GPS Travel: Neverlost Makes Me Always Lazy

Hertzgpsscreen
Santeeriverbank

(Photos by Tanner Latham)

I’m not a food writer.  I’m not a golf writer.  I’m not an adventure writer.  I like all these things and write about them generally, but I’m not an authority on any.  There’s one thing I know I can do.  I can read a map. 

Sometimes I have to pull over and turn off the radio to focus.  North and South.  East and West.  Street numbers ascending.  U.S. state-named avenues descending.  Beltlines.  Tiny exit numbers.  Green-inked state parks. 

I get it.

Until I didn’t have to get it.  The first day of research last year on our interstate stops story (in the May 2008 issue), I pulled out of the rental car parking lot with a mini-LCD screen and robotic voice telling me where to go.  “Get ready to turn in 2/10ths of a mile.”  I was on and off I-95 from 8:33 that morning until 6:44 that evening.  The map stayed folded the whole time.  I saw all the things I wanted to see, but I have no idea how I got to them.  The efficiency was wonderful.  The sense of comfort was comforting.

But being lost reaps its own rewards.  You can’t learn, know, or enjoy a city until you have to pull over and really look around.  That’s the only way to travel.

*Photo notes: I snapped the GPS device pic of my car’s location while parked on a small peninsula in the Santee National Wildlife Refuge near Summerton, SC (I-95 exit 102).  I hopped out of the car and followed a trail to the edge of Lake Marion.  The robotic voice failed to mention I would find such a serene scene.

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