The Great Boston Adventure. Or, How I Lost all Faith in Mapquest

Yesterday Jill and I headed out for Boston-or more properly Brookline-to attend that presentation and booksigning by Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman– who has a new cookbook out. I printed out directions from Mapquest the night before, and we left at about 1:30ish. I’d hoped to avoid the worst of the commuter traffic and the rushhour. Plus, we both wanted to spend some time in the Brookline Booksmith store. (Jill has inherited her Mother’s bibliophile genes) . So after dropping off the oldest at work we purchased some snacks, filled the tank and we were off.

English: Official highway sign placed along ma...

Image via Wikipedia

My youngest is a chatterbox, and the trip into the city went quickly. We paid the tolls and got off the pike at exit 18 as the directions specified-on schedule, it was then shortly before 3pm. Here’s where the fun started. The directions said to merge onto Cambridge St., go up .7 mi and turn left onto Harvard Ave. I followed the sign that said Cambridge.
We traveled over a mile before I saw a sign that said Harvard St and turned left. Having the sinking feeling we were lost, I began to ask pedestrians how to get to Brookline. Apparently we had managed to get to Harvard Square somehow. A nice young mom with 2 younguns directed me to the nearest traffic policeman who nicely wrote directions for us, and laughed when I mentioned mapquest. He said he got a lot of business from lost tourists using it. He said to turn right ahead on Prospect St and “go straight” for about a mile, over the bridge, and left onto Harvard Ave. Pretty straightforward – at first – until I came to a spiderweb branching of the road that nobody mentioned. There were several options, a hard left, a hard right, a slight left, slight right, and a sort of bend to the right. The only thing straight ahead in front of us was an old brick church. I chose to take the straightest of the options in front of me wherein the road bent slightly right. There is no such thing as the ability to “go straight” anywhere in the city of Boston or the immediate vicinity. Also, please note that any street signs, if available at all, one needs a magnifying glass to read. I ended up on a Webster St, but saw a bridge ahead and the ability to take a left once over the bridge. By this time though I’m seriously frazzled, having an anxiety attack, and unfortunately snapping at Jillian every time the poor kid opened her mouth. We’d tried the gps on her phone but it was glitchy and kept freezing. My phone, when she’d tried that, did the same. So we got over the bridge and I saw signs for the Turnpike, and figured to head back in that direction. It’s now past 3:30.

Inbound

Inbound (Photo credit: Ottoman42)

I head towards the pike only to discover that we are on a one way on ramp to the Eastbound entrance to I90. Not the way I wanted to go at all. But having no choice I pull up to the toll booth, pay another $1.25 and ask the attendant how to get to Brookline. Go up to exit 22 he says, and take the Prudential Ctr exit. Go straight on Huntington Ave till you come to Commonwealth, the look for the signs to Harvard Ave and turn left onto it. Great! Off we went…. Got stuck behind a slow mover who kept waving me around him-only no one behind me would allow me to change lanes to pass (Massholes) but eventually we get off on exit 22 and come around the turn, only to discover that the Pru Center off ramp is CLOSED. I now have no choice but to take the Copley Square exit, which OF COURSE takes me in the opposite direction from where I need to go. Now cursing loudly, and trying not to cry, I head into downtown Boston. I did mention the street signs are microscopic? And that there’s absolutely no such thing as going straight on any street in the city? I did? Ok good, just checking….

Boston city center

Image via Wikipedia

After driving at least another mile in what’s starting to become much heavier traffic , I see signs for the pike westbound- Awesome! I think, I’ll just head back to exit 18, and start over. It’s now at least 4:00. Tally-ho! And we got back on the highway, paying yet another 1.25. Exit 21, exit 20, two down, two to go! But wait, the next exit I pass is not 19, nor is it 18 (the one I needed) its 17…. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.  Boston????!!!?? I travel to exit 16 and turn around AGAIN. Got back off at 18, paid yet another $1.25. This time taking the left off ramp once leaving the toll booth.

We immediately discover we are on the right track and soon find ourselves on Harvard Ave in Brookline. Jill’s gps starts working, which is good because not only are street signs small or non-existent; few of the buildings are numbered. Once we determine which side of the street the Coolidge Theatre should be on, we rely on the gps to let us know were getting close. Then it says we’ve past it- but we haven’t seen it, and all of a sudden the numbers on the buildings start going up and what used to be the even side is now the odd. Mysteriously, Harvard Ave has become Harvard St… Again, I start cursing as I find someplace to turn around.

We drove back and forth on this road at least 4 times with the gps telling us we’d passed our destination each time, and still not seeing anything. Finally I pulled into a parking lot and went into a Packie to get directions. It was a mile further up than we’d previously driven. So back we went. FOUND IT! I pulled into the parking lot behind the theatre and prepared to pay for a parking stub. Lots of other people were there for the same thing and we start up a conversation. Its now almost 5pm and we’d been traveling since 1:30. I self-deprecatingly relate our misadventure in getting there, and mention we’re heading to the bookstore across the street where I was told we would be able to get tickets. The lady I was talking with gave me a very confused look- Oh hon, she says, this events been sold out…..
Suffice to say the phrase “losing it” aptly describes what I did next- and I tersely tell Jill to get back in the car to go home. Fortunately Jill is able to talk me into going over to the bookstore, so we could at least see if we could get standby tickets, or at worst we’d be first in line to get our books signed if it came to that. Anyway, our luck was about to change…. More on this tomorrow.

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