Normally we take a trainee along; not only can they do our paperwork for us (ha) but they can help drive and navigate. On this trip I don't have one though, which isn't bad either. Since I don't like to stop often when I drive, I can barrel along the road without having to accommodate someone else's food and pee schedule. I don't have to make small talk or supervise anyone. Of course, I also miss out on other people's Pandora channels, interesting stories and stealing their Sour Patch Kids. So there's a tradeoff.
I do have a companion, though. She's pretty quiet a lot of the time. If I have 300 miles to drive on the same highway, she won't speak up until there's a turn ahead. She can get pretty bossy if I decide to deviate from the route she picks. She occasionally tries to send me on weird shortcuts. Her voice is pretty robotic. I've named her Gretchen the GPS.
When I first started driving cross country at about 19, we didn't have Gretchens. I had a well-worn atlas and a series of index cards on which I would write out my route. Mishaps often occurred if I mixed up or dropped the cards, and I would have to pull over and consult the map. I also stopped at gas stations and asked for directions (oh, the horror!). Much later, I used my phone to navigate, but something always went wrong: the program would malfunction, the screen was too small, someone would call. Still, I never thought about getting a vehicle GPS until, following yet another helicopter, I was surrounded by vehicles catapulting through LA County, a place as different from the small towns I usually visit as possible. I immediately ordered one.
Now Gretchen tells me exactly where to turn (with some variations). She doesn't understand detours and gets irritated if I don't follow her directions, but having her along makes the trip much more pleasant. Most of the time we roll down the highway in silence, both thinking our own thoughts. I don't know what hers are, maybe "I can't believe she just went that way! What is she DOING? Recalculating...." In any case, I'm happy to have her with me, and we'll keep heading down the road, following the fires.
|We saw this. I took a picture. Gretchen didn't say anything.|