Subject TravelGate
DateCreated 7/18/2008 6:07:00 AM
PostedDate 7/18/2008 5:43:00 AM
Body D & H were on their way to a gig in Monroe, CT which, according to Mapquest, is about a two-hour drive from Providence.  Traffic was heavy but not stop-and-go, and they left with plenty of time to be early for the soundcheck at 6:00PM.  Directions were provided by C.

5:00PM - 1.5 hours into the commute...

    D continued, "the theory is that there are four levels of civilization, at least on a planetary level.  Humanity is still at Type 0, which means that we've tapped our resources but can't actually control anything."

    H interjected, "what do you mean, control?  We have cities and travel and instant communications!"

    "But none of those things require command of the earth itself," he explained.  "If we truly controlled the planet we'd be able to stop global warming, for example.  In addition to the scientific progress needed, the countries of the world have to be able to work together effortlessly."

    "Hey, what exit do we take?"

    "The directions say exit forty-two," she said.  "Which one are we on now?"

    "Fifty-three.  It should be about ten minutes or so until we need to get off of the highway.  So anyway, they say that most civilizations probably don't make it past splitting the atom because the science gets so far ahead of social maturity..."

Ten minutes later:

    "...all you have to do is examine the contrails! Some people say that they are actually 'chemtrails' and are being used by the military for either weather manipulation, or population control. Or both!" said H, "I heard it on George Noory's show last week."

    "What exit did we just pass?" she asked.

    "Umm, forty-two.  Guess I shouldn't have been staring at the contrails," said D.  "We'll take forty-one and turn around."

    "We've got plenty of time," said H.  "Why not just see where the exit goes?  Besides, it'll be a minor miracle if M beats us to a gig.  Hey, Why are drummers always losing their watches?"

    "Because they have so much trouble keeping time," answered D. 

They took exit forty-one and tried to follow the highway but the road headed off in a different direction.  Disappointed, they got back on Route 95 north in order to take the correct exit, but soon realized that the north and south exit ramps led to two different roads.  It took a few three-point turns across traffic to get to the place where their directions would again be valid.

     "West Hartford," said D, "has some pretty tough areas.  I don't think we have to drive through them to get to Monroe, though."  They pulled up to a traffic light where a homeless-looking woman was holding a sign which, since she wouldn't stop moving, was impossible to read.  H locked the doors.

    "It's great how you wait to do that until they can hear you," said D.  "Let's roll down the windows and talk about how scary-looking she is."

    "Funny," said H.  "Are you sure this is the right road, Mr. King-of-the-Highway?"

    "I have no idea," answered D.  "Didn't the directions say to go a mile and a quarter after the turn?"

    "Yup.  How far have we gone?"

    "About three miles," he said.  "I'm guessing we missed the turn.  Nice scenery, tough."

    "You mean the crackhouse we just passed," said H.  "I think it's time we call for some help."

There was no cell service in the area, so they continued on.  After driving over a few curbs they eventually got headed in the right direction.

5:30PM - On the outskirts of town

    "How far down this road?" asked D.  "I'll bet C never even looked at these directions."

    "That GPS he bought is making him Dumb and Dumber," replied H.  "I think he turns it on to back out of his driveway.  Have you noticed that no one remembers anything anymore?  I mean, things we used to memorize easily.   Who remembers appointments, when they have a PDA?  Who learns phone numbers anymore, when there's speed-dial?  Who remembers.."

    "...directions when there's GPS?  I get it," said D.  "Speaking of forgotten phone numbers, do we have cell service?"

    "Yeah, but we're all set now.  Nine miles on this road, left on Main St., then five more miles and over the dam."


    "Yes.  Dam.  It says here:  'Dam'.  Just as I always say at gigs, right before I have to sing 'I Will Survive'.  Dam."  She continued, "do you ever wonder if they have disco on other planets?  I mean, forget intelligent life - that must be out there somewhere.  In an infinite universe there are probably even other people that look like us."

    D interrupted, "so you're certain that there is life on other planets.  Intelligent life, that looks human, even.  And you're most curious as to whether they've been through the '70s yet?"

    "Well, what would you want to know?" she asked.

    "I want to know if their Red Sox have won the World Series too," he admitted.  At this point, the road took a sharp turn to the left, but a smaller road continued straight.  Unprepared, they continued down the smaller road which led to a dilapidated shack on the water advertising "Clam Strips!  Lobster!  Wi-Fi!"  After backing down a dirt driveway and narrowly missing a mailbox shaped like a World War II-era submarine missile, they made it back to the main road and continued on over a wooden bridge.

5:45PM - I'll bet the beavers could have found it

    "Why does he always complain about playing songs in F Sharp?"  asked H.  "He's a professional musician.  He went to music school, for Pete's sake.  He plays lots of songs in lots of styles at lots of tempos in lots of places at lots of times of the day.  Remember that 'Monty Python' sketch?  'How to DO it!'  It was a learning show parody where they would teach people skills, only the explanations were always like: 'How to Play The Flute.  Put your fingers here, and blow here.'  THAT'S WHAT I FEEL LIKE DOING WITH HIS BASS.  Play it in G, but move down ONE FRET!  And where's the DAMN DAM?"

    "I was just wondering that myself," said D, relieved at the opportunity to interrupt the tirade.  "We've already gone six miles, and I haven't seen anything other than that small bridge we went over.  You don't think that's what he meant by a dam, do you?"

    She responded with a non-sequitur, "How do you know when the stage is crooked?"

    "When the drool is only coming out of one side of the bass player's mouth," he answered.  "Right.  He probably messed up about the dam.  Let's go back and take the main road at the intersection we just passed.  It's getting pretty late, though."

They reversed course, turned onto Route 34, and continued west for about a mile and a half.  At that point, they came to a service station/general store/pharmacy/donut shop, and D got out to ask for directions.  The store was run by an elderly gentleman, who had a disturbing resemblance to the actor that played Lucille Ball's boss at the bank.  He was wearing headphones while watching a rerun of "Charmed" on a brand-new iPod.

    "Excuse me?  Sir?" asked D.  We're just having a little trouble finding..."

    "The country club?" finished the man.  "You and everyone else.  I swear, they made it impossible to get to that blight upon civilization.  No one can find the thing."

    "Can you give me directions?" asked D, politely.

    "I'll bet Piper and Phoebe could scry for it," he added.

    "It's just that we're in a bit of a hurry?" asked D after a minute or so.

    The man sighed loudly while pressing pause.  "You need to head back out to the main road..."


    "I love football," the man suddenly exclaimed.

    "What does that..."

    "Go four miles north.  Then cross the dam, and..."

    "Yes?" repeated D, crossing his fingers that Mr. Mooney might actually finish a thought.

    "Too bad the Patriots didn't move to Hartford," the man drifted off.  "That Bledsoe can really wing it."

    At this point D began to cough violently.

    "Parking lot like a damn football stadium!" declared the man, as he pressed play on his iPod and adjusted his headphones. 

    "Ok," whispered D, "I'll let myself out."  He slowly backed out of the store while keeping his eyes on the old man, who was now busy screaming at his iPod that Cole was the Source of All Evil.

    "So?  Are we on the right road, finally?"  asked H, "and what was he yelling about?"

    "I was almost... just.... murdered..." stammered D.

6:10PM - Finally, Black Canyon

    Four miles later, D & H were starting to think that a major local conspiracy was keeping them from making it to the gig.  As they followed the Housatonic River past what felt like the twentieth direction change, D wondered if the lateness of the hour meant that calling C would now be a bad idea.  Suddenly Route 34 climbed to the left, over the river, and ahead they saw the road continue over a large, gated concrete structure that created a lake below.  The Stevenson Dam.

    "Um."  said D.  That looks like, a..."

    "Don't say it."

    "Ok, but it really looks like a ..."

    "Just drive.  Please."  pleaded H.  "There IS a road going over it, right?  We don't need a barge?"

    The road continued through a densely wooded area, winding up and in, until they came upon an enormous clearing with enough lighting for a Whitesnake concert circa 1987.  Or, perhaps, an NFL stadium.  They pulled into the parking lot, unloaded the gear and made their way to the lobby.  There were security guards at the door, who stopped all progress with one simple question:

    "Which wedding are you here for?"

    (Just as an aside:  you'd think we'd know.  We're professional musicians and we take this work seriously; people pay a lot of money to have us entertain their friends and family, and we often spend hours learning songs for specific brides.  It's just that C is the one that deals with the couples personally, and if he doesn't remember to include the newlywed's names on the faulty driving directions then we have no answer to the above question.)

    There were two ballrooms, each of which was hosting a reception; it was clearly cocktail hour in both locations; and there was someone playing jazz piano in the background for both parties; presumably, DC was at ours.

    "Right or left?"  asked H.  "Take a guess.  We're due."

    "I'm flipping a coin," said D.  "Enough of this nonsense.  Heads is left."

The coin came up tails, so they turned right and began politely pushing through the guests to get to the ballroom area.  Halfway through they came upon a pianist they'd never seen before, and a Disk Jockey team unpacking an elaborate collection of Village People-looking costumes.  They turned around and headed for the other ballroom.  Finally with the PA in sight, C tsk-tsking while he glared at his watch, N busily checking microphones by himself, and DC off in the corner entertaining the guests with "Route 66", they could take solace in one thing:

They still managed to beat the drummer.