Help! Where Am I Now?

I’m a pretty good driver, really, just don’t talk to me while I’m driving.  Lately, out here in Seattle, I’ve been driving a lot in the city – well, it’s all city.  Yesterday on our way in to my daughter’s work I noticed we were nearly out of gas which is a scary condition to be in since you never know how long you might be going nowhere on the parking lots they call roads.  I decided to drop her off and see if I could fill up before going in the parking garage.

Unlike the area in Florida where I come from, this city has no gas stations.  Where do all these cars get fuel? I don’t know.  I had seen one gas station on the street we normally took from the hospital to downtown so I headed toward it.  That street is called Cherry.

For those of you who don’t know, downtown Seattle’s main streets running perpendicular to the waterfront and two streets starting with a J, two streets starting with a C, followed by two starting with M, then two with an S, then  two with a U and finally two with a P.  Some bright person made the acronym Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Pressure to help them remember the order.  I think it’s pretty obvious Jesus didn’t make Seattle, but that’s just my opinion.

So as I’m driving around trying to get to Cherry Street where I think the gas station is, I am encountering all kinds of unexpected one way prohibitions.  There’s nothing more unnerving than rounding a corner and finding all the lanes of traffic full of cars facing you.  It’s nice that people start waving their hands at you before you get too far.  Just sayin’.

Finding Cherry wasn’t too hard but I thought I’d been transported to a different universe when it dead ended in the middle of a building complex.  Nothing looked familiar.  I would have stopped to look at my  GPS to figure out what was going on BUT THERE IS NO PLACE TO STOP in Seattle, except at stop lights.  All the lights are timed to turn green just before I get to Google maps.  I have found that when I keep moving, trying to decide which lane to be in, which direction to turn, and how to not hit any of the hundreds of people crossing the street at every intersection I can really cover a lot of ground. So very soon, I had no idea where I was.  But not to worry because I hadn’t run out of gas yet and, “thank you Lord”, ahead I saw a gas station.

Such relief.  After a few minutes on my navigation app I found out that the Cherry Street I really wanted goes around a slight corner and becomes James Street in the downtown area. ,, I understand one more traffic puzzle now.  I learn something new every day in Seattle.  Now that I’m getting around pretty good, it’s almost time to go back to Florida…

Back to Race Trac and WaWa on every corner.

Back to roads that are horizontal instead of nearly vertical.

Back to where you only have to wait through one or two cycles of the traffic light to get through the intersection.

Back to where I’m not the oldest person on the road… just sayin’.

A to Z Family Stories: H for Home Road

These stories are part of who we are and I want them recorded. Not all of them are pretty, but that is ok.  This is a collection of family stories that are told repeatedly anytime the Smith clan congregates during a vacation or a holiday.  I’m sure some of them are told more from my perspective than others but I welcome added insight from those involved.

Northern Wisconsin is pretty much the heart of nowhere. The small town I grew up near was over three hours from a major airport and two hours from any significant shopping, unless Farm and Fleet was your go-to store – it was only an hour away. When the girls were young we made weekly trips to the city of Duluth, Minnesota to meet with friends for a church service. It was an all day journey, often leaving in the dark early hours of winter, with our thermos of cocoa and breakfast food and not getting back until it was dark again. There were rituals of where to stop for lunch (Pizza Hut, cheese pizza with a pitcher of Mountain Dew} and what to listen to on the radio (Prairie Home Companion all the way home…). The two youngsters would often fall asleep in the back, strapped into their car seats.

But there was always a point at which the road began to sound different. There was a slowing, braking and a particular curve to the road. It was almost like the tires knew that there was no longer a white center line, no longer much traffic. It was “home road”. A voice in the back would start the chant, accompanied by rhythmic bouncing in the car seat. Soon they would both be singing the song, “ho-ome road, ho-ome road” in sleepy voices that got stronger over the last couple of miles. It was the song that signaled one more safe trip nearly ended, with the expectation of being done with that long stretch of forced inactivity. It meant homecoming.

On visits home, I never travel that stretch of country road without hearing that little mantra playing through my mind. We don’t live there anymore. It’s not a road that leads to home. But the funny thing is that the song itself has come to be applied to other places that I’ve called home. The same feelings of welcome and relief from travel are felt as I turn into my present long driveway, and in my mind I hear small voices singing the “home road” song. I’m just sayin’ it is a sweet thing to remember.