Saturday, January 12, 2013

Using a GPS

Recently, we were recipients of a GPS since my mother-in-law decided to get a new one.  We affectionately call our GPS the Gremlin, since it sometimes misdirects us.  However, on average, it is has provided good directions and offered improved routes for some of our trips.   Once I have chose a regular route(s), I still prefer to drive by memory.  

Here are some of our GPS experiences, both good and bad:


  • Shorter drives.  Prior to the GPS, we always used the interstate highway to go to my mother-in-law's house.  We lived right off one highway, and she lived near another.   The GPS showed us a back road way that was shorter and took the same time or less.  As it turns out, my mother-in-law lives directly north of us.   When using the interstate highway, we drove faster, but needed to drive west first, before driving north, and then drive east to reach my mother-in-laws house.  So we were going a few miles out of the way to stay on the highway.
  • New destinations.  Usually we will get directions on our computer prior to taking a trip.  However, having the GPS with real time maps has been useful  a couple times when there was construction, detours or difficult merges.  The GPS kept us on the correct route.
  •  Ad hoc destinations.  One of the great uses is during a trip, when looking for a restaurant or point of interest while driving.  Our best experience was finding a state park while on a trip. I punched in the state park name and the GPS took us to the an entrance that was only open limited months, including the one in which were driving.   I'm sure it was luck, but I'll give credit to the GPS :-)
  • Known short drives. Occasionally, the GPS will give convoluted directions for what should be a short straight forward drive.  We learned this fact when testing the GPS before using it for longer trips.
  • No "best" direction choice.  We have a choices of faster time, shorter distance, highway or no highway.  Sometimes a choice is the best, but other times it isn't based on previous experience going to the destination.  We we visited Niagara Falls, the GPS took us to the border entry point right next to the falls.  The wait was over a couple hours.   Previously, we had taken an border crossing point 10 miles away.   Only a 10 minute way for customs.
  • Occasional dead ends.   One time, the GPS took us down a old country road that looked like it would be a dead end.  It was.   Can't blame the error on updates since the road looked like it had been the same forever.
Overall, the Gremlin has been acceptable.  However, for critical destinations, we still use our computer to get directions.  We will use the Gremlin as backup or when we have time for errors which we can correct.

For more on Reflections and Musings check back every Saturday for a new segment.

This is not financial or travel advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

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