On a Quest with Google Maps

When you travel, it’s important to remember the necessary stuff — i.d., extra cash, charge or debit card, spare underwear. And, on a recent overnight foray, I did, but despite checking and rechecking, I still managed to forget something crucial:

My knitting needles.

Like a dory out of water I am, set adrift without my knitting needles. Dory Beach by Steve Henderson.

Laugh, if you will, but you try knitting socks with your fingers. It doesn’t work.

So while the Norwegian Artist was judging oil paintings at a state fair, I wandered about on foot, looking for an elusive yarn shop that many people vaguely thought might be in existence somewhere.

“It’s right across the street from Wendy’s,” one woman assured me, adding that Wendy’s was only a few minutes away.

“I’m walking,” I reiterated.

“Wendy’s is real close. That way.”

After walking “that way” for a quarter mile and not seeing a cute kid with pigtails, I asked a random man on the street just where the little girl could be. He looked at me strangely, but pointed — that way — and said,

“Just beyond the bridge.”

Do people not walk any more? Another quarter mile later, I stopped in at a hotel and announced to the nice lady at the desk, “I’m looking for a yarn shop that’s supposed to be across the street from Wendy’s, and I’m walking. Am I close to either?”

Walking in the city, even when your destination is a yarn store, is totally unlike the gentle contemplation of splashing in the surf. Wading by Steve Henderson.

She gave me that same strange look but at least accompanied it with valid information:  “Wendy’s is another three miles from here, and I don’t know about the yarn shop, but I’ll look it up and get you a map.”

Along with the map, she mentioned the existence of various steep hills, the heat of the day, and a recommendation that I drive, wrapping it all up with a friendly, yet worried, smile. I smiled back, grabbed the map, and was on my way. According to Google, the yarn shop was not remotely near Wendy’s.

Would it surprise you to hear that this is the only piece of information about which the map was correct?

For two hours I walked, valiantly attempting to understand, and follow, the cryptic recommendations of the “map.” It all depended upon finding N.E. Second Street, which seemed but minutes away after I found — with great elation — the map’s promised  S. E. Second Street. (This latter, incidentally, took 30 minutes, and involved N.W. 15th Avenue and S.W. 15th Avenue, and S.E. Third Street, landing me in the midst of a residential area with cranky barking dogs that were fortunately behind fences. More backtracking.)

But now, theoretically (and according to the map), all I had to do was walk north until S.E. Second turned into N.E. Second. Even I know that.

But apparently the map makers at Google do not know, or do not care, that a series of railroad tracks, a four-lane highway, and an industrial hospital complex, all interrupt the smooth transition of S.E. Second Street into its N.E. cousin. And they all look like they’ve been there for awhile.

Two nurses on a smoking break assured me that I was off track (“You’re south, honey, and you need to be north”), but despite living in that city, they had no advice on how to get north. If anyone asks, I will recommend both of them for employment at Google Maps.

Since there’s no reason you should have to endure another two hours of this, suffice it to say that eventually I did find the yarn shop, and I was welcomed effusively and graciously into the magic building of textile wonderment. When I mentioned my journey, beginning with the abortive trip to Wendy’s, the proprietor started.

Ahhhhh. What better place to soothe one’s soul than the midst of a yarn shop. Emerald Dreams by Steve Henderson

“There used to be a yarn shop there — 20 years ago.”

Oh, isn’t that funny.

But that’s not the best part. Do you know where the yarn shop eventually wound up being?

Six blocks from where I started.

Life’s frustrations are easier to get through with a smile on your face. I invite you to a collection of my essays and Steve’s artwork, recently  compounded into two e-books,  Life Is a Gift and The Jane Austen Driving School — volumes 1 and 2 of the Ordinary Life Is Beautiful series. Priced reasonably at $2.99, the digital books can be downloaded to your Kindle, iPad, iPod, Droid phone, and computer itself, the latter through a free app from Amazon. 

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