Ah road-trips. Nothing compares to that moment when you have to stop the car, wrestle open the map and try to match the spidery black roads with reality, and knowing that you have no real idea where in the hemisphere you are located.
Granted, maps are full of promise and romance. So many options! Secrets revealed! Knowledge! But how restful it is to have an authority on board.
Even though I second-guess the GPS, it's a relief to have those satellites and that digital power backing up my navigation.
A qualified relief, anyhow.
We logged something like four thousand miles over the past three months in the Winnebago. The first leg took us north to Canada, where we discovered that Alice, our GPS (named for the naughty song) was blind north of the border. Luckily we'd been to the Buffalo Canoe Club before, so getting there was painless
Seems like we could just change chips, but alas, Alice aged out some time back. Seems like updating the GPS by computer would be simple, too, but the last time we tried it, Alice lost New York. Misplaced the entire Empire State.
Given the price of these things, Jeff went shopping. For $99 –– on clearance –– he got a new unit that covered all of North America and Puerto Rico. Only $99! On clearance. The brand-name led us to dub her Mary.
I fired Mary up for the third leg of our trip (The Farm to Bar Harbor), trying to get used to the different set up (new neural pathways have never given me a bigger headache than when switching operating systems). But when Mary's target arrival time held steady at 10 hours during the first two hours of our trip –– I had to retrieve Alice.
Ten hours versus seven hours. Disturbingly differing itineraries. Two insistent machine voices telling us to "Turn Left!" I shut them both down and got us across Maine the old-fashioned way.
Turns out that Mary might have been on clearance for a reason. She's not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
And critically, there's no British accent option for Mary. If someone is going to demand that you make a pointless exit from the Free Way, so much the better if she has a prissy accent.
When suggesting we turn on Hwy 509, she calls it "H-West-Why 509." For $99, you don't get "highway" programmed into her vocabulary.
Still, for Leg 4 (Bar Harbor –– Bay of Fundy –– Cape Breton Highlands ––Digby –– Portland, ME), Mary did her job the best she could. Bless her little iimited on-clearance brain.
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