Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weekend Assignment #298: Lost

This week's Weekend Assignment comes from a minor misadventure I had a couple of days ago:

Weekend Assignment: #298: Do you often get lost, trying to get someplace new? Do you print out a map, or just wing it? And when you do have trouble finding your way, is it an annoyance or an adventure?

Extra Credit: Is your town or city easy to get lost in?

The buildings above are some of the offices of the Arizona Department of Economic Security on Toole Ave in Tucson. I needed to go there on Thursday afternoon to drop off some financial paperwork related to my friend's food stamps and state health benefits. (She is disabled, and the fact that she moved recently meant that they wanted to reevaluate her financial situation.) Toole Ave is the location of that wonderful old train depot I've photographed repeatedly for this blog, so I thought I had a fair idea where the DES office was. So a little after 4 PM, I called from church to make sure they were open until 5 PM, and rushed downtown with no further preparation.

That was a mistake.

I parked near the Rialto Theater, one of two historic movie theaters in downtown Tucson that have taken on a new life as concert venues, and fed the meter for an hour's work of parking on Congress Street, just in case. I passed the Hotel Congress and approached the train station, watching for the street address on my piece of paper. One problem: the Historic Depot is on East Toole. The address of DES was on South Toole. South Toole? Where the heck was that?

I stopped a stranger on the street and asked whether he knew the answer to this urgent question. He didn't, but we agreed on a theory that it was south of Broadway. Which was south of Congress. I had just walked north from Congress. I was going the wrong way!

So I walked down a side street, checking every street sign for any continuation of Toole. Eventually I found myself on the corner of Fourth Avenue and I-forget-what, south of Broadway, but with no sign of  South Toole anywhere. I called DES on my cell phone. "You're almost here," I was told. I was advised to walk east, two stop signs down. It turned out to be three blocks, although one of the streets I crossed may not have had a stop sign on my side. I walked in the door exactly at 5 PM. Needless to say, I was at least half a mile from the train station, with no direct route back.

But that's fine with me. I wasn't the last person in line before the guy I'd talked to on the phone locked the door. It was a bit of a walk, and a bit stressful, but I got the paperwork turned in and everything worked out with no problems. Then I had the fun of walking back down streets I'd never been on before, approaching familiar landmarks from a new direction. As long as I'm not up against some kind of time constraint, getting lost is one of my favorite ways of exploring.

Navigating in Tucson is generally pretty easy. As long as you can see the mountains, you know which direction you are going, and the major cross streets go straight down the grid of the city, about a mile apart. But there are individual streets that trip you up, changing direction so that to go straight is to get on a different street, or disappearing entirely only to reappear elsewhere. When you go downtown, there's the added confusion of one way streets, some of which are one way in some places and not others. Yes, it can be tricky! Syracuse trumps Tucson, though, if only for the fact that Genessee St. and Erie Blvd intersect three times, in three different parts of metro Syracuse.

Do I use maps? Well, I got a terrible score in map reading in my elementary school "Iowa" aptitude tests, so don't count on me being good at using them. But I do look places up on Google Maps if I have a job interview, or I'm going somewhere else unfamiliar and must be there on time. I probably would have looked up the DES office, were I not in a hurry, and if I didn't think I knew where Toole was.

How about you? Is getting lost something you avoid as much as possible, or is it your idea of fun? While you're thinking about that, let's have a look at last week's responses.

For Weekend Assignment: #297: DIY, I asked how much you try to make repairs and other skilled tasks yourself, and how much you rely on professionals instead. Click on the names below to read the full responses:

Duane said...
As Clint Eastwood once said, "A man's got to know his limitations," and I'm pretty good at knowing mine. If it's a simple project like changing the oil in the car or something similar, I'll tackle it myself. The last such job was replacing some of the drain pipes under the kitchen sink. If it's a little more complicated I'll try to find someone who knows what they're doing to come over and help me, i.e., make sure I don't screw it up worse than it was before I started. If it's still under warranty or absolutely necessary, I'll send it in for repairs or call someone to come out. It all depends on how complicated it's going to be. I'm not real handy, but I do have some skills.

Julie said...

We prefer the DYI route, but hope we know when to leave it to the experts. We have a couple of projects going this weekend. One is the continuing redo of the office closet. Paul is building shelves. This is one of those jobs where we're constrained by the weather as the pieces of wood need to be cut outdoors. No pictures, because all I have is an empty closet.

Here are the guidelines if you'd like to participate in the Weekend Assignment:

1. Please post your entry no later than Saturday, December 26th at 6 PM. (You can also post your response in the comments thread, but a blog entry is better. )
2. Please mention the Weekend Assignment in your blog post, and include a link back to this entry.
3. Please come back here after you've posted, and leave a link to your entry in the comments below.
4. Visiting other participants' entries is strongly encouraged!
5. I'm always looking for topic ideas. Please email me at mavarin2 on if there's a Weekend Assignment theme you'd like to see. If I use your idea, you will be credited as that week's "guest professor."

I hope to hear from you soon. Meanwhile, Merry Christmas! And don't forget, the Round Robin Photo Challenge returns on January 2nd! And if you're into photography, be sure to also check out the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot.



barrettmanor said...

Here you are:

Florinda said...

If I'm not pressed for time, I don't mind getting lost either...but I'm pretty good at reading maps. Here's my Assignment.

Merry Christmas!

Mike said...

I'm not good with getting lost at all!