Hansel and Griddish

I've been brainstorming and writing lesson plans related to the theme of maps, so it was funny that I got lost Sunday afternoon. I was driving to the Dallas Arboretum, a place I've been several times over the fifteen years I've lived in Plano. This time, though, I was taking a different route from a different starting point. I was following posted directional signs instead of trusting my gut directional guidance instincts (the low tech GDGI system in my Buick). A sign to turn right from N. Buckner Blvd. onto Garland Rd. was missing, so I went on straight ahead into the unknown territory of East Dallas.

Hoping to get back to where I should have turned, I hung a Ralph on Ferguson Road, the first street name I recognized. Then I hung another Ralph onto East R. L. Thornton Expressway. I've listened to traffic update folks in helicopters for fifteen years without ever linking a place to the highway names.

My goal was to hang another Ralph from R. L. Thornton onto the N. Central Expressway a.k.a. "75" so that I could hang yet another Ralph onto Mockingbird Lane to eventually find the Arboretum on Garland Road. I wasn't thinking at that point about the one hundred thousand plus people headed to the immigration reform rally in downtown Dallas via R. L. Thornton or 75. Big oops!

It was impressive to look down from the elevated interchange and see all the cars and all the gathering marchers dressed in white shirts. Immigration policy is extremely complicated, so I worry that it is being tackled by the current Congress and administration. No amount of grids, maps, and bread crumbs can magically solve this human and economic problem. Maybe I should loan out my Buick's GDGI system.

Dallas freeways frequently have two names, and some have more. It makes those radio morning commute reports slightly poetic and quite distracting. It's a rare traffic update when I can stay focused long enough to hear the conditions on the southbound North Central. When I hear "C. F. Hawn," I think Goldie Hawn on Laugh-In. "Julius Schepps Freeway" always registers as Julia Child's Freeway. "Westbound LBJ" provokes If congested I will not move. If irritated I will not merge. Loop 12's multiple monikers (Northwest Highway, Buckner, Walton Walker Blvd., Ledbetter) are like mental Yahtzee dice spilling out in different combinations, made worse when mixed with Woodall Rodgers , R. L. Thornton, Stemmons, Marvin D. Love, George Bush, Tom Landry, The Tollway, and The Canyon.

You think the High Five is a complicated interchange? Try untangling Marvin Gaye**, Roy Rodgers, Will Rogers, Keebler elves, billy goats, Bear Bryant*, GHWB ralphing on the Japanese prime minister, Thornton Wilder's "Our Town", Hitchcock's "North By Northwest", stamens and pistols, and the untethered punchline to a long forgotten joke, "Would I? Would I?" Julia Childs would add a little more wine to the sauce at this point.

If the radio helicopter lady tells me that traffic is moving slowly through The Canyon, I'll drift into Joni Mitchell memories about big yellow taxis and "Ladies of the Canyon." Thank heaven for the Arboretum in this paved paradise!

Remember, four Ralphs do make one right.

*I get Bear and Tom Landry mixed up. Didn't one of them wear a hat?
**Okay, I get Barry White, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, and Al Green mixed up when the helicopter lady reports on traffic on 121 in Grapevine.

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