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The View from the East End (19)

By Inspector Hopkins

August 14, 2005

"The Many Facets of Sherlockiana"

Part 9: Sherlockian Traveling

On the heels of the previous series about Scion Societies, and inspired by Don and Brad’s efforts in Texas, I thought a few words about traveling itself would be in order.

For myself at least, one of the enjoyable facets of Sherlockiana, and an integral part of attending scion meetings and other events, is actually getting to them. I consider it a legitimate facet because, like Electronic Sherlockiana, it forces me to learn new things and to get up off my couch.

I really love driving in my "hansom"!

But sometimes getting to a new location or going through unfamiliar territory can be a daunting challenge for me. Enter "Mapquest". With a few keystrokes, and using accurate addresses, I learned how to plot a course for each and every one of the meetings and events I have attended. As I follow Mapquest’s route along on my screen, I pick out the major points and reduce their directions down to as few as possible. (Sometimes they tend to be overly detailed). Next, I print these directions on a sheet of paper in nice large letters so I can see them as I drive. Finally, I double check each step by clicking on its "Map" button, verifying the direction, then making any necessary changes on my own printed sheet. Once I am satisfied, I make up a set of reverse directions in the same manner. Then I save my printed sheet with the name of the Scion or Event, and the address and phone number of the location.

I really hate getting lost in my "hansom"!

Most of the time, directions are given out with the announcement and/or are available from the scion’s website, if they have one. I always check their directions against those of Mapquest by following the scion’s directions and using Mapquest’s "interactive" screen. Many times, the scion’s directions are better, because they are based on an actual human being’s experience in getting there. Mapquest blindly finds the shortest possible distance between the starting and ending addresses, but the shortest route may not necessarily be the best one. Also, I have found Mapquest to be flat-out wrong on one or two occasions, so the wary Sherlockian traveler should take this into account.

Thus, armed with directions firmly in hand, and my "hansom" all washed, waxed, and fueled up, I’m ready to go! Along the way, I make notes of tolls, distances, time, and any irregularities in the directions. This information gets added to my printed sheet, which eventually is filed in my portfolio. Although I might have some difficulties the first time out to a particular Sherlockian event, I can assure every one of you out there, that my second trip to it runs as smooth as Josiah Amberley’s right shoe!

Over the past year or so, I have especially enjoyed driving down through Maryland to the Watson’s Tin Box meetings, and to Paul Churchill’s house. But the drive to the Bar of Gold meeting was particularly pleasant as I recall. It even touched upon the fabled Route 50, which can take you clear across the country. The roads are smooth and flat, and the scenery is so nice. I take back what I said earlier about the tolls they charge you on Route 95 through Maryland. It’s worth every penny. For me, it’s the closest I’ll ever get to driving on the Autobahn! I always enjoy any trip to this beautiful state. These are 300 mile round trips for me, but they seem like rides around the block when I compare them to my yearly excursion out to Fairborn Ohio for the "Dayton Symposium".

Every March, I gather up my luggage, my directions, an armful of CD’s, and then I hit the road. And, each year, I make another improvement to my "hansom" so that the trip gets even better. This time, I upgraded all four of my factory speakers to Infinity 5x9’s. Believe me, folks, there was nothing quite as exhilarating as bombing along the Pennsylvania Turnpike at 70 mph with the Who’s "Live at Leeds" album blasting at full volume!

Feeling as one with my "hansom", with her throbbing dual exhaust pipes (last year’s improvement), united with nature, and lulled by the rugged western Pennsylvania and Ohio scenery as it whizzes past, I settle into serenity, and the hours of travel just melt by!

Next year, I want to get the cool chrome 18" Mustang Cobra R wheels. But we’ll see.

I might even skip the Dayton Symposium and go for the next "Holmes Under the Arch" Symposium out in St. Louis instead. That’ll take two days to get there, so maybe I’d better get some more David Bowie CD’s first.

Until next time, and wishing you happy Sherlockian traveling thoughts, I am,

Yours faithfully,