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.