The mostly deserted ass-end of Cannon Road leads down to the base of the Driveway from Hell.

Well, that’s what I call it, and it may seem rather extreme for a driveway, but you’ll understand once I explain. It’s also an ironic appellation, considering that this driveway leads up to the “back forty” parking lot of…a church.


In 2009, at the ripe young age of sixty-three, I was in primo health…or so I thought. I walked 3-5 miles every day, occasionally stretching it out to 6, even 7 miles.

Then, the back pain started, mostly when I walked up a hill, and when you live in a neighborhood called Ocean Hills, it is unavoidable. After a diagnosis of angina, and the discovery of four arteries almost totally blocked, I had open-heart, quadruple bypass surgery to save my life. (A more detailed account of that whole experience can be found on my post, “A Head Case?”)

Afterward, I resumed my walks, and that continues to the present, though now it is more like 2-3 miles every other day. Still, not bad for a young fart. I’m also a walking advocate, especially for my writer colleagues. (See my post, “Writers: Take A Hike!”)

The Driveway from Hell, looking up from the bottom.


Cannon Road, the main drag that runs through our neighborhood, is part of my walk. It angles downward and dead-ends at a nature preserve. Near the bottom, the driveway—wait, make that The Driveway—curves upward to the overflow lot of Mariners Church. Normally I’m content retracing my steps back up Cannon Road, which is not super-steep but fairly long.

Some years ago, for whatever reason, I decided to hoof up The Driveway. Halfway along I uttered “WTF” and went back down. I did not like walking up walls, and I was not wearing suction boots. The Cannon Road hill was just fine.

That said, I do like a challenge, so at some point I returned to The Driveway and eventually made it, gasping and invoking a greater power, to the top. Over time it became a bit less difficult, though still daunting, to this day.

So why keep doing it? Well, over thirteen years since my surgery I still recall the strange, excruciating back pain that sent me to my doctor, something I hope to never experience again. So on days when I’m feeling crummy in general, I head down Cannon Road to The Driveway, which for years now I’ve thought of as one of my new best friends. Up I go. It’s not as hard now. No back pain either. I’m good. End of story.

Looking down from the top (assuming you get there).

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