Lost in the big city: Lessons for travelers

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By Ken Begley

“I’ve never been lost but I was confused once for three days.”

Daniel Boone on traveling through Kentucky

The following lessons are for travelers to the big city.

Sit down there, Junior Woodchuck, while the wise woodsman passes on some knowledge.

Lesson 1:

The Internet lies

I had to go to Indianapolis for a couple of days for my army reserve unit. I pulled the directions from the Internet to get there. I needed a room. So I also got that off the Internet, along with directions from the unit to the hotel.

The drive up was uneventful as the Internet instructions to the unit were perfect. No problem.

Let that be an addendum to your first lesson. The Internet lures you into bad situations by letting things go well at first so you’ll drop your guard.

I finished the visit that afternoon around 5 p.m. and headed for my hotel room, which was a mere 18 minutes and 11 miles away.

I pulled out my trusty Internet directions and proceeded with confidence to what I hoped would be a peaceful night of television, fast food, and sleep at a great room.


The ride went well for the first five miles, which deeply entrenched me into unknown parts of the downtown area.

Suddenly the directions went berserk while turning onto a street named Madison.

I ended up making three loops around downtown Indianapolis until Madison was located. It seems that the town fathers up there decided things like street signs are a bit of a luxury, so they use them sparingly.

My instructions then said to take a right to go south. My hotel room was somewhere around the bypass well to the south of the city. But a right looked like it led north back into town.

What the heck?

I decided to take a left and ended up on a one way trip down the Interstate.

Dang! (Or words to that effect.)

So, I circled back around the Interstate, back to Madison, and decided to take the right per the instructions. Sure enough, I was shortly back into downtown for my fourth trip around the business district.

The Internet map was obviously some elaborate trick by Al Qaeda to stop my contribution to the nation’s defense.

Now what?

The directions to the hotel were garbage and I had no map. So I pulled over and decided to call the hotel from my cell phone for directions.

Lesson 2: Information from the Internet is frequently incomplete

Guess what? My printout for the hotel did not include a phone number. I’ll now have to ask a local for directions.

Lesson 3: Most locals don’t know any more about the city than you

Strange but true. Most of the local citizens of big cities know little more than how to get back to their own home.

I pulled over a few times before finding someone that could get me in the general area of where I wanted to go. Of course by that time I had headed up the wrong way on a one-way street and gave Kentucky drivers a terrible reputation, but that’s another story.

A mere one-hour and 40 miles later I located the hotel.

Lesson 4:

The Internet lies

The Internet said my hotel room was a highly rated, thoroughly modern facility.

That was true . . . about 30 years ago.

It now had the appearance of a “crack house,” cheerfully decorated by the paint of spray can artists familiar with gang colors.

I pulled into the parking lot and one local “young men’s club” took one look at me and began dancing and singing to the gods as if manna had just rained down from Heaven upon them.

Strange, I’ve never been to a hotel where my $5,000 car looked like a Rolls Royce in comparison to all the other cars around it.

A couple of vehicles apparently needed a tune-up bad and were backfiring all over the place. It was at this point that I realized none of the engines were running.

Final Lesson: Learn to roll with the punches

Surprisingly, I had a fitful night sleep to the melodious voices coming from the street fight outside my door. Still, you might be surprised how little you hear from underneath those hotel beds.

So there you go.

Despite it all, you need to learn to have a good time and roll with the punches when traveling. Don’t be so sensitive. Go with the flow.

Oh, by the way, does anyone know where I can get four new wheels for a Dodge Neon cheap? I’ll pay cash and can throw in four new concrete blocks I acquired recently.