I blame Irving for the whole thing. Let’s face it, with all that construction going on, you can’t get to anywhere from Irving, and certainly not Fredericksburg.
And that is the reason it took me, my dog and my daughter nine hours to make the trip. That’s my story and I’m not budging off it. We had a GPS unit, a road map, a Texas Atlas and MapQuest printed step-by-step directions and we still were so lost so often that it doubled our travel time.
Everything would have been fine if Christi didn’t live in Irving. I’ve driven to Fredericksburg many times and never been lost before. But shortly after I picked her up in Irving, my step-by-step directions failed.
She blames me for this, of course. But I blame Irving. See, MapQuest told me to take State Highway 161 and a couple of other highways to Interstate 30, which becomes Interstate 20, and then follow it out to State Highway 281. Somewhere in all that construction, I-30 eluded me.
“Why don’t you just let me drive?” she asked.
“No. You know that city driving terrifies me. I’m facing my fears,” I replied.
Mostly with my eyes closed, I admit. All those people drive so fast. And they refuse to stay in one lane.
I figure when I leave the house which lane I’m going to need to turn from 70 miles from there and I get in that lane. Apparently, in cities, that is not the way it is done. And they honk at me all the time. What’s up with that honking?
So I kept driving and we kept going and I-30 did not appear.
“Mom, we’re in Lake Worth!” Christi said. “I don’t think this is the way to Fredericksburg.”
So I pulled over and consulted the Atlas. Sure enough, Lake Worth was wrong. My daughter gently jerked me out from behind the wheel.
“You can face your fears sometime when I’m not there to hear the screaming,” she said.
She got out her cellphone and punched up the GPS. We needed to name the lady with the unflappable voice giving directions, I told her.
“OK, let’s name her Matilda.”
“No, that’s too proper for someone hanging out with us. Let’s name her Lucy.”
“OK, I like Lucy.”
“I love Lucy,” I said, and that set the tone for the rest of the trip.
Lucy directed us across country to try to get back on the route. We saw some new territory. It was long on two-lane roads and short on road signs and bathrooms. We tried to follow her orders, but some of the turns she wanted us to take didn’t seem to exist.
“Rerouting,” Lucy said a lot. She never lost patience, but we did.
We pulled over at a car wash at a “T” in the road she apparently missed. According to the Atlas, we were an hour farther away from Fredericksburg than we had been an hour ago.
“Lucy, you have some ’splainin’ to do,” I said.
“Rerouting,” Lucy replied.
We went through Blanket twice. There had not been much to see the first time, and I wasn’t happy to tour it again.
“Lucy, where the heck are you taking us?”
“Vitameatavegamin,” Lucy replied.
Finally we reached Johnson City.
“Do you know who Lyndon Johnson is?” I asked my daughter.
“Of course I know who Lyndon Johnson is.”
“Do you want to stop off and visit his ranch?”
“Absolutely not,” she said, and Lucy snorted.
We stopped to stock up on Texas wine and to let Kiefer stretch his legs at a little store. South Texas is wine country, and we loved the authenticity of the wineries. We were almost there, and I was so ready. I was driving again. I was tired, and my depth perception has never been that good. I drove right off a curb.
“Thunk!” said the Infiniti. “$#@&**%!” said Lucy. I didn’t think that a family-oriented GPS was supposed to talk like that.
Finally, we pulled into the driveway of the wonderful house we had rented in Fredericksburg. Christi stopped crying and Kiefer wagged his tail.
“You have reached your destination,” Lucy said sullenly. “Now please just put me on my charger and leave me alone.”
“Not so fast,” I told Lucy. “First we’re gonna let you help us stomp some grapes.”
DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.