Mar 3 2009

You can’t get there from here

He Said – Now I have two women telling me where to go

I have been using G.P.S. navigation tools in helicopters since the technology was first introduced. The G.P.S. I use in my helicopter is simple, and has an update- able database. The downside to using a G.P.S. while flying, is that pilots become dependent, fixated and distracted by the information the G.P.S. provides.

When I started using G.P.S. for hiking and later, in car navigation, I was concerned about the distraction factor. Being the consummate professional that I am, and having years of prior experience navigating with G.P.S., I felt certain I would utilize the G.P.S. properly. The car G.P.S. would be a mere back up while driving the streets and highways. I would never let it be a distraction to my driving. It was nice idea.

Driving east of Ellensburg, Washington in our brand new Ford pickup I checked the mirror to confirm Paula was behind me in the rental car we would be dropping off at Moses Lake Airport. A few years ago Paula and I had flown a helicopter into this same airport for fuel and I knew where the airport was; well sort of.

“Hey! I have G.P.S. in this truck,” I thought.

After popping in the software DVD in the G.P.S., I attempted to initialize and input the rental car drop off location. Nothing was working and Paula pulled up along side and gave me the “whats up?” sign. I had been drifting a little towards the road edge and Paula could tell from my animated pointing and steamed up side window that she was lucky not be listening to my tirade.

After dropping the rental car Paula had the G.P.S. in the truck working perfectly. You can not input new info while driving it seems. Good idea! Too bad I had not realized or thought of that obvious safety feature. Within a 100 miles I am fully enamored with the new G.P.S. and its many features. I suggest we come up with a name for our talking G.P.S. A name that reflects her calming voice and skillful assistance to navigation. All my name suggestions fall flat and a few has Paula doing the finger down the throat motion.

“OK,OK, I’ll think of something we both like.” I tell Paula.

A day or two later and the G.P.S. honeymoon is over, finito!  A G.P.S. is only as good as its database and ours has some newer roads and highways missing. Being told every 20 seconds to make “a legal U-Turn” on a perfectly correct route earns our G.P.S. her name finally, but its not one that I will ever write in a blog.

Another problem surfaces. Many auto G.P.S. allow you to input the vehicle length.  Our G.P.S. does not have this feature. The “Shortest Route” sounds good until you realize too late, that it was the same route used by Hannibal to cross the Alps.

We are back to using the G.P.S. as originally planned. Paula has the Rand McNally up front, the Gazateer for the smaller roads, the amazing I-phone with its Google Earth and map applications and the almost always reliable inverter powered laptop with its EVDO  internet receiver that hits most every cell system en-route.

The only thing lost these days is Paula. Buried under the maps and techno gear we pass through entire towns where Paula is busy Googling the things I saw by just looking out the window. What a novel idea!

She Said – How (not) to navigate a road trip

White knuckled doesn’t begin to describe the angst I suffered on our drive over 12 0′clock knob outside Roanoke, VA. I practically had to remind myself to breath, and try to remain cool as our 54′ truck/RV combination slowly wound up the steep single lane mountain pass. Maple, Poplar, Dogwood, Birch, Oak and hundreds other trees were peaking with fall colors. It would have been an extraordinarily scenic drive, except I have blocked most of it out. I was worried. Worried we’d encounter an oncoming vehicle, there was no room for two on this pass. Worried we’d come to a tree too low for our 12ft. clearance and have to back all the way we’d just climbed.  My big problem was, Keith had concerns about us driving this route too.

How did we get here? On a road we had no business being on, a road a local friend told me later,

“I don’t even like driving my car on 12 o’clock knob!”

Simple. I’d plugged an address into the onboard navigation system in our truck for our destination, the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The first left we were advised to make seemed odd, it was too residential. But, rather than consult the Rand McNally, I sat back and trusted the direction. A mistake I will not have to repeat to learn.

GPS is fairly new to me. My first experience was so positive, a Hertz rental car in Portland Oregon with a Magellan system at no extra charge. Finding the REI in downtown was effortless. Turn R here, in .2 mile turn R here, etc., Fantastic! I was sold. And for good reason, the benefits are helpul on so many levels. I am now using the maps app on my iPhone, in conjunction with the onboard system, sometimes with a mapquest print out backup, and always with my atlas at my side. My only last problem is having my nose stuck in all these systems to make sure we get where we are going, on the best and right path, but what am I missing while getting there? I’m learning to sort it all out.


Feb 17 2009

How it all started

He Said – Our First Day Story

When you have an empathic personality as I do, you definitely “feel” people before you get to talk to them. What I feel, is an energy associated with an emotion. Its not a gift and certainly isn’t a skill. I often mistake a high energy feeling towards me as dislike, when it is often just the opposite. So much for reading people. My only skill, or curse would be more accurate, is that I am – as one friend described it – a magnet for crazy people.

Now, might be a great time to say that this questionable ability of mine, was not the basis for Paula and I meeting.

Just the opposite. I knew from 20 feet away that I was going to have to meet Paula. Just back from Australia I had decided to burn away some Sunday morning jet lag with a skate down the shore line bike path near my Santa Barbara home. Cool damp salt air along East Beach, zipping down the bike path on my inline skates. Perfect! Bicycles, joggers on the grass, joggers on the hard packed beach, fitness Moms pushing high speed baby buggies along the bike path. I weaved in and around the pathway traffic, drafted behind a fast mover on his racing road bike and slowed as I approached the artisans setting up their tents and tables on a parallel sidewalk. I dropped off the bike path and walked in the awkward fashion that skates on grass forces you to do. While I might have almost approached some semblance of grace skating earlier, I now more closely resembled a teen aged girl in her first pair of high heels. Stepping on the sidewalk along Cabrillo Boulevard I slowly coasted by the artisan and less artsy items for sale. Jewelery, art, photography,bric brac, nick nack and next weeks yard sale wind chimes. A great selection of those high performance kites that would end up beach bombing victims at the hands of some goof later this day. Man, I hate those things!

The sidewalk converged with the bike path near Stearns Wharf at the foot of State Street and I picked my away between the tourists, families with dads carrying mini me’s strapped in front, coffee carrying slooow walkers, kids in bike seats with a limited view of Moms backside and me skating along beside. Hi there, smiley.

The bike path crosses a creek that trickles its last life into the sand by the beach. I accelerated a little to crest the bridge but stopped short on the top of the bridge. A woman stood at the top of the bridge looking out to the Pacific. I never just stop and talk to women and this one looked like she was just as likely to speak German or some Scandinavian dialect. She was even far more likely to walk on, before I thought of something to say as I stood by the bridge railing. Standing there, a panting mouth breathing, slightly sweating stranger, I thought I had maybe startled her. When noticing her book, I said,

“So,what are you reading?”

She looked at me, flashed a dimpled, blue sparkly-eyed smile and then dropped the bomb.

“The Testament.” she said.

OH NO! I thought. But, managed to stumble out some remark about being the right day of the week for that book.

“Enjoy your day” I said as I rolled down the bridge.

Now I have no aversion to religion but any conversation that begins with a Bible reference is about as inviting to me as a car load of Jehova Witnesses during the Super Bowl. About the time I was asking myself how something that felt right could be this wrong it clicked. Skating back alongside the now walking lady, I said,

“Uh, that would be John Grishams,”The Testament”, correct?”

She laughed and said “Yesss, I knew, what you had thought.”

Well OK! I was thinking, she realizes that I appear to be not so clever and yet she seems to like me being here. I know I like her. The more we walked and talked along the bike path the more I knew that I was just exactly where I was supposed to be and I couldn’t have been happier.

She Said – Meeting Keith

Wandering the boardwalk along Santa Barbara California’s East Beach, book in hand, I thought I’d be spending the day sitting in the sand, reading, keeping an eye out for migrating California Grey Whale. No one could have told me that in the next few hours, my future would dramatically shift its course into a wildly unexpected, adventurous, love affair. Nor would I have believed them.

A tanned, tall and muscular man leaned on one of the bridges along the path, as I passed he spun on his in-line skates coming up beside me,

“What’re we reading?” He asked.

“The Testament.” I replied.

Looking towards the cloudless sky, he smiled, said “Seems appropriate for the day,” and skated away. Amused, I smiled thinking “this guy thinks I’m reading the Bible at the beach.” It was a Sunday. No sooner had I chuckled about his assumption, he was back, circling to my side once again.

“That’s John Grisham, right?”

“That’s right,” I answered, more amused by his return than by his initial departure.

“Where’re you from?” He wanted to know.

“Bishop, California.” I proudly told him.

“Bishop. Bishop is one of my favorite places.” This surprised me; more often than not people do not know Bishop, maybe Mammoth, or Yosemite, but rarely Bishop. He went on and asked,

“Do you know Bobby Lloyd?” I went to high-school with Bobby Lloyd. He’d flown helicopters with Bobby.

“Do you know Mark and Kathy Gish?” I worked with Mark on our Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce and knew his wife Kathy the way folks know each other in small towns, being in the same place at the same time. He flew a helicopter for SCE (Southern California Edison) and worked with Kathy. I was intrigued. Right off the bat we had established our six-degrees of separation started at one. I walked, he coasted, and we talked for hours.

I was really enjoying his friendly company. And then everything changed. Out on the Pier leaning elbows on the railing, this man, Keith, scooted up next to me – so close his left arm rested against my right. Stunning electricity zipped inside me from shoulder to toe, it happened so fast, and had never happened before in my life. That instant I considered this man to be more than a friend.

That was March 26th, 2000. Within the next 45 days I had tendered my resignation at the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau, sold my belongings including my car, and with my 3-legged dog in tow, hit the road to full-time travel with Keith, the biggest and best surprise of my life.