Category Archives: Life Journal

Teaching a Teen to Drive – Urban Driving, Part 1

There is a progression that I go through when I teach a teen to drive. Basic vehicle operations are the first principle. Then I move on to open road driving which helps build self-confidence in their ability to handle a car. Next comes canyon drives that teach the new driver how to handle and respond to the car. And then I teach freeway driving.

Once we’re through all of those, I move onto to one of the tougher concepts – urban driving. Urban driving entails driving on crowded city streets and freeways. One has to deal with distractions, pedestrians, cyclists, unprotected turns, and erratic, impatient city drivers. I wait to teach this skill because it can be unsettling for a new driver and rattle them. If done too soon, it can kill their self-confidence and make them want to quit. I’ve seen it happen. It’s why having a plan that progressively builds the driver’s skills and confidence is important.

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Teaching a Teen to Drive – Freeway and Canyon Driving, Part 2

Route map for Freeway and Canyon Driving, Part 2Teaching a teen driver how to handle a car on narrow roads and around tight corners is a foundation driving skill in my opinion. It gives the new driver a good feel for how the car responds in demanding driving conditions. It’s why I like to spend a lot of time in the canyons of Southern California during my longer teaching drives.

For this drive, we are going to explore a canyon drive that is a little longer, and a bit tighter. I would recommend that the teen driver has some canyon driving experience before embarking on this drive. You may want to complete the drive outlined in Canyon Driving, Part 1, or an equivalent drive first.

Freeway driving makes up a significant portion of this drive as well. Both the canyon and freeway driving will be important skill for later drives in this series.

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Urban Hiking in San Francisco: The Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge from the Post Card Viewpoint

The Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco’s most iconic landmark. On a clear day, there are many places where you can catch a glimpse of it including Land’s End, Fisherman’s Wharf, The Presidio, and from areas across the Bay in Oakland. You can also experience the Bridge first hand by driving across it. But in my opinion, the best way to experience the Golden Gate Bridge is to walk on it.

There are many ways that you can get to the Golden Gate Bridge on foot. I’m going to document the way I went, which involves a little extra hiking because, well, it’s what I like to do. It also includes a detour to Fort Point, which is worth the extra effort.

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Teaching a Teen to Drive – Canyon Driving, Part 1

When teaching a teen to drive, I like to spend a lot of time driving the canyons of Southern California. These roads tend to be narrow, two lane roads where the driver has to work on setting up the car and controlling it through the corners. It also requires the driver to stay alert since these are not simple, straight roads where you can slip into auto-pilot mode.

In the first drive, we mixed a little bit of everything into the drive – freeways, canyons, two and four lane roads, and urban driving. In this second drive, we’re going to focus primarily on canyons, with some urban driving and open 2-lane road portions mixed in.

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Urban Hiking in San Francisco: The Steps

Gregg Borodaty at the Hidden Garden Steps Sign in San FranciscoOne of the best ways to explore a city, in my opinion, is to hit the pavement and walk around it. Even better if you’re able to discover interesting landmarks and do some sightseeing along the way. Fortunately, when you travel to San Francisco, there is no shortage of great walks around the city and the surrounding communities.

For this hike, we’re going to head out to the Sunset District / Golden Gate Heights area on the west side of the San Francisco peninsula. This is a relatively short hike of just over a mile where you will encounter two landmarks that are off the beaten path – the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps and Hidden Garden Steps. The steps are amazing feats of artistry with intricate tile work creating a beautiful mosaic from the bottom to the top of the stairways. In between the two stops, we’re going to climb up to the lookout in Grandview Park. It’s a bit of a climb to get to the top, but it’s worth it on a clear day. You’ll get a nearly 360-degree view that spans the San Francisco city skyline, San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate, Lands End, and the Pacific Ocean. Let’s get started.

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Teaching a Teen to Drive – The Open Road

The Open Road Drive route in Google MapsAfter covering the introductory drives outlined in the first post of the series, the new driver should be comfortable behind the wheel, and you should be comfortable riding in the passenger seat and giving instructions. If all is going well, then you are ready to head out onto the open road.

For my first extended drive, I like to introduce the teen driver to a little bit of everything. We’ll drive on some straight, lightly traveled two lane roads; cover a busier road that requires varying speeds, changing lanes, and staying alert for odd situations; explore our first canyon; and spend time on the freeway.

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Teaching a Teen to Drive: The Introduction

This is the first in my series of drives I use to teach a new driver. The description and overview of the series can be read by clicking here.

When I’m teaching a teen to drive, the first drive is actually a series of drives. My goals at the beginning of this process are:

  • Go over the ground rules outlined in my first post to make sure we are on the same page
  • Allow the teen driver to get comfortable with setting up the car and the controls – adjusting the seat; adjusting mirrors; setting the steering wheel position; location of headlight controls, turn signals, hazards, parking brake operation
  • Make sure the teen driver knows location of brake and gas pedals – yes, it may seem basic, but remember this is their first time
  • Develop spatial awareness, meaning the teen driver knows the front of the car extends beyond what they can see and demonstrate the concept of blind spots by standing outside the car while the teen sits in the car using the mirrors

Once we’re good with the initial phase, then I move on to driving the car by first having the teen driver get comfortable using the gas and brake, especially understanding the pedal pressure required to move the car and stop it. I also go over the concept that an automatic drive car will start to move (when on a flat surface) as soon as you take your foot off the brake.

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Urban Hiking in San Francisco: Lands End

When someone mentions San Francisco, what comes to mind? I’m sure you think of The Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower, Alcatraz Island, and Chinatown. One item missing from that list that might surprise you is hiking.

I visited the city twice this past summer and was amazed at the number and quality of the hikes that are so easily accessible from right inside the city. I’m going to put together a few posts documenting the hikes starting with Lands End.

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San Francisco restaurants

Golden Gate view from Land's EndWhen it comes to the restaurant scene, San Francisco is one of my favorite cities to visit and explore. There are so many excellent choices that it can be overwhelming.

I had the opportunity to visit the city twice during the summer of 2019. To avoid being overwhelmed, I did my research and selected my restaurant targets ahead of time. I stayed away from the popular tourist spots as much as possible and focused on the neighborhood scene. These are the hidden gems that won’t show up on a typical Yelp search for ‘Best restaurants in San Francisco.’ They also have more character and atmosphere, and they won’t break the bank provided you go easy on the drinks, wine, and dessert, which is easier said than done!

Here are the 10 best restaurants I ate at this summer in San Francisco. As an added bonus, I’ve also appended coffee and ice cream recommendations – two of my favorite food indulgences.

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Teaching a Teen to Drive in Southern California

Abbey behind the wheelEarlier this year, Abbey got her driver’s license. She’s the fourth child I’ve taught to drive, and my last. Riding along with my kids while teaching them was challenging at times, interesting at others, and, believe it or not, fun overall.

Through the experience, I’ve learned that teaching a teenager to drive takes a lot of composure, even more patience, and a process. While I can’t help much with the composure and patience parts, teaching four kids has allowed me to develop and refine my process that I’m going to share with you in the rest of this post. 

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