Your SatNav is Shouting!

If you’re interested, we got lost in Oakland California. After Jimmy had said, “I’m not towing through any more big cities,” my bad angel made me say, “Well you’re going to tomorrow!”

Remember our towing-the-trailer-through-San-Francisco-and-over-the-Golden-Gate-Bridge blooper?

I shouldn't really have been messing with the camera at this point, but you know me!
I shouldn’t really have been messing with the camera at this point, but I can’t help myself.
Jimmy was all smiles once the narrow roads of SF and the narrow lanes of the bridge were behind us.
Jimmy was all smiles once the narrow roads of SF and the narrow lanes of the bridge were behind us that time.

With our last fiasco in mind we were trying so hard to avoid the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge leading into central San Francisco to the west of us, that we turned east and became embroiled in Oakland Good Friday traffic.

I’d studied the road atlas for several days leading up to the journey. We’d studied it together the night before. I’d memorized every route and bridge leading out of Alameda County and planned for every eventuality except the one that transpired.

After we left the campsite south of San Francisco I sat with the atlas on my lap and plotted our course inch worming my finger up the page, not daring to read a book or magazine, play on the laptop or daydream.

Maybe I daydreamed a little. We passed the top of the famous Lombard Steet on the streetcar, I took a photo and didn't even know it until I downloaded it! I should do more homework on our destinations like Mona Lisa!
Maybe I daydreamed a little. While on a trolley car I’d snapped a photo not realizing it was the top of the famous Lombard Street until I downloaded it. I should do more homework on our destinations like Mona Lisa.

On the outskirts of Oakland I began to chant directives. We stay on 880 North. We don’t want 80 West. We don’t want 80 East. We do want 580 West,” and repeated it several times to plant it in my brain, and hopefully Jimmy’s.

When I’d chanted myself into a trance and was staring fiercely at the map Jimmy said, “The sign says take I980 for 580 West.”

I looked up too late to see the sign. “980? We don’t want 980. We do want 580 West, though.”

“Should I turn off?”

“I don’t think we should go that way.”

“Should I stay on this road?”

“I don’t know now.”

“The exit is coming up. Should I turn off?”

“Y-y-y-y-ye . . . Um-m-m-m . . . N-n-n-n-n . . .”

“Say something!!”

“YES!” And Jimmy wrenched the wheel to the right with our trailer snapping smartly round to follow us. “Oh no, this isn’t right. We’re going east. According to the map we should be going north.”

“Oh great. Now look,” he said with that Dammit! look on his face. Six lanes of traffic was coming to a standstill ahead of us.

“We should have stayed on the road we were on,” I whined, wanting but not daring to blame Jimmy for making me say yes when I knew I should have said no.

Oakland drivers have a bit of southern California driving mania about them and they were changing lanes in a wild free-for-all across our bows.

Other road users don’t account for the fact that we have 7,500 pounds of rolling stock slamming into our rear end every time Jimmy brakes. If Jimmy tailgates, he’s on edge. If he leaves a safe braking distance between us and the car in front someone nips into it in their bid to gain 50 feet and he’s still tailgating. He was now displaying his don’t-mess-with-me rigid posture behind the wheel but trying to remain cool.

“There’s a sign for 80 West,” he said helpfully. “Should I go that way?”

Now let me see. Hmmm. Whoops. Too late!

“DO NOT TAKE 80 WEST!” I shouted. “Don’t take 80 West,” I repeated a tad more calmly. We didn’t want 80 West. That much I knew. That was all I knew. That was the way to the Golden Gate Bridge via central San Francisco. The traffic jam gave me a chance to study the map. “I think I can see what we’ve done.”

“You’re priceless.”

“I’d like to see you navigate through this mess.”

“I can’t. I have to drive.”

“Well that’s lucky for you. I always get to take the blame,” and fumed for a moment until I saw the sign I‘d been praying for, “580 West! Keep to the right. If we can get on 580 West we’ll be okay.” Gleeful now, I informed Jimmy, “I know where we are now. We‘re on Eastshore Freeway.”

“Brilliant.” How can he infuse so much sarcasm into a single word?

Once we were on 580 West I relaxed a little and attempted to lighten the mood.

“Right! That’s got rid of the 80 West specter. At least we’re not going to get snarled up in San Francisco today.” Silence. Not even acknowledgement that I have spoken.

Couldn't he chill and remember our cruise on San Francisco Bay past Coit Tower?
Couldn’t he chill and remember our cruise on San Francisco Bay past Coit Tower?

So I tried again. “We just need to avoid 80 East or we’ll end up in New York! Hahaha.” Jimmy didn’t join in.

 . . . . or remember this view of the street(s) of San Francisco?
Couldn’t he relax now and remember this view of the street(s) of San Francisco?

“There’s the Golden Gate Bridge across the bay. You can have a last look.” Jimmy turned his head. At least his hearing was still functioning.

For the eagle-eyed among you, this isn't the Golden Gate Bridge at all, but once on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge we, no I, was happy to think it was. It's the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Can you understand my confusion?
For the eagle-eyed among you, this isn’t the Golden Gate Bridge at all, but once on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge we, no I, was happy to think it was. It’s the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Can you understand my confusion?

We’d towed the trailer over the Golden Gate on a previous trip. We’d “sailed” under it on a bay cruise. That day we’d given it a slightly wider berth than planned.

Sailing under the Golden Gate on a more relaxed day.
Sailing under the Golden Gate on a happier day.

Once ensconced on the picturesque route 101 going north I knew my map reading expertise (questionable that day, granted) wouldn’t be needed for another 100 miles or so, so traced our route back to study my booboo.

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. This is the right one!
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. This is the right one!

Where my wits had deserted me was at the confluence of five – that’s FIVE – interstate highways in a city of nearly half million people on a holiday weekend.

I think we’re lucky to still be married. Lucky probably isn’t the word Jimmy would use.

Can you see where he’s taking me?

Can you see where he's taking me?

Click on the picture and all will become clear!

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49 thoughts on “Your SatNav is Shouting!

  1. Fantastic post and a wonderful revisit for me to SF! Wonderful photo of the Bay Bridge – – my all time favorite bridge – it’s so delicate and pretty! And one of my favorite memories is our family bicycling across the GG Bridge and gliding down into Sausalito! Heaven!
    You are living my dream, which I hope to make a reality in the next few years!
    Love your blog! Great photos!


  2. 😀 I love reaing bout other people going through the same crap a us when we’re on the road. PF screams at me “do I take this exit, do I take this exit???” whilst I’m reading a book in the passenger seat. By the time I’ve grabbed the map and turned it sideways so it’s going the same way as me (if you get what I mean) we have am ready passed the exit, and PF is bashing the steering wheel in distress. Rule of thumb: FORWARD PLANNING 🙂


    1. As occupants of the passenger seat, whether capable navigators or not, we are expected to know exactly where we are and what turn to take AT ALLTIMES. Anything less is unforgivable at least until all parties have had a glass of wine!


  3. i’m starting to think of your experiences as warnings for me 🙂 There was a time I thought RVing would be a fun thing for us to do. I’m pretty sure now that our marriage isn’t strong enough to handle it. It can get tense just being in a car together 🙂
    I gulped when I saw the sign for the twisting road! Yikes.
    I think you are both saints!!


    1. I’m thinking of doing a series of photos of National Park. Lovely views might put your mind at rest. We’re not always terrorized. To calm yourself down, put Lombard Street, San Francisco in Google images. Oooo! Pretty! But definitely not a road for an RV.


  4. I couldn’t help but laugh as Terry and I had a very similar conversation when we towed our rig through San Francisco. I am directionally challenged so me trying to make snap decisions on directions while Terry is driving is a bit stressful, to say the least.


    1. My navigational skills are reasonable but only when the roads ahead match the roads on my map (and in my mind). My everlasting cry is, “That’s not on the map!” That doesn’t hold any water with himself when we’re in heavy traffic and I’m panicked and useless!


  5. Oh boy, I am a wreck having followed your hair raising highway woes since you wrote it so vividly. I know it’s funny on reflection (except maybe for Jimmy) but doesn’t sound like fun at the time.


    1. It’s definitely not fun at the time – stomach cramps, shallow breathing, terror – and I’m not even driving! I really want to curl up in the back and shut my eyes but I think himself likes me to suffer with him! 😯


  6. Sorry for laughing because I know how stressful this situation can be. We had a very similar experience trying to go through Chicago…not fun at all. No more big city driving!!! But you certainly did a great job writing this:)


  7. Hey, you mentioned my name! Thanks but had we known each other before attempting to drive in San Francisco, you probably have called me. That is my nick on the woods, and Im telling you I rarely drive there, much less bring Betsy. That is a nasty crisscrossing freeways that you have to navigate that as what you have said must learn pretty fast and good for that is madness.

    I used to work in Oakland for several years but lived in the East Bay. We take the BART train if we want to go to the city, I refuse to drive unless its a weekend.

    This is a hilarious piece and I can so relate.

    Thank you for taking me back to my old stomping grounds. Missed the city but not the traffic.


    1. Thanks for that ML. We had to get from point A south of SF to point B north of it. We never managed it with ease! In fact, we avoided California altogether on our last trip north. But love it really!


  8. This really made me smile! My sister lives in SF and refuses to learn to drive, now I know why! A few years ago (pre kids) Tom and I went on a road trip in the US and Canada. When we were in SF we decided to ride a tandem over the Golden Gate Bridge. The women who hired it to us persuaded us to carry on beyond the bridge and go and visit the giant redwoods. What she didn’t tell us was that they were MILES away and up a mountain (probably not technically a mountain but it blooming well felt like one!) I do recall taking the bike to a bar and ordering cocktails which made the ride home more bearable but my butt still aches thinking about that day!


  9. Driving in San Fran is an experience. 1st time in San Fran and within less than an hour was pulled over by a motorcycle cop – supposedly made an illegal turn – we parked the car and did not drive again until we left the city – ha! Happy Weekend:)


    1. Driving in SF in the Tahoe was tricky enough but towing the travel trailer through the financial district, past the tourist traps and over the Golden Gate, as in previous post, was a nightmare! Anyway, hope you enjoyed your time there. 🙂


  10. I howled with laughter reading this – it’s like reading about travel with my husband, so similar. I know we were trying to head from Scotland to north of Manchester and we were arguing the toss in the front when my step-daughter in the back started laughing and told us we sounded like her grandparents, Bryan’s mum and dad! By the way, I enjoy your blog so much I’ve nominated it for the Blog of the Year Award, as per my post:
    Do with it what you will, I cut corners because of health challenges and being able to cope, but if you wish to accept this award, great, because you deserve it (or is it your long-suffering husband???), and if you don’t, I won’t mind and will desist from sending you scurrilous comments! Honest!


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