Serving Franklin County, WA

Trust map, not GPS

I remember growing up that a person could stop at a gas station and pick up a map of most nearby states or the city they were in if it was a large one. Whenever we travelled my dad would always plan the trip with the use of a map, and he could fold them back into place.

He had a bunch of maps from all over and I can’t tell you what happened to them but they are long gone. He did interest me into the use of maps and I can honestly say that as long as I used a map I didn’t get lost. Today’s story is more about the use of GPS now than anything else.

When it comes to GPS I think it is a real asset for farmers when they are cultivating, planting, spraying or harvesting. The savings in fertilizer, chemicals, seed and fuel are very important. But most of the GPS systems are used by people who drive vehicles. They punch in a destination and the pleasant voice informs them where to go.

About 12 years ago we were in bed around 10 P.M. and someone knocked on our door. We live several miles from anyone so we don’t get a lot of visitors at that hour of the night. I talked to the guy who knocked and he said he was stuck about a mile away. I got a chain and with my 4X4 I pulled the guy out of the ditch. I asked him where he was going and wondered why he was on this road. He told me his GPS said to go this way. His destination was Oregon. I told him his GPS was way off and where he needed to go and to be careful.

About 10 years ago I was a chaperone for a youth tour of Washington D.C. The bus driver had been doing this youth tour for a number of years and the gal that organized the tour knew him well

We flew into Baltimore on a Friday and as we left the airport the first thing that concerned me was when the driver started to exit the freeway and realized that he needed to stay on the freeway. So halfway up the ramp he hit the brakes and turned the big bus back onto the freeway. I guess I was wondering if this guy that was approaching 70 was going to be my fear factor

On Saturday things went smooth until after dark. We went to a musical at the Lincoln Center and after the show we were going to go to the Iwo Jima Memorial. We could see it from the road but he had a heck of a time trying to get to it. About 15 minutes of frustration he managed to bring the bus close to the Memorial.

On Sunday we went to the Air Force Memorial. We were then scheduled to go to the Holocaust Museum. As we were heading there the bus driver was starting to take a left and I said, “This is a one way street!” He again hit the brakes and maneuvered the bus out of harm’s way. He said, “I’m glad you noticed that!” All went well for the rest of the day.

The next morning I was the first one on the bus and started visiting with the bus driver. He confided in me that he had received a GPS as a gift to use on the bus and the GPS was sending him in all of these weird directions. This was a guy that for years would drive the visiting baseball teams to Baltimore or college teams to play field hockey, softball or baseball several states away. He told me I know this city and I don’t need a GPS to tell me where to go and he was right.

Several years ago a car was on my way home on the county road on a hot Saturday afternoon. A car with Idaho license plates was on the side of the road broke down. I stopped and asked them what they were doing on this road when they could have used the exit at Ritzville and they said their GPS told them to take this exit. I’m not sure why a county road is better than the state highway.

A couple of weeks ago at a basketball game in Ritzville I talked with a couple about the drive from Medical Lake. She was not happy because her GPS had taken her down a dark a country road and she had no idea where she was at until she got to the gym. I told her that the GPS is sending people on county roads and the reliability isn’t good.

There are stories about people getting lost this time of year trying to find a Christmas tree or drive to Grandma’s house only to get stuck on a side road that doesn’t get plowed until spring. Please trust a map to plan your trip instead of GPS. I’ve met several people that regretted using that device.

— Dale Anderson is a sports columnist from Ritzville. To contact him, email [email protected].


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