Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Hate Zenobia

Yes, Zenobia. My GPS. I will admit she's gotten me out of a few scrapes, but I have consistently had trouble with her since the day I got her.

Today was one of the worst.

I traveled an hour north to see a child. My next appointment would have been about a half hour northeast of my home, which means it would have taken me an hour and a half had I come all the way back and then gone out to the next child's home. But I was certain there were connector roads that would get me there faster, and after consulting with google maps, I discovered I could get there in a mere 50 minutes instead of an hour and a half. Great.

Unfortunately, I did not print off or write down the google directions, but rather trusted that Zenobia would get me there. After all, she is advertised to be programmed with google maps. So shouldn't she follow the same route?


I remembered the first two turns from google, and Zenobia did indeed tell me to take those same turns, so I was comforted that all was well. I took her next turn and was driving down a very narrow road that twisted and turned and went uphill and down, with a creek running alongside it the whole way. But it was paved. I wasn't real keen on the choice of roads. But at least it was paved, I kept telling myself. Things could be worse.

They could indeed. Zenobia told me to take a right, and the road was gravel. I hesitated, but by this time I had no idea anymore where I was or where to go, so I figured I had no choice but to obey. So I took the turn. Go 2.1 miles and then turn right, she ordered. Okay, it's only two miles, then surely I'll be out on a paved road again, I thought. And Zenobia was showing my arrival time as being only ten minutes further, and the child I was going to see lived on a paved road, so I knew it couldn't be gravel for too long.

I drove and I drove and I drove. It said 2.1 miles and I know it wasn't any longer than that, but wow, 2.1 miles on a highway and 2.1 miles on a hilly twisty turny gravel road with washed out places all along it and barely room for only the one car (thank goodness I didn't meet anyone!) are two very different things.

I watched my arrival time creep up minute by minute as I drove. Apparently Zenobia expected me to drive faster on this road than I was able...

And then I came around a corner where there was a driveway up to a beautiful house, and I thought to myself as I often do when seeing nice houses in places like this, "Why would anyone who has enough money to buy or build a beautiful house like that live way out in the middle of nowhere and have to drive roads like this forEVER to get ANYWHERE?"

Just past this house, I suddenly came to a halt. Because in front of me, running across the road, was a swiftly flowing creek.

I had just read the chapter "Spring Freshet" from On the Banks of Plum Creek earlier this morning. You know, the story of the raging whirling creek that in the next chapter pulls Laura into it and nearly drowns her with its strength? No way was I driving across that creek! Owning an SUV is not a license for stupidity, and while maybe I could have made it, it wasn't worth the risk! Especially since I had no way of knowing how deep this creek was. And did I mention the swiftly flowing part? I was nearly at the end of my 2.1 miles of this road and there was no possible way to finish it. I had no choice but to go back.

And there was no possible way to turn around. I was trapped. The road was so narrow that only my vehicle could fit on it, and the road was a complete dropoff on one side, and a steep cliff right up against the roadside on the other. And in front of me, in case you've forgotten, is a swiftly flowing creek.

Thank goodness for that house. And for all the backing practice I got at this little girl's house that I saw last summer, who lived out a two mile long driveway, again with cliff on one side and dropoff on the other, with no place to turn around at the end of it. I hate backing up, but I sure got my practice every week at that place where imminent death awaited any imprecise steering, and it came in handy now. I carefully backed up and around the curve and into the driveway of the house and turned around and drove all the way back.

One of my chief complaints about Zenobia is her stubborness. If I decide I don't like her route, or if something like a closed road or a swiftly flowing creek prevents me from taking her route, she won't give up. She will continue to try to route me back to it even if I drive miles upon miles away from it.

This was the problem I ran into today. I had no idea where to go to get to my child's house, and I couldn't just pick a road and drive it and trust Zenobia to reroute me there, because all Zenobia kept wanting to do was take me back to that daggone gravel road!!

I tried zooming out on her to look at the map and find my own route but she wouldn't show me anything but hers. Finally I gave up on her and just drove. Randomly picked roads that looked more paved than others... and at last came out on a road that was actually wide enough for two cars and paved, and by looking at Zenobia (at least she was good for something at last!) I could tell what road it was -- and I knew where that road would take me!! It'd take me twenty minutes longer to get there than by taking a direct route, and I was already ten minutes late for the appointment that I originally thought I was going to get to 15 minutes early... but at least I knew where I was going, and Zenobia would not chart me a direct route any way except by that impassable gravel road, so I went for it. It took Zenobia ten minutes of arguing and telling me, "A better route is available" before she finally caved and took me the rest of the way there.

Actually she did try to send me down another gravel road but I refused. Who knows what dangers that one would have led me into.

So I was very late to that appointment and every other appointment after that one, but at least I'm not drowned in a swiftly flowing creek. No thanks to Zenobia.


Laura said...

Wow! That's scary. What kind of GPS is it? I could tell you some GPS stories too. They seem to stop working for good at the worst times. Jon had to buy a new one on his way home from California. Yes, his quit while he was driving cross-country by himself. He bought a Garmin Nuvi. We've used it quite a bit and took it when we had our marathon Laura weekend (I named her Isabelle). It works very well and we haven't had any problems with it.

Prairie Rose said...

It's a Garmin nuvi 350... I'm surprised it wasn't any trouble on your Laura weekend, as mine didn't even recognize that Highway 14 existed and thought we were driving through a field somewhere and kept yelling at us... I swear mine has a mind of its own.

Lauri said...

We have a Magellan (Michelle). The only problem we have is that I haven't fully trained the other operatiors. Eg, if towing a camper chose the "most use of highways" as that will take you on the widest roads possible. And the other week when trying to find a house for a party for church. Someone else programmed it and chose "Shortest Route". It took us through several subdivisions and a crazy jagged route through the next township. If they had listened to me and chosen "fastest route" it seems to be to be the most direct. So it's the ill-trained operators rather than system that has been our problem (or rather my problem).

Laura said...

Jim wanted to stay off highway between Pepin and Minneapolis and this got us there by way of many roads that were more like trails (which he loved), but it did get us there and it didn't take much longer than by highway. I was nervous the whole time, thinking we would be lost forever! I mean, this "trail" actually had creeks crossing it at various points.

Prairie Rose said...

Yes, that's the one thing I DO like about Zenobia is that I don't have to fear being lost forever. I can pick a road and drive and EVENTUALLY she'll help me find my way back to civilization. But I do wish there was a setting that you could just tap to say "Choose another route" if you didn't like the one she picked or if it was impossible for some reason.

Lauri said...

Reading my comment again, I think it may come off sounding wrong. I meant that my parents are old and not learning new technology well vs. saying the operator is usually the problem.