A year ago this very month our youngest daughter, Abby, was ready to give birth to her own daughter (happy first birthday Kismet Jr!). It is a fact of life in our family that we all gather for such occasions. Since she lives 225 miles east of Portland where the rest of us live it meant ROAD TRIP! When we got the call we loaded up and headed out for the 5 hour drive. As we were pulling out of the driveway our daughter Julie had the foresight to grab her GPS 'Navman' since we didn't have one.
The Navman is a misnomer since the voice is most definitely female. Julie's family calls it Navgirl. We got to know Navgirl on the trip up and back. We asked her to tell us all kinds of useless info. I mean really, do we need to know our exact latitude and longitude coordinates at any given moment? The kids passed it around in the back of the van and it did help us find our way to where we needed to be. We loved it!
So for Christmas this year I asked for and received a GPS. I wanted one that had 'text to speech' and was programmed for North America.
We felt we had to give 'her' a name as she also has a female voice. And since we use her in the CAR....you get the idea. She rocks and I couldn't wait for my husband to read the directions and tell me how to use her (yes I am like that). We tested her out around town where ever we went.
Last week my husband and I had a rare day off together. The three of us went down to see his mother and out of the blue as we were leaving my husband said, "Let's go to the beach!" It was the middle of the afternoon and a 90 minute drive but, what the heck. I grabbed Carmen while we were gassing up and put in a beach town destination. I think I put Lincoln City (we were coming from Woodburn) and waited while she 'calculated route'.
Off we went. It was a route that wasn't altogether foreign to me at the beginning but not all that familiar either. We went through Newberg....ok, I know that town, and out the back roads through Yamhill and then I wasn't sure where we were. We ended up on Meadowlake Rd and started climbing. Carmen cheerfully told us "right turn in .5 miles" and then she went silent. I looked at her screen and it was basically keep driving for 56 miles.
Spring in Oregon is a gamble, one never knows what the weather will do. So far this month we've had snow and a couple of days where it's been nearly 60 degrees. But Winter was pretty harsh this year and especially in the hills and mountains. As we were driving and ascending we began to notice the mark Winter had left on the landscape. There were broken branches and wind blown trees. I was curious why Carmen had led us up this road but we were enjoying the fact that this was a back road we hadn't been on before and maybe we'd found a new route to the beach.
We travelled comfortably, Mason in the back talking to the dog and commenting on the downed limbs we saw.
We soon began to notice the higher we climbed the worse the damage. The downed limbs were bigger and bigger and closer to the road.
We noticed also that the temperature began to drop. Snow flurries began to hit the windshield. We saw snow along side the road. We encountered very few other cars as we passed a lovely reservoir which was Meadow Lake(!). We saw black tail deer and road signs with bullet holes in them. And all the while the road kept getting worse.
Can you see that tree leaning across the road? By this time I am getting more and more nervous.
"Do you think we should turn around?"
"Let's continue a few more miles."
"We don't have a cell signal anymore."
And from the back seat an ever growing excitement;
"Grampy, do you have enough gas? Do you think we can make it? I think we need Uncle Greg here. He needs to bring the Black Pearl (Uncle Greg's big black truck), he can make it through here. If we get stuck he can pull us out!"
The van hit a little patch of ice and the back end skittered a bit. And still the road got narrower and narrower with fallen branches and increasing snow piles.
And all the while Carmen is silently encouraging us to continue on this route she's picked for us.
We finally admitted defeat and turned around while we still had room to do it. It was kind of disappointing not making it to the beach on the 'new' road. I wanted to blame Carmen for misleading us. But I realized in the end that she did what we'd asked her to, to find us the shortest most direct route to the town I'd put in. She doesn't give road conditions or weather reports.
And on the way back down we were able to take in our surroundings in a more relaxed frame of mind. The vistas were as magnificent as only Oregon can be. The deer stood on the side of the road and serenely watched us pass, totally unaffected. The lake was placid and still. We rounded a corner and there was a break in the tree line, the sun came out for a visit and God spread a rainbow across His beauty. I tried to capture it here.
No, Carmen didn't find us the best route to the beach that day. But she did find us a road less travelled and we were glad we took it.