Driving from north of Boston to New York City, one pretty much has to go through Boston. As someone not hailing from that neck of the woods, this is an experience one might expect to rather look forward to. And so I imagined traversing that fair city, across gleaming bridges and through freshly dug tunnels, glimpsing views of historic harbour and majestic downtown architecture, before being ejected once again onto the relative blandness of the interstate systems. I do, of course, have a GPS, which I use constantly but never rely on totally, always preferring to have some general idea of what road I am supposed to be on, and in which direction I should be pointing. I find this helpful when, as it is occasionally wont to do, the GPS instructs me to do a series of random U-turns and then dispatch me in the general direction of Las Vegas. I can only assume that the City of Las Vegas sponsors Tom Tom in some significant way.
As we come into Boston, my GPS is on track and firmly locked on to Navstar IV, or some similar satellite. This is called, I am told by my friends in aerospace, "squirting the Bird" - and is a good thing. But, as we descend into the first of many tunnels, my GPS and the Bird became unable to squirt each other. At this point we temporarily return to the husband and wife map-reading days of the 80's ... and all hell breaks loose. Simultaneously, it becomes apparent that the City of Boston, in its wisdom, has determined that all signposts in the tunnel system shall contain the minimum word-count. So now I can only see a list of different freeway numbers, with no information about where they actually go. Do I take the 93W, or the 195S? Should I head for Logan Airport? I don't bloody know! Message to the mayor of Boston: "You have tourists in your city, upon whom you depend for vast amounts of income - they dont know the 195 S from their elbow." Here am I just trying to get to New York ... that big city to the south of Boston, but can I find it's name anywhere on a sign? Why can't they put "New York and points South" or something helpful? In Los Angeles, a city that strikes terror into the hearts of many a seasoned driver, the Freeways are simply and clearly labelled - downtown LA, San Diego and the South, Sacramento and the North, Palm Springs and the East. There one has other things to worry about on the Freeways, like getting shot at, but at least you know generally where you are going and are unlikely to end up in South Central unless you have a specific desire to be robbed and beaten within an inch of your life.
So Dearly Beloved tries to be helpful by reading the map, while I find myself in something like a video game - racing along at 60 mph, faced with split second decisions as I negotiate multiple forks in the tunnels, trying to avoid the remains of other mystified tourists in rental cars, some of whom, having gone around and around for days, have pulled over and shot themselves out of sheer frustration. So I do what any sensible person would do, and head for the airport. It's an international airport, just to the south of the city and therefore must have signs designed for people who have not the first idea about the Boston freeway system. Emerging from the tunnel system, I expect my GPS and the Bird to start squirting each other furiously again, but it turns out that the GPS has had a nervous breakdown and ceased to operate altogether. By this time, I am almost apoplectic and Dearly Beloved is making what she mistakenly believes to be calming and helpful remarks. While re-booting, I toured a number of terminals, circled around by the car-rental lots, Lufthansa's catering facility, the dog pound and several cargo docks. Following the Airport Exit signs, I eventually end up at the Toll booth, where I pay the nice man some money and he tells me that in order to get south to New York, I have to follow the Interstate West to Hartford. Well who knew?