I had neglected to put out a blog last week. Why? Because I have been in Wisconsin having an adventure. Adventure in Wisconsin, you say? Wisconsin, the land of cheese?

Well, it started in the miniature township of Towanda, Illinois, when Officer Albee pulled me over on Interstate 55. I was on my way to Chicago. It seems I had neglected to obey the ‘3-second rule’ . . . a rule I had never heard of before. Officer Albee was certain that I had known about it from Drivers’ Ed. Unfortunately, I had gotten my driver’s license since before Officer Albee was born. He was not aware of the fact that in the old days, only rich kids took Driver’s Ed. Poor kids (such as myself) learned how to drive when their dad took them to an empty parking lot and taught them how to stop, start, and turn the wheel. Then took them for a spin around the block with a policeman in the car.

The 3-second rule is a simple way to double-check that you are driving at a safe following distance.  Choose a fixed point that is even with the car in front of you.  For example, a road sign or a building.  If you reach that same fixed point before you can count to three, then you are driving too close to the car in front of you and you need to fall back a bit.

No, I wasn’t following the ‘3- second rule’, but seemed to be following a ‘one and a half second’ rule of my own.

So I was pulled over. Officer Albee approached my car slowly, noting the mounds of travel paraphernalia I was taking with me – Two suitcases, two book-packed boxes, three enormous cooler bags full of food, a book signing poster, an easel, and two bulging knapsacks. His hand went to his gun.

At this point, I still did not know why I had been pulled over.

I rolled down my window – the window on the passenger side where he was standing – and waited for him to speak. That was when he told me of my violation. I pretended lucidity and comprehension when he mentioned the ‘three second rule’, but quickly lost my façade of intelligence when I couldn’t remember where my proof of insurance was. After some dithering I finally located it in the glove compartment where it has ALWAYS been kept. He took that and my license and retreated to his car to write up my warning.

Yes, that is all I got – a warning. Because Officer Albee is nice. If they had Pageants for policemen, he would be Officer Congeniality. It went well with his blond buzz-cut, even white teeth, and dimples.

He issued a warning, but he still had to go through the spiel. The questions were straightforward enough, but there was plenty of subtext:

“Are you carrying a concealed weapon in the car?” (I don’t see how you’d have room with all this unnecessary crap packed to the ceiling.)

“No.” (Should I tell him about the paring knife I packed to slice the cheese?)

“Have you ever been arrested on a drug charge? Though, looking at you, I would be surprised if you said yes. [Yes, that part he said out loud.]

“No.” (I’m too tired to submit to a body cavity search. Wait until after I get some pizza.)

We laughed.

Then I was sent on my way.

I arrived in Aurora, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, well after the sun had gone down. This was when I discovered the true merits of using Google Maps.

Firstly, Google Maps directs drivers much the same way pilots use the plane’s instruments to fly through storms. You don’t have to see well enough in the darkness to read the road signs, you just have to follow verbalized directions. After taking me through some intricate turns and U-turns along Aurora’s suburban roads (Traffic in one of Chicago’s suburbs is as frenetic as the traffic in any mid-sized city when panicked  residents are being evacuated), I came to my hotel.

The second thing about Google Maps? They lie. Either that, or they think we go by dog years. What takes only one hour in the Google universe takes one and a half in ours. They are like the soothing parents who keep saying, ‘Hold your pee. We’re almost there,’ when they have another half-day of traveling to go.

I checked in, taking the luggage trolley with me. It took two loaded trips to take everything out of the car and into the room. Finally, dinner, a shower, and bed. I had sightseeing plans the next day, and after that, another three and a half hours of driving to reach my destination. Or, according to the liars at Google, two.

The next blog – BOOK SIGNING – PART 2 – will be about insanity, dripping blood, and pygmy hippos.

Stay tuned . . .

I would love it if you left a comment or observation in the ‘leave a comment’ section under this.

Have fun!

Oh, and here is a picture of the sunset that day . . .

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9 Responses to BOOK SIGNING – PART 1

  1. Snuffygump says:

    Good thing I wasn’t with you when dazzling trooper stopped you for such a (I’m adding grievous)violation. That’s all I’m saying on that part. I am glad that you survived the virtual blind guidance of the GPS! They are handy and at least when you disobey their directions to make a certain turn(imagine how frustrated Miss GPS gets with us)they quickly start routing you to a default strategy. Val and I only yell at each other a little bit now with this handy technology. It’s saved our marriage!

  2. Thea says:

    I couldn’t have made it to Chicago without Google Maps. Though I do stick by my earlier statement that they lie.
    And… thank goodness I only got a warning.

  3. Alissa says:

    Google Maps is great until she panics at a stop light and tries to reroute you around a city block when you could have gone straight. It was at that point I silenced her.

  4. Thea says:

    I know what you mean, Alissa. Every time I would leave the Interstate for a pit stop, she would panic. Then get very bossy. Then when I was ready to get back on the highway, she would try to give me an alternate route… Like I was insisting on doing it my way.

  5. Minnie Convirs says:

    I absolutely love reading this whole site. I get the impression you could make licking a postage stamp comical. Looking forward to your new book.

  6. Thea says:

    Minnie! Happy day! Welcome to the blog! And thank you! :)

  7. Samudra says:

    I’ve only used prints of Google maps, but I used to have a Garmin, and one day both it and the AAA map lied. Only my cat Pepper, my FNS (feline navigational system), protested that this road would take me right into the river! Indeed it did, twenty miles later. Fortunately, the ferry was open. Once we’d paid and been ferried across, she lay down and went back to sleep.

    I’ll download the book tonight!

    But how will you autograph it for me?

  8. Saundra says:

    Thea, we completely understand GPS problems. Ray calls ours “Lori” and swears she
    sighs when we ignore her directions before she tells us to turn around and start over.

  9. Thea says:

    I should probably name mine as well, Saundra. How funny…

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