Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Get On the GPS Bandwagon

I'd have to guess that most of us are 10 miles behind the technology Bandwagon, at least I am. I have to hear from just about all of my friends and family, as well as read all the blogs on the Internet before I'm willing to try something new. So Lo and Behold, we wind up with a Garmin Nuvi 200 as a present from my sons for Christmas/Hanukkah (we give them presents for both holidays, they get us presents for one).

It was a cute little thing and I really didn't think we'd get much use out of it. It stayed in the box until we were embarrassed to open it and try it. Funny thing about these hard plastic cases, when you cut them to get them open you always wonder if the store will accept a return when you decide you don't want it. What do you say when they tell you it has to be returned in the original packaging?

Anyway, the directions said to take it out to an area with direct access to the sky so the satellites can activate it. They cautioned not to set it up near trees, so I had to drive it to a local soccer field to get it started. Temperamental little thing isn't it? So I turned it on and it started blinking and making electronic noises. I waited for a while until it finally told me that the satellites had been located. I hoped it wouldn't take that long to get me out of somewhere after taking the wrong turn off the expressway (Bonfire of the Vanities??).

So now our Garmin was activated and I placed it in the glove compartment of my car. There it sat until I remembered two weeks later that it was in there. I ran out to my car after I read somewhere that you shouldn't leave it in an environment below 32 degrees. It had been below 32 degrees for 3 days! I cuddled it, brought it into the house, and covered it with warm towels to bring it back to life. I pressed the "ON" button and Eureka, it started to beep!

So now we're on our way to Florida, snow-birding for the month of February, driving in the car. The lady on the Garmin from the Midwest (I think she was a truck stop waitress or something) gives us turn by turn directions. My wife doesn't believe this thing works and has her trusty maps in her lap following each and every directional instruction given by Maude (I named her in order to keep this personal).

About 100 miles into the trip she got us lost. I quickly changed the voice to a British flight attendant who seemed more knowledgeable. She got us back on track.

After reaching South Carolina we programmed it to take the shortest route. It was supposed to take us 4.5 hours to reach St Augustine and it took us 6 hours. Well I guess with that kind of technology give or take an hour and a half ain't bad.

The only part of this that worried me was when we were in a particular tough part of the course and the British lady said "Satellite signal lost". That scared us a little.

After regaining satellite signal we continued on our journey using the maps in my wife's lap.

Ah what a wonderful thing technology is!!

1 comment:

David Ettlin said...

A visiting friend from Singapore (who is a pilot for Singapore Airlines) introduced us to his TomTom navigator, and demonstrated it on the dark road back home from a musical event in Shepherdstown, W.Va. He programmed it for shortest route instead of quickest, and the result was a midight ride down a dirt road through a trailer park with folks sitting around looking like an outtake from the movie "Deliverance." So of course, we bought one for ourselves. Out west, we programmed for the shortest way to a ghost town, and the damn think took us 20 miles down an ever-more-rugged dirt road, barely a car wide, then commanded "Right Turn in 400 Yards." It was a locked gate with a "no trespassing" sign. We tried continuing down the road until a short distance away, it had been washed out by a stream we decided not to cross. We packed up a quarter mile to the fence, turned around, and re-routed for "quickest" -- and that got us to the town of Shaniko, Oregon.
Life should be an adventure, and our TomTom, which we named Richard, plays a key role. Worth its weight in Fool's Gold.
Enjoy Florida! (O's pitchers and catchers report to spring training camp at Fort Lauderdale in less than two weeks!)