Monday, March 22, 2010

Driving in Houston

...is interesting and a tad terrifying. I set off this morning a little before 7 a.m. so I could navigate the traffic before rush hour. I was a little nervous about driving in the dark -- it's hard to read the micro-text of Google maps in the dark while merging onto a 12-lane interstate.

I needn't have worried about that! By the time I picked up my Starbucks at Kroger and merged onto I-10 East, an enormous ball of sun was peeking up from the horizon. As I drove, it peeked higher and higher until I was TOTALLY BLIND. Squinting, I could barely see the road, let alone road signs. And Houston interstates don't just go one way - they are an intricate web of merges, loops, underpasses, overpasses and splits. If you just try to go straight (seems logical!), you may end up on a toll road from which there is no escape (I learned this on Thursday, and it cost me $3). And if you're a Nashvillian and recall the I-65 entrance ramp at 3rd Ave that does not allow you access to I-65 south because you have to cross two lanes of traffic so you don't miss the split...phooey! Houston highways are ALL about crossing lanes. You merge onto I-10 east and are immediately in a one of three exit only lanes for a toll road. So you immediately have to cross SIX lanes of traffic just to stay on I-10. And at almost-rush hour in the blinding sun, this is no small feat. In fact, you can pretty much just close your eyes and go for it, because everyone else is.

So, I'm headed east, and looming overhead every 100 yards or so are big black rectangles. Behind the rectangles is an orange ball of fire. So I look away for a moment, blink a few times to clear the spots, and steal a glance again at the rectangles, praying for a few letters or numbers that confirm I'm on the right track, in the right lane. I hang out mostly in the center lane of, oh, about 12 lanes in case I have to do a miracle merge. I finally catch a glimpse of 610, my loop. But which way? I glance down at my directions, but my pupils are so dilated from the sun, I can't see the paper. So I strip off my sunglasses, blink furiously and learn I need to go north. Thank God! For one, there's a huge wreck going south, and everyone's going that way. For two, the sun is finally to my right, and my vision is starting to return. I'm the ONLY one in Houston going north, so the road is mine.

And I arrive at my destination unscathed.

2 comments:

HollyMarie said...

Oh my! Glad you made it!

Norma said...

What a hairy story!! Thank goodness you got through that maze without a tangle. I'm in awe.