No, I-90! Don’t do the hurty thing!

A little background:

I have no sense of direction. That is, I can’t figure out east from north from south without a rising or setting sun, or some very familiar secondary point of reference. Add to this my consistent failure to sort out the differences between east and west (mostly meaningful with secondary points of reference; I can at least remember the sun RISES in the EAST and SETS in the WEST).

Also, my mental cartography set is only capable of illustrating roads as straight lines.

Today, I decided to stop by the Honda Auto Center of Bellevue to get my new car’s plates. I was going to do this after our dishwasher was repaired, on my way into work.

I looked at a map. It looked simple enough: take 405 south to I-90 east, and it’s right near the junction.

Even now my hand twitches spasmodically.

Heck, might as well start long before that. Headed out of our neighborhood and drove right past the 405 exit. Well, okay, I needed gas anyhow, so I got that, stopped at McDonalds, got lunch, turned around, got on the freeway.

Taking the I-90 exit off 405 was easy enough. There was the HAC on the right of the 90. I drove past it looking for the exit. About a mile past it, I took an exit. The exit ramp looped around strangely, and when I reached an intersection, I had no idea what direction I was facing. So I made my best guess, and spent the next twenty minutes driving along twisty roads in a rather pleasant hitherto-unknown residential part of Bellevue (Eastgate). Somehow I managed to get back to my original intersection, from a different side, and… I end up driving the same route a second time. This time I manage to get turned around faster, and go back to the same intersection a third time. In mild despair, I cross the freeway and drive along the other side– at least on that side I can SEE the freeway and eventually, the HAC. Finally, I reach a crossover right near the HAC (but on the other side of where I entered the 90) and I turn! I make it to the HAC! I have plates installed.

So then, I get back on the road I took to the HAC. I attempt to get onto the freeway, but I do so going the wrong direction. I exit. I get back on again, going the right direction. Excellent, there’s a sign ahead indicating the 405 … to Renton. Hm. I don’t want to go to Renton, that’s south. There must be another exit to the northern version– wait, was that also the northern exit? Shit! I drive a mile or so more to the next exit, and take it. I turn around. I get on the freeway. Somehow I’ve missed the 405 entrance again. I take the original exit I took, but turn left this time, and end up someplace new. I’m hoping to turn around and get back on the I-90 again. My memory gets fuzzy here, but I think the exit road was wonky and didn’t take me to any place where I could actually turn around and get back on the freeway.

Instead, I reach an intersection. ‘No U-Turn Here’. Okay, so I take the left into the residential area so I can turn around in there. The residential area, which is pretty grubby, has a sign posted in multiple places: No U-Turn For Freeway. The houses all have individual signs posted ‘No U-Turn’.

Now, there was no visible intersection or U-turn anywhere ahead of where I made my left. I’d started whimpering by now, so I made a U-turn in the first driveway. Sorry guys, but what else was I going to do?

This time, I get the stars in alignment and am allowed to get on the 405.

Okay, so I’m on the 405. I take that to the 520 and I miraculously get the right exit there (you might think it is obvious: one is marked ‘Seattle’, the other ‘Redmond’, but by then I was very confused and remembered the exit from the 520 to where I work was wonky and maybe I wanted to take Seattle instead? Good thing, since I was getting on, not off the 520 there).

Then I take the 24th street exit off of 520… which I think must have been the wrong exit. I flail around for a while on a vaguely familiar road, and recognize the numbering scheme I’m on, and gamble on which way I’m supposed to turn at an intersection to get closer to work. I guess wrong, of course. I wait in innumerable stoplights and use an actual lane provided for u-turns, and wait in innumerable stoplights again, and drive past the freeway exit I should have used, and drive to work, and park, and sit in my car a while. My hands twitch spasmodically.

I’m here.

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