Tag Archives: mapquest mishaps

my staten island miracle

i was in a hotel in brooklyn.  wrappers and empty bottles of mini-bar extravagances on the bed and my laptop in front of me.  i was furious at mapquest.

mapquest said that it was impossible to go from 235 meeker avenue to the address on 63 westbrook to see my facebook friend michele piersiak if i used a car.  and yet, when i looked at the map, it looked fairly straightforward to me.  cab it to the manhattan ferry station, take the ferry and take another cab in staten.  somehow mapquest seemed to say with a frisson of nearly gallic contempt:  mais non!  i then asked mapquest about public transportation.

“Non, Non, Non!”  mapquest squealed.  “quel horreur!”

so i said please, mr. mapquest, what if i walked to the staten island ferry station and took the ferry and then walked from there to my friend’s house?

“Four hours seven minutes,” he replied.  “Nine miles.”

“I betcha i can do it in under three,”  i said.

i wasn’t figuring on getting lost, sidewalks closed for construction, my feet hurting, my bag heavy, and then there was the williamsburg bridge:

and after i got across the bridge it was just a matter of asking ten different new yorkers where the ferry station was.  ten different new yorkers, ten different answers.  i was starting to think that mapquest had severely misunderestimated (to use a bushism) the travel time.

however, i got to the ferry station and determined that the ferry is a pleasure never to be missed.  and it’s free!

once on the island, i walked through the downtown, through quiet neighborhoods, through little Sri Lanka, past a muslim day school, a golf course, and a river.  by the time i reached my facebook friend michele piersiak’s house, i had done my time just as mapquest had predicted.

i might have regarded this as a failing.  i had destroyed my feet.  i had been stubborn when i should have known that mr. mapquest is always right.  i should have taken a cab.

but now i don’t regard that as a misadventure.

hurricane sandy has destroyed the ferry station.  island residents have no gas, their homes and businesses are flooded, the power is out, there are buildings that will never be rebuilt.  i was privileged to get to see staten island as it was.  so i look back on a miraculous walk.

although next time maybe a more comfortable pair of shoes.

my last f2fb flight of the year. . . . unless i can earn some easy money

when i travel this year, i try to walk as much as possible.  and in the calm quiet of my hotel room in downtown portland, i mapquested how to get to f2fb friend #282 karin deitterich mcdonough.  i was very excited because i hadn’t seen her since high school.  she was always the smart chick.  i thought she was very chic.  i couldn’t wait to hear about what had happened in the past thirtysome years.

on mapquest, if i took a car, it would take nine minutes to traverse the four miles.  but i decided to try the walking option.  again, four miles.  but an hour and a half?  oh, come now!  i might be fifty one but i think of myself as pretty fit.  i took down the directions and headed out at eight–i was supposed to meet her for breakfast at her house between ten and ten thirty.  i dawdled through the downtown because i had a lot of time on my hands.  then i entered into what portlanders would call “the hills”.  the hills go straight up.  then the street changes its name like an identity thief on crack.  then the hills go straight down, which when a gal is wear a bit of a coquette-ish heel–well, let’s just say i put my bag and my ass down at one point and sort of scootched along as toddlers do.  when i looked down i realized i could not see the downtown any longer.  as a chicagoan, i take a lot of comfort in skyscrapers seen at a distance.

i arrived promptly at ten thirty.  i only had to call her once because there was a court, a boulevard, a street, a parkway, and an avenue all with the same name as her little rue.  i had hoped she would give me a bell ringing lesson.  we didn’t really have time for that.  but she did give me a bell ringing lesson of an unexpected type: 

after a first marriage ended, karin met her second husband through their shared love of bell ringing. they both perform and karin is going to get her master's in music education. told you she was the smart one!!

karin was so nice to drive me to the airport.  i told her i needed to be there early because i am always the person randomly selected for patdowns, feel ups, extra wanding, bags unpacked, questions asked, go through that magnetized thing again, let’s swab your fingertips.  she thought i was overreacting but she got me to the airport and the strangest thing happened.
nothing.  i felt a bit nostalgic when the tsa agent said “awesome” which is, as near as i can tell, what people in portland say when they mean “yes” or “i like that” or “you must not be a terrorist, you’re free to go”. . . this might very well be my last plane trip for my new year’s resolution and there wasn’t a single blue gloved hand grope. 

peter butier welcomed me home to winnetka--he travels almost as much as i have this year because he balances a girlfriend in lake forest and children in arizona, california, and texas. i told him about the fact that this new years resolution was written about in huffingtonpost.com and he thought that was funny. i do too!

so i have four “orphaned” friends in california who would be happy to see me but weren’t able to see me the other two times i went to los angeles and san diego.  but i could squeeze it in if i made some easy quick cash.