"God must love the common man, He made so many of them..." Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Straight Line? Shortest Distance?

Haven’t you always heard that the shortest distance between Point A and Point B is a straight line? From ancient seafarers to westward pioneers, this was commonsense knowledge. Modern-day airline pilots and my teenaged kids know this. On-line direction providers claim to know this – but I believe my experience is proof to the contrary.

This last Saturday, the Lady Lions varsity volleyball team was scheduled to play at a tournament in Dallas, a town that I had not yet had the pleasure of visiting. Before I go any further, let me just say it – I always get lost. I have directional disability. Maps for me are worse than story problems what with all their little hieroglyphics and origami-ness. So in the interests of self-preservation and timeliness, I placed all my straight line trust in an on-line direction provider, which I will call M.Q. I entered Point A, St. Helens, and Point B, Dallas, and waited with baited breath for my easy-to-follow step-by-step driving directions to spit out of the printer.

So once the car was loaded with snacks, the dog, and the directions, it was down (or up?) and over Cornelius Pass – gotcha. Take a left onto the Tualatin Valley highway – fine. Next turn right onto a 2-lane country road – unexpected but okay… And then the adventure began. Over the river, through the woods, past the orchards, and around the cyclists we went. We drove past vineyards, fields, and farmers markets. We drove up some small town main streets and down others. 11 left turns, 13 right turns, 4 straight aheads, and 2 ½ hours later, Dallas appeared on the horizon.

Never once did I deviate from the route suggested and no matter how rural or gravelly the road, the M.Q. directions were spot on. All of those twists and turns though… What happened to the straight line approach? Coming back, following other volleyball families, it was a quick trip back along I-5 to Highway 30 to home. Yep, we came straight home.

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