Our first trip of 2011 is to Arizona, a part of the United States that neither Rich nor I have been to. We're using my brother-in-law's beautiful vacation place in Phoenix as home base and from there, travelling by rental car to Jerome, Sedona and Flagstaff, viewing red rocks and Indian burial sites along the way.
This is our first time using a GPS system and it's been quite the adventure. The TomTom has been programmed to speak in the voice and mannerisms of Hannibal Lecter from "Silence of the Lambs". So we are told in a low menacing voice that "It's all very clear to me now Driver, you should turn right in 800 meters" or "Quid pro quo, driver, You tell me something and I'll tell you something ... take the next left". Initially I felt we were being chastised for doing something wrong when the TomTom said "No, no, no this just won't do - take the second exit on the roundabout". At the end of the trip, we hear " Don't worry Driver, I'll inform Clarice that you've reached your destination".
Having now experienced driving with a GPS, I know understand how it could even be conceivable when you hear on the news that someone drove into the lake or made a U turn on the highway by following the commands of the GPS system. It gets a bit hypnotic and its like you turn off your brain and common sense, ceding all control to this device. It repeats everything multiple times too so it's tempting to go through a red light when the GPS is nagging at you with what feels like "Turn left. Turn left! I said turn left stupid!!!"
Yesterday morning, we decided to reassert our domination over the car by planning our route ahead of time and then purposely ignoring the GPS's planned route in favour of what we felt was a faster route. I think it pouted for a while and refused to talk to us even after we met up again with its original route, but it felt like a minor victory.
This is shaping up to be a great trip. More blog entries to come!