Your destination is unknown

 

When I first got my driverís license (and for a few years that followed), I often hopped in the car with absolutely no idea where I was headed.

Ok, that may not be completely accurate.

I might have a movie in mind. Maybe something to eat. Most of the time, I knew what I planned on doing. Knew who I was going to pick up and have in the car with me. And yetÖ even then, I didnít always know exactly where I was going to go.

Consider the movies.

In my hometown, when I got my license, there were at least two movie theaters within a ten-to-fifteen-minute drive. Expand it to a forty-five-minute drive and we could include more than five movie theaters that I visited at least once per year in those days.

Now these theaters offered all their movies at different times. So, you might find the same movie playing at 6:45pm, 7pm, 7:10pm, 7:30pm and 8:15pm. Once you figured out what time everyone could be ready to go, and whether or not you planned to eat before or after or at all, you might be able to narrow down the options a bit. But the basic start of the process was the same: when you asked a friend if they wanted to see a certain movie, the agreement to head out had not made the decision of where you were going.

And thatís just a movie.

When you first get your license, you want to explore. And the only navigational tool beyond your memory and experience back then was something printed, like a copy of the official Arrow Street Guide. There was no GPS or app recalculating after every turn. If you went out, turned right and then left, drove fifteen miles and turned again, there was a good chance you could get yourself lost.

It was a magical time. One where getting found almost always involved continuing to drive until you recognized a barn, a shopping plaza, or the sign for a familiar highway.

I still think AAA is amazing. I donít use them as much for their travel services as I used to, but membership has its advantages. One of those was asking for a Triptik to be made specific to your journey. Copies of maps and more could also be found. Many of these services are still available today.

My mother impressed me as well. When we went to college, she put together a drive guide of sorts. It listed rest areas and mile markers. Forget the signs on the side of the thruway, you could just glance at her listing and know how far away you were from the next rest stop and what food they offered.

Thereís a blind faith that goes into things today. Less learning and piecing things together. More fire up the app, plug in where you expect to go and youíre off.

Doesnít always work out for the best.

Once on a trip to Las Vegas, we decided to include the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. Great extras on our vacation, and stunning beauty. Highly recommend.

As much as I trust my GPS, part of my routine for any first-time drive is usually to glance at a map or atlas. I like knowing if anything like a city or alternative highway might be running along the way, in case we experience a craving for food (or a traffic jam that needs avoiding). On this trip, a portion of the legendary Route 66 was there to be found. And the GPS was never going to suggest driving it.

Another time, we were including a wedding as part of a trip to Florida. The friends involved had selected a location that really didnít have a physical, specific address. It took a GPS (no result), online search (no result) and an app (no result) to realize this was going to be a bit of a challenge. Eventually, we did find an app that included the location. We arrived safely and had a great time.

Funny thing about the app that had the details. I used it for the rest of the trip. Enjoyed it. Got back home though and didnít need it. So, I didnít open it.

App apparently thought I was still in the location where I last used it. Orlando. So, for a week I kept getting alerts for traffic, police activity, severe storms and more popping up on my phone while being described as in my area. As good as the app wasÖ and isÖ you could make a solid argument that it had no clue where I was.

Getting lost once in a while is a good thing. I donít recommend it often, and absolutely will suggest you bring some water along with you. But it keeps you aware of whatís happening, provides you with new experiences, and often delivers a bit more accuracy than suggesting you turn right at the next light in three-tenths of a mile.

 

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com