Only 8.59 Miles (as the seagull flies)

I got an email yesterday from my friends at TrueMajority — who I’ve been meaning to go visit, ever since I realized their office is on the third floor of some building downtown. I’d like to a) see actual grassroots liberals, in their native environment, and b) ask them why there’s no space in the name TrueMajority.

Their email is titled ?Stop buying Middle East oil: Buy CITGO,? which a) means that TM hasn’t heard we don’t own a car, and b) is explained in greater detail here. Included is a link to help people find the nearest CITGO dealer to their home address, which — since I haven’t told TM that I’ve moved from Maine — brought me to a map of Mount Desert Island.

I couldn’t think of any CITGO stations near Bar Harbor, but according to the map there are three within 10 miles. Closest is the Village Market, about six miles away in Seal Harbor. The other two are MC’s Marketplace in Birch Harbor, 8.59 miles to the east, and O’Conner’s General Store in Sullivan, 9.97 miles to the northeast. Which surprised me, until I realized that the computer drawing the map doesn’t realize that to go from Bar Harbor to Birch Harbor in less than 10 miles, you have to drive over the Atlantic Ocean. (On actual highways, it’s more like 45 miles.)

Not all the way across the Atlantic, certainly, maybe even only over the Gulf of Maine (also the only way to get to Sullivan in less than 10 miles), but driving on water nevertheless. It reminds me of the story I now can’t find anywhere online (an urban legend?) about the person somewhere in Europe, listening to their onboard navigation system, who drove into a canal because its computer map didn’t realize the bridge had been removed.

Speaking of computer mapping, this isn’t an urban legend: last year when I asked MapBlast (I think it was, or maybe MapQuest) to lay out the best route between Bar Harbor and my brother’s house north of Montpelier, the program told me to start by going downtown and taking the CAT ferry to Nova Scotia. Then to drive north along the Bay of Fundy before circling back to the west at Truro — only adding about 500 miles (plus an expensive ferry ride, plus another country) to the trip. This glitch on the site has since been fixed, but we still have the computer printout if you don’t believe me.

Maybe CITGO’s map computer assumes that, as rich Americans, we’re all driving around in Gibbs Aquadas. At £150,00 ($260,231.44), each one costs a bit more than a Ferrari or an Aston Martin, but it sure looks like fun. (How the Aquada works.)

I’m know James Bond would love it. As would the oil executives busy soaking the rest of us, who can afford it.

* * *

p.s. Humans, of course, can be just as map-challenged as any computer. Two summers ago when I worked in Bar Harbor selling tickets/travel packages for the CAT ferry, one of our most notorious customers asked if she would be able to see Niagara Falls during her afternoon in Nova Scotia.

p.p.s. Seal Harbor’s Village Market, where I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything in my life, reputedly is the site of the notorious David Rockefeller/Martha Stewart confrontation. Which according to the equally legendary, never happened.

p.p.p.s. Snopes also has this to say about buying only certain kinds of gasoline, in this case because of terrorists.

About RPS
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1 Response to Only 8.59 Miles (as the seagull flies)

  1. wisdomweasel says:

    God bless the CAT: when working at the Bar Harbor Chamber of Comerce I was once asked where one would catch the ferry to Vancouver. I so wanted to say “catch the ferry to Nova Scotia, drive the trans-Canada highway, and jump on in BC”. But I would have been fired, so I didn’t.

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