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How Do You Make Your Way Around Belmont?

Vince likes his driving directions full of facts and details.

When my wife returned from the new building our doctors moved to, I wanted her to fill me in on all the driving details while they were fresh in her mind.

She refused to give me driving directions. She dislikes giving me directions because I want to know everything when I travel to a new place.

Am I traveling north? How far do I travel? What landmarks (restaurants are my favorite) will I pass on the way?

My wife is a minimalist when it comes to driving directions. For her, good directions are given without mentioning landmarks, cardinal directions, and any mention of distance traveled.

She prefers to know street names, left or right turns and nothing else. She says focusing on those other details only adds to the confusion of traveling somewhere for the first time.

“If you will not give me directions, is it too much to ask for a detailed description of the office building?” I ask her.

“It’s an office building,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.

“Am I looking for a low-slung building or a building with multiple stories?”

“Are you expecting to see a skyscraper, Vince?”

“No, but I don’t want surprises.”

When we first moved to Belmont last year, we had intense driving direction arguments all the time. One of the joys of moving to a new place is that you must find your way to stores, restaurants, doctors, movie theaters, car repair, etc.

Then like everyone, you fall into a routine. You go to the same places enough to get around without worry.

But lately, however, it’s been one new place after another. In addition to our doctors betraying us, school activities have taken us throughout San Mateo County.

“The kids are going to Gunn on Friday,” my wife said. “Do you know where it is?”

“I know where PALY is,” I said. “PALY is right near Stanford. Remember when we went to the basketball game at Stanford? Well, PALY sits near where you turn off El Camino to head to the basketball arena at Stanford.”

“Vince, we’re talking about Gunn. Stay focused.”

“I’ll find it . . . eventually,” I said.

“Well, they need to be there at 4. So you’ll need to get there without getting lost,” she said.

I was forced to look at satellite views of the area to figure out just where it was. Once I did, I wanted to share this information with my wife, just in case she needed to go to Gunn one day.

“Gunn is near the Fry’s Electronics we go to,” I said. “Remember?”

“I don’t remember, Vince.”

“How could you forget? It’s the Fry’s with the western theme. It looks like it was built in an old western clothing store. There’s all that kooky western stuff in the store,” I said.

“I don’t remember,” she said, shaking her head.

“How could you forget?”

“What does this have to do with Gunn?”

“It has to do with the fact that it is on the way to Gunn. It has to do with our shared history. A history you obviously care nothing about,” I said.

“Okay, but I don’t know where Fry’s Electronics is,” she said. “Why do you insist on telling me all this stuff that doesn’t matter?”

“It does matter,” I said. “It’s just that you don’t want to know.”

“I don’t want to know because it doesn’t matter,” my wife said.

She upset me. So I had to knock her about her directions.

“You never finished telling me about the doctor’s office. Is parking free? What floor is the doctor office on? Do I walk or take an elevator?”

“Here, I took a picture of the building,” my wife said showing me her cell phone. “Are you happy now?”

I was.

Well, almost.

I still need to know if there’s a restaurant near the doctor’s office.

Steve Hayes June 09, 2011 at 04:20 PM
I use Google Maps and off I go - easy to pick out landmarks and restaurants - even in places like Costa Rica where there are no street signs. Oh, Gunn is easy - head south on Alameda (same road changes names three times along the way to Santa Cruz, Junipero Serra and Foothill Expressway) and turn left on Arastradero - that is the scenic route. Not too many places to eat along the way but the original Lulus is in West Menlo Park.
Courtney Carreras June 11, 2011 at 10:47 PM
Its the places closer to home that I have trouble with. With the hilly, circular roads here in Belmont, I still find neighborhoods I've never been to, or short-cuts I didn't know about and I've been living here for over 12 years. Its when the kids entered school and had to be driven to various birthday parties at friends' houses that I really started getting to know the Belmont hills. I live in the flats right off of Ralston and so rarely had to venture into the hills prior to that. My husband still gets hopelessly lost.
Vincent Ware June 12, 2011 at 12:10 PM
Hi, Courtney. I've also learned a lot about Belmont because of school activities with the kids. There are days when I drive around just to learn new ways to get around town.

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