Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day One - Lost in Houston

Three things we didn't bring on this trip: (1) our GPS (momentarily misplaced); (2) a Mapquest printout from George Bush International Airport in Houston to our first night's lodging; and (3) my iPad (left with a friend to see if he could find an app so I can blog successfully on it in the future).

We could have used any one of the three of them during the three hours it took us to get the 20 miles to our motel.

So we're talking to the guy helping us load up our rental car. I've realized I don't have directions to the motel. He enters the address in his iPhone and pulls up the driving directions. I write down careful instructions. We set off. The attendant says, "Ya'll have a good time on ya'lls trip."

When we get to instruction #2, Highway 59, we discover there's a 59 North and a 59 South. We take the North route since the south route goes to Houston, and we're heading away from Houston on our way to Louisiana. We're looking for Wilson Road which is supposed to be about seven miles away. We drive 12 miles and 59 North is definitely becoming more rural. I pull off, open up the back of the car, get the map out of my suitcase, and figure we should have taken 59 South. We turn around, return 12 miles, pass the airport, and then go another 10 miles. No Wilson Road, but I-10 eastbound comes into view just before the downtown exits.

We choose I-10 rather than downtown Houston. Two offramps later I pull into a semi-seedy motel parking lot and tell my sad story to the night clerk behind the glass window. She calls our motel, gets driving instructions, and pulls up Mapquest on her computer. Wilson Road is nowhere to be found. She shows me the route and prints out the instructions. I thank her very much, go down one traffic signal, do a U-turn onto I-10 westbound. I'm looking for 59 North again, but it isn't marked, and we end up in downtown Houston anyway. Fortunately, we find another place to do a U-turn and find I-10 eastbound, then 59 North.

I should say at this point that I do most of the driving when we're in unfamiliar places, and Art is an earnest but inexpert navigator. Each time one of us makes a mistake, the other is hard pressed to remain silent. Furthermore, I have very poor night vision and am darn close to inept when driving at dusk even in places I'm familiar with. Also, I get hypoglycemic when I haven't eaten for a few hours, and it has been more than a few since we shared a fruit and cheese plate on the plane.

So, we're on 59 North. We pass the airport again and and find the exit - FM 1950. FM stands for Farm to Market. The first block is 100. Our motel is at 7700. There's a stoplight at every block. It has now been two and a half hours since our plane landed in Houston.

We finally arrive at the motel at 8:45. We check in and the clerk recommends Hasta La Pasta, a popular Italian restaurant across the street. We arrive at 9:01 and the place has closed at 9:00. I put on my helpless but friendly traveler persona, have a nice conversation with the young hostess. She agrees we can order lasagna and dinner salads to go. When they arrive, bagged up, I pay and include a $5 tip for her trouble. We head out. The hostess follows us with to-go silverware and says, "I threw in a piece of cheesecake."

We chat for a few minutes. One of the servers asks us why we've come to Houston and we tell her we're driving to Lafayette tomorrow for a four-day Habitat for Humanity build. She tells us she did that a few years ago with her church group. They went to work on a woman's homeless shelter. I asked her if she liked it. She said, "It always feels real good when you help someone else." I agreed.

When we left the restaurant and started across the parking lot, I called back to them. "Seattle loves you, Houston." They waved.


14 comments:

DJan said...

Okay, you got that behind you now. You've proven that you can make it through thick and thin, so now you can just go build houses! Great story, I'm glad you are tucked in with some food now...

Teresa Evangeline said...

Sometimes, when the best laid plans of mice and men get laid aside for whatever comes next, we find ourselves in some pretty nice places with some pretty nice people, creating some pretty nice memories. Have a great time!

Linda Reeder said...

You set out for an adventure. So far, you've found it! And wrapped up with contact with really nice people. You earned that cheesecake.

Elinor said...

Oh man I'll bet it was fun in that car.

#1Nana said...

I hope you get out of Texas okay tomorrow. I always have trouble driving there...they have a unique way of labeling roads and the names and numbers change along the way for no apparent reason. I still haven't gotten the hang of access roads to the freeways and toll roads are a foreign concept to me.

I'm interested to hear how the ipad investigation turns out. I want to buy one but I also want to be able to use it when I travel for the blog.

marciamayo said...

Remember it's not the destination, it's the journey and boy, have you had a journey.

Arkansas Patti said...

marcia is so right. Had things gone smoothly, you would barely remember the trip much less have an interesting post. This you will remember, plus look at the nice people you met.

Olga said...

I'm sorry, but I laughed hysterically as I read this. Definitely laughing with you because i have so been there.

Deere Driver said...

This is your screen play for your next comedy - right??
Oh My! Been there. ARGGGHHHH!

Out on the prairie said...

I always have them draw a map on their printouts.I hate seeing the same corner multiple times. When I think I am wrong I also pull into a gas station hoping they can set me straight.

imbeingheldhostage said...

See what you might've missed going directly to the hotel? I'm sold, my ipad is going everywhere with me now-- especially to Houston when we fly in this summer! Now about that app for blogging?

Sightings said...

I was gonna say, I don't think Davy Crockett went to Texas with any less technology than you did! How dependent we've all become on our little gadgets. Anyway, you're off to a goo-- ... off to a start. Good luck and godspeed!

Retired English Teacher said...

Been there, done that. I hate it when I can't find a place, I'm hungry, and it's getting dark. I'm sure glad the Hasta La Pasta place was so kind.

The Boat House said...

Hi Linda, I'm a neighbor to the North, Washington state to be exact and saw your blog on Rosario's site. My husband and I both retired seven years ago after he was diagnosed with MS. He can't do the things he used to (in a wheelchair full time), but he finds something to take the place of what is gone. Actually, I'm not as agile either, but hey, life is good. So glad you're doing work for Habitat, what a wonderful organization, my niece's home in Vancouver, WA is a habitat, the whole family down there worked on the houses in that area.

Enjoy your retirement, what a time to enrich one's life.

Greetings, from Nancy at the Boat House in Birch Bay