It was a virtual reality adventure. I found my first elementary school, but not the second - it's been torn down and/or repurposed. I found my house and neighborhood (not a lot has changed); I found the ward building; a park where I spent a lot of time playing; friends' houses; and even the lake. Yes, my home town has a lake. It's probably more of a pond, but we called it a lake, so a lake it shall be. The road leading to it is even called "Lakeside Drive," so it must be a lake. Otherwise it would be called "Pondside Drive."
Wandering my little virtual Jane avatar on those hilly streets, I found the house where I spent quite a bit of time in my childhood. Two of my older sisters did some babysitting for a family that had four boys - the oldest two were twins and just two days younger than me. I frequently accompanied my sisters on those gigs. (I hope it was easy for them to have someone there to play with the boys.) They lived in what I thought of as a magical house at the top of a hill with a steep driveway. There were toys that I didn't have and for a tomboy, it was paradise to have access to all those boys' toys - Legos, Lincoln Logs, toy guns...and I don't know what all else. The back of the house jutted up against a hill, providing an endless playground for children with active imaginations. We dug tunnels, played cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers - whatever struck us on any given day.
The twins got 10-speed bicycles for Christmas one year. The boys were down the street (down the driveway, and DOWN the hilly street) playing with some other friends one day when my sisters were babysitting. It was time for lunch, and I was sent to fetch them. I figured it would be quicker to ride than walk, so I hopped on one of those bikes and took off.
The twins were identical, and the bicycles nearly were as well. There were a few minor differences though, that I didn't find out until halfway down the very steep driveway. I had unwittingly chosen the bike that didn't have working brakes. I was going too fast to be able to hop off without causing damage to both of us, so I held on, steering the best I could and tried to avoid hitting any parked cars. At the bottom of the driveway the street flattened out to the right, or continued downhill to the house where the twins were playing. I hung on and kept going down the street.
In another several yards there was a cul-de-sac, or a one-way roundabout/circle. The middle of it was grassy with a huge tree in it, with houses ringing the outside of it. I saw this as my best chance for stopping. I was also probably going too fast to really have any other choice.
I started into the circle, and then just...laid down the bike. It went skidding under a parked car, and I splatted and fell the other way. This all happened right in front of the house that was my original destination, so it worked perfectly. The twins and their friend came running out to see what the racket was, immediately sussed what had happened and said, "You brought Richard's bike, huh? The brakes don't work."
I was a bit scratched and bruised, but those were easily forgotten as my coolness level had just risen substantially in the boys' eyes. We all walked back up the hill chatting excitedly about what I had just accomplished. I like to think they were actually a bit jealous. Here are the pictures I found on Google maps. I'm pleased to say that it really is still just as steep as I remember.
The driveway. See how steep it is?
This is at the bottom of the driveway looking down the street.
More hilly street.
The choice - turn right into no-man's land, or keep going straight into the circle.
The house with the picket fence is the one I crashed in front of. The bike and I were ultimately both okay.
Looking back up the street towards where it all started.