On The Road

I’m on vacation this week in the Berkshires, staying in a comfy bed-and-breakfast in western Massachusetts.

One of my colleagues asked me, “Why go there?”  It’s an escape from the heat of the city (although it’s been a cool summer so far); the people are friendly; and there are places and things to do that interest me and my wife.

So this past weekend, I rented a car for the trip.  I told the guy where I was going, and he asked me if I’d like to rent a GPS box for the trip.

Thirty years ago, if you had asked me what sort of gizmo I’d like to have in my car, I would have salivated at the thought of a device that established my location and displayed it on a map.

Alas, now that one can buy a GPS box for $200-$300, I don’t want one.  I still think the idea is cool, and I will watch the GPS display if I’m riding in someone else’s car.

I always thought that a basic element of driving is knowing where you are, and where you want to go.  I don’t like it when someone tells me to follow them; I want to know the way myself.

So when I travel by car to a place I’m not familiar with, part of the exercise is to get out the maps and understand the route.   And it works: I’ve never gotten lost.

OK, in fairness, I can’t quite say that: I’ve sometimes lost track of where I was exactly, but I knew I was heading in the right direction, and eventually came to a spot that I did recognize where I could continue onward.  I’ve never had to backtrack in such cases.

And last night, I did, indeed, go around in circles, but that was because the place I was visiting advertised itself as being located on one road, but was actually on an adjacent road.

But neither of those cases really counts as ‘lost.’  Navigation is part of the joy of driving, and I don’t want to give that up, least of all to a made-in-China, value-engineered, plastic turd.

Except that I’m sure that most people who buy GPS boxes do it for exactly that reason: to save themselves the trouble of thought.

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