Monday, January 31, 2011

A GPS Love Story

I have never used a GPS until this trip.  We don't have one at home and have not really  needed one.  Google maps are usually sufficient, although I did get stuck on a backroad where perhaps a GPS might not have sent me. 

So, I love the GPS for getting around Europe.  Way too many roads between cities to navigate myself.  But sometimes, I think the GPS is too clever--choosing routes with lots of changes rather than slightly less direct but easier trips around cities, for instance.  I saw more of Liege than I wanted.  On the other hand, it increased my guts to explore parts of Europe not near the highway.  Indeed, most military cemeteries seem not so easy to find w/o a GPS.  And I did see some small towns that I might have otherwise missed, even it meant taking a slower route to Houffalize. 

Bulge Monument
The big benefit has been that I have had more guts pursuing certain locales.  I took a very small road from the monument in Bastogne to the guys who fight in the Battle of the Bulge to the Easy Company memorial.  GPS made it easy to trust the path along the farm roads.

But I have found a limit.  Navigating Brussels with GPS is better than without, but not sure how much.  Without Dave reading the system to me, it was not always clear which right turn is the right right turn as the roads twist and turn with many intersections with five or six possible turns (not including roundabouts, which I have managed pretty well, except in Brussels where they are much less straightforward.

Anyhow, it has been a learning process.  Will definitely rent a GPS whenever I rent a car in a strange locale (I can do without the GPS next time I am in San Diego).  I guess the question for September will be whether I need a car in Seattle and whether I would need a GPS there.  Never been there.  Hmmm.

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