Here's a story from my trip to see Mom last week. It happened before I even got on the train at Providence. Last year, we drove into Providence to find the train station and then, since we were early, I drove back out to show my wife the way to get home. But as I headed down Interstate 95 and then connected to Interstate 195 to head toward home, I had a hard time finding a way to turn around and get back to the train station before the train left. We made it but it led to some exciting talk in the car as the clock ran down.
This year, since it had been over a year since we'd gone to the train station, I decided to refresh my wife's memory of how to get back out of Providence and head back towards home. But wait - I had learned from my mistake last year and didn't head down the Interstates. I was smart and stayed on the local road and just crossed under Interstate 95 pointing out to her the entrance that she would take. Problem solved. Now, since I was on a local road, it would be easy to turn around and get back to the train station - we had plenty of time.
The picture at the beginning is a copy of the Google Map for the area and I've drawn our route in red. There are circled numbers that match up with numbers in my description here. If you'd like, you can right-click on the picture and open it in a separate tab to show it larger so you can follow along.
1) We're at the train station about 30 minutes early. My wife says that she can find the way out herself. "Remember last year," she says. "Don't worry, Sweetheart," I say, "I won't make the same mistake this year!"
2) We've reached the place where she'd turn to get on Interstate 95 to head home. Learning from last year, I just point to the exit and stay on the local road looking for the first turn off that has an obvious entrance. How hard could it be? It's a local road. "Define local," says a small voice in the back of my head.
3) After about a mile and a half, I finally see an exit that has a visible entrance on the other side. We've still got about 25 minutes. Plenty of time.
4) We have a little trouble finding a place to turn around but we do find one.
5) No problems now - we're headed back toward the train station. I tell my son, who is getting worried, that we have enough time to go home and come back again. A big lie but it eases the tension I sense in everyone.
6) I see I 95 again and we just have to pass under it to be within minutes of the train station. The local road splits into separate lanes and there are no signs but I'm sure that the lane I'm in the correct one. I have a sense about these things.
7) Well, here we are going south on Interstate 95 heading away from the train station and my jokes and false confidence are having no effect on my family. We'll just need to find an exit that has an obvious entrance on the other side. More people are getting nervous in the car.
8) After more than a mile, I see an exit that looks promising. I tell everyone that everything is going to be fine now. After we get off the exit, I recognize the area as a place we'd come about 10 years ago. It had no close entrances to I 95. Now I'm getting worried but I don't let it show.
9) After about a third of a mile of stop and go traffic, we finally get to the turn off to get back onto I 95. Everyone is telling me how to drive, to not bother waiting for people who have the right-of-way and to honk the horn at that idiot trying to cut us off. There are no rules now. We have less than fifteen minutes to get back to the train station.
10) We're back in I 95 heading back to the train station - for the third time today. All of a sudden, all the other drivers have slowed down. They are all talking on their cell phones and missing opportunities to move forward. Every driver in every car seems to have taken up smoking and isn't paying attention like they should be.
11) Finally, with about twelve minutes to go, we turn off on the exit we took about 30 minutes ago. Tension in the car remains high. I am told "don't stop or let anyone in front of us" or there will be trouble. I feel like I'm running for home plate and a large, grouchy catcher is in front of me with a ball in his hand.
12) With about five minutes to go, we arrive at the train station for the second time. I have to get my bags from the back, kiss everyone good-bye and pick up my prepaid tickets. I tell my wife, "Are you sure you know the way out? Shall we run through that one more time?" She gives me the "if your serious, don't bother coming back" look.
I made it with a minute (or so) to spare. After settling down in my seat, I got up to get a cup of coffee (ah, Green Mountain coffee) from the snack bar and thanked God for getting us there safely and prayed for my family's safe return home.