While I am not a technophobe, I am one of those seemingly rare individuals that refuses to become dependent solely on modern technology. I do not own an iPhone, let alone a smart phone. I have a dumb phone. It makes phone calls. It receives phone calls. I can receive and send texts, if I choose to sit there for fifteen minutes trying to convert my number pad into words when a simple phone call would transmit the same information in seconds. Number pad? I still have the rotary version. You have to dial. OK, I’m kidding about that, but you know what I mean.
I do not have to have the Internet by my side 24 hours a day. (I also don’t pay a thirty dollar fee for a “data plan” which is simply a modern-day code for highway robbery or extortion.) So I am old school . . and cheap.
Seriously, did Lewis and Clark need Siri to get across the country?
“Um, Siri, what is the best way to the Pacific Ocean, avoiding highways?”
They did not have–or need–that technology. They didn’t need Siri–they had Sacagawea!
So when I had to take my son to Pittsburgh this weekend for a hockey game, I passed on taking my wife’s minivan with the built-in GPS system. Who needs GPS? Mankind survived for thousands of years without GPS. Did Columbus need a GPS? Ponce de Leon? Marco Polo? Moses? Okay, Moses could have used a GPS out there in the desert and it might have cut thirty years off his trip, but he still managed to get where he was going without a GPS.
I can do this.
If ancient explorers could read the night skies, use a compass, and navigate their way half way around the world, surely I can find a hockey rink in Mt. Lebanon, PA.
Our coach emailed the team and warned us that the Squirrel Hill Tunnel was closed for construction and the detour had traffic backed up significantly.
Marco Polo didn’t have to deal with road construction.
Our coach proposed a detour south off 22 to 70.
Doesn’t that look an awfully long way out-of-the-way? Would Sacagawea send Lewis (or Clark) down through Mexico before heading up to the Pacific Northwest? Is this the route Columbus would have taken? Now I know that none of these explorers had a computer and MapQuest (TM), but often they did have some type of maps, unless they were the ones charting the map for the first time. I’m not trying to discover Mt. Lebanon. I just want to go there. I have no qualms about using MapQuest. My maps are on pixels rather than parchment, but the smart explorer uses what means he or she has available to them, right?
So I played around with MapQuest, and tried clicking a button that avoided highways. This is the route I came up with.
Doesn’t that look a lot more direct? And faster?
Looks can be deceiving. And I am an idiot. It is a dangerous combination. I am Moses and Mt. Lebanon is the Promised Land.
You see, travel on roads that are not highways, is slow, frustrating, and stupid. If there had been a highway in the desert, Moses would have taken it. Even if it was under construction. So while my son’s teammates were zipping down the coach’s detour in cars, we were mounting camels in Monroeville. There was no manna from Heaven, but we had burgers from Five Guys. That’s way better than manna, so we’ve got an edge on Moses there.
Apparently Satan was hell-bent on keeping us from the Promise Land, though, despite our itemized directions. I forgot to take some vital details into account when planning this expedition. For one thing, the game was at 8 PM, and we are in October. It was getting dark. Now while that might have been a problem for Moses, I did have an overhead light in the
camel car, so I was able to read my MapQuest map.
But apparently no one in the greater Pittsburgh area needs road signs. They all must know where they are going, because you cannot figure it out driving around in the dark. MapQuest tells me:
Stay straight to go onto Curry Hollow Rd.
Curry Hollow Rd becomes Brownsville Rd.
Brownsville Rd becomes Broughton Rd.
Turn right onto Library Rd/PA-88.
- Library Rd is 0.1 miles past Gerhold St
- Walgreens is on the corner
- If you are on Bethel Church Rd and reach Superior St you’ve gone about 0.1 miles too far
It sounds so simple.
So after hitting 17,000 traffic lights–all of them red–and going through road construction anyway–we come to a place where the road splits. One lane continues straight, and one veers off to the right. MapQuest tells me to stay straight onto Curry Hollow Road. There is a sign here at this intersection that says “Curry Hollow Road.” But there is no arrow. ALL of the traffic travelling with us is going right. Apparently, they aren’t going to the hockey rink we are going to, or they didn’t check their parchments properly. We head straight . . .
Into the Twilight Zone.
After travelling on what we thought was Curry Hollow Road (and there was never a sign at any corner to verify that little bit of information) for several miles, we begin to doubt MapQuest. My son was building idols to other Gods. He has a smart phone with Internet but doesn’t know how to use the GPS. It’s just a useless piece of junk if you don’t know how to use it. Moses may as well have had it. He could at least throw it at someone and get their attention.
Maybe all those other people knew what they were doing. This was ultimately confirmed when we came to a T intersection that actually had street signs. Neither of the choices was any road that we were looking for. Did we pass Superior Street? I don’t know. NONE OF THE STREETS I NEED ARE MARKED!
So we turn around and head back, thinking we should have made that right turn at Albuquerque because we certainly weren’t anywhere near Pismo Beach, let alone Mt. Lebanon.
So we ended up back on Curry Hollow Road, and subsequently Brownsville Road, but with God as my witness, we never did find Broughton Road. Ever. We thought we had found PA-88 Library Road–I am sure we were on it–but we never saw the Walgreens. Businesses come and go. I blame it on the economy, rather than my navigational skills. So we continue on with the MapQuest directions certain that we will get to Mt. Lebanon before the Mayan Calendar ends. I honestly thought we were back on track and we had supposedly completed several more steps on the list of directions and were getting very close to the
Promised Land hockey rink, when we came to an intersection with a Walgreens. Cue the Twilight Zone theme.
Apparently we weren’t almost at the rink . . . we were still back on page one of the directions at the Walgreens we had never seen the first time.
It’s not like Columbus or Magellan never got lost. But they accidentally discovered some cool shit when they did that. I didn’t discover anything but some dark alleys in suburban Pittsburgh–places I don’t want to be in the dark or ever return to. And no one’s going to name a day after me like they did for Columbus.
It took us over TWO HOURS to travel from Monroeville to Mt. Lebanon. MapQuest tells me the route from Monroeville is 23.21 miles and takes 51 minutes. I don’t know where we wandered around or for how long (I think maybe we were abducted by aliens and didn’t know it) but it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase that I can’t get there from here.
My son missed the first period and a few minutes of the second thanks to my shortcut. At least his team won 7-1.
Next time, I think I’ll get a TomTom GPS.
Or just take the stupid Minivan.
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