Today my parents left on their ten-day cruise, and I got to have a bit of comedy related to my need to pick them up when they get back. (Don't let me forget.) (Also don't let it blizzard or ice storm or anything else that's meteorologically suspicious go on that day.) My major concern was that I have explicit directions on how to get to wherever their ship is expected to arrive. I had explained this to Dad several times before, and he suggested I could just look it up on Mapquest. Well, perhaps I could, but first, Dad draws much better maps -- very nicely blending directions, symbolic maps, and representational icons of important features like the Meineke on the corner (there is a Meineke on any corner at which you're to turn, according to Dad's directions; I suspect whenever he sees a Meineke he makes a turn). Second, I didn't know what dock they were leaving from or arriving to. All I knew for sure is it was somewhere in the New York Metropolitan Area.
It turned out to be the Passenger Ship Terminal, very helpful to people who know where that is. (It's the west side of Manhattan, from west 46th through 54th streets, just off the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, which was recently stolen.) I like New York City, but from afar; on average I've gone to the city less than one time per year, including to see tapings of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and while I have a vague idea of locations of things I really only know a brief walking distance from Penn Station, and I never drove in the city before. I pressed for exact directions on how to get from the Turnpike to the Passenger Ship Terminal, and Dad asked if I could get to the New Jersey Turnpike. As if there were a way to drive in New Jersey and not get to the Turnpike.
It turns out all I need is to take the Turnpike to the Lincoln Tunnel, get to the westernmost avenue in Manhattan, then go to about 54th Street. Happily Manhattan is easier to navigate than the average shopping mall. Mom pointed out that maybe more relevant today is how to get back, and Dad explained I could drive the West Side Highway south to the Lincoln Tunnel, or the Holland Tunnel, or I could go north to the George Washington Bridge, or I could listen to the news radio and pick the route that sounded least crowded, or I could ... (et cetera). I drove south and followed the signs to the Lincoln Tunnel, until I noticed that the signs had me driving east across Manhattan and there were no more signs for the Lincoln Tunnel. After getting a lovely picture of the Empire State Building half-hidden behind one of those anonymous supporting skyscrapers I just took the next couple turns left and what do you know, there was a car entrance for the Lincoln Tunnel. It turns out the Lincoln Tunnel, Manhattan end, is a Markov process.
Trivia: By 1846, the P&O steamship line had 2500 camels, 45 horses, and an uncertain number of donkeys in use carrying passengers and cargo across Suez. Source: The Story of P&O, David Howarth, Stephen Howarth.
Currently Reading: The World's Banker, Sebastian Mallaby.