I did not know my ignorance was going to be such a huge problem today. Please note, I’m not talking stupidity which I also have in abundance at times. Today, there was no stupidity, simply ignorance.

Yesterday, I found out I would be driving into Charleston today. I don’t drive into Charleston. Well, this is actually the second time I’ve done this, but I was going someplace I had never been before. I was going to a charter school for disadvantaged students to provide a luncheon for teachers there. I wasn’t actually providing the lunch, but I was bringing paper stuff for the teachers.

As an aside, my brother-in-law is participating in the Hoka Hey Challenge where he is riding his motorcycle through all 48 contiguous states and after starting in Arizona, he is ending up in Nova Scotia, Canada. He gets directions at check points – Harley Davidson outlets. Then he goes to the next stop, gets more directions and continues on.

Now, I would never do this in a million years. First of all, I get lost backing out of the driveway. I have no sense of direction and am petrified when driving somewhere new. And secondly, I don’t ride motorcycles. But I wouldn’t even do this in a luxury car. My sister pointed out, when I complained about driving downtown, that I would be a mess on the Hoka Hey. I agreed.

I printed out the direction on how to get where I was going. That was good. I also printed directions on how to get back home, because the Route 26 Interchange in downtown Charleston is weird.

My directions said it would take 27 minutes for me to get from work to the school. But it did not take into consideration my propensity for getting lost. I left 45 minutes before I was supposed to be there.

I knew how to get on 26 and so that went well. Soon after I got on the highway, an overhead message board said something like: INCIDENT AHEAD AT MILE MARKER 209. ALL TRAFFIC MUST EXIT AT EXIT 205. I got on the highway at 199 and was traveling to 219.

As I neared exit 204, the traffic was already stopped waiting to get off, so I exited there. Unfortunately, this put me westbound on Route 78 but at least I knew where I was. I was near Trident Hospital, but heading the wrong way. I pulled into someplace and called Lester. I explained that I had only printed directions using 26 and it was closed and I had no idea how to find a way to get where I was going from where I was.

I do not have a smart phone but Lester does. But you can’t look at maps while you are driving and talking on the phone. So he pulled off and looked at a map and called me back. Exit 209 was Ashley Phosphate Road so I needed to go one further exit and there were several off 78 which runs parallel to 26. So all I had to do was get past the blockage and get back on the road and I would be good to go.

Everyone was forced off 26 and 78 is a smaller road. We crept. There is an interchange with route 50 along the way and those people were also trying to get on 26 and not permitted, so they were kicked off and crept along with the rest of us. It took me 40 minutes and I occasionally could manage to get higher than second gear, but not often, until I could successfully once again get on 26.

I got off where I was supposed to get off and I was to make a right turn at the second opportunity and be on King Street. The second right (as far as I could see) was Meeting Street. I know those two streets are parallel to each other so I went one further but it was something else. I tried to make my way back, but was completely lost. So I again called Lester.

Lester grew up in Charleston, but not in this part of Charleston. It was the scary part of Charleston. His client and the woman who was his reason for being at the school, got on his phone and talked me to the school.

People who know me know that I absolutely despise driving and cell phone use. It is even more difficult in my car. I’m a bad driver to start with and I have a stick shift car. So I was trying to navigate with cars all around me getting aggravated at the dummy on the cell phone trying to drive. Gail was trying to be helpful, but she was telling me to turn after I had passed the block or telling me to turn left when I was in the right hand lane. I was in near tears, but somehow, after way too long, I was able to get to the school. It took me slight more than one hour and twenty minutes to make my 27 minute trip.

What was blocking the road.

While we were standing there, Lester got out his smart phone and looked up what would shut down an entire highway. At 3.40 AM, two trucks collided and one burst into flames. Both were carrying wood chips that spilled all over the highway. I’m happy to report that neither of the drivers was killed, however both were injured. Nine hours later, the road was finally cleared and opened again for traffic. I had no idea I should have looked to see about this event prior to leaving today. Simple ignorance. I could have gone a completely different way, allowed for time, and not been in that horrible mess. I still would have gotten lost at the end – probably. I wouldn’t have already been frazzled so maybe I would have seen whatever street I missed.

I did know how to get home and managed to arrive safely and in the time the map said I would.

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