In Rochester

I arrived in Rochester yesterday, June 14, safe and sound.  The drive north was quick and uneventful.  I had decided to drive up using my normal western route through West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, and to come back on an eastern route through Central Pennsylvania’s mountains, Baltimore and Washington.  On that route I would be able to visit my father’s grave near Baltimore.

But as I backed out of my driveway I changed my mind and decided to reverse my plans.  Knowing myself, I realized that I probably wouldn’t stop off near Baltimore – I would be in a hurry to get home.  Then I would feel guilty.

Traffic was very light most of the way.  There was only one short slowdown because of an accident, and even in and around Washington with its usual congestion traffic moved fairly well.

I snapped several photos of the accident through my windshield as I passed by on the far left shoulder of the road.  This is the most clear one:

Before I left home I purchased a Garmin GPS unit.  I didn’t need it at all for either of the routes to and from, but there were several places and people I planned to visit, especially in Ithaca, which I am not very familiar with, were a GPS system would be very helpful.

Just for fun, though, I programmed an old address of mine from when I worked in Baltimore to see how the system worked.  And it turned out to befunny!

Phyllis, (That’s the name I gave to the female voice giving driving instructions.) definitely has a mind of her own – and she is stubborn – but always eventually yields to me when I varied from the route she had selected.

For example, I prefer to drive on the Interstate highways right through the centers of large cities like Jacksonville, Richmond and Washington  rather than using bypasses.  It breaks up the boredom of the drive, unless, of course, it is rush hour.  Phyllis, however, had other ideas.  When I would continue ahead past the ramp to the bypass that she had directed me to take, she became obviously annoyed with me – immediately recalculated and determined how to get me back onto the route she had programmed – directing me to turn off at the next exit and which way to turn immediately thereafter.  When I again ignored her new direction she got the message and recalculated the route from the point where I was.

She became most annoyed when I decided to get off the expressway and drive around in Washington.  I used to work there, so I knew how to get back to the Interstate.  I just wanted to see some of the city.  I hadn’t been inside the city for over a decade.  Once I got off the expressway she immediately determined to get me back on it.

“Turn left, then turn left!”  She stated firmly.  When I proceeded through the intersection, she appeared agitated – she directed me to make similar turns at the next intersection, this time, I swear, in a much firmer tone.

After a second time of ignoring her attempts to get me back on track, she gave in and recalculated a new route assuming where I was at the time and the direction I was proceeding as the new starting point.  It was hilarious –  because every time I ignored her directions for her new route she again tried twice to get me straightened out, then gave in and recalculated another new route.  But, Phyllis is a real trouper.  Apparently her ability to accept and recalculate is unlimited.

One strange habit she has is to remind me occasionally to “Continue on route.”  That seemed perfectly normal in cases where she told me to turn onto a new road and I obeyed – but it was quite odd when she would randomly remind me where there was obviously no other choice – like when driving around a curve high in the mountains in Pennsylvania with no exit for many miles, and nothing to the left of me but the side of the mountain and nothing on the right but a guardrail and a many hundred foot drop.  What other alternatives did she “think” I might have had in mind?

I tried her out again a few times in Rochester.  It’s my hometown.  I know how to get from any point A to any point B.   But she would direct me on routes that I would not have used.  But on those occasions I humored her and followed her directions.  It’s the least I could do after having almost given her a nervous breakdown on the drive up.

Now, I have her disconnected until Sunday when I go to Ithaca.




Filed under Happenings

2 responses to “In Rochester

  1. naturgesetz

    Sounds like a lot of fun, except for those curves on the mountainsides in Pennsylvania. When I see nothing but air at road level to the right of the car, I tend to get scared. I’d probably need to be told to continue on route, since I’d be slowing way down.

    • Ed

      Yeah, I get a wee bit squeamish also – not all that fond of heights anyway. But, I suck it up make sure I accelerate into the curves!

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