… road maps?
It’s a running joke around here. My wife knew that I was the one for her on our first date. Legend says that I arrived at her house to pick her up just as the shows were changing on the television. Apparently, the guy before me had trouble with time commitments. (And, he lived just around the corner from her)
Yesterday was a banner night for us. We were invited OUT (Whoohoo!) to someone’s house for dinner. I’d never been there before and I still stick with time commitments so I’d used the feature on Google Maps to show me how to get there, along with a couple of alternatives. If you are aware of the recent history of Windsor, you may know that Huron Church Road was blocked to South-North traffic and the preferred route might not be available. It estimated the trip to be 35 minutes. So, we left about 45 minutes ahead of time.
We got in the car and I asked the vehicle navigation system to route to our destination and it actually heard and understood me. I know that I have a nasal voice and it doesn’t always get it right the first time. The navigation system is based on Bing Maps and it had a different idea from Google. So, I started out but then saw a big backup at the lights and rerouted. It turned out to be a lineup for gas in advance of the expected price rise. Nicely, the mapping program adjusted. We got to our destination early but I’m also not one to show up early so we drove around a couple of blocks to kill some time and then arrived close to the predicted time, albeit a little early.
Growing up, of course, we didn’t have all these electronic gadgets. We had a roadmap which unfolded in the most awkward way in the glovebox. Southern Ontario on one side and Northern Ontario on the other side. Insets included city maps. These were in the days when you could fill up your car for $2.00 and pickup up a free road map as well. I stopped for gas today and the attached variety story actually had some on sale. They’re certainly more pricey than the “free” of my youth.
When we went places, my mother had hers and co-piloted. I had my own in the backseat so I could see where we were going. Whenever we would go somewhere, Dad would bring the map in the house and study it. We went to a lot of different places with our baseball teams. I think it was probably here that I learned that a route from one place to another could be measured in time instead of kilometres. I have no idea what the actual distance from here to Toronto is but I do know that it takes four hours.
One of the best gifts that we actually gave at Christmas wasn’t a roadmap (after all, they were free) but a road atlas. It’s actually like the one in the picture above with spiral binding and you could flip the pages for maps instead of having to navigate a maps and its folds.
For our honeymoon, we wanted to visit my aunt and uncle in Minneapolis. We went to a travel agent to see about a scenic drive and to get promotional materials. I remember her pulling out a map and taking us through Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and then Minnesota. No, we said, we want to take the Ontario route. She looked at us with disdain and I remember her directions – somehow get to Thunder Bay and then turn left. With her map, she had no touristy things to do in on Highway 11 or 17.
They’re also not exclusively used for road trips. I remember applying for jobs while I was at the Faculty of Education pre-Google and had a roadmap tacked on the wall over my desk so that I could blanket the province with resumes. Things were so much easier; school boards were organized by counties so I could write a letter to the “Essex County Board of Education” in Essex, ON and had good luck that it might be delivered. City boards were labelled “Board of Education for the City of London”. There was no freelancing allowed at the time.
The navigator on an airplane, I thought, always had a great job. Just staring at maps and weather and planning the route from A to B after checking in with the powers that be. I’ve generally had good fortune with airlines and I can only remember being delayed once leaving Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The captain came on the PA as we started our trip to San Francisco and a CSTA Conference and apologized for the delay taking off – apparently we were held back from transfers coming from New York – and indicated that the navigator was working on a plan to catch up for lost time. He did and we actually arrived ahead of the posted arrival time. That also brings up the question as to why that wasn’t the regular route anyway.
My favourite airplane / Dean Martin clip.
For a Sunday, what are your thoughts?
- do you measure your trips in kilometres or hours? how far are you from Toronto?
- do you remember road maps in your vehicle as a child? or maybe now?
- can you get one today?
- if you know me, have you ever known me to be late for a commitment?
- what was the name of the movie above where Dean Martin was featured? Who was the famous flight attendant?
- do you have a technique for folding the old fashioned paper maps?
- everyone has a GPS or the ability to connect to one these days. How do you do it?
- does your car have a GPS built-in or do you use a portable solution?
- what does GPS stand for?
- have you ever run into an error in mapping on a road map or digital mapping application?
- I remember my first venture into digital mapping. It was with Mapquest which seemed to work like magic. Have you ever used Mapquest? Do you have a favourite tool for this sort of thing?
I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about road maps and travel. Please do so in the comments below.
This is a regular Sunday morning post for me. You can look back at them all here.