Wednesday, July 20

GPS

I’m not what I would really call overly inclined in the mechanical or technological realm of things, but nor am I a dunce. I actually get a bit of a thrill from dealing with new gadgets, especially when I’m voluntarily avoiding the usual was of doing things. This is my big way of taking risks. I'm a wild and crazy gal. Not!

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This weekend I got to play with a new toy. My rental car company gave me a bonus free GPS mapping device. I rarely have problems following direction and live by my maps. So, my first reaction was, “Oh, how useless,” but boy was I wrong. However, I did have quite the adventure learning how to use it.

Despite the number of times I’ve been there, I’m not all that familiar with driving in the Washington DC area. I went into this trip quite prepared with all the needed maps and driving instructions for all foreseeable scenarios printed up and in a file folder in my carry-on luggage. No way could I get lost. Well, as soon as I actually saw this little GPS devise the little switch that governs logical behavior went off in my brain. Written instructions from MapQuest that had been verified by both my husband and my SIL? Who needs such things?

Luckily the timing of my little adventure was not bad. It was just after noon and I had plenty of time to get to my destination. National Airport is located pretty much smack dab in the middle of DC. And as you are likely aware, DC is well known for its traffic congestion and for housing some very dangerous neighborhoods.

So, without a glance at my directions, I programmed my GPS unit with the appropriate destination and started on my way. In addition to having a little screen with a map of the area around you and your route highlighted in pink it has a voice that tells you how far until your next turn. Lucky for my dyslexic brain that gets her left and right confused on a regular basis, it also has a little arrow on the bottom of the screen letting me know exactly direction to navigate in. However, it lacks the devise in front of the car so that I can see exactly how far ahead of me 0.4 miles is. As I speed along with traffic, ten miles over the limit, on George Washington Parkway, 0.4 mile seems pretty close. So with no idea what road I was actually trying to get onto when it told me that I was Approaching Right Hand Turn In Point-4 miles. I didn’t really think about it and took the next right exit. I didn’t see another exit, so it had to be the correct one. Very soon after I heard the dreaded Calculating Route.

Another nifty feature of this GPS devise is that as long as you had it turned on and programmed with a destination it would recalculate the route for you an infinite number of times as soon as you got of track. That’s a very good thing, because if it didn’t I would probably still be driving around in circles among the National Monuments.

I will not treat you to each and every wrong turn; let me turn your attention to the accompanying drawing. To get from the airport to my SIL’s house at that time of day it should take a mere fifteen minutes with the direct route shown in pink. Instead I followed the blue route. It took me almost an hour to get to her house. Notice all the turnarounds and wrong turnoffs along the Potomac, when I could have still switched back to my paper directions and map, but didn’t because I’m to hard-headed.

Rest assured, by the end trip I had mastered the use of the GPS. Once I learned where to get the information I needed, it was smooth sailing. However, on that first long wandering drive with it I ended up going, as my SIL put it,
to my elbow, by way of my ear.

4 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

That's neat. We have a little portable GPS that tells us the basics. We use it as a fancy compass pretty well. We can use it in the car, on the bikes, or on walks through the woods (where I can get lost very easily).

tapestrygirl said...

oh girl, now that's fun.

dr. evil said...

I can totally appreciate this.

I am, after all, the guy who used to make a game out of packing Deb into the car on a Saturday afternoon and driving around until I got totally lost. We'd wander around, performing random acts of kindness until the game was over.

The game was over when we figured out where we were.

Pearl said...

Interesting phrase to my elbow by way of my ear.

GPS availbable for the people can only be a good thing. I wonder if anyone has tried to run the numbers on how many miles per year people drive lost?