Duke Gardens; Anne Learns How to Drive a Manual Car (video!)


Monday again already — wahhh! I had another wonderful day yesterday with Matt — such a nice, relaxing weekend. I took the weekend 100% off from schoolwork and am feeling refreshed and ready for this CRAZY week. Our comprehensive exams for the masters program are on Friday — this week will be studying, studying, and more studying.

Backing up to Saturday night, we had a delicious dinner on our porch — leftovers from Friday, when Matt made homemade spaghetti and meatballs for us.


We used a quinoa pasta we found at the co-op grocery store — delicious! Plus lots of chopped peppers and wilted spinach for some veggie power. And a piece of garlic bread!


We also both enjoyed a glass of wine. It was a perfect night for porch sittin’!


On Sunday, Matt and I did a little mini strength workout outside:




And then we packed a picnic and headed over to Duke Gardens for a few hours!


We heard that Duke Gardens was a must see before leaving the area, and it was the perfect day for it. We spent some time exploring when we first arrived:


And then settled on a sunny spot to spread out our blanket and get our picnic lunch on!


For lunch, we brought an assortment of goodies from our fridge. Cheese, crackers, hummus, turkey, and also some unpictured salami:


Dried mango and some fresh grapes and edamame, plus some unpictured apples:



It was delish.


We did a little more exploring after enjoying lunch and some relaxation time. Duke Gardens is gorgeous! There were a lot of families out enjoying it, too.




It was a pretty awesome way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

When we arrived back home, we started Operation: Teach Anne How to Drive a Stick Shift.


It was fun/hilarious. As I mentioned, I need to be able to move Matt’s car since we’ll be parking in a tandem spot up in DC — and I also think knowing how to drive a stick shift is just a good skill to have in general. :) After a few failed attempts, I was actually up and running pretty quickly! Reversing was still a bit dicey, but I was out and driving around (including a main road) within 15 minutes. Yay! The hardest was getting going in 1st again after any sort of hilly stop sign or traffic light.

We thought it’d be funny to take a video of my first attempts — get ready to laugh because I look like a TOTAL ditz in this video… I swear I’m in a science-based masters program. ;)

Anne Attempts to Drive a Manual Car… Hilary Ensues

And here’s one from a few minutes later when I actually kind of knew what I was doing. Hooray! I picked it up pretty quickly after the first muddled attempt captured on the video above. :)

Stick Shift Success!

Driving a stick is actually pretty fun — I feel like you have a lot more control over the car. I can’t imagine trying to learn to drive a stick while also trying to learn how to drive for the first time, though. This was way easier since I already knew how to drive/not hit cars on the side of the street and all!

Sadly, the fun is now over — this is going to be a busy week, but I’m ready for it. Here we go!

Do you know how to drive a manual car? When did you learn?


  1. 1

    Haha, I love it, you did pretty well! True story: on my first date with Ulysses (when I was 16) he let me drive his stick shift which I had just “learned” that week on a friend’s car and I stalled while making a left up a huge hill in the middle of the intersection with a semi truck coming down flashing and beeping at us. I’m not even sure why he decided to date me after that. It was horrific.

  2. 3

    My first truck was a stick, so I learned at 16. My dad believed that if you could drive a stick, you could drive anything, so it was engrained into me and my sister. I miss driving a stick some times. Good job!!

    • 4

      My dad was the same way… taught me on our old ’85 chevy pickup in our church parking lot, haha!… and I am SO glad I learned on a stick-shift! I’ve been driving for 14-15 years now and still prefer manual shift. My husband also learned the same way from his dad. We are lucky folks!

  3. 5

    Wow – sounds like you did pretty well! I learned to drive a stick when I learned to drive. Only … my father was so scared that I’d burn out the clutch on his nice car that he first made me learn on a very large John Deere tractor (a real tractor – not a riding lawn mower). I must have done okay on that because the next step in my progression was for me to take his car with one of his good friends and practice in the school parking lot where there were a few little hills. He just couldn’t bare to watch me stall! ;)

  4. 7

    I had to learn at the same time I was learning to drive as that was the only kind of car we had! I still have a manual today and I love it. I’ll get a manual for my next car, too.

  5. 8

    Sounds like you picked it up in no time! I got my first car (a manual) about two days before I moved to Pittsburgh for grad school–so I basically learned to drive manual while driving halfway across the country. It’s a miracle I made it out of Chicago alive! Just traded that car in last year; I do miss it, but it’s a whole lot easier to negotiate DC traffic in an automatic.

  6. 9

    Haha my first car was a stick – it took me a lot longer to master it than you did! Wait until you try hills…you’ll have to master hills too if you’re going to be in DC. I learned to drive stick in Houston (very flat) and to this day, I’m afraid to park in parking garages because of the “hills”

  7. 10

    The car I learned to drive on was a stick. I even took my driver’s test in that car. My first car was actually an automatic but I longed for a 5 speed. My current and last car were 5-speeds. I love the control and it’s kind of fun (unless you are stuck in traffic).
    I can still remember back in 1991 when my mom got her first 5-speed and my dad and cousin taught her how to drive it. It was scary and took a long time. Something about old dogs, new tricks?

  8. 11

    Yep! I started driving a manual when I was 21 and got my first car — I knew the basics before then but this was when I really got used to it. I like it so much more than driving an automatic and you’re right — it’s a really good skill to have.

    Going from stop to first gear is definitely the most challenging part, but keep practicing and you will get really good at it! Soon it will be second nature. :-)

    (And yes — practice on hills. LOTS OF HILLS.)

  9. 12

    Will tried to teach me to drive stick at Dickinson, the first year we were dating. It was such a debacle and I hated it. I basically freaked out every time we came to a stop sign or red light. So good for you for actually succeeding!

    • 13

      That’s what happened when my dad tried to teach me once when I was 16 (he used to have a stick shift). I seriously couldn’t even get out of the driveway – stupid reverse.

  10. 14

    You’re a quick learner! It took me two days…maybe a week…to feel comfortable driving stick ha. One time Justin made me try and get up the STEEP entrance to Foster’s Market on a stick. I definitely red-lined it ha. It is so much fun once you get the hang of it! Looks like you had a perfect weekend!

  11. 15

    I loved the videos so funny and Anne said the “S” word in the first one. TeeHee. Not too worry, I say that word every single day. I learned how to drive on a stick shift but I have an automatic today. The Gardens are absolutely beautiful.

    P.S. That spaghetti looks terrific. My favorite meal.

  12. 16

    I really wanted to drive stick, so I bought a manual car right out of college (2004). Now I can’t imagine driving anything else. I used to just practice going around and around and around my neighborhood until I was not scared to take it on a real road. My advice on getting into first gear…. light gas, let off the clutch, when you feel the clutch start to engage keep your foot there for just a second and let it engage, and then you can take your foot off and keep pressing the gas. Good luck!!!

  13. 17

    My mom is a pastor and she started teaching me how to drive stick in the church parking lot. I’m lucky I didn’t crash into the side of the church (or kill her clutch, haha!).

  14. 19

    What a beautiful weekend! I have NEVER in my life driven a manual car and I really don’t see myself ever learning. The video is too funny! ;)

  15. 20

    I LOVE Duke Gardens. I’ve only been there once, but was in awe while I was there.

    And nope, I have no clue how to drive a stick. I’ve had two boyfriends who drove manual cars and neither would teach me how to drive them! haha!

  16. 21

    Good for you!! I still can’t drive a manual, and I’m just hoping I’ll never have to.

  17. 22

    The first video was so funny! You were much calmer than I was when I first learned to drive a standard! But I am on standard car #3 now and I love it! Kudos to Matt for being so patient!

  18. 23
    Pat Elsberry says

    You did great!!! I learned how to drive a stick when I was 16. Even though we had a automatic my Dad always thought it was a good idea to know how to drive one so I would never be stranded anywhere. I learned on a friend’s VW Bug, then years later I dated a guy with a corvette … I told him I knew how to drive a stick even though it had been years since I had! Now, that was a fun ride and he still had a clutch when I was finished! LOL

  19. 24

    My father made me learn when I was 18–we were leaving for a family vacation and he wanted an extra driver. We had a 3-speed 1963 Ford Fairlane van with the shift on the column and he took me down to the local high school parking lot where I went around in circles. After that I took it out alone on the streets. He asked me if I’d ever done a “hill start” a day or so later and took me out to the steepest hill in our town, made me stop and get going again–I thought I was going to go down the hill backwards! But I’ve never been sorry to have learned–its a skill that has come in handy for my whole life.

  20. 25

    I learned to drive stick when I was learning to drive at 16. It was a disaster, but fortunately, I have a very patient father. It was a very steep learning curve – I had so much trouble, but all of a sudden, I GOT IT. My current vehicle is automatic, and I miss my manual!

  21. 26

    My first car was a manual… it was rocky, but I got it down. It’s definitely an excellent skill to have!

  22. 27

    I can appreciate your ditzyness completely! I drove around thinking I had to have the clutch pressed in every time I came to a stop otherwise the car would stall. My friend then introduced me to the concept of putting the car in neutral. GENIUS! xoxo

  23. 28
    Lauren K says

    OMG, this video might have made my day! Seriously, so funny! And it warms my heart to hear you guys having so much fun together :)

    PS- I really look up to you 100% homework free weekends, even before comps. Your school/work/life balance inspires me!

    • 29

      Aw – thanks! Homework free weekends have really helped to keep me sane. :) I’ve stuck by that rule all two years, with the exception of a few times we’ve had a big test or assignment due on a Monday!

  24. 30

    I definitely saw you walking into the gardens right as I was walking out. I was going to come up and say hi, but 1.) I wasn’t completely sure it was you and 2.) I thought you might be completely creeped out if some random girl just came up to you and said hi. I absolutely love the Duke Gardens (and all of Duke’s campus), especially at this time of the year!

  25. 32
    Adventurer says

    Awesome day, Anne. Well done with the stick shift! And good luck with the exams!

  26. 33

    Oh my gosh those videos are amazing!! I was laughing my head off! :)

  27. 34

    I really enjoyed with your videos..I remember when I started to learn to drive with that kind of car with a teacher and in a month I learned!! I had a health problems when I drove Stick shift.. so i changed to an automatic a few months ago, so now I use only one feet is good! Good luck with your exams on friday, do your best :) Oh, the pics are so so beautiful, Duke Gardens must be great. Byeee!

  28. 35

    Learning to drive a stick is hard!! I think that’s because most teachers tell you “sloooowly” (like my dad did!) and I always stalled out. Once I realized it’s really “little gas, then medium let-go” I got it right away :)

  29. 36

    Love that you had no real pressure to learn to drive stick. When I learned my husband (than boyfriend)had driven home for the weekend to visit my family/friends for the second time ever. He cam down with a really bad case of mono and I had to learn to drive stick in order to make it back home (4 hours away) for class on Monday morning. Talk about scary… but as you get more comfortable it make driving so much more fun… good luck!

  30. 38

    the first car i bought with my own moeny was a stick. i worked second shift at the time and my mom dropped it off at my work for me. i had to learn fast in order to drive home after work!

  31. 39

    I’ve been to the Duke gardens! Loved them!!!

    When I learned how to drive it was on a 55 Chevy Pickup stick in my grandpas field. I will admit it’s tough to get it all together at the same time. I remember trying to pull into a drive-in (think Sonic) to order food and could never get close enough. I went up and back many, many times and finally gave up and got out to order.

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