When you’re on the road and you want to see countryside you’ve never seen and get to know wide, unfamiliar vistas just outside your windshield, all you have to do is ask for directions. Unfortunately, I have found that people are much better at asking for directions than giving them. And I’m not just talking about husbands and wives here. In small to midsize towns across this country, directions can be, well, fuzzy.
Me: “So how do I get to the reservoir park from here?”
Local: “Easy. Go straight down this road until you get to where the Dairy Queen used to be, then you make a hard left.”
Me: “I’m not from around here.”
Local: “Well, I won’t hold that against you.”
Me: “What I mean is that I don’t know where the Dairy Queen used to be because I wasn’t here to see it in the first place.”
Local: “You missed a good thing. Especially Wednesday nights.”
Me: “I bet. But for the left…is there another landmark?”
Local: “Hmm….usually you can see Butch Seeker’s dog, Diablo, out on the porch about a block before then. You can’t miss him – big black lab/bear blend that runs right up at you frothing at the mouth ‘til he reaches the end of the chain, and then his feet just fly out from under him. Kind of funny really. After you see Diablo, make the hard left in about a block. Can’t miss it.”
Me: “What if Diablo isn’t outside?”
Local: “What do you mean?”
Me: “Well, his owners might have him inside the house.”
Local: “That’s a good one. His owners won’t let Diablo inside the house. He’d tear it apart. You should see the yard. Come to think of it, you will see the yard. Diablo is one of the reasons the Dairy Queen moved. So after the torn up yard and your hard left, you just keep on goin’ until you….
Me: “Wait a minute. What do you mean “hard left.”
Local: “As opposed to easy. Believe me, this left ain’t easy. You got to work it. If you don’t, if you arc real soft around that corner, your right front tire will hit a pot hole the size of a wagon wheel, and stay there.”
Me: “Got it. After the left?”
Local: “You can’t miss it.”
Now there’s a phrase I’ve heard a thousand times. “You can’t miss it,” – the epithet of direction givers. Of course 90% of the time, they’re wrong.
And you can’t depend on GPS when you’re touring. I was in Winnemucca once and was following the GPS directions to what I thought was the theatre, when all of sudden, the robot voice intoned: “I don’t know where you are now, Tim. No one from Google has ever mapped this area. Trip Advisor sent several scouts here in the late 90s, but none ever returned. Get me out of here. Take three hard lefts and step on it. That’ll get you back to the hotel. You can’t miss it.”