Niagara Gazette


July 5, 2014

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Technology the 'route' of the problem

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Nomads — We’ve learned more when we’re lost than when we knew where we were. And two recent ventures have convinced us that we’ll never, ever, gear up with one of those pathfinding devices.

This is not a fear of technology. We quickly got the hang of carbon paper. And when the wheelchair-van for which Doug drove introduced global positioning in the 1990s, he quickly adjusted to letting some eye in the sky tell him he was southbound under the Peace Bridge and going too fast.

Fair enough for an enterprise dependent on prompt dispatch, but as for private travel, forget it. He could decipher a road map since before he took off the training wheels and except for the refolding, has never found anything that beats paper navigation.

Nonetheless, he never gives directions when co-piloting and so sat mumly as our Joe motored south out of central Pennsylvania, about 100 miles to a ballgame near the Maryland border. (Would Garmins have condemned Mason & Dixon to the unemployment lines?) Anyway, we reached the fork in the road where the automated tour guide directed us to go straight and both of us knew darned well we should bend toward the east.

On she persisted, through one narrow street after the other. At least we got to observe that Pennsylvania’s state capital underbelly is no more distended than our own. “I can’t believe she’s putting us back on 83,” the Firstborn moaned a half-hour later as we cut across three lanes of traffic to the Interstate we’d abandoned at her behest.

Somehow, we made first pitch. But we’ll never determine why Miss Garmin guided us through the worst Harrisburg has to offer. Maybe she gets kickbacks from squeegee men.

A few days later, Doug headed home from the grandson’s school in central New York. Funny how these trips almost always have to do with baseball but anyway, he determined that mapless and hapless he would try to negotiate Finger Lakes backroads to return to home base.

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