Throughout all of my travels I have proudly carried an outdated atlas, usually a Rand McNally. Occasionally I have purchased the pocket atlas style, but it did not have enough detail, making my usual driving mess-ups hard to fix as the street references were not extensive. Not to say that I make that many mistakes, but occasionally during a particularly boring or tiring or long road trip my mind wanders and I miss an exit, turn, or detour sign. Never has this been a problem in the past. My usual comment of “I can fix this” has seen me through many a large city. Chicago? No problem. Nashville? Piece of cake. Dallas/Ft. Worth? One U-turn and once again we are heading in the right direction.
Then I came to New Jersey. All roads leading northeast are easy. Pick a scenic route along the eastern coast, or choose a trip through the Smokey Mountains, then up along the Shenandoah Mountain Range. Washington DC, Maryland and Pennsylvania are no hill for a stepper, probably because the basic outlay of the roads make sense to the driver. If you miss a turn you can ‘make the block’ and get back on track.
All rules and common sense go out the window in the Jersey City, Hoboken, and the Elizabeth, New Jersey area.
Locals say that once you get out of this area the rest of the state is a breeze. There lies the problem! After many attempts at driving in eastern New Jersey I had the strange fear that I’d never be able to get out of Jersey City and surrounding areas. I was having to stop and ask directions over and over again, and then a policeman suggested I purchase a Garmin (I think he was tired of me, as I was a repeat “lost offender”).
ME? Of course I DO NOT need such a technical, know-it-all device. I have my Rand McNally, my New Jersey map, my downtown Elizabeth, downtown Hoboken and downtown Jersey City maps. HA!
Two days later and a 2 hour attempt to go about 8 miles with repeated on and off passes at the Toll Road, I purchased a Garmin that I named Matilda. (After “Waltzing Matilda”, an old song that sums up the way I am now ‘waltzing’ around this area). The good news is that the “recalculating” phrase no longer irritates me as it did at first; rather, I find it comforting. No longer do I break out in sweat when I miss my turn, I just wait as ‘Matilda’ guides me with her recalculations to another route.
I always get back to my hotel now. Before Matilda I was afraid to leave my pooches in the hotel because I might not ever get back. Now, I have freedom! I have confidence! My dogs no longer have to spend hours sitting side by side in the front passenger seat of my pick up, fearful of when they will see their next meal! We can leave and we can return!
So, my dear readers, in summary I must say that Matilda the Garmin device is now my best friend. I would recommend the purchase to anyone going anywhere near New Jersey, as well as anywhere else. There is the additional help given in finding hospitals, restaurants and points of interest which keeps me from propping the phone book or the atlas on the steering wheel while driving.
To Garmin or not to Garmin is no longer a question. Now I wonder if I need an iPod…hmm. I will have to wait and see on that, so stay tuned for “To iPod or not to iPod.”