Michelle’s Travel Adventures Continue…

MapQuest is my hero. I know a lot of people don’t like it, but MapQuest speaks my language, and since I often travel to places I’ve never been–almost always alone–I use it all the time. I enter my home address and my destination, and it gives me directions, complete with the mileage I’ll be driving on each street. It’s a thing of beauty.

Now before I embark into another “Michelle the flake” story, let me explain a few things…

First, something happened to my car’s console lighting when I had the tires changed after my tire blowout incident. When I turn on my headlights, my console lighting dims much more than it used to before said tire change, meaning it’s difficult to see my radio/CD player settings, my speed, and my odometer–especially at night when I’m supposed to be using the headlights.

Second, I have 3 odometer settings: lifetime mileage, Trip A, and Trip B. (Don’t you just love computerized odometers? You have no idea if you’re looking at your car’s lifetime mileage or your trip mileage, and which trip were you using anyway?) I can toggle between each setting using a little button on my dashboard. I usually use either Trip A or Trip B so I can record my mileage for tax purposes, and the beauty is that I simply look at my MapQuest directions (turn right on State Road 80, 12.4 miles), check my odometer, and add 12.4 miles–meaning I know my street is coming up when my odometer hits that number. Again, it’s a thing of beauty.

So this morning, I started driving my 55.17 miles to Alva Middle School–with only 4 hours of sleep (which is quickly becoming a pre-speaking tradition). I’m a safe driver, so I’ve turned on my headlights. Then I turned east on State Road 80–heading right into the rising sun. I squinted as I checked my mileage 4740.6 (or something like that), added 12.4 miles, and the knew I could relax for a while until the odometer hit 4751. (I start looking for my next turn about a mile ahead of time so I don’t miss it.) About 10 minutes later, I knew it was time to check the odometer: 4741.5 (or something like that).

Wait! I’ve only gone a mile? I’ve been driving for ten minutes going at least 50.

I looked back at my odometer–squinting because of the sun and because of the bad lighting on my console–and my stomach sank when I realized:

My car’s lifetime mileage setting doesn’t use decimal points. The Trip A and Trip B settings use decimal points, but for some reason, the lifetime mileage setting uses integers only.

I had been driving for who knows how long and who knows how far. I hadn’t been paying attention because I was relying on my odometer, which I couldn’t see clearly, to tell me how far I had gone. Silly, I know. Relying on an odometer…

Oh, and did I mention that I only had ten minutes to make it to the school before I had to speak?

My saving grace: I spoken at the school once before, and I knew I had yet to pass one of the landmarks I was keeping an eye out for. If I had never been to the school, I would have been forced to pull into the nearest gas station to ask for directions, and you know how much I hate stopping at gas stations.


About M. B. Weston

M. B. Weston is an award-winning fantasy, pulp, young adult, steampunk, and paranormal author. Her attention to procedure and detail gives her works an authentic gritty, military feel that takes an adventure tale to the level of a true page-turner. Weston’s writing attracts both fantasy and non-fantasy readers, and her audience ranges from upper-elementary students to adults. A gifted orator, Weston has been invited as a guest speaker to numerous writing and science fiction/fantasy panels at conventions across the US, including DragonCon, BabelCon, NecronomiCon, and Alabama Phoenix Festival. She has served on panels with such authors as Sherrilyn Kenyon, J. F. Lewis, Todd McCaffrey, and Jonathan Maberry. Weston has spoken to thousands of students and adults about the craft of writing and has been invited as the keynote speaker at youth camps and at several schools throughout the US.
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