Dixie Peach: Lost in My Backyard

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lost in My Backyard

Living in Germany limits my need to drive. I have a car. I drive it every week. But living in the middle of the city means I don't need to drive very often and when I do drive it's only around town. So me taking a little pleasure drive yesterday afternoon was a rare event.

I didn't intend to go far. I drove to a park and walked around a bit and then drove out to a nearby lake. I finally got my fill and it was my intention to turn my car around and head back home when I started on my unexpected tour.

I was on a road where many of the industrial parks that line the river are located when I decided to drive home. It was my intention to drive into one of those industrial parks and make my turn around. As I approached a traffic light I could see the light for the left turn lane was green so figuring that it was as good a place as any I made the left turn.

You know before making that turn it would have been a good idea to realize that it wasn't a street I was turning on to but instead an exit for the Autobahn. The A2 towards Berlin, to be more precise.

Now I'm not frightened of highway driving. You don't live for years in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. without becoming used to highway driving. However there are two considerations here. The first is that a German highway and a highway in the U.S. isn't exactly the same sort of driving and second is the quality of my personal automobile. Perhaps quality isn't the right term. I actually mean the ability of my car to compete on a highway with people driving anywhere between 120 and 180+ kph. I drive a Toyota Econobox Starlet. A 1996 Toyota Starlet. It's not a beat up car at all - it actually has less than 20,000 kilometers (about 12,000 miles). It does, however, have an engine that's probably not larger than my head and I'm not entirely convinced that it's not run by squirrels on an exercise wheel. So as I was on the long exit to the Autobahn I figured that I definitely needed to stay calm and I definitely needed to bury my foot in the floorboard once I reached the top of the exit.

As I was merging into traffic (and thank goodness it was Sunday and therefore no trucks on the Autobahn) I hoped the next exit wouldn't be too far off so I could turn myself around. I was desperately trying to drive between 120 and 130 kph as to not get mowed down and as soon as I saw an exit I made for it as quickly as I could.

This led to the next problem. I had no idea where I was.

Not driving often means I don't know every little village and town that surrounds Magdeburg. In fact I seldom have need to drive outside of Magdeburg. I drive out to Aunt Annoying and Uncle Milquetoast's house, which is about 30 kilometers south of Magdeburg. I sometimes drive to my MIL's cousin's flat which is about 20 kilometers south. And once in a great while I drive about 15 kilometers west to a mall that's located in a suburb-like town outside of Magdeburg. For the most part I have no real need to leave Magdeburg because the vast majority of the shopping I do is right here and so are the vast majority of the people I know. If I do leave town for any real distance I don't even drive and instead take the train. If I know of towns outside of Magdeburg it's usually only because they have a train station there where I've stopped.

I found it appropriate the the town to which I exited was Lostau because I was indeed lost. I don't want to pick on Lostau but it's not much more than a wide space in the road, except they do have a lung clinic there. If you have lung cancer, you're probably going to do time in Lostau. Turning around somewhere and heading back towards the Autobahn proved to be difficult because there wasn't an appropriate place to turn around and because there was a big ass Mercedes wanting to to crawl into my trunk. I decided to drive on and find a parking lot in which I could turn around, knowing that already my search of parking lots had gotten me into this fix in the first place. I did find a grocery store but it was at the point where the road was torn up all to hell and only one lane of traffic could drive at a time. By the time I could get out of the construction area I was also out of Lostau.

Keep in mind that I was not all that far out of Magdeburg. Maybe...I dunno. Ten miles? I also knew I was heading south and that if I was heading south I should eventually come up to the Bundesstrasse 1 which would take me back to Magdeburg. My fear was coming to some fork in the road that wouldn't indicate to me which way to turn to find the B1 and me becoming snarled up in country road after country road. My other fear was me either driving so fast that I would perhaps miss any important turn I would need to make or driving slow enough to piss off every village rat on a Sunday outting.

After another few kilometers I saw a sign pointing me in the direction of Magdeburg and I drove directly to the B1. Looking back on it I shouldn't have feared. If there's one thing that Germans are it's sign-happy. They love to point out in which direction everything is located. Once I was on the B1 heading west I knew I had nothing more about which to worry and by the time I had made it to Heyrothsberge, a town just outside Magdeburg's city limits, I could see the spires of Magdeburg's cathedral - the cathedral that's probably not more than a kilometer from my flat.

After making it home I walked up to my flat, walked straight into the kitchen, grabbed the bottle of Absolut Citron that was in the refrigerator, took a swig directly from the bottle and was then ready to go into the living room to let B know I was home. I had earned that swig.

As it turns out, despite B living his entire life in Magdeburg, he's never been to Lostau himself and wouldn't actually know how to drive there. I have one up on the native.

Still I should have just stayed home and knitted.



Blogger C N Heidelberg said...

I can't believe it was called Lostau. You can't make this stuff up!!

10:06 AM  
Blogger Diane Mandy said...

I can so relate to this post. I find driving here very hard mostly because of speed.I do it (and only with a fully functioning GPS as a guide) but I don't like it. Not at all.

GLad you made it home safe and sound.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Martina said...

I'm amazed at the mileage on your car - I drive about 15.000 km per year, probably more now that I work in Darmstadt. Then again, I live out in the middle of nowhere and have to drive for almost anything I need.

5:39 AM  
Blogger sari said...

oh my gosh. i'd have probably ended up in another country, with my luck!

7:36 PM  
Blogger Sheila said...

Enjoyed reading about your trek off the beaten path. I love to get lost. It's great fodder for blogging.

4:51 PM  

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