By Barry Zander
Before the era of GPS took over from unrefoldable maps, our first encounter with the new technology was in a state park when a tiny figure looking out of the drivers-side window in a diesel-pusher high above us leaned out and yelled, “I’m throwing Nellie out the window,” only he used a slur to describe Nellie, his GPS.
Oh, the misguided advice we’ve received since we invested in one of these gizmos 15 years ago. Like on a 13% mountain descent in Canada, when we were told to turn right in 1,000 feet. Had we listened, we would have rumbled down a mountainside about 2,000 feet.
We have at least a dozen other GPS tales to tell, but I’ll start with “How to train your Garmin.” We hunkered down for the winter at an RV resort just off I-10 in Arizona for a few weeks. Upon our initial arrival, the confounded GPS device told us to exit the interstate, turn left and then turn right on “O-COT-tell-lo” Street. [Say it out loud] We laughed at the pronunciation, since it wasn’t “o-ca-TI-yo,” a desert cactus. The first few times the GPS screwed up the name, we laughed. So each time over the next three days Monique corrected her, getting more and more vehement (as if it would make any difference).
Imagine our shock when the female voice suddenly started saying it correctly! WARNING: Be careful what you say to your GPS. She may be taking notes…
A INTERESTING POINT here is the GPS can actually have a social benefit. You arrive in a campground, get set up and wander into the happy-hour soiree nearby. “Welcome,” someone says without looking up from the yellow umbrella in his Mai Tai.
“Boy,” I blurt out. “You’ll never believe what our GPS did to us today!” From that moment on, the conversation never stops. Everyone has a better story than the couple next to them.
Dirt roads to oblivion, twice around the same block, the AT&T store nowhere to be found in a labyrinth of twisting subdivision avenues, etc. (And, by the way, we supplement the GPS with real unrefoldable maps.)
How ‘bout sharing your favorites? Maybe you have one or two stories better than ours. Let us know.