Monday, January 28, 2013

GPS takes us off the beaten path ~ My Column from Sunday

I’m not sure I’d be labeled an “early adopter” by folks on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley, but I’m comfortable with new technology and not afraid of wires and switches. 

When the new iPhone 5 came out, I was one of the first people to have one here in Walker County and one of the features I’ve come to love is the GPS.

My time installing phones with MaBell honed my directional skills, and I can say without hesitation that I’ve never been lost. Jilda would beg to differ, but she always takes the short view. After all, I’m sitting home right now typing these words, and if I’d really been lost, well, I wouldn’t be here. I rest my case.

Anyhow, the stars lined up against us on my birthday so we couldn’t get out of town, but this past weekend we decided to head to the beach. We haven’t been in about two years and I was having sandy withdrawals.

Jilda and I have been to Gulf Shores and Mobile more times that I care to recall. Either of us could drive to Gulf Shores blindfolded and snockered. I do want to clarify with my insurance agent, who reads my column, that neither of us make a habit of driving blindfolded or snockered. But I digress.

We packed our bags and headed out for a little sunny bliss by the Gulf. Just for grins, I tapped the address into the GPS on my phone and she dutifully found several routes. 

About 40 miles south of Montgomery, the sexy voice of a woman spoke to me — Turn here.

Hmmmm, I thought. This is a little early, but maybe she wants to take me a new and interesting route. Jilda was fiddling with the CD player and didn’t object to trying a new route to the beach.

Almost as soon as we turned off, we got behind an eighteen wheeler driving as slow as a hearse. 

Normally, that’s not an issue, but we were on a two-lane road that had more curves than a go-cart track. So I followed behind gritting my teeth and saying unkind things about his parents.

The road took us through Brewton, Castleberry, Flomaton, and eventually Pensacola. 

Apparently this route had been mislabeled in my GPS. It should have said: This route is for intoxicated truck drivers hauling toxic waste or bales of marijuana who want to dodge roadblocks and weighing stations.

At any rate, it was not meant for a cranky couple with stiff joints and stomachs growling like they contained angry ocelots trying to gnaw their way to freedom.

We could have taken the route through Denver and arrived sooner. If Jilda could have pried the iPhone out of my hand, it would now reside at the bottom of Pensacola Bay.

When we finally rolled in, the sun had dipped below the ocean an hour earlier, and all that remained were clouds tinted with traces of maroon and magenta. 

After checking into our room, we headed out for seafood. 

When we returned, we went out on the seaside balcony to listen to the pounding surf and feel the salty breeze on our faces. Soon the drive down was a faded memory. 

A few days in the sun and sand rejuvenated us. As we loaded the car for the return trip on Sunday, Jilda started to say something about the GPS, but I interrupted. “Say no more,” I said as I put the Volvo in drive and headed home the old familiar way.


  1. LOL- That is so funny and so real. In our family I do all the driving as my husband does not like to drive and readily admits that he has no sense of direction. I am the exact opposite. You can put me a box, spin me a few times, and I still will know what direction I am pointed in. I think it is from growing up on a farm where the sun kind of directs your life-East to West thing.

    Anyway, we went to the UP of MI a few weeks ago. We have gone that way many times before...but using the GPS it suggested a different route. He said- GO for it...I said- HMMMM...I don't even remember this being charted on a map. About an hour later we had gone from blacktop to gravel to deeply rutted lumberjack trails with no place to turn around. Keep going- he said after we bottomed out for the 2nd time. I am turning around as soon as I can- which is just what I did. It took us about 2 hours to lose 10 miles of ground. I turned our sexy lady off and we rode in silence for the next 3 hours. We were talking by the time we got to our destination....barely....

  2. Rick,
    What IS IT with you guys and your toys? The LOC is just like this, too.

    We were in Wenatchee, Washington last summer and his GPS kept sending us over the same bridge over and over.

    We finally found ourselves at a dead end street, where we put it in park and laughed till we cried.

    Then we looked at the sun in the sky and said, we want to go west, so let's just follow the sun. It worked. :)

    Enjoyed your post as always.

  3. Funny but usually true post.
    Give me an old fashion map on paper so I can find my own shortcuts.

  4. I follow the sun too as a general direction map, but that works better if you know where you are to begin with. Btw, is there a way to change the woman's voice on the iPhone? I'd rather have a sexy guy voice than a woman, you'd think Apple would have thought about that....

  5. When I used the GPS to get to a new destination with my husband, I was driving and it told me to turn left at one point and it was a little trail through the trees and the snow banks were so high along the highway that it was plain to see that this was not the way to turn.

    A 22 year old med woman from Sherbrook Quebec got stranded for 3 days in the snow while going to her new place of employment in the north of our province. She ended up 100 Km off her destination. because of her GPS.

    You can read the short story by googling
    GPS-Stranded driver stuck 3 days in the snow.

    GPS can be great most of the time but it has it's glitches.


  6. It's sad how funny someone else's trying times can be, but thank you for my first good laughs of the day! I hope the sand, surf and sun took away some of the stress.

  7. lol
    My husband did the same thing.
    He knows the way to Burnaby and yet he followed the GPS on a totally longer route headed towards a toll bridge.
    Seeing this he then turned around and headed back home and to the way he should have taken.
    He thought I was unreasonable being annoyed with him. lol
    Sometimes a map is better. lol
    But it did help a lot finding places we would never have been able to find for soccer games.
    Streets have so many curves and dead ends and this machine gets you there.

  8. I would rather use a map any old day. One time we wanted to go to Lucille's Smokehouse, got the directions, and ended up at a crematorium.

  9. Hi Rick - So nice to meet you. The only thing I missed when I traded in my smart phone was the GPS...but I guess nothing's perfect, especially when you're off the beaten path.

  10. I have been known to turn on the GPS just to assure that I'm going the right way. Then there's those times when I KNOW it's telling me to go somewhere I shouldn't, and I go the way I know, just so it goes crazy.

  11. Oh does this sound familiar! lol
    Rick, I really like the ease you have with writing.


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