GPS Destiny

Or, the Women in My Life…

I mentioned yesterday that we were wise to bring along our GPS device and let “Jill” do the navigating. Her digital/satellite assistance worked for us several times on our long weekend in Lake Geneva, although figuring out how to get that help was a challenge at least twice.

Our GPS adventures did end well, regardless of my pseudo-witty humorisms at the end of this post. We returned to Lake Geneva about 2:00, perfect timing for a second lunch at Bistro 220, where I got to look at this interesting sight from their balcony. My actual view was face-on to the iron horse.

First, as I mentioned yesterday, the GPS driving-time estimate was far more accurate than the standard times from Google or Mapquest, both on our way out and back. When I bought the little device to help me with my Census 2010 job (really, not just another guy-wants-a-toy excuse, mostly — one of my team had one, and he felt “the ole Garmin” was invaluable; it did really help me when the Big Guys decided I should re-verify his forms for Leisure Lake, a vacation community north of here with trails for “streets” and no posted street signs or addresses), I played with it a lot, but it was not until this latest trip that I figured out I only had maps/information for a single state loaded at a time, which explains why “Jill” embarrassed me (the thing was still new then) by not knowing how to direct us to Potosi, Wisconsin, when we took Janetʼs folks to the Postosi Brewery for Fathers Day. When we started out, and the machine didnʼt know “Lake Geneva,” I got really frustrated and put it away, but then I decided to try to figure this situation out and eventually noticed the indicator about changing the loaded maps.

(I really do not love this brave new world in which there are no handbooks or actual operating directions. For instance, my new iMac arrived a year and a half ago with just it and the peripherals in the box plus a few sheets of paper; my old PowerMac arrived in 1994 with a big 200-page manual, as did the GCC printer, that I was still referring to years later for reminders on obscure things I seldom did — no longer. And software used to have well-written and helpful manuals, most of which are still cluttering shelves in our house, admittedly; but now, for the same price or more, you get the loveless opportunity to guess your way through the patchy online system. Shucks.)

Anyway, Jill got us to Lake Geneva, only having to “recalculate” once when we followed the Mapquest route, more direct, clearly. And her blow-by-turn-by-”keep right” directions got us through Beloit with ease. But the GPS proved its real worth the next day, Saturday, my birthday.

Although actually taken on Sunday afternoon when we drove idly around the entire lake (Geneva), this interesting monument makes downtown Delavan unique. (The rain prevented photography of the wonderfulness at Millieʼs Shopping Village and Restaurant. A sign at one site prohibited taking pictures of the marvels displayed indoors.)

First, I should explain that for many years now, even before our annual excursions to St. Charles, I learned to enjoy shopping as the life-enriching, fulfilling and wonderful experience for my natal day celebration. (Yes, being a guy, I donʼt really get off on shopping — unless weʼre in a bookstore, new or used, or checking out free samples of beer, even wine or single malts. And in retirement, I really have tried to cut down on my book purchasing.) However, whether in Iowa City, San Francisco, Cedar Rapids, Geneva or Lake Geneva, or elsewhere, the real reason The Lovely One takes me away for my birthday is so she can shop — after all Christmas is near. So I get my full dose and then hours and hours, days and days, more of interesting places for women to examine cute things and products (that they seldom if ever buy), all very similar, all very fragile and arranged in lovely displays that are far too close together for me to navigate with suavity and ease. So I also get to spend lots of quality time* standing around in November weather, chill, wet and drear, while she takes her time indoors. This year, Janet had located such a place in nearby Delavan, Wisconsin — Millieʼs Shopping Village and Restaurant. I found the address in one of the visitorʼs magazines, so we set out on Saturday morning — a drizzling, gray and rainy morn — for the ten-mile drive back to Delavan (“back” because we had come through/near that community on our way to Lake Geneva on Friday). The place was at N2468 County Trunk O, and believing that the “N” in the address meant “north” somehow, I had located on the cutesy maps in the visitorʼs guide to Walworth County an “O” road heading upward/north from Delavan and even studied out how to get there in town.

As we drove from The Cove, I plugged in the GPS and tried to enter the “Go To” address for Millieʼs Shopping Village, without success (I forgot to mention that on this entire trip, being in Janetʼs Corolla, The Lovely One did the driving and I played navigator; otherwise, I would never have been punching on a GPS screen while in motion in the car, folks — neither should anyone else, and that goes for phones, too, but moreso). The issue, as I had encountered trying to get directions to DeWitt, Iowa, last summer, is guessing how Jill thinks to spell things (in GPSville, the city directly to our south is two words, “De Witt”). On my birthday, the party game was guessing what the machine thought the name of “County Trunk O” might be. We didnʼt ever guess correctly, even after a dozen variations on my part.

My low-tech map skills, however, got us through eastern Delavan and onto County O, heading north out of town. Yay, me (and maps with reasonable detail)! Unfortunately, all the country addresses, even right at the edge of town, northwards started in the 4600s. Clearly, Millieʼs Shopping village could not be here. Cleverly, however, having the GPS on, I did pay attention to what the thing was labeling our road — “Cr-O.” (Uh huh, a letter combination I would never have guessed on my own, and yet the thing requires me to know what it thinks the “name” should be before it can tell me how to get there.) Quickly I went back to “Go To” and punched in “N2468 Cr-O,” and Jill promptly told us, “Please follow highlighted route.” With a bit of very strange routing through the middle of Delavan (taking us off Highway 11 early, only to cross that heavily driven street later, twice), we were directed straight south to Millieʼs, where I freaked out at the immense hordes of greedy lady shoppers.

I really do think, by the way, as a Facebook quiz recently demonstrated, that I have borderline Aspergerʼs: a] it was far, far too crowded in those tiny stores for me, and b] I found myself standing hunched in place, as out of the way of the numerous others as humanly possible, hands folded together, rotating my thumbs rapidly around and around each other — calming myself. The drizzling morn had turned to full-on rain, and there was nowhere else to go, no escape outdoors that day. I accepted my globally positioned, satellite-driven fate and enjoyed my birthday…

More tomorrow.

* I wonder if anyone uses that phrase, “quality time,” seriously, straightforward, without the larded sarcasm and tortured irony presented here (and every time I read or hear those two conjoined words).

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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