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A whirlwind road trip to Florida between Christmas and New Years Eve reminded me yet again that techno savvy is an option there, not a ubiquitous presence.

Traveling from Massachusetts to New Jersey on a familiar route doesn’t *require* a GPS  but it is nice to know how much farther to the next road change/bio break/pit stop. Being familiar with my particular (older) model of GPS (TomTom One) I can quickly zoom in and out, locate gas stations, detours, and note interesting side attractions. The leg from New Jersey to Florida did not use my GPS. My sister has a Garmin Nuvi and not being familiar with it, it drove me crazy! I could function well enough setting the basic ‘navigate to’ and ‘way point’  but the zoom in and out frustrated me as too sluggish and inclining towards creating a new destination. Did I mention the road trip included my sister, her husband, and myself, traveling in his car/their GPS?

The non-stop from NJ to Clearwater, FL area took us 21 hours including pit stops and meals. We traded off driving times in order to keep moving. When the GPS gave confusing or conflicting instructions to the driver(s), I whipped out my Droid2 and checked things via the Navigator app. I love it when technology works!

Once at our mother’s house, however, its usability rating went way down. Mother knows where things are, but not the address, and she wasn’t always sure of the name of the intended destination. (“it’s off Main St. and there is an Olive Garden Restaurant in front of the Municipal Building” and “a lot of neighbors raved about the Chinese restaurant on Missouri Ave. It has a great buffet they say. Let’s eat there.” ) There were more destinations like these which could not easily be put into a GPS, there being multiple  Olive Garden Restaurants, Municipal Buildings, and Chinese restaurants on Missouri Ave, The bank personnel were equally at ease with giving directions sans GPS/address info. Asking directions at the local Publix and CVS were similar experiences with employees giving me puzzled looks (“What you need a GPS for?, Just go left down the street to the ACE Hardware store and it is on the corner on the left after that”).



You would think that there would be tons of beaches listed on the “nearby attractions” and “Public Parks” categories in the GPS, but there weren’t. The beaches are so ubiquitous in the Gulf Coast of Florida, that apparently you can strike out in any direction and run into several. Um… not so. My sister and I are determined souls, however, and we managed to locate Indian Rocks Beach (and another beach off the Causeway but the side we could get to was rocky and somewhat littered with people fishing). We went back a second time.


On our return trip we varied our route so as to drive on the Atlantic side of the state going north. The idea was to find an eating place that overlooked the ocean. We never found one where we thought one should be. We did find St. Augustine and spent a lovely bit of time there ($10 for municipal parking for any and all part of the day! Ouch!). Dinner was in a small cafe on the Spanish Alley. Nachos for all, wine for me, beer for the others and live music on the stage right next to us featuring mellow rock acoustical guitar. 

Did you know that Florida is nearer to the equator than NJ or MA? It is. That means the sun is out later in the day. Sundown was after 6 PM instead of 4:30 PM. MAH-velous!



In a Twilight Zone episode back in the early 80’s (seriously last century stuff!) a man got lost. In a moment of weakness, decided to ask for help at the next house with lights on. The resident whipped out his GPS module and showed the man which turns would get him where he wanted to go.

In the 1980’s, such a device was unheard of. My mind boggled at the mammoth amount of data and computing power needed for this card-deck-sized device. I lusted after one. I have been known to get myself turned around and lost while going in a straight line. Yes, I totally lusted while waiting impatiently for the technology and data to become available.

2D mapsFor me to travel anywhere unfamiliar, I would amass maps, write out the turns, highlight the route, and practice it in virtual mode several times before going out the door. If there were any detours on the route that I was not pre-prepared for, I just turned around and went home.

Google maps and Map Quest were decided improvements over that system. But I still could get lost and freak out about not being able to find my way back home.

Finally, I got my own GPS device. It took almost 30 years, but I got one and suddenly I discovered a freedom so intoxicating, a peace so comforting…I knew I would always be able to find my way back home again.

The Tomtom One is an older model, but it works fine for my needs (mostly). I can locate nearby restaurants, pharmacies, shopping centers, gas stations, movie theaters, and more. Sometimes I drive around with it on, even though I know where I am going, just so I can (hopefully) familiarize myself with the surrounding streets.

But wait, it gets even better.

My Droid phone allows me to tell it an address and it will provide visual and verbal directions to navigate me there. I know. Lots of you are used to this. I am still in the flabbergasted happy-dance phase.

Scotty would have been so pleased.

The North Shore Yarn Crawl 2011 is currently going on. A dozen fiber stores are listed. I went to seven of them over Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon. In the fog and rain. I got lost several times. But I got to every single one I targeted. Go me!

Even when the GPS is wrong, or updates its map too late for me to change course, or otherwise craps out on me, I still trust it to get me back home.

The GPS system has been a Great Enabler for me. I heart GPS navigation!

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