Friday, May 21, 2004

Navigating by Compass: Orienteering comes in handy

9:42, 72 degrees, and I'm driving Northeast. That's good because I'm sure that where I live is North and East of where I am now. Even better is that a few minutes ago it was 9:35 and I was heading Northwest.

I'm lost but not hopelessly so because I have my compass.

9:54, 74 degrees, heading North. Really, even North is good. Sooner or later I'll run into the Beltway and I can get home from there.

10:04, 76 degrees, heading North. Woohoo! A landmark! The jubilation is quickly followed by the realization that this particular landmark can be seen for miles in every direction, looks the same from all sides, and being able to see it does not mean that the road I'm on will go anywhere near the landmark...or my destination.

10:06, 76 degrees, heading East. This is a temporary sidetrack to reach a bridge into the city.

10:09, 75 degrees, heading Northwest across a bridge into the city.

10:15, 74 degrees (why does the temperature keep changing?), heading South across a different bridge because I was cut off by a tourist laden taxi.

10:20, 74 degrees, heading North. I'm not too discouraged. Embarrassed but not discouraged. I suppose it is possible that someone noticed my quick circuit in and out of town (Homeland Security?) but anyone travelling beside me is probably as lost and distracted as I and, thankfully, my plates are from out of town. Blame it on a tourist.

10:27, 72 degrees (trees), heading South again!

10:33, 74 degrees, heading North into the city via a third bridge. Third time is the charm! No tricky turns this time, just rotten drivers who don't know what YIELD and MERGE mean.

10:45, 76 degrees, heading Northeast. I am at ease in the industrial jungle; neon glows on the North and South of the buildings. There are no complications between me and home.

10:59, 73 degrees, heading North. I have left the lights of the city and highway behind me. Crickets and my own tires are the only sounds; people are home early in this suburb and the glow of a television in a dark home is rare this close to Eleven p.m.

11:04, 71 degrees, heading West. I've made it into my driveway from the wilds of Northern Virginia with only my wits (oh lackaday!) and my compass. An urban orienteer.

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