Trip Fail

I met the woman who designed Google Maps!

I had a few errands to run, and I decided to daisy-chain them when I looked up all the locations and saw it would be easy to get from one to the next to the next. One of them was right off route 1. To get to the next you take route 1 to route 2. To get to the third it’s route 2 to route 3. And I knew how to get home from the third place because I’d been there before.

“Angelborough” as it turns out is actually a native American word that means “it’s ten miles away.” As in, the grocery store is ten miles east, Target is ten miles northeast, and the DMV was ten miles north. My Patient Husband’s job? 10 miles north and a little west. We’re located between two major highways, both of which are ten miles away.

When I can do more than one errand at a time, it makes sense to combine them. I looked up everything on Google Maps, and I didn’t even need their directions. So first I went to the cat shelter to donate Venus’s leftover food and some other items they had on their wish list.

Their address is 101 Rescue Road. I got on the main road that crosses Rescue Road, and I took it to Rescue Road, made the right as directed, and proceeded to look for 101.

The house numbers went like this: 56, 48, 199, 1…

Remember how I mentioned Satan used to be on the town planning board of Angelborough before that unfortunate throne-raising incident? Well, I now know he planned the adjacent town as well. I did a U-turn and went back up the block, but there was no 101. I wondered if maybe the road continued further down the main road, since in this part of the country they do things like that.

Sure enough, about two miles away, I found another one. Where the numbers topped out at 86.

Finally I found a tiny sign for “Old Rescue Road” and took that over some railroad tracks to find the animal shelter. Where, although I’d been told someone would be there until 5pm, it was locked up tight as a drum. I called, but no one answered. I’d been told I could leave donations on the front steps, so I did that. And then we went to the next stop on the trip.

I arrived where it said I should find a BJs, and it’s someone’s garage. There was a tiny office park, and nothing more. I called my Patient Husband at work and said, “Bring up Google Maps and tell me where this is.”

He said, “Am I your On-Star now?” He determined where there really ought to be a BJs. I got directions and hung up.

In all fairness to Google Maps, my Patient Husband directed me to retrace my steps and drive about two miles until I was exactly back where I’d started, only around the corner, and then continue driving. At this point, I gave up because he had directed me toward the third destination, so I just went there. (It was Michael’s, and I needed to spend a gift card. Ivy is now going to remove me from her blogroll because I bought Red Heart sock yarn. But I had no choice! I wanted to encourage them to sell sock yarns!)

At checkout, I asked for directions to BJs, since we were exactly where my Patient Husband said it should be. The cashier brought over someone else to explain to me where it was.

She said, “Go back out on route 982, and–”

I said, “Wait, isn’t that route 3?”

She said, “No, it’s route 982. Now take that a little bit down to the Home Stuph store, and then you’ll see a Flea Universe, and if you make a left you go down past Bull’s Eye, and you make a right and–”

After five years of driving as a volunteer for a caregiving organization, I know there are people who can give directions, and people who cannot. Guess which she was?

With a pleasant, “I’m never going to remember that,” I started to disengage, but she pulled out a little bit of receipt paper and began drawing me a map. She started in the upper right hand corner of the paper and then proceeded to draw the map UPWARD and to the RIGHT. She was actually drawing on the counter at one point. Every so often she would pause, blink, and her voice would break. Then she’d start again. I think she was having microseizures or something. I thanked her for the help, and we left.

Halfway to the car, I realized, I’d been in the presence of the woman who had designed Google Maps, the founder of our fun.

And with that, I decided to go home.


  1. Ivy

    Ha! I have acrylic sock yarn in my stash too. It has me curious, but I’ve yet to knit it up. Let me know what you think of it.

    You’ve managed to re-convince me (like I need re-convincing) why New York is the best city in the world. If you’re on Fifth Avenue and 32nd Street and you want to go to Third Avenue and 48th Street, it’s pretty easy to figure out.

    Although there was one time a woman asked another woman for directions and the second woman didn’t know so I butted it.

    She was on 52nd and Lexington. She wanted to be on 60th and Broadway.

    “The streets numbers go up as you head north” (pointing north) “so next is 53rd, 54th, and on to 60th. Turn left and walk straight to Broadway.”

    After listening to this explanation, the second woman asked me, “So how to I get to Lexington and 45th?”

  2. philangelus

    I thought it was mostly wool, but it’s definitely The Brand You Hate. 🙂 And how would I know how it knits up? I’m lucky I can knit it at all. I count that as a victory.

    I’ve always been convinced that Manhattan did it the right way. I’d travel to 83rd and Park Avenue a hundred times rather than try to find the corner of Cherry Blossom Way and West Cupcake Boulevard. And as you see, they don’t even number houses consecutively here, although I admit having numbers at all is better than trying to find Manderly Estates.

    Add in the fact that when the same road runs through five towns, it has up to eight different names. “Wait, are we on Central, Main, Mill Pond Road, or Westover?” “Yes!” **whimpers**

  3. Cricket

    Here, roads between towns are numbered. If the level of government maintaining the road changes, the road number changes. They try to do something logical, like County 24 becomes Regional 124, but it’s not always possible. 7 is Susan in one town. In another it starts as Frank, then takes a right angle bend in the middle, at which point it becomes George, but then 7 leaves George (hopefully the noisy trucks do too) and becomes 24 for a bit.

    Before Ottawa spread out, each neighboring city gave names and numbers independently. When they merged, take all the above confusion, and remove the name of the town. One nice long highway has five names, and numbers based around four different town-centres, and a few shopping malls stuck in the middle. Three different Henry St.’s, one from each old city.

    I enjoy watching people listen to Dad give directions to their place in the country. It’s solid Canadian Shield, with lots of lakes and windy roads. His instructions include things like “Turn left on Burns Road. Continue for 100m, until you see a burned out barn on the right. Turn Left at the burned out barn. If you see house number 187 you missed the burned out barn.” He also includes an enlarged orienteering map. Service guys who bother to use the map never get lost. The rest? Their problem.

    Very accurate, but more accurate than most people can do.

    When the province insisted on standardized house number signs in the country, each region did it differently. Some did it by map grid, even though that had nothing to do with the way the roads went. Some did it by number of driveway. My parents’ area waited to see other regions’ mistakes. Each road name was confirmed unique, and numbers are metres from the start of the road, usually the end closer to a community. No clue how they’ll handle roads extending backwards.

    Red Heart yarn. I got some of that for my daughter because that’s the only red they had. Oops. I find it has very little stretch, but doesn’t split.

  4. Cricket

    Grrrr. Every so often I clear my cache, and have to redo all my saved forms. My URL is nothing at all like my last post suggests.

  5. whiskers

    I used to live in Chicago where all the roads are (if nothing else) designated with grid coordinates. If you get totally lost, you can look at xyz west and abcd north and know that you are in the general area of where you want to be. Not so in whisker’sville. Nooo…

    I laughed so hard at this post because it sounds like you live down the block from me. We have US20 running through town. Think that would simplify things, right? Wrong. We have Lexington, which turns into US20; old US 20, which turns into McKinley, and the US20 Bypass, which turns into the US31 Bypass.

    It is enough to make you want to hit the city planners with an atlas.

  6. Ivy

    Oh, I forgot. I once met a person who couldn’t take directions. She wanted an intersection that was about a block away from where I worked. I told her to go two blocks north (while pointing north) and to turn right on 29th.

    “No,” she insisted. “It’s east 29th.”

    “Yes, that would be east 29th.”

    “So I turn left.”

    “No, right.”

    “But it’s EAST 29th.”

    “Right. And that block is East 29th on the east side of 5th Avenue.”

    “But 5th Avenue is to the left.”

    “Exactly, and that’s west.”

    “That’s east.”

    “Okay, north is that way.”


    “If you start by facing north and turn right, you’ll be going east.”

    “No. You’ll be going west.”

    “Please trust me and turn right.”

    “Never mind. I’ll find it myself.”

    I can’t promise where she ended up. I felt bad for her because it was pouring rain and she had no umbrella.

  7. philangelus

    Until I left New York, I didn’t realize people still navigated by north, south, west and east. It was always, “go up five blocks and over two.”

    And of course, one day, I was standing on the subway and someone behind me asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” and it was SO tough not to turn around and give THAT answer… 😉

  8. knit_tgz

    My brother and a lot of my guy friends navigate easily by north, south, east and west. I, not so much. I mean, I can stop and consciously think “where did the sun rise: ah, that’s east”, but it’s not natural like it is for them.

    On weird town planning, the worst I’ve seen was once when I went to meet a university mate at her suburban town. All buildings look exactly the same, the streets are orthogonal (grid) but at that time the streets had no names (nor numbers, and now I have a U2 theme in my head). Each building had a lot number and that’s it. She told me: “My house is lot 83, 2nd left” (not real numbers). “But if you cannot find it, please phone me again” (this was before cell phones, so I mentally registered the location of the payphone, but I told myself: How hard can it be to find lot 83?). Well, after going 2 streets where the numbers went 3, 75, 27, 91, and so on, and on the other side nothing ever related, I had to call her back. Satan worked there in the 1970’s, it seems. Nowadays the local street naming board gave a name to all the streets (and a sign with the name) and re-numbered the houses…

    About acrylic sock yarn: if you keep insisting maybe one day they’ll have the real deal. And you can always use the yarn for things other than socks!

  9. philangelus

    Satan worked at a lot of town planning boards, I guess. That’s why there’s so many of “That Damned Street” out there.

    I checked, and the sock yarn is in fact 70% superwash wool. It’s just the brand name that would make Ivy remove me from her blogroll.

  10. Ivy

    Jane, you’re way too cool to take off the blogroll. 🙂

  11. philangelus

    **sighs with relief** Thank you for forgiving me. I promise never to buy Red Heart again.

  12. Jenni

    Before she created Google maps – she worked on Yahoo maps and got us lost in the BAD section of Detroit.

    Also reminds me of finding 8th & I in DC – wouldn’t have been so bad if we hadn’t turned down the WRONG way of a one-way street.

  13. Sign Artist

    I’m all for having street names and house numbers – and even house names – as they’re far easier for our poor humans brains to cope with than a string of unassociated characters and digits. Using numbers for roads and streets is for robots and computers but is often favoured by the “authorities that be” as it requires no imagination or creativity.

  14. philangelus

    When I’m trying to locate a job interview site, I have to say, I don’t find the lack of creativity to be an issue. 😉

  15. cathrl

    I understand that your side of the pond you actually have streets with junctions at right angles?

    If I get asked for directions in Oxford by someone who wants to be the other side of the one way system, I normally give them the first five turns and advise them to stop and ask again at that point. When I was a student I couldn’t do it at all – my routes all involved walking down bus-only roads.

    The other side of us is Milton Keynes, a “new town”. My kids thought I was joking when I told them it’s laid out like a chessboard, and with streetnames to match. I kid you not. When we go to Ikea, it’s in on V3 and turn right onto H8. That’s a bit too uncreative for me.

    And you know about the Googlemaps routefinder that tells you to drive across the Atlantic, right?

  16. Cricket

    We tried Google maps to get to a small restaurant two towns over. They put it four towns in the wrong direction. Yes, we typed in the address, not just the name.

    My town and the one south have some five-way intersections. One is the major intersection in the city. Other areas of the town are pure grid.

    I can see the initial misconception with the “but right is west” thing. East 57th is not the same thing as East on 57. I hope she got there in the end.

  17. philangelus

    Oh, I love when you give the name of the business and the full address and it comes up with a list of fifteen places in the sidebar and says, “Which of these would you like to visit?”

    So you put in, “Condor Joe’s Garage And Gun Shop, 123 Birdie Street, Angelborough CA 11111” and it comes up with, as its first choice, “Kenny’s Bike Shop, 77 Nambu Drive, Ninjatown CA 12121.” The actual location is item C, and when you click on that, it then asks you if this is the right one.

    It almost makes me want to walk out to the car, open the glove box, and unfold a map! 😀

  18. Cricket

    We’ve been tempted to get a GPS. Very tempted, sometimes. Mom just loves hers. We know all the features we want, and they’ll come down to $150 for a reliable brand in another year or two. But,…

    Then we see this sort of idiocy, and all the GPS and online companies buy from very few map companies. Even after we’d confirmed the address, it gave us the wrong town, and the red thing was pointing to the middle of a bunch of trees!

    CAA gives us maps for free. One of each per year, but we usually only update them every three years. (Husband’s car measures in decades.) Great for cities, but it took us forever to get complete coverage of the south end of the province, which we drive regularly. One for south-central, one for south-east, one for central, …. Some overlapped a lot, but some rural areas were tricky. They’re not in an nice grid. I suggested they take the entire-province map (not useful when driving) and mark on it where each of the next scale down fit.

    This year I splurged and paid $25 for a book of maps of the province. There’s an overall map in the front, and the small maps form a grid on the big one. We also got CAA city maps for the cities we go to often.

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