A Nostalgic Trip Down Technology Lane

Day 112

Hubby and I had to take the old (literally) Volvo into the shop today because it is leaking coolant. We live in a rural area, so finding a reliable Volvo mechanic means driving an hour north or south. When we make these treks, we usually plan on spending the day and running all our ‘city’ errands while we are there.

As we were driving and managing our way through roads under construction, we started talking about the improvements made in mapping software and GPS since we married.

Hubby’s first cell phone was a brick he used primarily to respond to pages he received from the office. It stayed in the car all the time. My first cell phone was a flip phone with no screen. Not much chance of navigating with either of those!

In the 1990’s, we purchased software called Street Atlas USA from DeLorme — a Maine-based mapping company. I distinctly remember using the laptop (which was huge and heavy in the 1990’s) with an antennae/receiver placed strategically on the dashboard. Lord help you if you went through any well-treed areas or traveled any tunnels along the way!

Then of course, along came Garmin who had a large display for maps that gave you turn-by-turn GPS instructions. The firmware needed to be updated frequently as new roads were built, or major construction was underway. We had a shared Garmin at work for anyone who needed to travel during the day. There was a policy for checking it out from the office and a very rigid policy to ensure its return at the end of the day.

And we cannot forget Mapquest. I wonder how many of those maps I created and printed?

Now we all have cell phones and using our GPS is a normal course of the day for most of us.

These thoughts reminded me of some days-gone-by memories. My sister always used AAA TripTik when planning a road trip. She would go into the office and tell them where she wanted to go, how many hours a day she wanted to travel and would highlight any scenic destinations she might be interested in seeing. Days later she would receive a bound book of maps highlighted with places to stop and sights to see. I think they still have the service, but it is now more an online tool you do yourself and then print.

Once while traveling from Maine to Virginia with my son, we ran into a major hours-long delay on the highway. My car was overheating and I asked him to pull out the atlas and find us an alternate route. He was probably sixteen at the time and did a great job — with one exception. The route went straight up a some curvy, hillish, mountain roads (did I mention I am not crazy about heights?) and across what I remember as a suspension bridge (did I mention I am not fond of heights)? Of course, if you are open to seeing it, there is always an up side to every situation. We ended up at the gate to Fort Drum, NY — A place my father was stationed and a place I heard many, many stories about growing up. Watertown, 1000 Islands, Camp Drum…such memories.


One further rather funny side note about that trip. In looking at the Google map above, maybe my son did not do so well. We NEVER should have been that far north. But sometimes, we just need to let go and go with the flow. I am puzzled how we ever made THAT detour. I must have been very cranky on that trip!

I do miss the folding and unfolding of a map, trying to find my way. With every gain we make in technology, we lose just a little touch of the romance.