Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Where the Hell Am I, Louisiana: The Map App

Part 1

A few years ago, I listened to a family member, let's call her Kiki, explain why she had not yet used the Onstar program in her new car. .... "Because it could take me into a dangerous area and I could end up DEAD!"

At the time, I thought two things:
  1. Paper maps could do the same thing; and 
  2. Hoo boy. 
But I kept my mouth shut.

It wasn't too long after that when Kiki was prevailed upon to try out her Onstar and she loved it!

Part 2:

So here it is March 2015, and I've got a smart phone now. On a fine weekend afternoon, I was fixing to drive from my new digs (oh, I haven't told you where I'm living now, have I?) to the village of Henderson which hugs a levee along the Atchafalaya River. I looked at about three route options on my map application, and selected one.

It was a pleasant day and my map app took me on a wind-y road, which was just fine with me. Then it wanted me to go over a bridge that wasn't there anymore, so I did a few circular maneuvers, asked a gentleman on the side of the road for some guidance, and he directed me to a way around that gone bridge, and then I was taken deeper and deeper into what reminded me of an old Stephen King story of the woman whose mission was to find the fastest way from Point A to Point B in Maine and her quest took her into a parellel universe where time got bend-y.

Until finally my map app carried me to what seemed to be an end of the road, on the other side of a wood-plank bridge with a PRIVATE PROPERTY sign posted, with my map app voice instructing me to go up the levee. Say what??

Near Henderson, Louisiana. March, 2015.

And it was at this moment that I thought of Kiki's dire predictions of murder and mayhem should she surrender herself to her Onstar.

Looking to my left, across the other bank of the bridge, I saw a group of men doing something along the river.

Having now read all of the Dave Robicheaux books (and having read Winter's Bone and watched the movie, based in the hinterlands of my own Missouri ), what might they be doing?  Running drugs for a South American cartel? Dispensing with a troublesome comrade? Or just fishing? Where's the ice chest to tell me all is as it should be?

Winter's Bone trailer:

"Talkin' just causes witnesses."

I crossed the wood-plank bridge with some trepidation and then asked one of the men, "I'm trying to get to Henderson from here ... but I'm confused about what I'm supposed to do now." One of the men said, "Well, you can turn on around here and go back the way you came ..... [insert my mental nervous swallow here] ... or you can go right and it'll take you 10 to 15 minutes to get there."

Because I am genetically programmed to not backtrack, I took a few moments to decide if "turn right" really meant "turn right" or did it mean "go up onto the levee and turn right?" Did the PRIVATE PROPERTY sign refer to the flat road to my right or the levee road up and to the right on the levee?

I chose the flatlander road on the right. When I say road, by the way, I'm talking gravel road.

This met with approval from my map app until a few miles down the road when it really, really wanted me to climb up onto the levee. Finally, I acquiesced and for some more miles drove on the gravel road up top, noticing that the flatland road kept on going on right beside me, down below. Eventually, I overcame the objections of my map app and got back down onto flat land.

All ended well, of course, but I took a different route home.  

I did see this pretty community of beehives on the way to Henderson:

Near Henderson, Louisiana. March, 2015.

Reminded me of Caucasus Georgia, on a visit to an agrarian technical school in Kachreti

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