Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Not getting lost in Rochester NY

WHOEVER INVENTED GOOGLE Maps deserves an Emmy, an Oscar, an ESPY, an arrow glued to a piece of wood dipped in gold - whatever they give to honor navigators.

I went to Rochester N.Y. and hung out with Dr. Emily Hart, Amy, their dog Stevie, and Gaelic Football enthusiasts. It was grand. Rochester is big enough to have big city things, but the charm of the city and surrounding suburbs is in the movement and emphasis on the outdoors. 

I stayed at a decent hotel and rented a car. Emily was more than happy to have me stay with her, but this arrangement gave us space and flexibility. As my father said, "Guests are like fish. After about two or three days, they start to stink." 

I have used Google Maps before but not extensively. I like writing down the instructions and the ensuing panic of getting lost. Why have the way pointed out when you can turn left instead of right and end up in Connecticut? This time, I used it. A lot. And it was amazing.

On the phone app, a map appears and a voice says, "In 200 feet, instead of being a dumbass and turning left like you probably would, turn right. You'll get there faster." The voice was always right. I even plugged it into the rental car, which had a display screen. It was .... wondrous. Emily just rolled her eyes when I excitedly told her about not getting lost, which is a big deal to her old man.

Welcome to the 20th century, Hoser.

I drove to the Gaelic Football game Saturday in East Rochester and went through one charming burg after another. It was a beautiful early summer day. There were farmer's markets, outdoor book fairs, sporting events of all kinds on community fields. Everybody was out walking or riding a bike. I had to stop every half a block in some places because pedestrians have the right of way at crosswalks (think 10th and Maine in Quincy, where nobody stops for the poor QMG employees).

And they have roundabouts. And they work. Wait. They work? Yup. Keeps traffic moving and gets you there faster. Progress! Don't rock the chair too much, Quincy. We wouldn't want a developed waterfront or safer intersections soon. We might get used to it.

My apologies - I love living in Quincy. Every city has its quirks and challenges. We should all travel and see how other places do it, or don't do it.

Sunday morning we went to Durand Beach on Lake Ontario. It was quiet and Stevie loved the walk. The beach isn't huge but it's big enough, and there are other more developed spots, Emily said. I don't know - being a beach conniosseur, it more than passed the grade.

Emily gave lessons Sunday afternoon, so I went solo to a Rochester Red Wings game. The Wings are the Triple A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. I paid $6 to park right across from the downtown stadium. I walked up to the ticket booth and bought a $19 ticket to sit five rows behind the third base dugout. I avoided the $11 beers. There were tons of young families and season-ticket holders, and they all seemed to know each other.

A guy named Conehead roamed the stands selling concessions, wearing a cone on his head. It was his birthday. They all got up and sang happy birthday to Conehead. 

I left in the 9th inning with the Red Wings way behind. In five minutes I was in the car and on the highway. 

Try doing all that at a big league game in the Lou or Chicago.

 Even my flights from St. Louis to Rochester and back were smooth, on time and crowded, of course, but bearable.

Emily is moving to Florida this summer to start her new adventure as oboe professor at the University of Florida. But she and Amy love Rochester so much, they just extended their apartment lease for another year. So I'll be back next summer, if things work out.

Rochester, you are beautiful. Thanks for the great visit!

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