Gasoline prices should be dropping a penny or two pretty soon. The leaves should be turning up north. Time to begin planning one of those great autumn weekends.

When I took my Great Narthern Tar, I plotted the trip with the help of the Internet — Quite helpful.

My good friend Kenneth Nolan recently went me one better. Where I had just entered city-pairs (if you can call Rangely, Maine, a city), he actually was able to get door-to-door directions. His report:

When I called Laurie and told her of my plan to come see their new home, she was thrilled and immediately started to rattle off the directions. “It’s very easy. You take I-95 all the way to . . . .” I interrupt, “Laurie I already have the directions, it’s all taken care of.” You see I had already logged on to one of my favorite Web sites,, and chose the TripQuest option. I entered my home address in New York City then Laurie’s on Heatherwood Drive in Madison CT. Then I clicked on calculate and in a few minutes my screen was filled with maps pertaining to the trip, as well as turn by turn directions to Laurie’s house, starting at the end of my block and ending at the turn onto Heatherwood Drive. The Magic of the Internet! I print it out, in color, boy won’t Laurie and Joe be impressed with this! Laurie still wants to give me directions. “It’ll take you a little over two hours . . . .” Once again I stop her. “I already know how long it will take.” My print out tells me it will take 1 hour 37 minutes. I think, Gee Laurie must drive really slowly!

The day, given the speed I usually drive (not exactly legal), I’m fairly certain that if I leave my house at 11:00 a.m., I’ll be at Laurie’s by 12:30, in time for lunch.

I set off, everything goes along smoothly, Henry Hudson, 684, I-84 . . . I’m making great time, I get off the highway it’s 12:15. According to TripQuest I have less than two miles to go! I don’t want to be too early, so when I see a car wash, I figure, Why not? I also fill my tank then set off again. But wait a minute. Newtown Road changes into White Street instead of Stony Hill Road. I must have missed something. I go back to where I exited the highway. I retrace my drive without going in the car wash. I still don’t see where I’ve gone wrong. I repeat this exercise about five times to no avail. Finally I give in. I’ll just call Laurie. She’ll explain what I’ve done wrong.

“I’m right near your house, but I’m having a problem,” I say. “Newtown Road is changing into White Street instead of Stony Hill Road.” There is silence on the other end. Then, “Where are you? I’ve never heard of those streets before.” I explain that I’m near Danbury. She tells me she lives an hour from Danbury. I think to myself not only does she drive really slowly, but she doesn’t have a very good sense of where her new house is, I’m practically around the corner! I tell her I’ll see her soon. Then I go to the gas station that I’ve now passed about ten times. I find out I’m headed the wrong direction on Newtown Road. I turned right coming off the highway instead of left.

It’s now about 1:15, a minor set back from my original plan but I’ll be there in ten minutes. I’m off again, a whole series of turns on country roads then, TaDaa!, I’m there. Heatherwood Drive. I turn and drive to the number of the house. All of a sudden panic sets in. I’m in the middle of a very lovely housing development, rows and rows of town houses, exactly the kind that Laurie and Joe lived in before they bought their new stand-alone house. I must have entered the old address into the computer when getting the directions from TripQuest. I check the print out, check my address book . . . no this is their new address. Could it be that there are actually two Madison Connecticuts? Either that or there is a glitch in the program that negated the town name and directed me to the 66 Heatherwood Drive, CT of its choice! Either way I’m now faced with the embarrassing task of calling Laurie and asking for directions to her house. She tells me to get to I-95 and gives me very simple and precise instructions from there. She thinks it should take about one hour. As I’m pulling into her driveway two hours later, I’m thinking Laurie must drive really fast!

It took me a total of four and a half hours to get to Laurie’s new house. The next day it took me one and a half hours to drive home.



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