Philo's Stories

The Four Rochesters
visiting my minnesotan friends by putting magnets inscribed with sigils on my car and taking the forbidden middle exit on the I-490-Inner Loop interchange to travel between the Four Rochesters and merge onto US-52

the jump between Rochester, NY and Rochester, MN is pretty easy to pull off, as they're similar in population and climate
getting home is even easier, as NY has a gravitational pull by virtue of its larger population

driving other places throught the anglosphere named Rochester requires more preparation and knowledge of the local roads, but is still doable, with the possible exceptions of the Rochesters in England and Australia, where you'd be suddenly on the wrong side of the road

when traveling through the barrier to England, I prefer to use the old subway stairs, which take me to a dingy warehouse on the other side

due to the difficulties inherent in suddenly appearing in another country, I mostly only go to England!Rochester to buy Irn Bru

to head west, I close my eyes and slam on the gas as I speed down the dead-straight stretch of road past the gravel quarry
I feel the road under me change from tarmac to dirt and open my eyes, knowing that I've arrived in the ghost town of Rochester, Nevada

even though there's nobody there anymore to call it Rochester, it will continue to be a Rochester as long as it's labeled that way on maps

California doesn't have its own Rochester, so I travel there by way of the ghost town in Nevada or the small town in Washington

Names have power, and with a Pilot G2, I have some power over names
the hand-drawn map in my notebook has streets that anyone who drives in Rochester, NY can recognize, but there are also lines describing liminal streets and highway ramps labeled in purple sigils

finding these gaps in the barriers of reality has proven a challenge and it's been my hobby for the past few years of living here
for me, it feels like I'm going through an "authorized personnel only" door in the very firmament of the universe and every new path has been exciting

for pathways with enough gravity, I've been able to simply draw in a route practically anywhere in Rochester, but others, like the jump to Nevada, have entailed finding poring over maps places with some similarity and enough potential to draw a line on my map

I've encountered other travelers on the pathways between Rochesters, and no two of our maps are the same
I call it the Four Rochesters because for the longest time, I only found pathways to three others, until a friend and fellow traveler suggested a point to start a path from

there are rumors among us that it's possible to reach the Many Manchesters or perhaps even the Three Portlands from the strange pathways, but nobody's yet managed to draw a conclusive map

from Pinnacle Hill in central Rochester NY, it's possible to reach other Long Lines sites by drawing sigils on old Bell maps, but it often leaves me clinging to a tower on a windswept hillside and tends to be thaumicly expensive

falling off the map while exploring is a very real and dangerous possibility
if you don't have a map, you fall back to baseline reality, where the Rochesters are thousands of miles apart and not overlapping

one day, I misplaced a sigil and a line and ended up in Texas
confused as to where I was, I consulted OSM on my phone, waited for a GPS fix, and found how off course I ended up
I flipped through my notebook, looking for this town and a connection home, but to no avail

poring over OSM, I drew a dead-straight grid of numbered streets
my hand slips and I draw a diagonal line off to the edge of the page
I labeled it with a sigil in hopes that it would work and whip around the corner fast enough that I can smell tire smoke
I see the Times Square building and breath a sigh of relief as I'm back in NY