This happened on the way to Santa Fe Station to meet Leo and play in the tournament, as described in my post here. Since I had only been to that casino one time, probably hadn’t driven there myself, and it had been at least 10 years (probably a lot more than that), I needed help getting there. I find it easier to use either Mapquest or Google Maps rather than the GPS/map program on my cell phone, so I researched it the night before, and using Mapquest thought I had a good route. In the morning I made the mistake of double checking Google Maps. There was some overlap in the routes and also some differences. Mapquest didn’t even suggest taking the I-15 to the Spaghetti Bowl (more on the Spaghetti Bowl to come) whereas it was the first choice on Google Maps.
Thinking the Spaghetti Bowl could be jammed any time of day (I’ve seen it), I chose the route they both had that would go north on Decatur and then turn left onto US-95. I don’t have a printer with me when I travel, just the laptop, but the directions seemed so simple it hardly mattered. The last program I had on my screen was the one from Google, so I wrote down those instructions, assuming they were the same as the ones on Mapquest once I was on US-95.
So, having given myself more than enough time, I headed up Decatur. The goal was to get to Santa Fe by 11 AM, because if I registered for the tournament before 11, I would get an extra 5k in tournament chips, plus I had to eat first. I was doing fine when I approached the freeway while driving north on Decatur and right before a traffic signal I saw a sign that said basically, “US-95” and a left turn arrow. In other words, turn left to get on the freeway in the direction I wanted. This sign was right before this signal so the clear implication was that you had to turn left at the signal I was approaching in order to get on the freeway.
So, following the sign, I did indeed get into the left turn only lane, and at this intersection there was an actually a cement island separating the left lane from the traffic continuing on straight. It was one of those “turn on left arrow only” set-ups so while the rest of the traffic continued going, I got stuck at the red light for the left turn only lane. As I came to a stop, I looked ahead and saw the exact same sign that I had already passed right on the other side of the intersection I was now stopped at. I now had time to look at the street I was about to turn left onto—and that was my only option—it was a residential street and not at all a freeway onramp or a street that looked like it would lead to a freeway onramp. I looked back at the sign ahead of me and realized that I had turned too soon. I had been fooled by a goddamned misleading sign that was poorly placed to imply that you had to turn right where I had and not where I should have.
And I was just stuck there for several minutes. The cement island prevented me from even considering an illegal move to get back onto northbound traffic, and the fact that I was turning from a major artery to a dinky residential street made the light last forever. Plus when I finally made my turn, I had to wait another eternity waiting again to make the left turn from the residential street back onto Decatur. As I was sitting there fuming, I recalled that this was not the first time I’d been screwed over by a misleading sign placed by the wonderful folks at the Nevada Dept. of Transportation (NDOT). The previous time happened many years ago and I still hold a grudge.
I mentioned the “Spaghetti Bowl”—an infamous Vegas freeway interchange, where the I-15 meets US-95 & US-93 and now I think the I-515; it’s just a whole mess of freeways coming together.
As you near it, you have options like heading to Reno, Sacramento, Utah, Downtown Vegas, Summerlin, etc. So one day I had the notion to head from the Strip area out to Summerlin to check out the then new Suncoast Casino. I took the I-15 knowing I had to take Summerlin Parkway to get there. As I approached the the Spaghetti Bowl, a sign gave all the possible future options of the coming interchange, but the destinations were not listed in order, in other words, they just listed all your options willy nilly and didn’t place the destinations over the lanes you actually needed to get to where you were headed. As it turned out (and I’m just struggling to remember the details so I might have it wrong), I needed to be towards the left to get to Summerlin but the first sign I saw had the word Summerlin all the way over towards the right, indicating (to me) that I needed to be in the right lane to get where I was headed. Although this was counterintuitive, I moved over several lanes of traffic to get over to the right, and it was not easy as there was a fair amount of traffic. Once there, I saw the next sign, which now had arrows and the destinations properly located on the signs, indicating I had left the lane I needed to be in and was now in the absolute wrong lane for getting to where I was headed.
|The Spaghetti Bowl|
Traffic had gotten worse as everyone was playing musical lanes and there was no way for me to safely get out of the lane I was in. I ended up staying on the I-15 and heading straight to Utah! Traffic remained so bad that I was stuck in it until I actually arrived in Salt Lake City, so I just stayed there for several years and became a Mormon during that time.
Ok, that’s not true. I managed to figure out what had happened and was able to exit the I-15 after a few miles (as I recall, there is a long stretch before an exit, or perhaps I wasn’t completely convinced for awhile that I had actually taken the wrong road) and reverse course and finally found my way.
For weeks, make that years, I complained bitterly about the misleading road signs to anyone who would listen, and many who wouldn’t. It became a running joke among my friends that the road to Summerlin—or the Suncoast—went through Utah. Whenever anyone suggested heading to the Suncoast, I would always object, saying I didn’t feel like driving to Utah.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one who complained. In a column they have (or used to have) in the local Vegas paper, The RJ, called “Road Warrior” they once printed a letter from a local who was similarly screwed over. And the columnist indicated that he agreed, he had gotten similar complaints, and that he had protested to NDOT and finally got them to fix the sign. So if you head north on the I-15, it no longer tells you the road to Summerlin leads through Utah.
So this was the second time I’d been screwed over by NDOT in my life. I guess I’m lucky; if I actually lived in Vegas I’d have probably been screwed over by them many more times. OTOH, I’ve been screwed over by Caltrans, the CA equivalent, more times than I can recall.
But that’s not the end of my road misery. Back to the present, I made it onto the US-95 and thought I was following the instructions I’d gotten from Google Maps. It said take the Craig Rd exit, turn right, turn right on Rancho Rd and it should be easy to find from there.
So that’s what I did. And I sure as hell didn’t see any casino. I was now driving more or less southbound on Rancho Rd, so I was more or less driving back in the direction I came from. Something was wrong. While driving down Rancho, I started fumbling with my cellphone to try to get my map program up and running on it. But before I did, I noticed what appeared to be a big casino up ahead. As I got closer to it, I could see there were actually two casinos up ahead—Fiesta and Texas Station. Neither one of those, however, is the same as the Santa Fe Station that I was looking for.
I was close enough to just drive into the Fiesta parking lot. From there, I was able to phone Leo and tell him I was lost, I had thought to ask for a phone number in case something like this happened. He confirmed I was lost, I should have turned left on Rancho from Craig Rd, not right. I was so mad at myself for getting the directions wrong. He volunteered to buy my early entry into the tournament for me so I could get the extra chips. I headed back up the other way on Rancho and found it, no problem, just a bit past Craig Rd.
You already read the story of the tournament, again, that’s here. When I got back to my hotel room, I powered up the laptop just to confirm that I had written down the directions wrong. But when I got on Google Maps, it turns out I hadn’t gotten them wrong at all. Google Maps gave me the wrong directions. That’s right, folks, Google Maps was wrong!
They have Santa Fe Station south of Craig Rd, when it is actually north of Craig Rd. I then double checked Mapquest and they had it exactly right. In fact, if I had only noticed, they had the same directions Leo had told me when I met him. I should have taken one more exit north on US-95, then turn right and it would have been right there.
|Google Maps Error, Santa Fe Station is North of Craig Rd.|
So I was screwed over not just by NDOT, but by Google Maps! Are you freakin’ kidding me? Of course I reported this problem to Google, but it’s been almost a week and I haven’t heard back from them, and as I just checked, they still had the directions (and the location of the Santa Fe Station) wrong.
So I got lost thanks to NDOT, I got lost thanks to Google Maps, but at least I won the damn tournament (ok, a three-way chop for 1st).