Tuesday, March 8, 2011

You can't get there from here - TRULY!

I had to drive to a client's yesterday - Suffern, NY - MapQuest indicated it was 91.4 miles and estimated 1 hours and 40 minutes drive time.  Not easy to turn that into a 5 hour drive, but I managed!

All went well until at a certain point I glanced down at the written directions (hard to do when cars are pushing you to go 70 mph) and saw this I-875 towards NYC/Albany.

So I followed the sign that said NYC/Albany and all of a sudden was faced with “North” or “South.”  (Not until about 20 minutes later did I realize that my directions said I-87S not I-875.   I chose “north” simply because I didn’t think I wanted to head into the City.

As I said, about 20 minutes later I realized the folly of my decision but thought “no big deal,” I’ll get off at the next exit and get myself headed south.  No real harm done.

Well, the next exit was about 30 miles away.  So, when I finally got there, I went through the toll heading in one direction, did a U-turn and went back through the toll heading the other way.  Shoulda been easy, right?  Well, after a few minutes I realized I was going NORTH again.

Next exit was Kingston.  Lots of silent cursing in the car, but no tears.  Turned around there and successfully got myself heading south.

So far, not a real crisis.  So I lose an hour, big deal.  Hannity was off the air and I could get some of Mark Levin’s harangue for a while (but unfortunately there was a guest host.)

Anyway, I’m traveling south and all directions are being followed to a tee – I get to exit 14B, Suffern,
Airmont Road and happily get off the highway.  My hotel is on Airmont Road
I see the huge diner that is a landmark for me as it is what I use as a landmark to get from the hotel to the client's office.  I know the hotel is only about three blocks from the diner, so I’m home free.

Not quite ……………

I continue on Airmont Road and I realize I’ve gone too far, so I take the first left in order to simply turn around and backtrack.  Nope.  I'ts just turned onto a HIGHWAY.  And off I go to the first possible exit which is about 15 miles away.  I take that first exit, still thinking “this still isn’t too bad,” just get yourself turned around and go back and get back on Airmont Road
Well, the first exit I take gets me onto ANOTHER HIGHWAY.  Take first exist off that and now I am in NJ in a residential area with no people, no stores, no gas stations.

At that point, the tears have begun.  I pull into a driveway and try to get the GPS working.  It’s clear I need help, even tho I have no real expectations that a GPS will give it to me.  Doesn’t matter what I think, however, because I can’t get it to show me any directions that relate in any way to where I am and where I’m going.

I sob for a few minutes – give my self a “stiff upper lip” lecture and step into the street to stop a car – nice man tells me to go straight and at the bottom of the hill turn left on to 202.

I go straight and there is the first bottom of a hill and nowhere to turn – so I keep going.  There is after a few miles another bottom of the hill which has what looks to be a decent enough road to be called 202, so I turn left.  Go a few blocks and see nothing but homes and start to think this might not be 202.

I stop and ask someone.  I turned off one bottom of the hill too soon.

Go back and finally get myself onto something I can confirm is 202.

After a few miles I pull into a gas station to make sure I’m on the right track.

Woman says “Stay on 202 until you can’t go any further.  Then take a left and an immediate right.  That’s 59 and will take you right into Airmont.”  (Interesting that the first man who told me to take 202 said nothing about finding 59, but I digress).

For 10 miles I’m chanting “When you can’t go any further take a left, then an immediate right.” 

Abruptly, the road ends – but not because the road doesn’t go any further and I should be taking a left, followed by an immediate right.

It ends because it’s been shut down due to flooding.

So I’m forced to take a right (the only choice) which is again totally residential.

I wander for a while trying to make educated guesses about which way I should turn.

Finally – A GAS STATION.

Turn around – go back one light – turn onto Airmont Avenue – when Airmont Avenue ends take a left onto
Airmont Road
I do as I’m told and in about 20 minutes I see the DINER.  Home free again, right?  WRONG.

Due to the fact that's where all the trouble began the last time, I ask someone how to get to the Howard Johnson motel.  Not taking any chances.

“Go over the highway, go through three lights, after the third light take a left.”

I’m so happy – I do what he says but exactly where he told me he wanted me to take a left is where this all went horribly wrong about an hour and a half ago (when all I wanted to do was turn around)..

Hah, says I.  I’m not falling for that.

So I do another illegal U-turn (at this point hoping a cop will appear).

At a light I get out of my car and go to the car behind me.  Light is still red, but cars are already beginning to honk at me.  I don’t care.

Man says go back over highway and at the first light make a left.  (Just about opposite of what the first guy said.)

But I’m told to look for a Baskin Robbins as you can’t see the motel from Airmont Road , it’s right behind the Baskin Robbins.

At this point I’m thinking the hell with the motel I’m going to Baskin Robbins and eat everything I can pay for.

But I don’t and lo and behold behind all those forbidden calories is the HoJo motel.  Pretty much a dump – but it looked like the Taj Mahal to me.

And, that, my friends is how a 9l.3 mile trip turns into a nightmare. 

The only true blessing about the whole thing is that I didn't run out of gas somewhere in the middle of this hell.  Had that happened I don't think the people guarding the little rubber room would let me be making this post.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Still trying to remember me ....

OK, so I left off at about age 12.  I don't even know if the aging process I'm depicting is right, but I think it's close enough.

What I remember from my 12th year is the death of my grandmother - which I covered in my January 22nd "Big Girls Don't Cry" post, so I don't need to go through that again. 

Other than that, from 10 to 14 or so, nothing much stands out except Mudgekeewis.  Wonderful Mucgekeewis.  A camp somewhere in Maine, on a huge lake, where I was sent for several summers in a row for a two-month period. 

My mother spent a good deal of effort on finding ways and places to get me out of the way, but I have to hand it to her that she generally found great places, and didn't spare the expense.

I adored camp.  I adored the counselors, the campers, the activities.  Somewhere around 10 I began packing on the pounds and I always came home from camp having lost a substantial amount of weight.  I rode, swam, played tennis, climbed Mt. Washington (honestly).  Three summers in a row we all scaled the highest peak in the Northeastern United States. 

It was a three-day trip - half way up the first day to a place where we stopped to spend the night.  Up the next morning to get to the summit and then half way back down again to spend the night before descending the next morning and then getting driven back to camp.

I only have clear recollections of one climb.  We always had two or three guides with us and this particular climb there was one that I was totally enamored with.  He took pity on me and let me climb with him whenever possible, and I remember he carried my backpack the morning we climbed to the top because I was having enough trouble getting just me up the mountain.

We also climbed Mt. Baldface (Mr. Baldy to us).  This was a great event.  Half the camp walked to the base of Baldy and the other half rode a horse-drawn wagon.  Going home those who walked rode and those who rode walked.  I don't recall for sure, but I don't think Baldy was an overnight climb.  (I just googled it and can't tell if it could have been done up and down in a day - but I don't recall spending a night on Baldy.)

Other great things at Mudjie were canoe trips.  We would head out with about 6 canoes, three to a canoe, one in front, one in the back and one in the center, comfortably resting on all the gear.  Everybody would change up so that equal just sitting time was matched by work time, maneuvering the canoe.  These trips consisted of two night of camping and each canoe trip had to result in a trip song created around the campfires and performed for everyone at dinner the day we returned to camp.  I recall one line of one of those songs (sung to the tune of Oklahoma) ..

"And when we say jay*, we're talking to Carlene**
Her answer's toughie bean,
Stay in the middle of the river,
And don't go astray."

*This refers to the jay stroke which is used to keep a canoe going straight, with which I had great difficulty.

"*In the song my last name was used which rhymes with "bean."  For this post I've changed it to "Carlene."

Then there was the summer I was 14 (I think - at least that's how the chronology of this blog seems to indicate) I was sent to the most wonderful place in the world.  I think it was a place for "troubled teens" but that's not how I remember it.

It was high in the Colorado mountains.  I don't recall how many kids there were, but I don't think there were more than 20.  I only vaguely remember one or two.

What I remember was my Morgan.  The most beautiful horse (a Morgan, of course).  This was run as a ranch.  There were lots of horse, but I latched on to Morgan the very fist day.  The camp had a great deal of land and each night the horses were set loose to roam.  Anyone wanting to ride needed to get a bridle and walk (sometimes for not too long, sometimes for miles) to find the horse she wanted, bring it back to the corral, put on all the tack .... and then we were free to ride until lunch and then all afternoon after lunch.  Except for some time spent in the pool (I loved to swim as much as I loved horses), I was on Morgan's back.

She had been trained to rear (a really safe trick to sit to even though it looks exciting and sort of dangerous).  I would ride her up to the lower mountains and on a hilll I would put her into a rear and transport myself into the Lone Ranger and Morgan into Silver.

The other high spot of that summer was being part of the Little Britches Rodeo which was part of Cheyenne, Wyoming's Frontier Days.  I barrel raced!  And to this day I remember that the name of the Cowboy of the Year was Jim Shoulders.  And Casey Tibbs was also named something special.  Amazing what I can remember and what I can't.

Other than Morgan and the Rodeo and the Wrangler at the ranch (on whom I had an enormous crush), I recall very little about my Colorado summer.  But I do know it was glorious (and once again I dropped quite a bit of weight).  Funny how no adult in my life ever put two and two together to realize that when I was happy (and out of the conflict with my mother) I lost weight.  Seems it would have become obvious to someone over time.

Well, that's it for now.  I think the next order of things will be my mother's marriage (which she didn't tell me about until I came home from school for a weekend several weeks after the event - which was also the weekend I learned that we didn't live where we used to, where all my friends were, but had moved to a 400 acre farm which may have been beautiful but which to me was nothing other than a prison and a banishment).

Talk to you later.