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Monday, April 28, 2014

Sam Houston, Santa Anna, and On Star!

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for a paper map

If Sam Houston and Santa Anna had relied on On Star for directions, the Battle of San Jacinto might never have taken place and I would now be writing with a Spanish accent.  I shall explain.

The twelve-year-old missed the class field trip to the San Jacinto Monument due to a schedule conflict.  In a very small school it is good to have common reference points so you don’t feel left out.  So I decided to take both children to the San Jacinto Monument during San Jacinto Days when the most decisive battle of the Texas Revolution is re-enacted.

We left home at 7a.m. for the three hour trip.  When we hit the outskirts of Houston at 9:30, I hit the On Star button for directions.  The festival did not start until 10 a.m. so we should be on time.  I followed the directions and ended up at the Lynchburg Ferry only the ferry was closed for the day.  I backtracked and consulted On Star again.

Maybe they couldn’t understand my Texas accent.  I carefully spelled S-A-N    J-A-C-I-N-T-O   M-O-N-U-M-E-N-T.  I was routed back onto the six lane freeway and given instructions to make a U- turn when it was safe to do so.  On a six lane freeway??? Fifteen miles later I turned around and ended back at the closed ferry…again.  This time I gave On Star the exact address and explained that the Lynchburg Ferry was closed.  I was routed back onto the freeway and six miles later I heard “You have arrived at your destination”.  In the middle of a six lane freeway??

We could see the 580 foot obelisk.  We just couldn’t get there.  I told the nine-year-old to keep the monument in sight.  I stopped at a convenience store for directions.  The proprietor was on the phone.  I think he had just switched to Vonage because he was reconnecting to his 384 relatives in India.  He didn’t know what the San Jacinto Monument was.  I was about to point to it out the window but the fog had obscured my landmark.

The twelve-year-old had brought up Google Map on the I-pad.  The blue line extended past the Lynchburg Ferry exit so we decided to follow that.  After ten miles, the pin on the Google Map had not moved and none of the streets matched what was on the map.  Time to make another stop at a convenience store.

“Do you have a map of Houston?”

“No. No map.    I Google, yes?”


Two things prevented me from taking him outside and pointing to the monument.  One, I think his brother was calling him from the other convenience store and two, he was standing behind bullet proof glass.  Time to leave.

With the monument now on our right instead of on our left, it was time to stop before the fog came in again or I arrived at the Gulf of Mexico.  I spotted the San Jacinto Mall.  Surely somebody there would know how to get to the San Jacinto Monument. The lady I asked gave me more convoluted directions than On Star.  I thanked her and contacted Dr. Hubby.

“I can’t get to the monument.  The ferry is closed.”

“What are you doing at the Galveston ferry?”

“I’m not at the Galveston ferry.”

“Where are you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well stop at a convenience store and get a map.”


It is now 10:30.  We have been driving in a semi-circle for an hour and thirty minutes.  I called On Star…again.

“Yes, Mrs. Worsham I see you are not at the monument yet.”

“Noooooo, I am not.  Now listen very carefully.  I will speak slowly.  I can SEE the monument. Don’t tell me to turn left; it is a one way street.  The Lynchburg Ferry is closed, no matter how many times you send me there. Ferry Not Working!  And there is no monument in the middle of a six lane freeway.  Get me to the battle before there is another one right here."
“I am sending an alternate to the alternate route to your vehicle now.  Have a nice day and thank you for using On Star.”

Like on Gilligan’s Island, our three hour tour took four and a half hours.  We made it to Parking lot D.  We boarded the shuttle bus that would take us to the monument.

“Don’t forget.  You are parked in ‘D’ as in Dog” said our driver.

Another D word immediately popped in my head. 

Fortunately Sam Houston and Santa Anna relied on real stars for directions and the Battle of San Jacinto took place on April 21, 1836.  Ironically the actual battle lasted only 18 minutes but finding the battlefield 178 years later with GPS, On Star, and Google Map, took us an hour and a half.

As we were driving home, the sounds of the day’s battle were still ringing in our ears.

“Remember the Alamo!”

                                  “Remember Goliad!”

                                                                                  “Remember the ferry is closed!”


Joanne Noragon said...

Sometimes, if I know where I am going, I take alternate routes, to punish Helen (we've named her!) and make her recalculate. I've pulled into shopping centers to make a U turn just to hear her moan "unnamed road, unnamed road!" Two can play this game.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

You have more patience than I.

Jody Worsham said...

Sometimes I don't have a choice...patiece or fit throwing.