane shift. Tried one more time to stay in the right but after the third truck’s blast, I moved over. I was driving reasonably fast but it was as if I were just dawdling along. When I saw a large, overhead sign for Koln I exited the road and found myself, not in Cologne but in its far outskirts. I saw a sign for “banhof,” which I knew to be a train station and thought it would lead me in. Next clue was “midstadt,” which meant city center and I followed this until I could see the spires of the cathedral and just followed them. In those days, parking was allowed in the city center, and I parked close to the cathedral.

The trip was so worth it. A bonus was a visiting choir performing. I get goosebumps remembering how magnificent it felt, sitting in a pew listening to choral music in such a fabulous setting.

Then, I had to manage how to get back to where we were staying. There was an American Express office close by, and they gave me excellent directions that made for a more peaceful round trip.

It seems that most of my adventures involve driving — a blizzard in northern New York state, a tropical storm in Kentucky, the hills of West Virginia, a winding road with no guard rails up to the continental divide in Colorado in an RV, roads in England and Ireland where you drive on the other side, going around a small traffic circle in the middle of England not sure which exit to take nor how to safely exit.

Now that I prefer to let a bus driver or tour guide do the driving, I realize that my guardian angel must have had apoplexy when I was younger and ready for anything. I haven’t lost the spirit of an adventure but I now recognize there are limits to what one can do….. well, maybe. 

Ann Robson is the author of “Over My Shoulder: Tales of Life and Death and Everything In Between.” She can be reached at overmyshoulder@charter.net .