Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Southern Expressway

Tensions ran high and confrontations were inevitable as old archrivals LK and Honor the GPS vied to give directions to our South Australia accommodation. Our flight from Cairns landed about 11:30, and we plugged Honor into the lighter slot, telling her to find the best route to Black Rabbit Cottage in McLaren Flats.

No problems at first. Honor had us take a left, a right, and soon we were on our way to the cottage. In fact, LK was working with Honor, adding details that I could not see on the screen. I even commended both of them for resolving their earlier difficulties and working together well as a team.

And that, of course, is when disaster struck. "In 50 yards, turn right," Honor said. But when I pulled into the turn lane, there was a barricade across the road with a stop sign and another sign that read "Southern Expressway Closed".

"Don't worry," Honor's newfound partner, LK, said. "Go down the road a ways and Honor will recalculate the route."

Which she did, except that every time Honor had a new route it ended in failure as she told us to enter the Southern Expressway. No matter what entrance ramp we were trying, there were signs telling us the Southern Expressway was closed.

And Honor, who is after all still a rookie, began making rookie mistakes. She started telling us to turn around, to go in circles, to try another entrance ramp. And LK ended the temporary truce, "She's hopeless," she said. "Just go and we will figure it out ourselves." She muted Honor.

In the end it was not all that hard to get to McLaren Vale. We just started following the road signs to McLaren Vale, figuring that if we did that we had a pretty good shot of ending up there. And we did. At which point there was an information center and we pulled over to find out how to get to our cottage.

LK came out armed with a tourist map and directions from the woman at the info center. She was ready to finish this mission. Unfortunately, it was only a few minutes before LK declared, "This map is no good. It doesn't have half the streets on it." OK, the sentence was slightly longer than that, but her mother reads this and I don't want her to know what her daughter was actually saying.

But LK persevered with the directions she had been given. It was only when we were deep in the middle of nowhere and I began humming the theme from Deliverance that she used a word to describe the information center woman that made me glad we didn't have any sailors in the car, since she would have made them blush.

Anyhow, we turned around, tried another road, saw a sign for a winery that we knew was close to the cottage and were unloading the car within 20 minutes. When we were talking to the owner of the cottage, we told her how hard it been to get here because the GPS kept wanting to take us onto the Southern Expressway, but it was closed.

"Oh," she said, "it's crazy. If you had been a little later, you would have been all right because the expressway only goes one way in the morning and then changes directions in the afternoon. But on the weekends, it reverses that so you have to remember what day it is."

That's right. All our direction dramas and frustrations were because this state actually has a one-way expressway which it switches to the other direction later in the day. Actually, it's even a bit more bizarre than that. Listen to how the government describes it:

The Southern Expressway is a reversible expressway from Main South Road to Noarlunga. Traffic travels in only one direction at a time, with changeover occurring twice a day.

Yep, the famous REVERSIBLE EXPRESSWAY, obviously inspired by the ever popular raincoat. And you need to know that when the changeover happens twice a day, they actually shut the sucker down for 90 minutes. So for 3 hours a day, it's not open to any traffic. I guess you could say they are there for you 7 x 21 x 50%.

Oh well, we're here and ready to discover the joys of the McLaren Vale. We already have the names of several vineyards which are MUST-VISITS during our stay. And before we travel again, I will ask Robert to draw upon his extensive management experience and counsel Honor and LK to see if we can get them working together again.

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