Falling Off the Map

I am a big fan of maps. I am a big admirer of spontaneity. The two are not usually found holding hands. But recently, I spied them making come hither looks at one another and decided to watch an unlikely romance blossom.

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Being a timely planner, getting my hands on the ultimate map for purposes of accurate and expeditious routing is a must. There is nothing more satisfying than showing up someplace not simply on time, but early. I’m fairly sure this is a byproduct of my childhood, as I was the creation of someone who lived life with an elevated sense of urgency, namely because she was invariably late. For the longest time I thought the proper way to enter a room and greet someone was with a sincere apology.

Eventually I figured out that my mother and clocks were rarely in sync with one another. She was a frenzied woman of four and the fact that we all made it safely into adulthood speaks volumes of her ability to pull it all together at the last minute. It could easily have turned out that the least vocal of her brood would still be outside on someone’s curb waiting to be picked up from piano lessons.

To further embed the trait of timeliness, I studied for a year with a teacher whose motto was:

To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is unforgivable.

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She would shut and lock her classroom door one minute before instruction began. Punctuality was not a casual dialogue with her. In fact, dialogue was something she found tedious and rife with excuses, and it was not even a safe bet to make eye contact with the woman. But she did impress upon me the need for speed. And no less than four alarm clocks.

Over the years, I found that knowing where I am going and how long it takes to get there is an essential element to scoring a mental high five with myself. Cue my love for maps. The colors, the words, the numbers, the grids—it all adds to the magic of orienting myself in some vague spot in the universe.

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As a child, I paid a great deal of attention to the sage words of an elderly neighbor who frequently took my brother and me on deep woodland walks, showing us which plants and berries we could safely eat, which would slay us on the spot, and which would provide a magic carpet ride like Walt Disney could never imagine.

On the back of her ‘Stalking the Wild Asparagus’ lectures were the general outlines of her ‘Navigation 101’ classes. Finding north, reading shadows, and leaving a non-edible trail behind you were all necessary skills she felt worthy of passing on to two children who were nearly as intelligent as the psychotropic fungus she made a wide berth of on the trails. We did our best to take her schooling with us, and throughout the years found that some of it actually stuck.

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It’s really nothing more than paying attention to your surroundings and making a mental map. Clues as to your location are around you everywhere. She likened our walks to a giant Candy Land board game. Shake the dice, move your marker, land near the licorice sticks—or in our case, the giant marsh filled with cattails. Easy as pie.

Today, satellite guided imagery squished down to the size of a fingernail on your smart phone nearly takes all the fun out of going on a journey. Some mild-mannered voice is pleased to guide you with well-timed and repetitive instructions if you are hoping to go from point A to point B and not be bothered with the pedantic details of topography and mile markers.

But this is where I get a small hitch in my britches. Having been fooled one too many times with outdated and malevolent automobile equipped GPS systems, I’m not terribly keen to give total control to anything that requires a continual “update” in order to fix the latest “bugs” in its system.

091114goldfish (708x800)But I was assured that this newest directional diva would not only get me where I wanted to go, but would find the path of least resistance as well. That is a tall order to believe when one is determined to head north, but hearing an announcement of interminable congestion yonder down the road, you are encouraged to head south.

I look. And see no congestion.

I eyeball the device and give it a thunk on the dashboard in case there’s a wire loose, but am told by my companion that, no, the information is not only correct, but is being gathered by the bazillion of other cell phone users around you—not satellite. Trust it. Be spontaneous and go for it. Let go of “The Planned Route.”

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I do. And then cheerily wave at those stuck in the hour long delay I am passing via another well-kept secret route. Amazingly, I will still be on time. I lift up my phone and shout to the other cars, “You all should get one of these!”

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Yet as magnificent as modern technology is in assisting folks by guiding us over hill and dale, I slowly realize I am left with an emptiness of accomplishment. Deep down inside I still believe there is something worthy of retaining those rusting aptitudes for course-plotting. And passing that proficiency on to others.

Knowing and identifying where you are, where you want to go, and how to get there are crucial life skills. Ultimately, they might just save you from getting lost or being late, but maybe—just maybe—they will bless you with a blissful magic carpet ride.

~Shelley

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

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67 thoughts on “Falling Off the Map

  1. Be glad you don’t travel with my sister. You have to set the clocks back at least an hour, and lie to her about the time, to prevent getting stuck in rush hour traffic. LOL. If your leaf hung from our family tree, you truly would be SOL. As far as those GPS thingies go, watch out for one-way streets. Need I say more? LOL. 😉

    • Your sister sounds like she might be my mother’s doppelganger. Maybe we were all meant to be paired up with someone whose time clock ticked in a different time zone–to practice getting our zen on?
      And yes, the one way street sucker punch. Boy, am I familiar with that ill-timed maneuver.
      Cheers!

  2. I think maps and spontaneity go well together. You look at maps,plan a trip,but you don’t set a time. That’s the spontaneous part. “Oh it’s 8:00 AM time for breakfast. I think I”ll go… to Austin or Dallas. That’s how I like traveling.
    I detest being late. What are your thoughts about globes?
    An older woman taught you about the wonders of nature and showed you the Magic Carpet Ride. What a co-incidence. An older woman did the same for me. Of course I don’t think it was the same kind though.
    I like the idea of GPS. I just am not that familiar with it. I’m sure it could come in handy.
    I do like your style. You start with a humorous anecdote. Expand to a legitimate and logical metaphor and then nail it with the philosophical closer.
    I hope this doesn’t sound cynical. I am being sincere. I consider you my Saturday night mind bath. Not to be confused with a brain wash.

    • Good heavens, Benson, you truly are one terrific ink slinging philologist. So firstly, yes, given no time restrictions, I agree, spontaneity blooms. I think you’d be an awesome travel partner in that stress would find itself tossed outside the car window along with all alarm clocks.
      Globes? Love ’em. Especially the one’s that have a tiny house inside them surrounded with trees and a miniature skating pond with snow falling all about.
      I’m going to make a wide berth of your coming of age memory, but I’m hoping you still send her thank you notes.
      Yep, GPS can certainly come in handy, but there are times where one would like to be off the grid and “undiscoverable.” That’s becoming increasingly hard to do.
      And lastly, thank you for the warm and wonderful compliments, Benson. The fact that I even have something tantamount to style makes me giddy with glee. It’s good to be someone’s psychological soap. 😛

    • I totally agree, Benson – Shelley moves us around one step at a time until we get to the end and find we’ve been dancing. I’m sure that sort of mental exercise is good for the brain. 🙂

  3. I love the old road trip – family vacations we used to take as kids with our maps + Tripticks from CAA (Canadian version of AAA). Refolding those big maps was my job, and I took it very seriously. 🙂
    GPS devices are convenient for sure, but I’ve noticed that when I rely on them exclusively when in a new city, I never actually KNOW where I am in that city, regardless how long I’m there. Seeing my location in a 4 inch square never gives me enough perspective to internalize the layout of the area and keeping me handcuffed to the GPS device forever.

    • Ah, the family road trips–hopefully sans Chevy Chase at the wheel. How are you with folding fitted bed sheets? I could use some help.
      And I’m really hoping some combination of genius will strike gold between car manufacturers and technology where suddenly your windscreen will be utilized as some transparent (and non-distracting) map. I don’t like to take my eyes off the road. Or how bout they make the steering wheel vibrate on one side when your turn is in front of you? That would be hugely helpful. Maybe I should patent that idea? o_O

  4. Like you Mrs Peak, I will be early for my own funeral. (With my desire to be early comes just a hint of anxiety that may or may not drive my husband nuts sometimes.) Another lovely witty post with delightful cartoons from the cartoonmeister himself. Thanks for always getting my brain box ticking and putting a smile on my face!

    • Having the exceptionally well-tuned culinary skills that you do has either shaped you into being time-conscious or the fact that you’re keenly aware of the clock simply gives you an aptitude toward all things oven-related. There’s not a lot of fudge time, is there? And certainly ‎Señor Cheergerm is wholly forgiving when you put a plate of yum in front of him, yes?
      Thanks for the lovely compliments. Our pleasure, as always.

  5. I’m a sucker for Google map, not GPS. I write the directions on a piece of aper ( using a colored marker , and stick the paper where I can see it ) What I like is old fashioned Goole map , or mapQuest is this…… right on Exit 101, 300 miles, 5 hours travel time… You bet I’ll be driving on the right side of the road for 300 miles.

    • Finding someone as young as you who has a penchant for paper is rare and (in my opinion) truly delightful. It’s good to know we’ve not lost your entire generation to motherboards and three-axis gyroscopes.
      I’m thinking that pretty soon, our need for automobile mapping aids will be a thing of the past, though, as soon we’ll pop into our car like a taxicab and simply bark out the address. It’s an intriguing vision of the not so distant future.

  6. I am a lifelong early bird, but I live in a world where most people are late, late, late. I’ve noticed it more and more with my students, who seem to find the start time of 9:15 a.m. an insurmountable obstacle to arriving punctually at class. (I asked one why he couldn’t simply leave ten minutes earlier each day, but he only shrugged.) In college, I had one of those professors who closed the door. If you were late, you had to listen to the lecture from outside. I was never, ever late 🙂 I have not had the courage to become that professor, but I’m thinking of giving at daily quiz that starts at 9:15 on the dot…

    • The world seems unfairly divided doesn’t it, Linnet? Rule followers and rule benders. How I envy (okay, and maybe despise a tiny bit) those who have pliable life guidelines. I yearn for that shrug of the shoulder attitude, but being on the receiving end of it makes me choke on my Cheerios.
      I vote you hand out the quiz at 9:14, just to shake things up. Unpredictable whimsy.
      PS Thought of you last night. Watched Oscar and Lucinda. Hello, Ciaran!

  7. After many years of living in a house of men, I’ve learned that when we need (or I want) to be somewhere at a certain time, I tell them the “man time” that I want to leave the house. Man time, of course, is 45 minutes short of the actual time I want to be out of the house. I then follow this up by being the driver for the day to avoid any putzing or stopping to ask for directions when needed. Happily, this seems to work pretty well and when my son got married I immediately took his wife into the fold and clued her in on this way of doing things. It was a good exchange because she came with a few tricks of her own…..she taught me to withhold food from said men until I get the decision/agreement I’m seeking on an issue.

    • Man Time! I love it.
      And I’m totally with you on the idea of being the driver, as there’s this false sense of control I cling to and hope will one day come to fruition.
      Lastly, I think you lucked out with the new addition to your family–the perfect co-conspirator!

    • Shhh, you’ll be giving away all our secrets! Although in our house it’s not so much man time as children time as my husband is usually on time. Or it was children time, until the eldest 2 (boys) went to university. The youngest (girl) doesn’t seem to need such tactics. Odd that. 😉

  8. We had a GPS and without it, would never have found the farm to collect Maggie.
    Saying that, the same GPS had us going round in circles in Wales, so it wouldn’t have been surprising if we met ourselves going the other way.
    Hubby now has old tech on his dash, a compass, and any GPS is me in the passenger seat with a street map book!
    🙂

    • And yet with such beautiful landscape, going round in circles in Wales is practically a repeated feast for the eyes, yes?
      And good heavens, if you’re able to make heads or tales of some of those UK map books I totally take my hat off to you!

  9. Great read Shelley, fab cartoons too, although we use the satnav we also like to have the map to annoy the satnav lady! She can often be heard screaming on our journeys ” turn around when possible” “do a uturn when possible” ” TURN ROUND NOW!!!!!!!” Lol great fun :-))

    • I’m totally on board, Janice. I’m sure there is a specific label for our passive aggressive disorder–those of us who love to mess with the mind of the satnav saps.
      So glad you liked the post this week. Cheers!

  10. Oh golly, I’ve had more than my share of hair-raising adventures following just the instructions from a GPS. Found myself in the middle of ghettos, on a one lane two way road in rural England and stopping at a brothel that was supposed to be a gas station in Battle Mountain Nevada! It is important to update them… really important. ; )

  11. I am not a fan of spontaneity, and so I’m a big fan of maps. Of those in my immediate family, I’m the one cursed with a poor sense of direction. (Everyone’s learned that if they’re riding in the car with me and have a question about where we’re going, they should ask me and then do the exact opposite. It will get us to the right place every time.) I learned to read a map a long time ago, but I considered the GPS devices a godsend. Until I ran into numerous GPS dead zones in West Virginia. I’ll never forget my aunt and I circling around one little town, trying to find our way out for 20 minutes while the GPS said on endless repeat, like a broken record: “Recalculating, recalculating.” Or the time it brought us to a narrow grassy forestry road and encouraged us (with almost detectable malicious glee) to take the road for two miles. Oh, and the time it took us on a mountain road big enough for only one car, and a nice drop off the side, where a chicken literally crossed the road in front of us. But I digress. Now I still rely on the GPS, but I bring a map and printed directions to refer to as well. I need all the help I can get.

    Sounds like you had some wonderfully wise teachers growing up, Shelley! What a gift to be able to learn from a woman who could show you how to find your way out of the woods, and also to recognize which plants are edible and which should be avoided. And I think learning to be punctual early on in life is great. My dad is a stickler for showing up at least a few minutes early. His younger sister is the exact opposite. If we’re going on a trip, we have to lie to her about when to meet us, telling her we’re leaving 30 minutes earlier than we actually plan to.

    • Okay, this is me speaking totally from a moment of philosophical indulgence here–and quite possibly off the mark–but some of my favorite stories of yours also display endings with your classic purposeful possibility of many directions. It in no way translates to a “poor sense of direction,” but rather a plethora of choices. Maybe your GPS senses your artistic idiosyncrasy?
      And yes, I was lucky with a couple of folks who were great mentors (next week’s blog!)–the good, the bad, and the stay outta their way instructors. I suppose you can learn something from everyone, right?
      I hope a few of those beautiful leaves are still clinging to your side of the Blue Ridge, Miranda. ❤

      • Hmm, I’ve never thought of it that way before, but maybe the GPS senses more about me than I know. (I used to study astrology before I became a huge skeptic, and my teacher told me I have a lot of Aquarian energy, which can interfere with electrical appliances. So maybe the GPS is picking up on that Aquarian energy?) Next week’s post sounds awesome. I’m looking forward to reading it! And we do have some beautiful maples still holding onto their leaves here, but rain (and possible snow) later in the week will probably make short work of the fall colors.

  12. I love maps, too. The Atlas is underrated. It saddens me that kids growing up today have no clue how to use them and no use for them. My heritage is German and that should be enough to clue you in on the value placed on being early. It drives me nuts when guests/family/friends are late. Fifteen minutes–okay, whatever. But two hours? Four hours? Since when did an arrival time mean an approximation? I was a single parent of three–if I can do it, well, dammit, so should the rest of the world 😉
    Charming post, as always, Shelley.

    • I think you and I would get along famously, Cindy. I’ve always felt that if you arrived late–and especially consistently–it’s a pretty clear message that the person you’re meeting isn’t important enough to make an effort for. It speaks volumes about some folks. Although I’ve had plenty of finger waggers tell me I might want to bring it down a few notches as well, so finding some balance on that topic is a little prickly. Of course it’s fairly easy to get prickly when folks show up for dinner the next day at breakfast. o_O

  13. Shelley, this post is so well-constructed that you are clearly a mapmaker and not a map follower! I envy your ability to tie your theme together so nicely. I must confess that I am one of those “barely on time” people. I have memories of highschool, where I lived all of two houses and a football field away from it, and all my friends shook their heads because I would show up for class at the last possible second. Our school used to play the countdown music from Jeopardy thirty seconds before the final bell, and I recall skidding down the hallway ramp in my dress shoes to make it through the door at zero. These days I am not nearly so athletic, so I have had to compensate by leaving earlier. The horror! 😉

    • Really, Sue? You? A last minute Lucy? I never would have believed it. From some reason, your writing allows this methodical and meticulous personality to shine through–one I would have sworn to require precise planning and time-framing to work. But perhaps you indeed are all those things, and choose not to waste a minute sitting idle, and are therefore purposefully “barely on time.” BUT YOU’RE STILL ON TIME!
      Thanks for the lovely compliments as always. 🙂

  14. I love maps and have done my best to educate my children on their usefulness. Completely agree that a tiny square of screen showing you one tiny bit at a time does nothing to teach you perspective and how it all fits together.

    When we first moved here SatNavs weren’t nearly as common so I’d plan my route as best I could before setting off. If I got lost because I took a wrong turning, or had to take a detour because of roadworks etc, then I’d get the map back out again when I got home to try and retrace my steps in paper. It meant I learnt the tiny country lanes a lot faster and can now take all sorts of back routes to avoid the inevitable winter flooding or whatever. When one son learnt to drive I tried to teach him the same tricks, but I’m not sure he was that interested. Oh well.

    Rob’s detour cartoon is great (as are they all), it’s the one thing I do wish I had – a Satnav that could tell me where traffic jams are before I get stuck behind them – that information I could definitely use, although in my case it’s more likely to be a tractor that has decided now is a good time to crawl up the hill with a trailer loaded up with bales of hay. Maybe technology will catch up one day. 🙂

    • Laura, do you have a smart phone that downloads apps? If you do, then you can use Google Maps, or Waze Social GPS, or Inrix XD–all of these (and there are more, but these are free) will help you with not just mapping, but traffic and accidents. Not so sure about tractors. Still, I’m hopeful it might be something you can use.
      This is where it pays to have teenage kids. I’d NEVER know about any of these if I wasn’t always starting a conversation directed to one of them with: “I wish there was an application for …” It’s my cure-all. 🙂

      • Thanks Shelley, I have a map app that came with the phone but it eats battery and makes the phone super-hot, so I’m wary of using it. I think it’s because my phone camera is so huge that the screen has been built to show minute detail (and uses lots of power). Which is great if you’re taking occasional photos but less great if the screen and phone are on all the time. It can drain the battery even when the phone is being charged. 😦 Still, my original battery turned out to have a fault, so maybe I’ll be brave and try again, and take your advice to look for a better app.

        In return, you wanted help folding fitted sheets? https://storify.com/KentishLol/how-to-fold-a-fitted-a-sheet
        I’d been bugged to do this for some twitter friends, and finally got around to it last night, after more nagging. :/

        • BRILLIANT! You are a regular British Martha Stewart. I shall be sure to check in come the holidays and ask for a slide show on table setting and the most politic way to break up a family brawl without upsetting the floral centerpiece.
          Thank, Laura.

  15. Shelley!,
    I love your post… Your writing is a cleverly mixes up intelligence and irony in the perfect dose.
    Being a timely planner and a lover of maps are is the key to an expeditious way of living.
    The maps were so useful a few years ago… Now we don’t even need them… Even though we need our ears to listen to the GPS’ instructions and /or our eyes to see the drawings of the routes we are supposed to take. Thus Technology would never be able to steal our senses… We are sensitive human beings and a touch is needed to get your IPad in the right path.
    Time can be measured but unfortunately for us even when we arrive early, we would never be able to dominate Time and avoid aging and death.
    I also like to be on time and even a little bit earlier than expected but I know that my time is finite and that piss me off… When that happens I assume myself my mortal condition… I simply get lost on maps and I arrive late…
    Thank you very much for sharing!. All the best to you, Aquileana ⭐

    • Thank you for all your lovely thoughts and comments, Aquileana. I can only imagine with the amount of effort that goes into researching and writing your posts, you cannot have much leftover to spare!
      I have this one ultimate vacation desire that for years has been rattling around in my head: I want to get in my car–no maps, no apps, and drive in whatever direction strikes my fancy. Turn down any road that has a good look or a lovely feel to it and drive by the seat of my pants westward. Then after one week, I have to reverse the whole affair with the only alteration being that of needing to head east.
      One day …
      I’m determined to make it happen. 🙂

  16. HAIL? (out-sighed it looks like THAT’s possible) –> readin’ your discussion and dissection and appropriate and frequent mini-side-trips joggles whatever there is to be joggled in my mind (as, apparently, numerous of your other commentators) — the trips, the timing, the methods, the tools … why, just this morning i considered hiking up a peak (unremarkable in that it is NOT on anyone’s list of conquests) which is truly in the middull of no-wear and i thought about buying the map (7.5 minute, preferably) or two which i’d take with me to unfurl when on the top in order to see on paper what i’d see ‘out there.’ then (of course) the pessimistic thoughts intruded: it’d be cloudy. if not, the peak would be in the vicinity of the intersection of FOUR MAPS which i’d then need to see, “on paper” where i was.
    prior to being able to borrow the work-GPS i wouldn’t even consider navigating on my own in large unknown cities.
    but … part of me hopes this isn’t true, if i were to say “Mark my Words — those totally reliant on technology will be, some day, told to assemble en masse and follow the lemmings …”

    • I vote instead of taking a map up to your–as of yet–unconquered peak, you bring a flag. Plant it. Paint it. Pee around it. Mark your territory. And then maybe contact somebody in the county clerk’s office and let them know of the new development. MOUNT BETUNADA!

      • don’t worry, there’s plenty of candidates for Perspective Peak! i’ve arranged rocks to spell out SMEGMA on the top of what has just got to be Smegma Peak. and the mount i mentioned? i think it’s Corcoran Peak or something like that …

  17. I too am a lover of maps!
    I had to learn to be on time – Growing up in Latin America if you show up on time for a party the host will still be shaving at best – or worse – they haven’t started getting ready and you shall sit in the living room for an hour or so waiting for a drink. I’m rarely late, but I am relaxed about getting off which drives my husband nuts as he likes to arrive early – and is perpetually nervous that we someday we might be late. Latino time is a little more elastic.

    • Well, you’ve made a really good point there, Cinda. Latino time, Italian time, French time–I think I’ve had enough experiences in many countries where I’ve realized that my watch and the cultural watch are totally out of sync. I suppose it’s good for the head and heart to be reminded that one’s life should invite a little pliability now and again. It encourages you to look around and take a moment to see things when they aren’t simply whizzing on by.
      Cheers

  18. So many wonderful memories you have brought back of our times as children spent foraging, tromping, making caves, climbing trees and harvesting anything Mrs. Sobieski lead us to do. Moss, flowers, bugs, dung… be it in her back woods, her garden or at the cattle and horse farm next door.

    Do you remember playing in her root cellar? The large white wooden container we used to play hide and seek in amoungst the potatoes while hiding from Mr. S. when he cleaned his daily fish catch or traps outside and stored and dried what he wanted to brine for the winter? Oh the hide and seek we played while waiting to hear his strong and deep Sweedish accent call us out.

    To be brief Shelley, again, yet another great post. I adore your writings, memories, stories and creativness. Don’t ever let anyone take that away from you or tell you you should only live the now, live the truth or what is real. Keep your creativeness and write for you, and the rest of us. I often think I live vicariously through you, although I have been there for many of your experiences (and I really regret the yellow snow cone thing, oh the cruelty). Thank God for that.

    Memories, dreams, inspiration, hope… hope, that is what life is made of. Write as if you have nothing to lose. I guess, live like that too, right?

    Much love and respect,

    Stoshu

    • Yep, some spectacular memories, bud. How lucky we were.
      Thanks for the encouragement and the lovely compliments. I’ll do my best to keep the ink fresh and frequent.
      And shouldn’t you be out stalking something with a wattle?

      PS POLISH

  19. I am also a fan of maps Shelley, especially very old ones. I suppose it’s my childhood ‘treasure map’ fancies that still have me in thrall! Could you ever imagine any self-respecting pirate asking that irritatingly cool voiced woman on the GPS whether he should turn left to find ‘X marks the spot’ ! (I’d love to see Gott’s take on that idea!! 😀 ) In any case, as far as GPS is concerned our house doesn’t exist at all. Several visitors have been led a merry dance through maize fields and vineyards in search of us, a simple map would have found us every time! 🙂 Fun post as always 🙂

    • Well, from the intoxicating photos, Jane, I’d say that it’s a very good thing GPS isn’t too amenable to helping folks find your homestead. I can only imagine that once people laid eyes on your slice of heaven you couldn’t get them to leave without the aid of a broom and a few dozen threats. Any map you hand out to friends is surely a treasure map in and of itself.
      And yeah, I bet our Jolly Roger–er, Rob would whip up quite the frothy pirate parody. 😛

  20. I grew up with not a whole lot of money so that even in my college years, when the GPS was huge, I still used printed off Mapquest, along with my own road map to make the 13 hour drive home each holiday. Reading your post brought back my memories and there really was such a great sense of pride in making it back all on my own. I now do not go anywhere new without my iPhone’s maps, and learned I barely know how to get anywhere outside of my own town. 🙂

    • Well I’d say it might be time to take the kids on a little road trip, Sasha! A treasure hunt with only printed maps and the ingenuity of your own sense of direction. I love the idea of getting lost. So much to discover.
      And then, of course, buried at the bottom of your purse if you are well and truly lost can sit your iPhone, waiting to save the day–but only if you absolutely must.
      A thirteen hour drive? Good heavens, you should get an award for dedication and perseverance. And maybe extra food for scoring so high on the loyalty card. 😉

  21. Paper maps are the best, the older the better! The downside to the paper map is that when I get lost using it I have no one but myself to blame, whereas when a GPS leads me astray I can usually allay my fears into heartfelt scoldings aimed towards the dulcet-toned machine-lady.

    • I detest the dulcet-toned machine-lady. I need someone like Robin Williams, or Chris Rock to snap me with a little humor if I’m to follow orders. Choosing a voice and the script would make the idea of taking directions a lot more fun. (and successful)
      But I agree. Paper maps rock.

      • Indeed! There’s something particularly snarky about the machine-lady’s tone as she keeps “re-directing” us when we don’t follow her directions that gets us especially riled up. Celebrity voices for GPS: a brilliant idea! Why has no one done this already?! I would like to be able to choose between James Earl Jones and Meryl Streep telling me where I need to go.

  22. Aww, another great little story.

    I also love maps. When I was thirteen, my family went on a year long roadtrip and dad gave me the honor of shotgun. This included being entirely responsible not only for getting us from one state to the next, but finding the hotels from different books and even making reservations. Once he realized that he had passed on to me his musical tastes, I was also allowed to be DJ. One of my fondest bonding moments with him.

    • Holy cow, Alex. What an incredible journey and a marvelous gift! A year long roadtrip?? I so hope you took notes as that is the stuff of great novels. And to have the title of chief navigator pressed upon you at so early an age–what a marvelous fellow your dad sounds. What fantastic life lessons he provided through first hand experience.
      Dad of the year, for sure.

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