Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Over the River and Through the Tunnel

Once upon a time when I traveled, I would call the people I was visiting to ask them for specific driving directions. If I were going to tour the country, I would rely on AAA Trip Tics. I rarely got lost. Then someone invented the computer and someone else invented the internet. That begot Map Quest. Map Quest has been superseded by the GPS.

Thus, last week when my husband and I arrived at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, I carried our portable GPS and a ream of directions from Map Quest in my tote bag. I knew how to get to almost every place we were going with my eyes closed, but my husband insisted we needed them, “just in case.”

We picked up our rental car, plugged in the GPS, and I read the directions on the screen. Then I compared them to Map Quest’s. “They’re both wrong,” I informed my husband.

Please realize that we both grew up in a neighborhood in Queens midway between LaGuardia Airport and JFK Airport. I know the area where both major NY airports are located. So does my husband – well enough to know I was right. The shortest route via neighborhood streets, which they were sending us on, was far from fastest one to take. The car rental agency’s directions to the Williamsburg Bridge - we were headed to New Jersey - were also incorrect. They told us to take one highway until we reached another. Neither of the highways intersects.

We decided to ignore all the directions until we got to New Jersey – the only partially unknown territory to us. For those that know NY, you can appreciate our amazement when we exited the Grand Central Parkway– the first of five highways we needed - onto the Long Island Expressway and our GPS informed us that we had reached our destination. For those that don’t, let me explain that we were on a highway an hour from our destination – without traffic – and still needed to go over one river, through the island of Manhattan, under another river and then over various highways until we would arrive at our destination.

I miss my AAA Trip Tics. They were so much lighter than the GPS and took up so little room. Even better, they indicated to me where public restrooms were located!

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