When you travel, it’s important to remember the necessary stuff — i.d., extra cash, charge or debit card, spare underwear. And, on a recent overnight foray, I did, but despite checking and rechecking, I still managed to forget something crucial:
My knitting needles.
Laugh, if you will, but you try knitting socks with your fingers. It doesn’t work.
So while the Norwegian Artist was judging oil paintings at a state fair, I wandered about on foot, looking for an elusive yarn shop that many people vaguely thought might be in existence somewhere.
“It’s right across the street from Wendy’s,” one woman assured me, adding that Wendy’s was only a few minutes away.
“I’m walking,” I reiterated.
“Wendy’s is real close. That way.”
After walking “that way” for a quarter mile and not seeing a cute kid with pigtails, I asked a random man on the street just where the little girl could be. He looked at me strangely, but pointed — that way — and said,
“Just beyond the bridge.”
Do people not walk any more? Another quarter mile later, I stopped in at a hotel and announced to the nice lady at the desk, “I’m looking for a yarn shop that’s supposed to be across the street from Wendy’s, and I’m walking. Am I close to either?”
She gave me that same strange look but at least accompanied it with valid information: “Wendy’s is another three miles from here, and I don’t know about the yarn shop, but I’ll look it up and get you a map.”
Along with the map, she mentioned the existence of various steep hills, the heat of the day, and a recommendation that I drive, wrapping it all up with a friendly, yet worried, smile. I smiled back, grabbed the map, and was on my way. According to Google, the yarn shop was not remotely near Wendy’s.
Would it surprise you to hear that this is the only piece of information about which the map was correct?
For two hours I walked, valiantly attempting to understand, and follow, the cryptic recommendations of the “map.” It all depended upon finding N.E. Second Street, which seemed but minutes away after I found — with great elation — the map’s promised S. E. Second Street. (This latter, incidentally, took 30 minutes, and involved N.W. 15th Avenue and S.W. 15th Avenue, and S.E. Third Street, landing me in the midst of a residential area with cranky barking dogs that were fortunately behind fences. More backtracking.)
But now, theoretically (and according to the map), all I had to do was walk north until S.E. Second turned into N.E. Second. Even I know that.
But apparently the map makers at Google do not know, or do not care, that a series of railroad tracks, a four-lane highway, and an industrial hospital complex, all interrupt the smooth transition of S.E. Second Street into its N.E. cousin. And they all look like they’ve been there for awhile.
Two nurses on a smoking break assured me that I was off track (“You’re south, honey, and you need to be north”), but despite living in that city, they had no advice on how to get north. If anyone asks, I will recommend both of them for employment at Google Maps.
Since there’s no reason you should have to endure another two hours of this, suffice it to say that eventually I did find the yarn shop, and I was welcomed effusively and graciously into the magic building of textile wonderment. When I mentioned my journey, beginning with the abortive trip to Wendy’s, the proprietor started.
“There used to be a yarn shop there — 20 years ago.”
Oh, isn’t that funny.
But that’s not the best part. Do you know where the yarn shop eventually wound up being?
Six blocks from where I started.
Life’s frustrations are easier to get through with a smile on your face. I invite you to a collection of my essays and Steve’s artwork, recently compounded into two e-books, Life Is a Gift and The Jane Austen Driving School — volumes 1 and 2 of the Ordinary Life Is Beautiful series. Priced reasonably at $2.99, the digital books can be downloaded to your Kindle, iPad, iPod, Droid phone, and computer itself, the latter through a free app from Amazon. For a review on the book, check out Wit and Wisdom Meet Art.
A few years ago on a very long road trip, my cheap plastic needle shattered in the car. After an initial freakout, I was stunned into a shocked silence. My traveling buddy said “We’ll have to go back into Reno and find a Walmart.”
I said, “I don’t backtrack and I can’t stand Walmart”.
She said, “It’s a very long trip across the desert today, and it’s my turn to drive, but it’s your call.”
We backtracked, we found a Walmart, I bought more needles, and the trip across the desert felt shorter than might have been.
That is an amazingly understanding travel companion!
I had taken a request for a baseball cap from Hard Rock Cafe to collect while I was visiting Paris about fifteen years ago. Not only was I on foot, but I also was just out of a cast for a broken ankle. Undaunted I picked my way around Rue de This and Place That, asking in my limited French ou est Hard Rock Cafe?
I did find it. It was closed for the most part, but thankfully the gift shop was open. They did have a hat…mission accomplished. But I paid dearly for that trek, by bus, taxi, and mostly on foot. My ankle complained for the rest of my Paris experience. But I do have a serious story to remember Paris by. Miles and miles of trudging, and finding myself back more or less where I started.
Carolyn, don’t you think it’s a good adventure to get lost, in the long run? I mean you don’t have to unknit a walk like that, like you do if you find a mistake in knitting after hours of progress. Next time you are wiser, right? And you do have a story to tell that is more interesting than knit two purl one.
I agree, Susan — there is a challenge to figuring it eventually out. I knew that, if I had to give up because of lack of time, I would always regret it. There was a sweet sense of triumph as I stood across the street from the yarn shop and said, “By Golly. There it is.”