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.