Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My internal GPS failed -- kinda

I attended a professional conference in Madison today with our school counselor. She and I work together to train and supervise our peer mediators, so when the opportunity came up to learn more, we jumped at it. Or, I should say, we drove ourselves to it.
If you don't know Wisconsin's fair capital city, let me describe it for you. It is part government, part commerce, and a large part university. It's located on and between a couple of lovely lakes and at least one smaller waterway, so the roads are not exactly on a square grid. Our conference was at a hotel/conference center almost smack dab in the middle between the University and the Capitol building, on the isthmus between the two main lakes. This meant it was easy to find (Thanks, MapQuest), but a little tough to get to. Why the disparity? One way streets.
We pulled up to a parallel parking spot, plugged the meter, and planned to come back and move the vehicle after our hour was up. We went in, registered, and enjoyed the opening presentation. My colleague slipped out of our first breakout session to move her minivan -- and didn't come back.
Forty minutes later, she came in, breathless and looking frazzled. During our break, she told me that she'd gotten disoriented (okay, lost) on the one way streets. She could see the hotel, but couldn't get to the main parking garage entrance. During her ordeal, she started down a one-way street the wrong way, ran a red light, endured many impatient horn honkin' drivers, and narrowly avoided getting ticketed. Finally, safe in the underground garage, she had to back up because her minivan only fit in one section. The other had a low ceiling proclaiming in large red letters "No Trucks or Vans Beyond This Point." She decided not to take a chance with her Grand Caravan.
The conference was good; we got some new ideas and were reassured that we are doing well in our training methods. We left shortly after lunch to (gulp) brave the one-way streets and go home.
My limited knowledge of the city combined with the compass in her minivan helped us go in the right direction. By keeping the capitol dome on our right, we confirmed that we were heading toward the highway we wanted. But when we left the center of town, it was a little tougher. I think she will forever tease me about the way I kept giving her two choices: "Well, my gut feeling is this, but we could also do that." And "I think we're paralleling the road we came in on, and eventually we'll make a right and get there. Or maybe we'll go straight and this street will curve to meet it." "There's a McDonald's. We can't be too far from civilization as we know it." Sure enough, the road curved to the right, landing at the intersection with the McDonald's that brought us to our destination: the road out of town. (The intersection took us out of town; the McD's only provided us with sustenance for the journey.)
The rest of the trip was uneventful, thank goodness. I came home to hug Husband, Amigo, and the bunnies, and then get a haircut, color, and massage. But that, my blogosphere friends, is another story.

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