Thursday, February 7, 2013

GPS and Rural Roads

      We own a wonderful invention lovingly referred to as our GPS.  It is a great little machine that allows we country folk to head to the big city and feel like we can find our way around.  However, using one in a rural area can be a little tricky.  If you have never seen the above warning on your GPS, then let me illuminate you.
     Of course, some of the problem may be that living the rural way of life means that we are cheap-skates and don't want to update our GPS.  Especially since the update costs more than the little machine cost in the first place. As a result, I think our GPS must go into panic mode sometimes. There is a new bridge in our area and every time we cross it, the GPS screen makes it look like we are swimming the English channel.  I can imagine that suave, British accent screaming out: "Turn around when possible, you are about to drown!"
     I don't know if the man of your house is anything like mine, but according to him, the GPS is never wrong.  A couple of years ago, when our GPS was brand new, we were travelling far from home sweet home one night. We were all exhausted. We had been travelling all day, looking forward to a stay in a hotel along our way.  We kept seeing  signs for hotels, but just felt the urge to keep going a little further. The head of household typed in "hotel" into the GPS and it navigated us to the nearest one. We got off the exit and there was a beautiful Holiday Inn all lit up and welcoming.  However, the GPS was leading us into the nearby small town.  So, of course, we had to follow the voice on the screen, instead of our instincts.  Our instincts were right.
     We like to keep our GPS set on the "Shortest route" setting. That means we often get to travel the scenic route.  Here is an example of one such time. I had to take some supplies to my hard working man while he was on a job somewhere out in the country.He gave me the address and I typed it into the GPS.  We had no trouble finding him and gave him the supplies.  I decided to head over to a nearby rural village to pick up some things at the Mennonite bulk store.  So, I typed in the  name of the town and we took off.  We drove along for awhile, enjoying the scenery, obeying the commands of the beautiful British voice.  At one point, I hear, "turn left" and was suddenly grateful for 4-wheel drive.  This was similar to the trail we ended up on.  Of course, the screen made it look like a four-lane highway.
     Our next turn brought us to a cow pasture.  We received an unusual stare from the man in the feed truck, but smiled and gave him "the wave" as we passed.  I'm sure that my mobile billboard emblazoned with "S & D Seamless Gutters" gave him all the explanation he needed. After leaving the cow pasture, we were relieved to be back on an actual gravel road and started to relax and enjoy the scenery again.  As we came up over a hill, the GPS showed that we were to continue in a straight path, but this is what we saw:
     I had to turn around.  I kept hearing "Turn around when possible" and the arrow on the screen kept pointing straight ahead, but I wasn't going to follow.  We eventually found a recalculated route that seemed to satisfy the "voice" and made it to where we were headed.
     I don't know how a GPS is programmed or how they choose what roads to include, but obviously the programmer never travelled this way before!  I guess next time I may have to employ the old fashioned GPS: stop and ask for directions... but you'll get that in a small town.