I navigate my solo course by means of GPS, visitor centre maps and basic intuition. Mostly it works but the dash mounted Garmin likes to take me on the toll roads, especially in Sunpass Florida. So I use my UK smart phone or phablet which can be set to avoid such complications and is happier leaving the interstates for the more scenic and smaller highways.
But this is not without its own issues. When the connection drops out I find myself temporarily flying free and if needs be having to pull over into a gas station or grocery store car park to take stock of my whereabouts. This happened on the way down to Edenton, North Carolina with the added bonus of running out of gas in what was soon becoming a gas station free zone.
I was lucky with the Garmin. Having decided not to pay for one with the rental car it soon became apparent that it would be indispensable on my travels across the States. My couchsurfing hosts in Edenton kindly lent me theirs which they never used. Such kindness from strangers who had already opened their home to me, fed and treated me like their prodigal son returning.
So between the Garmin and the phablet and a dash of intuition I’m now doing okay. I cruise through interstate intersections with comparative ease and wonder at the layers of concrete human construction that curve and pan out in all directions like a child’s spirograph doodle.
Yesterday my Google sat nav lady unexpectedly welcomed me to Alabama. I pulled into the visitor centre for my free map and restroom break. There to the side was my selfie photo opportunity. I shared it to Facebook and my mum commented that I looked like a giant hedgehog. Well thanks mum!
And then it got a little weird. My phone and car started showing a different time to my watch. I was heading to a couchsurfing host in Mobile and texting my ETA. It suddenly occurred to me that there are time zones in the US, something that had completely escaped my attention in all the months of planning.
As a footnote to this traveller’s tale of confusion, I have decided to head north to Memphis Tennessee and the home of Elvis. I have a couchsurf host arranged in Tupelo where the man himself was born. It also means I get to avoid the weather chaos in southern Louisiana which has left the Interstate closed between Baton Rouge and north New Orleans.
And from Memphis I can strike out west to pick up the fabled Route 66. Won’t you come with me, as Billy Connelly might say.