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I recently spent a few days with The Man In My Life at his son and daughter-in-law’s cottage in Lake Simcoe. Don’t worry about my use of ‘in’ instead of ‘on’. The cottage IS in the middle of the lake, on an island accessible only by water taxi –or, if you have a shitload of supplies (including lumber and tools for a building project, which we did)– a sturdy barge.

In many ways, our traveling adventure brought to mind that classic movie, “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles” except that ours could have been entitled  “Automobiles, Barges, and Gretchen’s Bad Directions”.

Most cars nowadays have GPS (mine being one of the holdouts from Ye Olde Tymes since I have major issues with modern technology…which is really a diplomatic way of saying I don’t understand it and it screws me up more than I care to admit.) Gill will back me up on this one since, when the neighbor (my unofficial IT person) isn’t available to bail me out of a computer problem, she’s my Plan B. Hard to do at a distance, but I have a bad habit of saving up many technical glitches until she arrives for summer vacation or Christmas holidays. Merry Christmas, Gill!

At any rate, back to the cottage trip. My Man had brought along a printout of directions his son had given him. We also had GPS — which initially didn’t seem to be disposed to answer our plea for direction help. We (I)basically said,”To hell with GPS. We can use the printed directions and, since I know that part of the province relatively well, we can fudge it.” So Siri took a hike. Only My Man doesn’t refer to her as Siri. She’s Gretchen…which I think is cute, a much better name. Much more human, probably the sort of excellent traveling companion you’d want.

On the way home, for some unknown reason, Gretchen decided to speak up and help guide us. It wasn’t long before she became persona non grata and a pain in my ass. She had planned out a route that, I’m convinced, took us way out of our way and had us doubling back.

As we left the cottage, I offered:”As long as we can make it to Orangeville, I can get us home from there. I know all the back roads.”

I was careful to add, since his car(unlike mine) is pristine and not generally the sort of car you’d take on questionable roads:”Of course, some of the roads are gravel and dusty, a bit washboardy, if you will. But we’ll get there sooner.”

I left it to him to make the decision whether to arrive home faster but with a dusty, pock-marked car or later with everything still clean and bumpers not falling off. An easy choice for most people not me, but I confess that I come from a long line of wanderers who enjoy nothing more than a ‘lovely drive in the country’. I refer, of course, as Gill knows well, mostly to my mother. She often did just that, much to the annoyance and chagrin of my father who needed to know precisely where he was going and how long it would take. He detested side roads and gazing at scenery. His primary goal was to GET THERE.

We went the GPS way. But after Gretchen took us off the route I felt we should take, in the name of efficiency, and we turned against her directions, she was very quick and, I thought, a bit petulant, to ‘recalculate’ our route.

“What is she doing?” I asked crossly. “Most normal people would just shut up and let the driver do what he wants. I expected her to say: ‘Loser! You’re not going where I directed you…I’m done with you people now. You’re on your own.'”

To which My Man explained, “That’s what GPS does. They recalculate if you take a wrong turn. I thought you knew that!”

How wold I know that? I’m an idiot when it comes to technology and, as I mentioned previously, I don’t have it in my car. Don’t want it and, as is now obvious, there are good reasons why I should not be allowed to have it. Besides, it takes the fun out of things.

At any rate, we ended up going the last bit my way — with which Gretchen belatedly jumped on board. Perhaps she sensed my aggravation and didn’t want me to unplug her…if you can. I have no clue. I did feel somewhat vindicated when we arrived home and My Man commented that it might, after all, have been better to use my back road route. My directions weren’t perfect, but I still think they might have given Gretchen an opportunity to rethink her life’s work. Not that I hold a grudge. And at least the car wasn’t filled with holes from gravel spraying up on the body.

I know Gill shakes her head when I decide to go somewhere ‘using my gut feelings’. So to prove she’s different from me, she makes a point of telling me about the long walks she undertakes with her friend in England using detailed maps. They always get where they’re going — usually to a pub after walking 12 km. Different strokes for different folks, I say.

 

 

 

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