I am not a gadget girl. My husband loves using electronic tools, but I find them confusing and tend to ignore the advantages they provide. I often think that something that needs electricity is not to be trusted. Run out of batteries, and the thing is useless. When Kurt pulls out his laptop or GPS to navigate, I long for a paper map. But for our trip down the Neches river, we took along two GPS units, and I discovered they had some real advantages.
While we had some hand-drawn maps to help us track our progress, it turned out that only a few of the biggest landmarks were actually easy to identify. When a road goes over the river, you can’t miss it. But when the river bends, it’s less helpful. This sharp curve to the west might seem distinctive, but which westward bend is it? Even islands marked on the map weren’t always there.
The GPS helped us to know how far we had traveled so that we could make educated guesses about where we actually were. It also told us how fast we were moving, so we could make accurate estimates about how much time we needed to spend on the water each day. We had 54 miles of river to cover in three days. I would have been a lot more anxious about finishing on schedule if we hadn’t had the GPS to assure us we were doing just fine.
Unfortunately, in the middle of the trip, we had a GPS accident. Our Garmin fell overboard and didn’t know how to swim. We stopped immediately and tried to find it, but we didn’t know for sure where to look. I was paddling at the time, and looking at the water, not the nearby shore. As soon as he realized how shallow it was, Kurt jumped in. The water was so cloudy that we couldn’t see more than a few inches. Even though it’s bright orange, the GPS was not visible from above. We spent some time trudging up and down where we thought the GPS had fallen in, feeling the sandy bottom with our feet and pulling up anything we bumped into.
Sad to say, we did not find our poor GPS.
We took advantage of the break to have lunch. Once we were resigned to the loss, Kurt pulled out the backup GPS, which may not be as sophisticated as the one that drowned, but is definitely smarter. It knew to use a life jacket whenever it was in the boat.
I didn’t want our loss to go unmarked or unobserved, so I made a little monument to the GPS that went overboard. After all, it was a good little device and had done it’s job until it lost it’s little electronic mind and went for a swim.
May flights of angels sing it to its rest.