Blame It On the GPS

As I mentioned yesterday, we attended a wedding in New Jersey this past Saturday.  Our trip down was pretty uneventful except for the fact that our GPS decided to give up the ghost just as we headed into the Philadelphia area.  Aargh!  It just kept on saying “Unable to contact satellite.”  Good grief, the skies were as clear as could be and we were not in the middle of the city.  We were out in the outer beltway area, away from tall buildings and tunnels.  It continued to say that all the rest of the way, even though we turned it off and back on several times.  I’m SO glad that the Commander was driving and had also printed off directions on MapQuest.  I would have panicked.  I’m also thankful that it didn’t happen last week when my daughter and I were returning from Raleigh.  As it happened, the GPS DID give us quite a time driving through Virginia.

Our day started out fine.  The weather was perfect and we got an early start.  Things looked promising.  But then we hit Virginia.  It wasn’t too long after that when the traffic slowed to a crawl.  Ugh!  It took us by surprise, too, because we had stopped for lunch (with the traffic flowing freely) and when we came back out and got back on the highway, everything was at a standstill.

“Look on the ‘Maps’ section in your iPhone, Mom,” Laura directed, “and see how far this traffic jam goes.”

I dutifully pulled up the Maps app on the iPhone and all I could see were maps of Raleigh, which I told Laura.

“No, you have to hit the little symbol in the left corner,” she said.  I did as directed and SLOWLY a map of the freeway we were on started to emerge.

“Now, look for the red line and tell me how far it extends,” she said.

“I don’t see any red line,” I said.

“Well, where is the blue dot?” she asked.  “That’s the symbol showing where our car is.”

“I don’t see any blue dot either,” I said.  She sighed.

“You must have it on directions and not enabled for traffic,” she countered.  Thus ensued some quickly issued commands on how to switch over to show traffic, which I tried to follow as she rattled off the steps.

“OK, do you see the blue dot now?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“OK, look and tell me how far up the red is showing for traffic congestion,” she ordered.

I tried to scroll up to follow the red line of doom but the app wasn’t keeping up with me.  It seemed to be taking forever to “refresh” the screen when I’d scroll or expand the screen.

“Should I take this exit and try to find a parallel route?” Laura asked.

“I don’t know.  All I see on the screen is a gray grid,” I replied.

“Oh, for Pete’s sakes, Mom.  What’s the matter?  What is so hard about following the map on the phone?” she groused.

In the meantime, I’m whipping my glasses on and off because the darn bifocals are near impossible to use when trying to focus on such a tiny little screen for such detailed observations.  I mean, YOU try figuring out exit numbers when they are blocked by a red line no matter how you maneuver the darn screen.  I finally got a good enough look at it to see that there appeared to be a parallel road with green lines on it, instead of red.  It looked promising so we took the next exit and prepared to rely on the GPS to get us back on the main road after we’d bypassed the congestion.

Well, we eventually DID get back on the main interstate but no sooner had we gotten on it then the GPS directed us to get off onto another highway.  Laura’s complaining began anew.

“What in the world is it doing?  Where is it taking us?  Why isn’t it leaving us on 495?….She kept firing these questions at me as if I had the answers.  How the heck should I know?

“If this puts us on Hwy. 66, I’m just going to cry,” she proclaimed dramatically.  “You’d better pray that we don’t hit Leesburg at rush hour.”

The complaining continued as the GPS kept on twisting and turning us onto various side highways in a circuitous route around Washington, DC.

“Did you program this thing to avoid the major highways?” she asked suspiciously.

“Well, I might have several years ago when we were going down to Myrtle Beach,” I replied.

“I knew it!” she said.  “That programming is still in there.  This is just disgusting.”

“Well, it’s not any more disgusting than listening to you complaining ever since we crossed the Virginia border, I countered.

We sat in silence for several minutes, listening to the GPS “recalculating.”

“Look,” I offered.  “Why don’t you just pull over when you see a gas station and let me go in and buy a map.  Then you can look at it and figure out how you want to go and we’ll turn off the GPS.”

“That’s not the point, Mom,” she insisted. “There’s going to come a time when there won’t be any more maps and you’re just going to have to figure out how to use your iPhone map to navigate.”

“Navigate! I can’t even see it when I’m just sitting here.  How in the world am I going to manipulate it when I’m driving?” I asked.  More silence ensued.

I rolled down the window a little.  “At least it’s a beautiful day out and we’re driving through some lovely areas.  Why don’t we just enjoy the drive?  We’ll get home eventually, right?” I suggested.

I don’t know if she was feeling a little ashamed of herself or just tired of complaining but the clouds lifted and the rest of our journey was much more pleasant, despite the fact that the GPS DID try to put us on Hwy. 66 (which we ignored).  We made it back to her house and we didn’t hit Leesburg during rush hour.  But next trip…..I’m taking a map!

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Hot Flashed Funk

  • Although I love my GPS, I also carry a map. A Map will never break down or freeze up or lose the satellite.

    I can relate to the ‘I can’t read the tiny print’ issue. REally, how ARE you supposed to use that iPhone app when you are driving? Answer: You shouldn’t use it while you are driving!

    For thatmatter, you shouldn’t be reading a map while driving either.

    Sigh….well, when the GPS works, it solves those little problems.

    And BTW…you had the right solution in the end! Enjoy the adventure.


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