Knowing where you’re going doesn’t help you know where you are

I sometimes have a problem. I may know where I am going, yet have no idea where I am.

At times I don’t know if I am going east, west, north or south, but there is a little spot on the dash in my car, that will answer that question. However, how do I get to where I want to go?

A while back, I was on my way to Ironwood, Michigan, to visit a friend. I left my house late morning thinking I would stop for lunch on the way north.

As I neared Wausau, I remembered the Wendy’s that is in Weston, and since I don’t get much chance to stop there, I thought that might be a fun option. So I exited Highway 29 and ventured into the suburb of Weston. Of course, I turned right, which was not correct, as Wendy’s is actually to the left of my exit. That was my first error.

When I finally figured that out and got turned around, I actually found the Wendy’s, with no lights or cars, so I knew my first lunch option had vanished. There was a sign on the window saying that they were hiring, so perhaps they were remodeling or something.

Going back onto the access road, I turned south at the Target store, thinking that would lead me back to Highway 29. That was my second error, as it did not.

By now I was in Rothschild, in a housing neighborhood, so, not wanting to go in circles, I pushed the Onstar button. I asked to be guided to Highway 29, but they were not satisfied with that, they had to know where I was going. I tried to explain that if I was at Highway 29 I would know where I was, and how to get where I was going. They remained nosy, so I said Ironwood, Michigan. Then I got my directions.

Of course, once I took the 51 north highway, and had to exit for lunch at Merrill, it got all excited. “You have left the planned route,” it scolded. “Directions will resume when you return to the planned route.”

I had a sandwich at Arby’s, and off I was to Ironwood. I had no further adventures with Onstar on my journey, until I neared my friend’s rural home. It had me go right when I should have gone left. I knew that, because I had her house number, and it was much lower than these were. So another turn around and I was back on track. I would add that it was helpful that she had to put out orange cones by her driveway, because of a washout of the culvert. She had warned me to be careful there, and those cones helped me to know I was at the right place.

For the most part, I use my phone’s GPS, but didn’t know how the service was in that area, so the Onstar came in handy. Not perfect, but close. I often think of my dad, who always knew what direction he was headed, maybe not the right road, but always knew if he was going the correct way. Somehow I missed out on that know-how.

I did learn a valuable lesson that day — stay on the highway, and don’t wander off in areas that I don’t remember very well. I do that mostly as I travel, stay on the highway, and wait for a less traveled place to turn off for food or gas. Oh, and orange cones help, too, to find a specific place. It had been five or so years since I had visited, and had always approached the house from the other direction.

My friend has macular degeneration, and cannot see anything other than shadows. Yet, she has chosen to continue to live in the house she and her husband built together and raised their family in. Her children want her to move, but she is not quite ready, she told me. We had a wonderful two days together, and as I left, she said, “I hope you can come this summer, and we can do something more.”

“We’ll see,” I answer, knowing the something she has in mind may be Bayfield. Perhaps autumn might be better, I think, the trees will be turning, and the apples would be ripe.

Tigerton resident Leah Lehman, who calls herself a “small town country girl at heart,” offers memories of the past and observations of current events from the the viewpoint of someone born in the 1940s.