Back When GPS Just Meant Girls Preparatory School
I recently attended my son’s graduation ceremony at his small college in North Carolina. To save money on gas, well, actually, because it had been a while since I had spent any time with my sister, I made the 5 hour trip with my sister and brother-in-law in their beautiful new passenger van. Normally, I enjoy the freedom of a road trip by myself, but this trip allowed us time to catch up on conversation, and it was nice to have someone with whom to share such a proud dad moment for me.
Their new van made for a comfortable ride, and also exposed me to a couple of things I’ve been aware of but hadn’t really experienced first hand…namely, satellite radio and an on-board navigation system. You may recall that I recently wrote in this space about a broadcast industry journalist who earlier this year had taken a long road trip while listening only to the radio stations he could pick up along the way. For me, that has always been one of the most enjoyable aspects of a road trip. Certainly, I might not feel this way if I weren’t in the radio business, but if I didn’t feel this way, I probably would have never sought out radio as a career to begin with. By all rights, I should hate satellite radio because it is stealing listening time in the car away from terrestrial radio. However, I enjoyed the music in the background while my sister and I talked, without having to worry about finding another station when one station would fade out. (Although the satellite signal did have problems getting through in the deep canyons of the Nantahala Forest). Satellite radio on a road trip is a definite advantage. Just remember that when you’re not on a road trip and merely driving to or from work here in Chattanooga, satellite radio won’t give you a heads up on the traffic slow spots, but Sunny 92.3 will.
The on-board navigation system was a different matter. First off, when we exited the interstate for a pit stop, the navigation system would keep telling us to get back on the interstate. For me it was highly annoying. Then I thought about my father, from whom I had learned a love for road signs and maps, and all things road trip. My dad would have hated an on-board navigation system. In my head, I heard his voice saying, “What’s the fun of taking a trip if you don’t have the challenge of figuring out where you’re going and how to get there?” I also got my sense of humor from my dad and thought of how he would have sarcastically smiled and talked back to the computer generated voice, “Aw, shut-up, I’ll turn right when I’m damned well ready to turn right.”
It turns out those of us who have no interest in using an on-board navigation system might be doing ourselves a favor. This article from 2013 suggests that the portion of our brain responsible for spatial orientation is likely to wither away if it is not regularly used. It also quotes from studies that show that cab drivers have much more brain activity in that area than others. It is an interesting article, and if you’re thinking about using on-board navigation in your vehicle, you may want to read this first:
I’m not a neurologist, but I’d like to think that my job which involves looking at TDOT and GDOT maps to glean traffic information is good exercise for my brain. Yet another reason why traffic reporter is the perfect job for an old roadgeek like me.