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Directions to my new house for the compass-challenged

Living in a new community - in one of my many California moves over the past 10 years - I phoned for directions to my first dental appointment. It was on Rosa Street. I asked the receptionist, "Are you north or south of Foothill?"

After a pause, she said, "Do you know the Texaco station on the corner of Foothill and Rosa?"

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"Yes," I confirmed. "Are you north or south of that intersection?"

"Hmm, let's see...." She hesitated. Then with a giggle, she added, "I'm really not sure. I don't 'do' north and south."

In the same city I met another "direction ditzy" person. She came to my door with welcoming gifts and coupons. I asked the location of the library. She handed me a brochure that showed the address on Palm. "If I go south on Main, would I turn east or west on Palm to get to the library?" I asked.

Her brow wrinkled. "Let's see." She laid her loose-leaf notebook on the sofa, looked down at one hand, and then the other. Neither seemed to give her an answer. She stood to face my front door. "I think it's left," she said. Apparently she didn't "do" north, south, east, or west either.

During one family gathering when we lived in central California, our daughter Jill was getting directions from her older brother about which freeway offramp she should take to deliver her younger brother back to his job in southern California. "Go east on Western Boulevard," Alan said.

Jill burst into tears. "Don't tell me east and west. I have to have directions left and right."

I don't want any of my compass- challenged visitors to get lost when they try to find me at my new home here among the gorgeous red bluffs in Sedona, Ariz., so I've prepared a map and special information labeled "must read."

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It begins: "Don't be confused by the fact that the city of Sedona is situated in two counties: Coconino and Yavapai. The part of Sedona known as the Village of Oak Creek is not in Oak Creek Canyon, as the name implies. So don't expect to find me anywhere near that beautiful, famous waterway. My section of Sedona is more than 10 miles from the canyon.

"If somebody directs you to 'the Y,' they do not mean the YMCA. The Y - Sedona style - is where Highway 179 leaves Highway 89A in uptown Sedona. (Sedona has an uptown but no downtown. There's a West Sedona but no East Sedona.)

"If you get lost, you might ask for directions to Big Park, another name for the Village of Oak Creek, also known as VOC.

"On 179, you'll think you are lost because this narrow road swarms with heavy traffic 24/7. And although you are traveling through the city of Sedona, you will note only the upper portions of sand-colored houses (so as not to distract you from the red bluffs), set far back from the street among juniper and piƱon.

"Side streets lead off toward the famous Red Rocks. But don't stare at the scenery lest you wind up off the side of the road. Until they add European roundabouts (currently planned) and take out the signal lights, I'm at the corner of the second light after you pass between magnificent Bell Rock and Courthouse Bluff. Don't worry about north or south; I'm easy to find if you follow my directions."

Simple, right? But even after all that, sometimes when friends finally arrive at my house, they declare that anyone who wants to find me easily should first purchase a Global Positioning System (GPS).

Surely not. Those of us who aren't consistently challenged by the points of the compass think that the old-fashioned way works just fine. I know exactly where I am.


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