Monday, 25 August 2008

My GPS Experience

A topic that has come up a couple of times on DDL is GPS tracking. I'd never used a GPS system myself, more a fan of the map or printed directions from the Internet.

On my latest trip to the US I did a lot of driving. First from Chicago out to the Quad Cities in Illinois where my father in law lives, this was pretty uneventful.

After staying overnight at my father in law's house I then drove down to Camden, Missouri. The first five and a half hours of the six hour journey were pretty uneventful. With two teenagers in the car I was press-ganged into listening to some of the most awful choices of music that I have the misfortune to have on my iPod.

As we got to with 20 miles of our destination, onto a road that I actually recognised, the GPS suggested that I "turn left". My instincts said this was wrong, my print-out instructions said this was wrong but hey, it's GPS, it must have some kind of information that I didn't know about?

I turned off of the main road, two lanes either direction, onto the smaller road. Straight away I knew that the GPS was right. The traffic on this road was zero. Having spent a while in queues it was nice to be doing 50Mph again, yup, this may not be the main road but it's certainly... "Turn right in 500 yards." OK, all knowing GPS, your wish is my... hmm, is this a road? Can't be, I'll try a little further down. "Please turn around as soon as possible."

Somewhat apprehensively I drove into what looked like a private, rough, loose road.

You know those horror films where GPS leads the victim up a road to a haunted house and the car and it's occupants are never seen again? This was one of those!!!

I couldn't see behind me because of the cloud of dust that my shiny little rental car was kicking up. "In three hundred yards turn right." the GPs called out. This road was hardly a road and it had turnings? Yup, it sure did!

We passed what I would call a classic American farm house, built from wood, three or four rusty trucks in the front yard and two old men on the front porch in rocking chairs, both with a shotgun across their laps. They tipped their hats politely as we rumbled slowly by.

In my mind I was just imagining having to walk back to the farm house to get them to use their truck to get the rental car out of a ditch.

I got a text message from my wife "Where R U?", to which my daughter replied "Dunno!".

After about ten minutes on this road we came to a bridge. Not one of those "Bridges Of Madison County" covered bridges, no a single lane, 400 foot long, swinging bridge.

As we got off the other side the locals in their truck with fishing rods gave us a knowing look, if you're down here in a rental car, chances are that GPS sent you.

When we finally got to our destination I still couldn't see out of the back window. The dust and dirt covered the back of the car to such an extent that it hid the rear number plate and blocked the rear back window.

I told my wife about our little detour and she of course wanted to see so later in the week we took the 4x4. Funny, when I had my baseball cap, my 4x4 and my farmers tan the looks from the locals were quite different.

By The Swinging Bridges


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