Sunday, July 6, 2008

Where the Streets Have No Name

There's a coastal town in Northern California which is drop-dead gorgeous. Few people live there, but many people want to visit. The residents, though, aren't too keen on having visitors. This reticence to be a tourist attraction is clearly evidenced by the stealing of the sign indicating where to turn off the Pacific Highway to find the town. CalTrans gets around to replacing the sign, and someone steals it rather promptly.

We're in England, the kids and I, along with my mother. Pete has returned to the States. We keep saying he could only have 17 days of vacation because he had to go back to work and fund the additional 17 days the kids and I are staying here.

I think I've finally gotten the hang of driving on the wrong side of the road. [My apologies to all reading this who drive in England and other locales with the steering wheel on the right. I'm an American, okay, so I am bull-headed about which is the right side. "Right" in that last sentence meaning "correct."]

Anyway, I've mastered the driving and no longer fear for the lives of my precious passengers. It's taken awhile, of course, and in the process of changing my perspective, I've not focused on where I'm going. Rather, I've focused on how I'm going. But now my mother and I can pay attention to directions and such. I print a Yahoo Maps direction, and we head out.

What a waste those directions are, folks. Firstly, on roundabouts, they don't count as streets those which are one-way in a direction I'm unable to go. So when it says, "Take the fourth exit on the roundabout," and you count four streets, it really means take the fifth exit if you're actually counting all streets. WTF?!!

Secondly, and infinitely more importantly, there are rarely street signs to be found. Really. So it doesn't matter that the map says to take Elm Street because the street isn't marked. It's not on the last building on the street. It's not on a street sign before, on or after the street. You don't know it's Elm Street.

All this leads me to believe that the fine country of England -- or at least the city of Manchester -- doesn't really want stupid Americans visiting. They must be quite content to be insular. We are clearly viewed as unwanted. I imagine Ireland might be like that as well, inspiring U2's fabulous song, which runs repeatedly through my head as an attraction which is a 10-minute drive away turns into one which is 45 minutes away with me trying to get there.

6 comments:

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Sian said...

Well, at least you know about roundabouts. The last American visitors we had were totally confused by them...and called them "leftangles". I'm serious.

Genny said...

Fun to hear about your trip!

Ackworth Born said...

You don't have to be foreign to be confused by street signs - there is one at the bottom of our avenue but the first house in the avenue faces slightly left so drivers coming towards it see the sign and turn left instead of going straight up. The local council says there isn't a problem as there is a sign for the avenue on the corner - that it is only visible to drivers coming the wrong way down a one-way street isn't considered a problem!

Bubba's Sis said...

I would be so lost that it would take the rest of the trip for me to find my way back! Good for you for getting out there and exploring!

D... said...

I admire your bravery! I am horrible with directions, maps, no-named streets that I'm afraid a search party would have to be sent out for me.

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