Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Inner Loop is the bane of my existence. Or, at least it has been during the approximately seven weeks that I've lived in Rochester.

The idea behind the Inner Loop is probably a sound one, and I'm sure that long-time locals make great use of this mini-beltway around the city. On the down side, its entrance ramps are poorly marked, and the whole thing is mottled with potholes (although, contrary to statements made on the link above, it does have exit numbers, and there are places where it actually does tell you when it intersects with I-490). The problem is that I keep ending up on it when I don't want to be there, usually because I trusted the distance estimates on MapQuest without question. (Please don't get me started on the subject of Google Maps. I've had enough mixed emotions for one day.)

I've wound up going the wrong direction on the Inner Loop while trying to find the Rochester Amtrak station. I've missed the Inner Loop entirely while trying to follow directions onto it. And tonight I had to take Rick back to said Amtrak station and leave him awaiting his late train so that I could get back home and get some sleep before work. (Hello.) While trying to follow directions back from the station -- directions that I've previously followed without incident -- I still missed my turn, but wound up facing a forced right turn that I recognized as the one that had once kept me off the Inner Loop when I really wanted to be on it. So, surprise of surprises, I pulled a U-turn around a bridge abutment, hung a hard right, and wound up on -- you guessed it -- the Inner Loop. In fact, it was one of the few parts of the Inner Loop from which I actually knew exactly how to get home without any unplanned detours.

I won't tell the story of how I got lost in downtown Rochester on the way to pick Rick up on Friday morning because all of the street signs were obscured by parade-route markers reading "St. Patrick's Blvd." (Did I mention that in the process I also made a wrong turn onto the Inner Loop?) I won't go into how stressed out Rick was tonight when I left him at the station, waiting for a train that's going to be an hour and a half late, and which he'll have to ride all night. It really was a better than decent weekend, it was great that Rick could make the trip, we did some fun things, and I'm happy to now be home in the apartment instead of barreling down I-490 in the wrong direction, heading for Buffalo.

I have to admit, though, that I'm powerless in the presence of a miniature highway whose name sounds like a brand of discontinued IUD. I'm planning to eventually beat it, one exit at a time. I'm going to go to bed now, and in seven and a half hours, I'll get up, have some coffee, and drive to work on city streets with minimal potholes and decent signage. There are no loops of any orientation between here and my lab. In that sense, I think, we chose our current location wisely.


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