Wednesday, July 5, 2017

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there

Even with dashboard GPS, Google maps on smartphone, and an old fashioned paper foldout map, we still missed driving one of the National Tourist Routes on our Norway vacation. We took what we thought was the right turn, but ended up on a single-lane windy road into a mountainside neighborhood. We might have been in the right place, but could have walked the route faster. So we turned around in favor of the two-lane "highway."

My husband took the wheel for the three days of driving around the fjords, and I was navigator. Actually, I was joined by GPS and Google maps in this task. And, for some reason, he didn’t mind three women telling him where to turn.

While GPS technology is marvelous, it isn’t perfect. It asks if you want to go the fastest route or the shortest route. I couldn’t find the option for scenic routes. And so if I hadn’t been following along on my Hele Norge Kart (Entire Norway Map) we would have missed two ferries and possibly the most spectacular scenery ever.

Apparently, GPS doesn’t like water crossings, and goes out of its way to take you out of your way to avoid them. When it eventually recognized our non-compliance with its directions, ours recalculated itself enough times to get back on track with our planned agenda.

Overseas isn’t the only place where GPS is not to be followed blindly. I recently went back to my old hometown for a visit, after decades away. I had both a dashboard GPS and Waze on my iPhone. You would think both would recommend the same route—and you would be wrong. Several times, I was left to arbitrate between the two. And when neither route seemed appropriate, I had to dig deep into my memory to find a better way.

What I have come to realize is that you need to know where you’re going before you can trust GPS for navigational guidance. Only then can you determine whether the prescribed route through town hits every stoplight or finds the bypass. Waze has the added bonus of showing traffic jams and speed traps, but it too can lead you on strange routes through even stranger places.

I have come to rely on GPS technology, but not solely. I will often check  Google maps or paper maps before I set off somewhere new. I agree with Sindre, the travel consultant from Nordic Visitor who provided us with our much-needed and well-used Hele Norge Kart, who said, “I feel that a good old map can come in handy to get a better overview and see what´s up next and it has some useful side information as well.”

And, as our trip proved, it’s especially helpful when traveling the fjords of Norway.

* * *
For my previous post on GPS, see "Why I don't quite trust my GPS."

No comments:

Post a Comment