Friday, September 12, 2008

Where in the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks Am I?

I cannot find my way out of a paper bag. My internal compass, if I even have one, has never served me in the ways I have observed in others. Over the years this has resulted in many an unfortunate incident, some of which could have easily turned tragic. A few memories of my youthful dating episodes come to mind which in hind sight make me shudder at the “what if” possibilities that could have unfolded.

My husband is forever exasperated that I never know where I am. “We have been here a million times!” he’ll exclaim. He soon dismisses me as it is inconceivable to him that someone could be so turned around as to not know where they are. While on vacation with two other couples, both of whom are GPS equipped, he would remark “I don’t need no stinking GPS” and would boldly point in the direction we should travel. At one stop, when directions were being discussed, he raised his hand, wiggled his fingers as if “recalculating” his internal GPS and then pointed “that-a-away!”

There is something that happens to me when I feel I am lost. My stomach twists and my respiration and heart rate quicken. Suddenly I’m in full blown panic attack. My poor friends have often been confused and suffered through accusations that they are to blame for me being lost. Here is the unfortunate truth. I too have a GPS. Until yesterday I had not really mastered all the nuances of what it can do. OK, so maybe I haven’t mastered it, but I’m a lot closer than I was last week.

I have had a GPS for a few years now. Initially I bought it so that I would know where I am. Following behind Andy on the motorcycle always leaves me in a bit of a panic if I can’t tell where we are. Looking down at the unit is like a security blanket. I can see the major roadways and our relationship to them. Sometimes I can even get myself from point A to point B using whatever the unit suggests to me as a route. There is also a great feature that takes you home from anywhere, or at the push of a button tells you were in the world you got yourself too now.

I have been the recipient of many great motorcycling routes to download into the GPS unit. All these routes were devised by other people. I have been able to follow these successfully! All of the routes I try to devise for myself never seem to work. The unit returns error messages, or doesn’t take me to the waypoint I want. It is all so confusing!

This week found our office full of employees from various parts of the country for training. One gentleman, who was traveling from nearby Massachusetts approached me and said “tomorrow, I’m riding my Road King here so I can park it next to your bike in the parking lot!” To which I replied “it would be a shame to leave them there during lunch on a beautiful day.” With that we agreed that the next day we would ride.

Since it is my back yard, it would be I who would lead. Just beyond the major roadways are some great back roads. I had an idea of where I wanted to take us but my mind was thinking how embarrassing it would be if I got lost! I started working my mind through all the issues I have encountered trying to devise a route that loops back to where we start. In the past I used the software to construct the route. I don’t have the software here at work, so I used the menus on the GPS itself. With the help of a Google map for a large visual and the GPS map, I carefully marked waypoints. One after the other, I placed them sequentially, eventually constructing a loop that should take us one hour to complete.

Lunch hour arrives, and we depart. “I’m going to use the GPS” I tell my riding friend. “I’m hoping we don’t get lost. But if we do, who cares, we’re on a bike. Right?” “Right!” he exclaims with a grin from ear to ear. To my astonishment and pride the route on the GPS progresses along nicely. I am even pleased, when at an intersection in a wooded area, (a place I would typically go right when I should go left) the GPS points me accurately in the direction I should go. We even arrive safely at the designated lunch spot and find our way back to the office trouble free. “Thanks a bunch for a great ride through the wilds of New Hampshire” the employee says. I am beaming with self pride. Little does he realize that I have just led my first ride. To top it off, the route was planned and executed by me, also for the first time. Why, I do believe it’s possible that I’m ready for my very own rimby.* (Ok, let’s not get crazy.)

*New England Rider speak for Ride In My Back Yard.

From Misc

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