Sunday, July 27, 2008

Travels with Zenobia

I'd like you to meet Zenobia. She's my new GPS.

Yes, Wilder fans, she was indeed named after the Model T Ford belonging to Rose Wilder Lane...

Anyway, I had long considered the idea of getting a GPS, but had held off doing so. My husband insisted I needed one for work, as I have to go to people's houses and sometimes they aren't so easy to find. However, I pointed out that a GPS would not be at all helpful, as most of these people do not have street addresses. Somehow, I didn't think a GPS would be able to find "Rural Route 2, Box 341". I also kept encountering lost people with GPS's. So I didn't put much stock in their abilities, to be quite honest.

And then last month, I went to New York. And a friend and I went on a road trip and she brought along "her new best friend", as she ever so frequently referred to her -- Garmin. (She isn't as creative as I am in naming her friends, apparently. :) )

I had to admit, Garmin did a decent job of getting us where we needed to go. I knew exactly where we needed to go so she wasn't at all essential, of course, but when it came to going out to look for a place to eat, it was nice to know we could just drive around wherever we felt like going, and when we were ready to go back to our place of lodging, Garmin would get us there. No worries about remembering where we were and which turns we had made. And sure enough, I saw that Garmin was indeed helpful in such situations, and I began to contemplate whether I might perhaps give in and get one myself.

And then I drove home from New York. An easy drive, requiring very little highway changes. Until I reached a point on the interstate where it was closed, and we were detoured off. Fifteen minutes of driving down a windy little country road into the middle of absolutely nowhere, the detour signs suddenly vanished, at an intersection with three options, no less. I had no idea where to go. I had no idea even where I was.

I pulled over to the side of the road. There was nothing around, not even a house I could go to for directions, if I were so daring as to go knock on a strange door, which I'm usually not. Fortunately, I keep an atlas in my car at all times, but without having any idea where I was, the atlas wasn't quite as helpful as it usually is. At long last I found one of the roads in the intersection, but I couldn't find the others, nor could I figure out how to get back to the interstate based on what I was able to find.

In that moment, stranded in the middle of nowhere with no idea how to get back to where I needed to go, the decision was made. I was getting a GPS.

I made a guess as to which road to take, and a half mile later the detour signs picked up again, by the way. So I made it safely back to the interstate and back home. Where I promptly ordered a Garmin of my own, and dubbed her Zenobia, as mentioned above.

I decided I'd better take Zenobia for a trial run. I was going to a new house that actually had a street address, so I carefully studied the map to make sure I knew where I was going just in case Zenobia failed me, and then I programmed her and set off. It's a good thing I knew where I was going, because Zenobia took off without me. She started off in the right place, but she told me to turn on roads I hadn't yet reached, and then halfway there she got stuck and wanted to leave me on this one road forever. I ignored her and drove all the way to the house and she still had me back on that highway. I was not impressed.

I turned her off, and when I later returned to the car to go home, I gave her another chance. Surely she could take me home. But this time, I had no idea where she thought I was, but none of the highways or interstates she was telling me to take even exist in this state. After zooming way out, I finally determined that she thought I was in Kansas. I don't live anywhere near Kansas.

I was very discouraged this time, but I decided to give her one more chance before sending her back. This time she worked. I was happy.

Now, my family all came up and we took Little Girl and Baby Boy to an amusement park some distance away. We've been a couple times before, and it's a tricky route. We get lost every time. Now was Zenobia's chance to really prove herself. Could she get us to the park without getting us lost, for the first time?

She could. And she did. But rather than take us on the highway, she took the scenic route. We had no idea where we were, but had to just keep listening to her and following her directions. We drove on gravel roads through people's farms. And suddenly, there was the park!! (And yes, it was set to avoid unpaved roads, but apparently her idea of unpaved differs from mine.)

We took the highway home. Zenobia was getting very aggravated with us. "Recalculating..." she would say with disgust as we kept ignoring her instructions to drive off on these minor roads and stayed on the highway. I swear her tone got more and more frustrated every time we ignored her directions. But she finally straightened out and sent us home on the highway the rest of the way and all went well.

So a friend came up this weekend and we took her little girl to this same park. This time, I knew better than to let Zenobia take us the farm route. "Just ignore her and stay on the highway," I said. "She'll straighten out eventually." And she did. And we got there without incident.

The way home was a nightmare.

It was a wonderful day at the park. The weather was quite pleasant, and we had a lot of fun. We chattered away the first part of the trip home while ignoring Zenobia's farm road instructions, as the little one slept soundly in her carseat, worn out from the day of excitement and fun.

And then I began to see spots. I knew what that meant -- it was an aura, and I was in for a migraine in an hour.

I almost never get migraines. I used to get them regularly in my early teen years, but since then I get maybe one a year. And when I do, I take a codeine tablet as soon as I get the aura, and go to bed, and in that way, almost completely avoid the entire miserable experience.

And here I was in a car almost two hours from home, and no way to get codeine, the miracle drug, and certainly no way to go to bed.

My friend just so happened to have Excedrin Migraine in the car. I'd never taken it, but was certainly willing to give it a try. I shudder to think how bad things would have been if I'd not had it, because it surely had to have had some effect, but sure enough, the headache arrived about an hour after the aura and very quickly became severe. I don't know what other migraine sufferers have experienced, and those who have never had one must surely think a headache is just that -- a HEADache. But a migraine is so much more than a headache. It affects the entire body. And it makes you terribly sick.

Well, I have no idea what Zenobia did but there was a very long period of time where we felt as though we were just wandering through the wilderness and not getting anywhere, and it took us an hour longer to get home than it should have. Zenobia -- she was not my friend that night.

Nevertheless, I am loyal to my friends even when they treat me awfully (this actually is true...) and I am therefore crazy enough to keep Zenobia and continue to use her for future trips.

We'll see how she does on the upcoming Little House trip I'm taking. And the friend accompanying me on that trip is probably making mental notes right now to throw Zenobia out the window!! :)

How about you? Do you have a GPS, and does it work?


Kate said...

Garmin did a 'decent' job of getting us there?? Garmin did a STELLAR job of getting us there!! Whether or not you felt you needed her, the fact is she still did the job and did it correctly. Same with the way home. Props for Garmin!!

As for Zenobia I'd definitely be returning her!! She doesn't deserve your loyalty.

Dawn said...

Sorry about the migraine. I'm on a losing streak with them right now.

I'd return you GPS. DH wants a TomTom. I have a GPS for geocaching...different I know..but I have one =-)

Lauri said...

We just got a Magellan. (Maggie) It works pretty well. My Dad wasn't thrilled when we told it to take the shortest route to the bank and it took him my way rather than his, but I think that's show the systems intelligence. :) We're liking that it tells which side to exit the freeway on 2 miles away. We've had trouble with misleading signs and frantically cutting across several lanes of traffice with a 32 foot trailer isn't fun, so hopefully Maggie helps. Now to get someone to realize they need to note which diesel stations are RV friendly.

Prairie Rose said...

But you see, Kate, Garmin was only tested during an easy run. ONE highway change! So easy I just glanced at a map and walked out the door assured that I knew how to get there. Zenobia was tested on a route so tricky that armed with detailed maps and directions, we still got lost every time we drove it. It simply is not a fair comparison. And by the way, I think you need to list Garmin among your idols in the Siesta Study...

Prairie Rose said...

Lauri, lol about your dad... he was probably biased against poor Maggie to start with since men are notorious for not asking directions anyway. And you gotta love that these GPSs are girls... ;o)

Rachel said...

I still wonder where we were on the way back. It definitely was NOT the same way we took to get there. It didn't help that there was construction everywhere and roads often closed. And Zenobia saying things like "Turn left on a street, then turn right." But I do want one now!

I'm off to visit Kitty next weekend and am borrowing my dad's GPS. Can't wait.