Saturday, September 24, 2011

Travelling in a Labyrinth!

Tonight, I am truly questioning my sense of direction!

One thing I've always been pretty proud of is that I usually have a pretty good sense of direction and, when driving some place where I'm not totally familiar with the lay of the land, even if I do get off base a bit, I can -or have in the past -been able to find my way around and get back on track.

After all, back in the early 80s, my kids and I drove down to D.C. -where I was fairly comfortable getting around the city and the suburbs and one night, after meeting a friend of ours for dinner on the outskirts of Annapolis, we started to head back home -north to PA, ya know -and I missed a turn as we were supposed to be picking up Route 70 on the outskirts of Baltimore but landed, instead, in downtown Baltimore instead! This happened late at night and I realized, by looking around at the area, that the area of Baltimore where we were wasn't exactly where a female with three children ranging in age from about 5 to 14 should be driving at 2 in the morning! But, I found my way to Route 40 and followed that north then which brought me out in Fredrick, MD and from there, I know exactly where I was -on the road back home!

Then, back in 2000, I had gone down to the Philadelphia area -riding down to a family reunion with a cousin I'd never met before but who, at that time was living in State College (which is near to me) so I hitched a ride down with him and had intended to have one of my other cousin's husband drive me into the city the day after the reunion to the bus station there and had planned to come back to State College -where I'd left my car -by bus. However, after the reunion, the ex-wife of yet another cousin had offered to drive me back home in her van so, I figured well, if she wants to do that, why not. Actually the offer was that I would be the one doing the driving. We would use her van to get me back up home and then, she would go on from there to her other home in Latrobe, PA. Sounded like a reasonable plan to me at the time.

However, I found out the next day when she came by the cousin's house where I'd stayed the night and we got ready to get on the road, that she hadn't a clue -nary a one -about how to get from that cousin's house to any route we needed to take to get out of that Philadelphia suburb and on our way to Harrisburg where I was familiar with the routes and would easily be able to find my way home from there.

So, off we went with her saying maybe we take this street then, no, maybe it's this one and so, we wandered around the streets in and out of several suburbs of northern Philadelphia with her trying to figure out what street to take and when and I decided just to look for route numbers that I was familiar with, that I knew if a particular route ran east or west or north to south and then, once I found one that rang a bell with me, I took that route following it in whatever direction it went that took us west after which I then started to watch for any route I recognized that would then take us north. Figuring sooner or later, I would come across a main artery type route that traversed the state -like Route 322 or Rte 81 or 76 or Rte 30. I don't recall now which route I encountered first that took us to a point where it connected with another route I knew, that would in turn eventually take us to the roads that ran near or into Harrisburg and we did make it up to my home. Obviously -because I'm still not roaming around those streets in Harrisburg kind of like the guy in that old song about riding on the MTA with the chorus of "Oh he never returned, no he never returned and his fate is still unlearned...." Yeah, I thought I did pretty good that day manipulating us around to get from Philly to Philipsburg in about 7 hours! (Normal driving time between those two points is actually about 4 to 5 hours -but that's for people who actually know where the hell they are going too, ya know.)

Well tonight, I managed to get myself lost right here in Clearfield County! And boy, did I ever get myself discombobulated too!

Sit tight now and listen my children and you shall hear about the early evening ride of me -no, not Paul Revere!

My son drives tractor trailer for an outfit up on the back side (so to speak) of Curwensville, PA -which is a town about 28-30 miles from where we live and the place where the company he drives for is located is oh, about 12-14 miles from Curwensville. He usually leaves here on Sunday evening about 5-6 p.m. to go to where the trucking company is located southwest (I think is the general direction) from Curwensville -a drive of about 42-44 miles, one way. Someone has to drive him up there on Sunday night to pick up his rig and then, on Fridays, when he finishes up for he week, someone has to go pick him up there too because he and his girlfriend only have one vehicle between the two of them and if she has to work from 2 p.m. to 10 or 4 p.m. to midnight, then he needs a ride either to work or from work on either Sunday night or Friday night.

And tonight was one of those days when his girlfriend was working from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and he was due to get in at the barn about 6:30 p.m. so I had offered to come pick him up.

Now, I've done this drive up and back twice before tonight and the first time I drove him up to work, I got a bit lost on the way home -coming back from Ansonville (approximately where the trucking company's barn is) to Curwensville. A couple weeks ago when I took him to work, I had no problem at all coming home.

Wish I could say the same about my drive up there tonight to pick him up cause it sure wasn't that way!

I left my house a little later than I had originally planned as I should have been on the way to get him by 5:30 but it was almost 6 p.m. by the time I started out however, I had no problems at all, of course, getting from home to Curwensville. And in Curwensville, I turned left at the light -don't know the street name but I am familiar enough with how to get to this place that I knew exactly where to turn left there. So I drove out that road a short piece until I came to Rte 969 where I was to take a right and drive up the mountain, along the northern end of Curwensville Lake (or Dam as some folks still call it) until I got near the top of that mountain and then I was to turn left on Rte 729, go over the bridge there that crosses the Susquehanna (West Branch of it in our county) and head up to Ansonville from there.

I got to that point too with no problem whatsoever. By that time, I was roughly 6 -8 miles from where the trucking company is located. I was also feeling a bit cocky too because I knew that while back on Interstate 80, my son's boss's son had passed me on the Interstate, heading home too but when I came out on the ByPass around Clearfield, I had passed him on the hill there so was ahead of him then by oh, about 2-3 miles then when I made that turn onto Rte 729 and headed up the really skinny, really windy road there to the barn's location.

I remembered too that abou a mile or 2 from the barn I would come to a turn in the road -left, if I remembered correctly, and that would take me then right to the barn.

Well I don't know exactly what I did wrong, where I made a mis-turn, but I made one and what should have been the last 6-8 miles of my journey ended up being about 40 miles of driving around, trying to get my bearings, looking for anyone outside as darkness was falling (rapidly too, I might add) that maybe I could stop and ask them for directions to get me back on track again.

After about 35-40 minutes of driving around, obviously lost, I came across the little town of Glen Hope and spied a little corner gas station/convenience store out there in the middle of nowhere so because I'm a female and unlike most men who when they get lost, refuse to ask for directions, I have no problem doing that!

So I go into this convenience store and ask the clerk how to get from there to the trucking company's place of business -off Rte 729 -which by the way was right there at that intersection -Rte 729, that is.

Now, if I were a bit more familiar with the lay of the land up in that neck of the county, I would have had a better sense of where I was, where I needed to go to get where I needed to be because I would have known then which little villages abut each other for openers. And too, if the state had direction markers that were more indicative of what little towns -and somewhat larger ones -were in which direction, I could have found my way with little to no problem then too.

But no, that isn't the way the state does those things with their direction signs!

So I had to go inside and ask the clerk for directions only to find out he had not a clue how to get to Ansonville from there! He did however point me in the direction of Irvona which is on Rte 53 and Rte 53 you see intersects at that point in Glen Hope with Rte 729 -which I knew was the Rte I wanted to be on but I just didn't know then and there, which direction I needed to go on Rte 729! If one of the direction signs at that intersection of 729 and 53 had pointed in a particular direction and said Curwensville on it, I would have known then I needed to go in the opposite direction from that but the guy didn't have clue one as to where I should go. Nor did either of the two men now waiting in line in the store behind me as I inquired about driving directions.

So, I left, taking Rte 53 to Irvona (which is the mailing address by the way of the trucking company -go figure) and I stopped there at a Dollar General Store where I inquired of the clerk (a middle aged woman) and a customer (a younger woman) as to how to get to the trucking company I was trying to find.

The customer there right away gave me instructions to go back to Glen Hope, turn left there at the intersection of Rte 53 and 729 and proceed from there about 6 miles or so and I would come to the trucking company.

All that extra roaming around added 40 miles to a trip that should have been about 42 miles but ended up being a little over 80 miles on my odometer and instead of taking me about 45-50 minutes to get there, took me almost 2 hours because those roads, where I was wandering, trying to find my way, are narrow, steep, hills, in deep forested lands, plus it was raining off and on thus hindering my vision and speed as well as dark then by that time too!

I did -obviously though -eventually make my way to pick up my son and made it back home then with no problems albeit it with a total then of 120 miles on my odometer by the time I got home!

I wanted to show you a map of the area where I was majorly lost but apparently you can't save a map from Bing Maps -although I sure thought you could do that -and can't post it on here anyway! Isn't that just special though too?

But one thing is for sure, whenever anyone tells me in the future that where I live is really out in the boondocks of Clearfield County, I might agree with them but only to a certain degree. I would most definitely tell them that the region up beyond Curwensville, and between there and Irvona, is even more out in the boondocks that the area here where I live is!

Shoot, I think I'd have been less lost if I'd taken a wrong turn going out of Karthaus, up through Pottersdale and to Sinnemahoning or Driftwood than I was up in Glen Hope!

Now, if someone knows how to print out a map from Bing Maps that I can then carry with me and that shows all these little, itty-bitty villages up in that neck of the woods so I'd then have a little bit of a clue as to where I am when I'm off wandering around up there, I'd sure appreciate that!


Rick Gleason said...

And I thought only men never asked for directions! Ever heard of a map for crying out loud? :)

I would strongly suggest you put on your Christmas wish list a GPS for your car. It'll save you a ton of time, headaches and frustration. Could keep you from being in the wrong area t the wrong time as well (safety). Well worth the small investment. Every son should buy their mom one.

Now you go girl!

Linda said...

Woman, get thee a GPS unit!

I've always prided myself on having an innate sense of the right direction too but boy, there are times! However, I'm usually pretty good at saying "this doesn't feel right" and get myself turned around in the right direction.

Speaking of right, my brother John always says "Always go right and you'll never go wrong!" so I tend to avoid left turns - unless my GPS unit tells me to go that way!

Maggie May said...

I think people either have this instinct for going in the right direction or they don't.
I can remember when I was little, no matter where we went as a family, we usually ended up in a farm yard out in the back of beyond.My dad was a seasoned traveller too.
I am not so good either.
I believe pigeons have a sort of magnet in their head that sends them due north. I suppose they can work out things from there.
Pity we can't have a magnet inserted into our heads!
Maggie X

Nuts in May