Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Remedial Geometry

Summa Susiebadoozie knows Geometry. I warned you there was more where that other stuff came from. Here again, from the Long and Boring Travelogue of the Trip With Excessive Luggage, is an example of bad Geometry...

MBH has always been the one in the family to ask for directions. In fact, he loves to ask for directions while I will travel to the moon and back before asking for directions. He will go out of his way to ask for directions, and then start telling stories about his kids and dogs. Now I see that this is a part of his heritage. All Croatians share this trait...the stories go on for hours. MBH even asked for directions to Diocletian's Palace when we were standing right outside its Golden Gate.* I was embarrassed, but MBH made yet another new friend. Croatians are terrible at actually giving directions, but they make friends easily. Ask for directions and you’re liable to end up at a stranger's house for dinner.

To begin our long journey home, we left Split (Croatia) mid-afternoon for the 450 km drive to Zagreb where our plane was scheduled to depart at 7:00 am the next day. Would it take 2 hours or 2 days? It would all depend on the road conditions. Would there be snow? Ice? Detours? Freeways? Country lanes? Winding cliffs by the ocean? Treacherous mountain passes? Flocks of sheep? Would it be a straight shot, or a haphazard journey around the country? As it turned out, we encountered all of the above and it basically turned into a two day project.

We found our way out of Split easily enough, and immediately entered a toll highway the likes of the autobahn (ah, this looked like it would be a breeze, 2 hours max), but the autobahn ended abruptly (like a movie set, it ended as soon as we were out of visual range of the city). It actually ended in baricades across the highway, not even a gradual escort off of the highway. This was more like a Smokey and the Bandit kind of detour. So we were forced to exit onto a two-lane country road and drive around (literally, around, in circles) the farmlands of inland Croatia for awhile. We carefully followed detour signs that seemed intended for someone else (someone not aiming for Zagreb). The detours eventually took us back to familiar winding seaside cliffs (the cliffs from which we were nearly blown off just days before). At least, we knew where we were, although we knew we were in danger of being whisked into the ocean by the slightest 100 mph "breeze."

Eventually (several coastal towns later, without much encouragement in the form of follow-up detour signs), the detours took us back to “the” freeway (we never found this freeway on the map, therefore, we never really knew where we were). We continued to follow signs pointing the way to Zagreb, up and over and partially through the mountains that run north and south the length of the country, via the longest tunnel known to man (we were beginning to think we had entered the bowels of the earth and started to experience shortness of breath...this tunnel must have been 10 miles long)! And just in case we weren’t discouraged enough at this point, the distance markers made us think we were traveling backwards because, even though we were following signs to Zagreb, the distance to Zagreb continued to increase. Should we have given ourselves more time?

As we neared what we guessed to be the half-way mark (although that’s all it was...a guess), we realized that the inland freeway had veered back to the coast without warning (and without tunnels or mountain passes...hmmm, how did that happen?). We were once again unexpectedly close to Senj (MBH's hometown), from which we had departed a few days prior. We can be sure of one thing: the folks who came up with the axiom, “the shortest distance between two points is a line,” were not from Croatia. It was early evening and it appeared the rest of the road to Zagreb would be good (but this is where it would have been good to be able to distinguish between appearances and reality). We decided to make one last surprise visit to MBH’s family in Senj (pronounced “insane”...I have managed to confuse MBH before, by telling him he is insane), and perhaps stay the night, getting up early for the remainder of the drive to Zagreb. Since our flight left at 7:00 am and we were more than a little uncertain of road conditions, we gave ourselves plenty of time for the alleged hour-and-a-half long trip, leaving at 2:30 am. Given that we had family and friends to visit, it was 1:00 am before we got to bed. This gave us 1 hour of sleep. Not sure this counts as "staying the night." But it’s a good thing we left early because once again, the autobahn came to an abrupt halt and gave way to a treacherous two-lane winding mountain pass, this time covered in snow and ice. This was the only snow or ice we saw on our entire trip, and it was 3:00 in the morning, on our way to the airport! God help us! Well, God did help us because if there’s one resource Croatia has a lot of, it’s salt, and they had laid down a good solid layer of it to dissolve the snow and ice on the road. Fortunately, it wasn’t snowing at the time. Aside from having to drive much slower than anticipated, we were able to pedal our tiny Flintstone car up and over the mountains and to the airport just in time to turn in our car, check our bags, and clear security, all with 15 minutes left over...perfect timing! Who needs sleep anyway? Some Geometry lessons maybe, but not sleep.

* In all fairness, the Golden Gate was covered in scaffolding and not exactly visible.


At 6:57 AM, May 31, 2006, Blogger beth said...

This sounds amazingly like some of Tim's and my expeditions in Ireland - where we circled where we wanted to go for hours, all the time SEEING it but unable to get there. We began to think at points that Ireland was really a drawing by Escher.

At 9:58 AM, May 31, 2006, Blogger Badoozie said...

holy moly what a trip
i got hung up on the 10 mile tunnel. i would have died in there, i am very claustrophobic, and either i would need to be medicated first or i would have needed to be asleep. oh, yeah, i'm not a spelunker.

so, did you actually make a big loop? and backtrack? did you end up stopping in insane again?

At 3:08 PM, May 31, 2006, Blogger Princess Jami said...

"Ireland was really a drawing by Escher" - hee

I think it's great that your husband makes friends so easily! You have the best travel stories. :-)

At 4:55 PM, May 31, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Beth, that's how Ireland felt to me also, a big Escher print. ;-)

Susie, all of the above. ;-) And the tunnel nearly killed me too...I was in panic mode which is rare for me. The thought of carbon monoxide and all that dirt on top of us...AACK!

Thanks, Jami. :-)

At 5:59 PM, May 31, 2006, Blogger Eric said...

Great story!

Senj is pronounced insane? Who came up with that?

And why does it make me think of a series of dialog from "Young Frankenstein"?

At 6:45 PM, May 31, 2006, Blogger Gwynne said...

Senj is pronounced insane?

Only when preceeded by the word "in," as in we visited the family in Senj. ;-)

"Why are you talking that way?"

"I thought you wanted me to."

At 9:23 PM, May 31, 2006, Blogger Eric said...



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