Tuesday, January 31, 2012


While clearing out the study at LB's place at Christmas I discovered a box of old bits and pieces from my move overseas as a young, green, twenty-something. A large number of the discovered items were binned, but some I thought it worth keeping.  Like a huge bunch of postcards, which I am using to embark upon a "Send-A-Friend-A-Postcard" project.  

But that's another post.  This post is dedicated to Directions.  Yes.  Directions.  Before the wonders of GPS there were paper maps. And handwritten directions.  Not always the most reliable of things, but then neither are Garmin and Tomtom.

When I first went to the USA in 1995, I took with me an Amtrak pass.  Seemed like the best way for me to cover as much ground as possible.  However, staying in a hostel in Santa Monica, I got to chatting with my fellow hostelers who all said that Amtrak was rubbish.  Trains ran at odd times, most of the stations were in dodgy locations of the city and not within easy reach of hostels, you had to use the whole pass up within a restricted time period and you couldn't go "off the beaten track" so to speak.

They (helpfully) suggested the best way to see the country was by car.  Trouble was, I wasn't 25, so I wasn't allowed to hire a car.  What to do, what to do?  Hey, I know... "buy a car" said a couple of my hosteling mates.  S'easy. 

So I did.  I bought a car.  A silvery-bronze Pontiac Sunbird.  It was a cracking little car.  Took me all around the USA - 32 states in total.  We went through a lot that car and I.  So many stories.

I had one enormous map book (which is still at LB's with all my markings of where I was going/where I'd been) and lots of those fold out maps for individual cities/towns which you'd buy for $2 at a gas station.  Don't know what became of those... think I binned them at the end of my time there.

Sometimes though, you needed a bit more detail to get where you were going.  And sometimes you just needed a cheat sheet for easy reference when you were in a car without a navigator (especially when you were still adjusting to driving on the opposite side of the road in a car where the gear stick was on the opposite side of where you were used to it being).

That's where these came in handy:




Hand-written directions to the places I needed to go.  Classic.  

1.  Directions to the Osbornes'. The Osbornes are my cousins.  I stayed with them most of the time I was in the States.  They. Are. Awesome.  Despite the fact that they're family.  They were on a work exchange program to Vienna, Virginia for a few years and I spent many happy days in their company, taking in the sights of the local area, sampling the the local restaurants/bars or even just picking up the mini-Osbornes from school and hanging out at Borders reading magazines and drinking Pink Lemonade Snapple.  Obviously after a week or so, I no longer needed these directions, and I'm pretty sure that even today I could drive you there from memory; but I like that I still have them.

2.  Directions to Michele Straka's.  Michele was introduced to y'all in this post.  She's my Blizzard of '96 buddy.  I did get slightly distracted on my way to her place - spent a day or two in Baltimore checking it out.  My favourite thing about this particular set of directions is the horseshoe diagram I've done to indicate which apartment she was living in.  OCD much?!

3.  Directions to Chris Sullivan's.  Sully, as he was soon to become known to me, was an old high school friend of Michele's who was studying at Georgia Tech, and offered me a place to crash when visiting Atlanta.  This "place to crash" was in fact, a frat house.  Yes. A FRAT HOUSE.  Not the one shown, unfortunately.  That one was built in 2010.  The one I stayed in was probably built in the sixties and bore more than a passing resemblance to the frat houses depicted in Animal House.  Never in a million years would I have expected to end up staying in a frat house.  Probably neither did anyone else who knew me at the time.  But I did and it was awesome.  Sully was awesome, all his frat buddies were awesome, even if they did nickname me "LK" (which stood for Little Kangaroo), and the frat's president (Retz - yes that was his name) had his best friend (Jenn) visiting the same weekend I was there, so I wasn't the only girl in the house.  

Good times.  Good times.

They're the kind of memories you don't get to keep when you've got GPS.  Although Garmin's placement of me on my most recent US trip did make me giggle.

I think another road trip may be on the cards.  Except I don't have a car.  Hmmm.  Slight problem that.  Perhaps I just need to find a willing partner-in-crime with wheels and a bit of spare time up their sleeve.  Any takers?


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