Meka got me a TomTom a couple of Christmases ago. I use it all the time even though it occasionally tries to kill me. I was meeting a friend in “beautiful downtown” Burbank for dinner, so I thought I would spend the afternoon driving around Hollywood and take in some of the sights. The first thing I thought of was the Hollywood sign.
Before I left Meka’s parents in Palm Springs, I did a little research online and determined the best place to see the sign was from the Hollywood Reservoir. I checked that out and while I didn’t find an address, I did find a cross street. That was enough for TomTom. I punched it in and away we went. The drive to Los Angeles was pretty uneventful. I have managed it without a TomTom a couple of times in the past. Still, it was nice to have it confirm my driving as I switched from lane to lane to stay on I-10. I veered north onto I-5 and exited onto Gower Street in Hollywood. I could see the Hollywood sign in between the buildings, so I knew I was getting close.
That’s when things started to get a little dicey. I probably should have thought something was up when TomTom asked me to make a 270 degree turn left. I almost missed the street. In between two tall houses was a narrow lane that rose at something like a forty degree angle. TomTom said I was about two miles from my destination, so I sucked it up and put the car into first gear. I drove up through a neighborhood full of houses that – as best as I could determine – had been glued to the side of a cliff. The road narrowed down to about one and a half lanes wide. I gingerly scraped around a number of parked cars (yes, street parking was allowed on the way to the Hollywood sign). I made another hairpin left and a right. Occasionally a car would race down the hill going the other direction. Occasionally I would catch a glimpse of the Hollywood sign growing larger. It was the only thing that kept me following TomTom through this maze.
I think those last two miles took about eleven years. However, I have to admit it was a beautiful view. I parked the rental car and walked up to an overlook covered in sand and gravel. In one direction I could see the Hollywood Reservoir shimmering in the sunlight with the skyscrapers of Los Angeles poking up through the haze beyond. It looked like a shot from Chinatown. In the other direction was the Hollywood sign bracketed by a number of transmission towers. I wandered around a bit, I took some pictures and – finally – I started getting hungry.
I went back to the car and asked TomTom where I could find a bite to eat. It suggested a Subway in nearby Universal City and provided me a map down the mountain. I psyched myself up for another harrowing drive, but – to my surprise – the way down was actually very simple. The streets were relatively straight and almost as wide as the ones in my subdivision back home in Belvidere. I was down the mountain in about five minutes. I found myself about two blocks from where my adventure had started. I looked back at the way I came. None of the streets were one way; why the hell hadn’t TomTom sent me up the mountain on the easy streets? When I first started my trip, TomTom mentioned the trip would be driven on “HOV Roads”. I assumed they were some kind of toll roads, but – now – I think they might have meant “Hell on Vehicles”.