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Elizabeth Scott

Monday, September 25, 2006

I don't know what the state motto for Pennsylvania is, but it should be "We can fool ANY map!"

This weekend my family had a birthday party for my grandmother, who turned 100 recently and--as you can probably guess--the party was held in Pennsylvania, where some of my relatives lives. My husband and I looked up where we were supposed to go on Google and then, just to be sure, checked on a map as well.

Then we got to Pennsylvania. And here's how we found our hotel: luck.

The conversation leading up to this event:

Husband: How could we be on the right road one minute and then on some other road I've never heard of the next?
Me: I don't know! Maybe we made a wrong turn?
H: We haven't turned! At least I don't think so.
Me: (drooling as we pass by a bookstore)
H: What?
Me: sweet, sweet books...wait, what? Um, maybe if we drive long enough, the road name will change back.
H: Did you just see a bookstore? Okay, wait, the road name just changed again.
Me: Right name?
H: What do you think? Oh--hey,is that a sign for our hotel?
Me: YES! You're a genius!
H: Is that your way of saying you want to go back to that bookstore?
Me: You really ARE a genius!

So, yes, we did make it to the hotel. But then we had to make it to the party, which was held in a home that Google maps assured us was merely three streets and four turns away. Surely, we thought, surely we can handle that, and left for the party twenty minutes early, figuring that would give us more than enough time to get there.

Forty minutes later, I had to make a phone call. It went something like this:

Me: Hi! It's Elizabeth. Um, I know we're supposed to be there already and we followed the directions we printed out but we're in a parking lot by some railroad tracks.
Relative who lives in Pennsylvania: Oh, you just took a wrong turn. Get back on the road, go three traffic lights, take a right, then a left, then drive till the road levels out like a football field and look for the stop sign. Then you'll be at the house!
Me: Um, are there any road names I should look for?
RwliP: No, just look for the lights and the stop sign--you can't miss our house!

Now, in a normal state, these directions would have ensured us another two hours in the car. But since we were in Pennsylvania, they worked -- and also taught us that building one's house RIGHT BY THE ROAD is perfectly normal, as witnessed by the following exchanges between me and my husband as we negotiated the roads with no (or multiple!) names...

Husband: $#! I almost drove into that person's front door.
Me: I would say you were exaggerating, but I'm pretty sure I could see the whites of somebody's eyes!
H: What are the odds of that happening?
(cue sound of fate (or whoever designs roads in Pennsylvania) laughing hysterically as car rounds another corner)
H: Wow. Apparently pretty good. I think I saw what that guy was watching on tv.
Me: Me too. Pennsylvania hates us.
H: We did find a bookstore
Me: That's true! Pennsylvania loves--oh, watch out for that window.
H: Somehow it just seems wrong to be saying that while we're in a car.
Me: I just want you to know that I love you.
H: Is that your way of saying you aren't going to drive us back to the hotel?
Me: I really *really* love you!
H: (sighs)


Anonymous Melissa said...

OMG, no one believes me when I tell them that driving in PA is like this. Maps, directions--nothing helps.

I was just there visiting family & got directions that were roughly like this, "There's a hill, but if you go too far up it you've gone too far. You need to turn at the billboard."
M: What's the street name?
Them: "There isn't one. Just turn at the billboard."
M: No. There *has* to be a street name.
Them: "No. After you turn at the billboard, go three houses. Her's is set back a bit off the road."

Later, after cussing when I discovered that I was lost and there's no cell service out there, I learned that billboard doesn't always mean that it's a billboard in use and 'set back off the road' simply means that there's a ditch between the house & the nameless road.

Rural PA driving is like stepping into another era, but, umm, slightly more frightening. Glad you found where you were going eventually.

September 25, 2006 10:00 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Scott said...

You're right about the cell service! I managed to get my call to hold by leaning out the window. And luck. I'm pretty sure luck played a role too. :-)

September 26, 2006 8:15 AM  

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