Time Traveler

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.

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4 thoughts on “Time Traveler

  1. Hey Colin! I really did laugh out loud at “gas station free zone”..there are many of them and I know the feeling..I’m from the States and some of it still feels somewhat strange to me! Hint..maps are a real blessing..Garmin can get a little hinky now and then..

    Anyhow, I saw “Sweet Home Alabama” and was reminded of a spring I spent in neighboring Mississippi..so much pollen that the air was colored yellow! Very eerie..

    Great to hear that you’re getting such a warm welcome..keep in touch with us!

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    • I’ve heard about that pollen. Coats cars and sleeping cats. I’ve left Alabama behind and am enjoying the delights of Route 66 in Oklahoma and Texas. Found myself a lovely motel in Shamrock which is a photographer’s dream town. I can’t stop taking pictures. Thank heavens for digital. Heading into New Mexico tomorrow to find me a ghost town or two. Keep me company!

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    • Thanks for the advice Grace. I will indeed check out your link. With so much technology it takes a reason to use it in order to understand it. Eventually I worked out that Google maps sat nav works best when pre-programmed with all the stops along the route. Once it’s in it stays there pretty much without fail. And if Wi-Fi is not available you can manually drop pinpoints onto the map. Amazing what you figure out in the last couple weeks of a two month trip!

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