Motorcycle GPS – No Batteries Required

May 16, 2013 View Comments by

gpsMapsmallLast week I had some fun with the concept of calling people versus email and texting. In fact, smartphones have to be one of the greatest inventions ever for travelers. Case in point, whenever I rent a car I immediately hook up my phone and turn on the GPS. Don’t even get me started on the joys of a Bluetooth equipped vehicle like the Ford Fusion I was assigned on my last trip. Being able to speak my directions, keep my hands on the wheel, and focus on the road is fantastic. If only the airline had a similar way of tracking the luggage that they lost on my way out.

With only my backpack, I am transported to the rental car location by Brad, a very friendly driver. Along with my contract I am handed a folded piece of paper that reads, “Connecticut Area Overview.” These pieces of paper are much like the paper-Google phone book that I discovered last week. They are called maps and they help you get to places. Best of all, they do not even require batteries!

Ok, before you think this is going to be another pseudo-old-man version of my smartphone blog, let me assure it is not. What occurred to me on this trip was how much I rely on my GPS. Here I am in an area that I once lived in for over 20 years and the first thing I do is tell Siri to take me to my location. I realize how little attention I now give to the directions all around me. Before I had a GPS, I read every sign closely, tracked each exit number, and referenced my maps before, during, and after my trip.

I grew up with a stack of maps on my passenger seat. To this day I love maps. I read them like books. However, I usually put all of my coordinates into the GPS and use the maps as backups.

When I return to Colorado I have no choice but to initiate an emergency family outing to the Colorado Wildlife Museum’s Geo-Caching and GPS Exhibit. This amazing exhibit is a wonderfully thought out maze of location related challenges. It is interspersed with hands on activities. For example, participants can fill packs with weighted equivalents for gear and food based on hikes of various lengths and degrees of difficulty. It is a tangible way of seeing the importance of being prepared when out on an adventure.

We pass through compass challenges, latitude and longitude puzzles, and three-point-colored wires that are used to simulate satellite-tracking systems. Each successfully completed geo-challenge earns a code that opens the next door. In one challenge, we are required to drag colored wires in a certain order until they all meet on top of one another to reveal a location and another clue. It is a great way to discover 3-D trilateration without resorting to calculus and overtaxing your cerebrum. If you are lucky enough to be in the Colorado area I urge you to spend a couple of hours taking in this experience. Honestly, I would have loved it even without the kids.

It is convenient to have Siri and other bossy—I mean helpful—GPS co-pilots giving you directions. Telling you to “make a legal U-turn” or shouting, “re-routing” every time you get an original idea. But the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes from using a compass, coordinates, and physical maps cannot be replaced with a computer.

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About the author

I am an introvert posing as an extrovert. I love travel in all forms, but prefer 2-wheels. I created AdventureHermit as a way to share my adventures and inspire others to find joy through discovery; writing for RoadRUNNER is a dream come true!