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Friday, April 1, 2011

GPS, a guide to life

My, oh my, let me tell you a story. This story has no ending, like all stories, it is a work in progress. A couple of Black Friday's ago Jerry and I decided to go to Walmart and buy ourselves a GPS. Since we do most of our travelling by auto, we thought it would be a good investment. We opted for a fancy one, with all the updates included, global gas prices, all the bells and whistles that you could ever need.

I must tell you that this was not our first experience with GPS's as we have borrowed other peoples, and tested out a few. We decided to go with a TomTom. We like it very much, although this is not a love story, it is a story of how the GPS is not always the way to go. Let me explain.

One of our first long journeys with the GPS was to Nashua, New Hampshire, to visit my brothers. We decided to take my Dad there for a visit, as he was getting sick. We programed the trip into the screen, and off we went. Being that we live in central Wisconsin it took us through downtown Chicago. No worries, it calculated the traffic, or something, and got us through without as much as a traffic jam. It told us what lane to be in, how fast we were going, if we were speeding, it was reliable. We got so confident that we put away the atlas.

After a long days drive, we decided to stop to sleep, in a Motel. This would be unusual for us, as we have always just driven strait through sleeping while the other drives. My Dad was feeling sick, and we needed to stop and rest, for his sake. We just punched a few buttons on the machine and it gave us the closest motel. We were in Cleveland, Ohio. The Motel was shabby, to say the least. It looked as though it used to be a chain operation which was sold off, and never updated. It looked iffy at best, but my Dad was exhausted, and needed to get out of the car. We slept, fitfully. I am not one to sleep where I feel uncomfortable. This place looked scary to me.

The next morning we punched the nearest restaurant into the GPS and drove to breakfast. It was barely light out, but we could see the neighborhood, now. We turned left and right and reached our destination. The food was okay, nothing to write about. We ate, and then we took off. Our plan was to make it to my brothers that night. The GPS calculated that we could be there in 14 hours, without breaks. No problem, we could make it, if Dad could.

Well into our day, my Dad started to feel very ill. He wanted to pull over at the nearest gas station. We programed it in. We were on the toll way then, and needed to exit for the nearest place. He looked terrible, almost grey in color, and was shaking. Now for those of you who do not know, my Dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. This was before the diagnosis, but he had been diagnosed with diabetes, then. He was new to it, and had no idea how to even give himself insulin shots. He was confused, and instead of eating when he felt shaky, or checking his blood sugar, he would just give himself a little boost of insulin. BAD IDEA! Of course, the GPS took us the long way to the rest stop. Of course, we were all in a panic, that Dad would die on our watch. We finally arrived, and Dad walked to the bathroom, and did whatever he was going to do. I bought orange juice, and demanded that he drink it! I told my Husband that we should take him to an emergency room to get checked out, but my Dad would have no part of it. We went on.

Dad slept the rest of the way to New Hampshire. He got dropped off at my Brother Andy's house, where he always stays, and we proceeded to my Brother Ted's house, where I always stay. I have been to New Hampshire many times, and I do know my way around Nashua, but I used the GPS, just because. Of course it took me an unfamiliar way, in the dark, and I felt unsure, but it got us there. I was glad.

The rest of the trip was just okay. Another family visit, not really fun, but I felt glad to have done this for my Dad, and my brothers. Jerry and I were left to stay in a camper, in my brothers back yard. We went to a few soccer games to cheer on my nephews. We went mini golfing, my second favorite sport. We spent a few hours in Boston, touring the Science Museum. We ate Dunkin Doughnuts almost every morning. We drove around, with the GPS to guide us.

On the way home, my Dad seemed renewed. He had gotten some rest, and was ready to head home. We packed up, and off we went. Dad demanded that we take his way home, instead. We programed the GPS and set the trip. He was tired and sick again by the time we hit New York. We found a Motel, but this time, I demanded a better one! We slept, and got up so early that even Perkins wasn't open yet. 19 hours without a break, to reach our destination, home. Somehow, we made it, but it wasn't pretty. We missed one toll in Chicago, oops! Just .75 cents but, still shameful! Dad insisted we bypass downtown Chicago, and we hit a huge traffic jam.

I titled this post, GPS a guide to life. Here is my humble opinion. Yes, you can program your trip, and listen to the computer voice with all it's advise, but you should use your head, your eyes, and your gut. A trip is supposed to be fun, an adventure. Sometimes the best times are on those back roads that you get lost on. It is not always good to know your arrival time, as you may want to stop and pee. And sometimes when the computer says you have reached your destination, you have no idea where you are. Kind of like life, I suppose.