you ever programmed your GPS for an adventure?
these days is unreal.
remember, not too long ago, getting directions to a variety of
you were familiar with the route or the area, turns might be marked
by big red barns and the fields designated by specific surnames
and other amazing landmarks. For instance…
out of the lot here and take the left after the old Caldor parking
lot. Follow that for a bit until you’re passing Thompson field.
At the end of the field turn left and go straight until you
see McNichol’s barn. Bear to the right at the fork after the
barn and go on until you cross the old bridge…”
of course, you would arrive at the pool party your co-worker was
hosting without a problem. No street names offered. No mileage
specifics measured. Chances are good that as the person was rattling
off the details you were visualizing every marker and turn until
you reached the final step or two, at which point you needed to
pay attention so you would know the number on the mailbox and
the color of the house.
time, as you expanded your world to include friends in new states
and jobs in different cities, the directions were adjusted a bit.
But… no less thrilling. They would involve turns at the third
stoplight. (Not third light. Not third intersection. Third stoplight.)
They would involve driving for 1.2 miles before the turn. They
would involve highway exits… which was amazingly fun when you
transitioned between states that numbered exits differently (say
from one that used a basic numerical progression to one using
highway mile marker distances as designations).
of all the twists for directions provided by growing up… ranging
from the two or three streets that make up your neighborhood to
finding your grandparents to learning about cities and states
and friends and employment and more… the really amazing leap has
been the GPS.
don’t believe I ever learned the actual directions from our driveway
to Justin’s college campus. I should have been paying attention
to them. I should have planned for that guy Murphy to visit and
cause some sort of disruption. But I never did write anything
down. I just plugged in the address (or brought up the entry as
a favorite) and off we went.
the more familiar you get, the more you can plug in. Your house
to a store you add to your plans since you’re headed out, then
over to the restaurant for dinner, and on to the concert venue.
Boom… boom… boom… step by step into the GPS. These days, the right
unit or app will even help you adjust for traffic, construction,
other obstacles and assorted delays.
there are limitations to any GPS if you aren’t smart enough to
recognize the blinders.
ten years ago, I was driving Terry, Ellen, Richard, Mike and Louis
in northern California. We were headed from the San Francisco
area down toward Monterrey. During the drive, I noticed a sign
on the side of the road for a natural bridge. The GPS didn’t warn
me. Spotting the sign did. It was awesome
eight years ago, Terry, Ellen and Richard were passengers on a
journey that involved moving from Las Vegas out to an overnight
visit to the Grand Canyon. After stopping at the Hoover Dam, a
few minutes looking over a map, we adjust the supposed fastest
route to a brilliant detour onto a stretch of the legendary Route
is a saying that many of us have heard, where the mythical destination
is marked by an X. That’s where the treasure resides. I had started
this essay out with a few thoughts in mind, most of them designed
to make some sort of connection with “arrive at your destination”,
less with “recalculating”, and a bit about the end point of a
the way though, I began to sense I was missing something. A “happy
are apps out there that are designed to help you find places you
normally would never find. But there’s always an aspect that an
app misses. Usually it’s something obvious, such as someone without
a smartphone not using apps, and as such not benefitting from
a clearer concept, you can’t provide an e-mail address if you
don’t have an e-mail address. And yet, the world had moved along
to the point where it assumes everyone has an e-mail address.
you live in New York City… Chicago… or insert any major city here…
the reality is simple. A two or three-mile radius around your
location is significantly different than a similar radius would
look for someone in Peach Springs, Arizona.
think I’d like to be able to set my GPS up for a journey, and
every so often hit that “happy accident” button. Something designed
to offer up an option or two for sightseeing, national monuments,
food and shopping beyond the general and popular destinations.
I see problems. I’m not going to get a “happy accident” button.
As soon as anyone could streamline the process… and I do mean
streamline, since many of you are already prepping messages to
tell me I could navigate around GPS options on any unit to find
national parks, community attractions, and more… the real problem
is that sponsorship and ad revenue would kick in and take on a
significant (and unwelcome) presence.
hoping to get a referral to the best local Navajo Tacos… served
up on fresh Fry Bread… but the old GPS company took some money
for preferred placements in the happy accident rankings, and suddenly
a national chain tops the listing.
the end, I’m led back to something I learned years ago, when working
on an ambulance. The quote was easy: “It’s a poor craftsman that
blames his equipment.” It’s up to us to know the blessings of
our tools, the methods for using them, and the limitations they
GPS will lead me to the X on the map. It can offer me some options
along the way. I can ultimately arrive at the treasure. But it’s
up to me to look around and notice the scenery that’s part of