AAA, addresses, adventure, Canada, Dad, danger, direction-finding, Driving, driving conditions, emergency supplies, freeway, GPS, hunting, lost, road conditions, sense of direction, snow, stories, winter
I don’t enjoy driving. Just the idea of strapping yourself into a tin can and shooting along a narrow pathway at seventy-plus miles an hour, all the while keeping watch out your mirrors for the other cars (and don’t forget potential debris in your lane), is unnerving. Let’s not even mention that road conditions often render a seemingly harmless drive into a roulette of death. Rain, sleet, hail, snow, ice and wind all attack with great ferocity. At certain times of the day even the lovely golden sun blinds you and keeps you from seeing where you’re going. But if I dig deep for the truth, the real reason I don’t like to drive is that I don’t have a good sense of direction.
I know people who can close their eyes and accurately point to any direction. My dad was such a person. He always knew where he was. He could go to a place once, and years later he’d go straight there again. He once told me the story of going hunting with some friends out in the wild Canadian north. They made camp and set out to find a deer. After hours of tramping through the snow, they were cold, wet, and tired, so they decided to return to camp. The other men started in one direction, but Dad said, ‘Hey, you’re going in the wrong direction, it’s that way.’ When they began to argue with him, Dad said, ‘I bet that I can get back to camp before you.’ They agreed on the amount of money, shook hands, and took off. Within a short time Dad was back at camp, warming himself at the fire and heating up his dinner. Hours later, the three other men stumbled into camp. Dad grinned and held out his hand. The others grudgingly declared him the winner and handed over their cash.
Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit Dad’s direction-finding gene. My children could tell countless stories of the times we set out to a particular destination and got lost. Their favorite saying was, ‘We’re lost in Vista!’ Each time we got in the car was a potential adventure. I learned to carry maps, water, snacks, and the phone numbers for my husband and AAA. Even with the preparation of looking up my destination and drawing maps for myself, there was no guarantee I would find the place.
I still have trouble finding my way. You may wonder why I just don’t rely on the latest great technology, the GPS. Well… (cough, cough) the GPS in my car (not so fondly named Gertrude) hates me. Every time I try to program a destination, I mess it up. First, Gertrude won’t accept addresses as I type them. She has to keep guessing what I’m going to type. Finally, I succeed in getting the address into the system, and we set out. Gertrude reminds me (in that snobby voice of hers that proclaims her superiority) that we are driving on the freeway. Yes, I really can tell that. I find my exit. Hurray for large overhead signs. Then Gertrude says, ‘In two hundred feet, make a right turn onto Wilderness Way.’ I peer anxiously out the window. There are three roads curving off to the right, all jammed with cars. I can’t read the road signs. In a panic, I take a wild guess and turn right. Gertrude says in a loud, grating voice, ‘You are going the wrong way. Make a u-turn at the next intersection and get back on the 158. No, you idiot, not that way. Now you’re going completely in the wrong direction. Get off this road, and go back to the other one Right Now.’ Unfortunately there is no way I can turn here. Finally, I find a place to turn. Sweat rolls off me, and my heart is pounding. Cars speed by and honk angrily at me. I head in what I think is the right direction, only to have Gertrude tell me, ‘Not that way! You are once again Going the Wrong Direction. How did you get a driver’s license?’ Somehow, through many twists and turns, all the while enduring loud, rude comments from Gertrude, I make it to my destination. Hours later, I am back home. I heave a sigh of relief, put the car in park, and open the door. ‘The door is ajar,’ Gertrude tells me. “Shut up,” I tell her. “The door is just a door, and you are a lousy navigator.” I yank the keys out of the ignition, grab my purse, and stumble wearily into the house. I call, “Anybody here know how to disable a GPS system?”
I really hate to drive.