Traveling part 2: death of a good Garmin

When I lived in California I knew all the roads, routs and haunts.  It was like an old shoe, worn, softened, an extension of my being.  I had lived there all my life and felt safe to go anywhere.  It was all just so familiar.

Then we moved here to N. Alabama and nothing made sense anymore.  Roads changed names at every major crossing, crops are harvested and new ones planted spring and fall and nothing looks quite like it did just a few months previous.  Roads are laid out haphazardly because the farmland is owned and farmers don’t like their property bisected into nice neat grids.  Good for the easily lost, but not so convenient for the owner of said land!  (I do understand this.)

So, after a while, when Bob started answering his phone:  “Onstar, how may I help you.” (yes really) he bought me a Garmin nuvi for Christmas!  One very similar to this…

The above device can be found and purchased HERE.

I liked that little blue car that followed the roads and the soothing voice that directed me to where I needed to be.  It was my Dumbo’s feather, if you will,

and with it “I could [drive]”.

I knew I could go down any road, make any turn, enjoy any adventure, and then hit the home button and it would get me back!  Easy.

Now before I left I knew the battery was going and that the only way to program it was to plug it into the car dash.  I was under the erroneous assumption, that so long as it had a power source, my truck’s battery, it would continue working.   After spending a comfortable night in Mt Vernon, IL, I packed the truck and was anxious to start the second leg to my first destination.  I plugged in the Nuvi, started her up, typed in the address and got the message:

“This town does not exist”


I thought maybe I forgot to enter the new state so I tried it again.  Same message.  I tried it a few more times and still no luck.  At this point I could feel my heart racing and my face was getting hot.  I knew what was coming.  A panic attack. 

All I could think of was how thrifty I had been, how I had planned to spend as little as possible on this trip so I could have fun and not break the bank.  I even packed all my own food and snacks, didn’t buy trinkets, didn’t take side trips.  I was on a mission:

  • Spend a week with my Auntie that I haven’t seen in over 35 years and help her finish unpacking and getting settled in.
  • See the total eclipse at Smithville Lake, in Mo.  (in line for 100% event at that location)
  • Go to Hamilton, MI to see the Missouri Star Quilt Company.
  • Go to the Moon Marble Company in Bonner Springs, KS (outside of Kansas City) and see how glass marbles are made.  Hey, I’m a kid at heart.  😀

Frivolous  spending was not an option.

I called my personal “Onstar” knowing he couldn’t help me this time, but needing to hear his calm voice.  So what was his advice?

Just go buy another one.”


‘But they’re expensive”, I cried.

He convinced me I had no alternative and when I hung up I went to the Walmart around the corner and purchased a new one.  Which was not like the old one.  In fact, the silly thing is counter intuitive!  Different messages, but similar outcome.  I was not able to find my next location.  After a second (mini) meltdown, when I realized there were no instructions included in the box, I finally found the US 800 number and called it.

The nice lady on the other end was very helpful and walked me through setting the next leg of my trip.  Setting a destination is anti-logical in the fact that you have to enter the ADDRESS FIRST, and then the state.  Really?  Who’s  bright idea was that?

I now  have my new Garmin programmed, I know I can get there from here (Walmart’s parking lot) and I have given myself a moment to listen to some music and calm down.  I am ready to go.  On the long drive I discovered that with the exception of the big cities of Mt. Vernon, Springfield, and Peoria, that Illinois is a sea of crops and farmland.

I did appreciate that they have instituted a program to plant prairie grasses and flowers all along the interstates, many of which were in bloom in blues and yellows!  I also found that the route along I-55, and I-155 is not as truck packed as the I-65 is through from Tennessee to Indiana!  Driving at the speed limit of 70 mph with trucks and crazy people who like to do 85 mph on the 65 was not my idea of a calm experience!

From Mt Vernon to Auntie Eva’s house seemed to take forever.  There were many rest stops, a lunch was made in the parking lot of a larger gas station.  I parked right in front of the windows too.  I didn’t want to become the next episode of the “Forensic Files”!  (Yes.  I do.  I like the science used to solve the crimes.)

I arrived about 5:30 or 6:00 PM.  She buzzed me in, and I took the elevator to the third floor.  I walked the hall to her apartment to find the door open and her sitting in the kitchen in her wheelchair.

She looked so lost and sad.

I said:  “There you are!” and went in for a hug.

I would spend just over a week with my Aunt.  Helping her to unpack and hang her clothes, hang her paintings and pictures, get groceries, cookware, cafe service so she could cook and eat what she prepared, and in general help her to sort through all the boxes that were stacked chest high in her spare room.  We got rid of the broken, superfluous, and no longer needed items. (*Mostly 😉 )   Talked and caught up on what was news while she sorted through setting up and receiving in home nursing care, housekeeping service, physical therapy, Dr appointments and more.

She had been there three months already and that is all I am going to say about that.

I learned a few things about my mother and father in our conversations.  Things I guessed from my childhood, some I knew, and a bit I didn’t know.  Those will appear on the other site.

We have standing appointments for phone chats on the weekends and visits again in the **Fall and Spring.  These visits will be more about conversation, cooking, seeing the sights and just having fun.

I very much look forward to that!


FOR FRIDAY:  The case of the disappearing sun, a stormy night and an historic  flood in Kansas City…


*On little old ladies and their stuff:  It is a fact that those things we’ve acquired in the years of our lives, and still have when we are old, are precious to us.  Therefore some give and take in our sensibilities about what was a keeper and what was toast and should be discarded had to be negotiated.  She won some and I convinced her otherwise on some.

This conversation will remain with me forever:

Me:  “Aunt Eva you have a closet-full of these kind of shirts.  One in every color I think.  This one is very old and stained.  Do you really need it?  I think you should toss it.”

Auntie:  “I don’t care, I like it and I want to keep it!”

Me:  “But it looks so terrible –  you won’t look nice in it.”

She sat there looking it over, then looked it over again, and finally she balled it up and snapped: “Fine; throw it in the trash!  Are you happy now?”

Me, wearing a wan smile, “No, not really.”

She chuckled.

That shirt is now in a dump somewhere in Iowa.  😉

**On Fall in Iowa:  The season is rushing in and promises to be spectacular!  In the time I was there the maples outside her balcony went from a few bronzed branch tips to pure scarlet leaves in patches!





37 thoughts on “Traveling part 2: death of a good Garmin

  1. Pam Nunn says:

    Sounds like a wonderful trip! But…. Garmin??? Do people still use those things? I had no idea they were still in business!!!

    So I’m guessing you don’t have a “smart” phone???

    • Lynda says:

      Pam, yes I do have a smartphone (I miss my little brick phone). And, with the Garmin I don’t have to pay data rates! Also, I never have to worry about a dropped signal because it works via satellite link.

  2. katechiconi says:

    How stressful that Garmin incident must have been! I’ve had a lifelong love affair with maps, I own dozens, and while I love to punch a destination into the car GPS and just go, I get even more pleasure from planning a journey by map, something we still do frequently, as we have no GPS on Miss Scarlett. It’s too hard to see the thing on a huge vibrating motorbike at speed, and unless you have the audio hooked into your helmet by Bluetooth, you can’t hear it anyway! I take pride in my map reading skills, but I’d be stuck without one, so I do feel for you.
    I’m also very happy that you’ve had a chance to spend some time with your aunt and learn something new about your family. It’s something I miss rather…

    • Lynda says:

      Kate, I used maps in the 70s because that’s what we had. I used to get what the Auto Club called a “Triptick” and followed this linear mapping book to get from point A to point B. Using the Garmin is very much like this, with the exception that this directionally challenged individual can deviate from the path and still find her way back without stress. When I traveled from California to my first duty station in Pensacola, FL I made the mistake of getting off the freeway in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. There were so many one-way streets that I became lost and ended up on the outskirts of one of the two. A nice gas station attendant gave me verbal directions to get back to the freeway and once safely back on I just kept going until I was out of that twin-city-metropolis-nightmare! 😯

  3. peggycooperquilts says:

    Bless her heart. I know how hard it is to throw things away. Sometimes I will dig something out that I thought was priceless at one time. I look at it an think, why in the world did I save this thing…..doesn’t happen often enough though. 🙂

    • Lynda says:

      Peggy, yes! I too have the same issues with “stuff”. Things I saved from HS finally went out when I moved from California to N. Alabama, but much of what I saved from when I was teaching came with me. I finally sold it at a garage sale, but that teacher’s need to “save good stuff” keeps me salvaging still. But the real treasures, little family trinkets, are still on hold here. Things that were broken and mended by my long gone family members. Those things are treasure that when looked upon can instantly bring their owner to life again. No, those things will wait be gotten rid of when I am gone. ❤

  4. wildninja says:

    “This town does not exist” flashes on the screen as she wonders if she’s been transported to an alternate reality without warning.

    Oh MAN that would be a surreal moment!

  5. Littlesundog says:

    Wow… our trips were strangely alike. Visiting family of course, but I too had problems with the GPS in our new (but used 2016) truck. I ended up lost in Wichita (thanks to a detour I later discovered was from an accident ahead). Since the GPS was “acquiring signal” for who know what reason, I followed my gut and the placement of the sun to find my way back on track… the old inner GPS!! I felt a bit like Daisy deer… instinct prevailing!!

    I can’t wait to see the next post in this solo adventure series. I have got to get to writing about my own experience! 🙂

    • Lynda says:

      Lori, yes that is a major flaw of GPS devices. They need their maps to be updated… at the very minimum, before you go on a long journey! Even then, they can’t foresee the traffic pile ups due to accidents or the newest of road construction. I think the programmers need a button you can push that finds the alternate routs for your lacation. What a boon that would be in any of the above situations!
      And yes, you do need to get writing on your trip. I can’t wait to see your pictures and hear all about it!

      • Littlesundog says:

        I have started the first of probably two posts about the trip. And of course there are things here that need addressing… like the appearance of the dreaded wild hogs in our pecan orchard. GAH!!

        • Lynda says:

          ” the appearance of the dreaded wild hogs in our pecan orchard”
          We have them here too, but I think that they are more in the middle of the state. I would NEVER want to meet one on my property or anywhere in the wild!

  6. petspeopleandlife says:

    That was quite a trip I totally enjoyed reading about your direction device. All my friends have a GPS system in their up to date cars. I drive a 98 GMC double cab pick up and, it of course has no GPS. I love my old truck and I keep it in good running order.

    It’s great that you were able to help your aunt. I know that you were appreciated. I bet she was sorry to see you go.

  7. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Rule of thumb for the directionally challenged: (on this continent; ) the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
    It may use data but the map of a smartphone will show you not only where you are but road closures & and slow downs for accidents or construction ahead. Having said that, I still like to use maps – especially the topographical type if planning a camping/ canoe trip or hike… And, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but laugh at the visual I got of Kate’s story (and I know it’s not what she actually said; ) but I couldn’t help seeing bikers reading a map while enroute; )

    • Lynda says:

      True, Deb, but I still don’t have to pay data rates for use of my phone. 😀 Remember, this trip was being done on the cheap! I like your image of “bikers” using a map. I too like topo maps when I am hiking! I used them often in California. In fact, the one time I didn’t had me hiking down the backside of of the San Gabriel Mountains and into the desert! Long story short: My sister’s BF of the time had a bad ticker and couldn’t make the climb back up. So that left only down. Bob was not happy to be driving around the mountains and through the Cahon pass (after hernia/prostate surgery) to come rescue our sorry selves. Moral? Don’t take the sis and her heart patient BF of the month an a serious hike in the mts. Lesson learned. 😉

  8. shoreacres says:

    I laughed aloud at your story about DFW. I went through that place once, and said never again. In fact, I know people who have made multiple trips up there and never been able to take the same route because of construction, confusing signs, and so on. I’m sure it’s a very nice place, but I’ve learned how to to north without having to deal with it.

    I’m just not a GPS traveler. I tried it once, in the middle of Kansas, and it did fine, getting me almost to where I wanted to go. Unfortunately, it didn’t know about the washed out bridge. Lucky for me a farmer in a pickup showed up and told me how to get around it. Local knowledge beats GPSs any time, in my book.

    I love the marble company, that’s for sure. I had a big bag of marbles when I was a kid, and I loved them. The cat’s eyes were my favorites, I think. I’ve never heard of the marble company itself, even though I have a cousin who lives just south of Bonner Springs. I’ll have to ask him if he’s ever been there.

    As for old ladies and their stuff — the tales I could tell of trying to get my mother ready to move from Iowa to her sister’s house in Kansas City. I still quiver when I think about that. She didn’t want to move, and she didn’t want to get rid of anything, and everything she told me about having garage sales and such was less than fully truthful. When I arrived five days prior to the moving van, she had nothing exactly nothing. It took all of us a while to get over that experience!

    • Lynda says:

      Linda, I have this strange recollection of DFW and getting to a place where I had to cross maybe 3 lanes of traffic to get to the correct route in the middle of that mad noodle they called the interchange… I also recall just turning at the very last minute and driving sideways to get onto it because I didn’t want to get lost again! My angels, and those of several others were on fire that day!

      You said: “When I arrived five days prior to the moving van, she had nothing exactly nothing.”

      She got rid of EVERYTHING?

  9. diannegray says:

    We have friends living to the south of us who continually get cars plunging into their creek. According to the GPS there is supposed to be a bridge there, but there’s never been a bridge there that we know of 🙂
    Also, I’m not getting any emails when you post so I’m going to unfollow and refollow you to see if that works xxx

    • Lynda says:

      Dianne, I had a similar glitch when my GPS kept telling me I was not on a road. It sent me on a loop to a road, a r. turn, and then dumped me into a major NEW throughway. I finally got ticked enough that I just turned in the direction I thought I should go and arrived at the 231/431 highway. Instinct paid off that time. 😉 How awful for the folks without the bridge! 😦

      I have had similar problems with WP not sending me notifications from the blogs I follow. So glad you’ve found me again! 😀

  10. Bill says:

    I have a dear close relative who won’t get rid of anything. She now has storage buildings in her yard to keep the stuff that’s overflowing from her house. She reacts to gentle suggestions about getting rid of things the same way your aunt did. 🙂

    Eccentric or not, she’s fortunate to have you in her life.

    • Lynda says:

      Bill, after going through Bob’s parents things when we moved to their home, and now going through my Auntie’s things with her, I am more determined than ever to get rid of more stuff. We surely do collect a lot of things in a lifetime.

      I claim a special dispensation for Auntie. ❤
      Before she arrived in Iowa her son and grand kids "helped" her in California to get rid of a lifetime of things, much of which was stored in boxes… all sold in an auction. I think she was still reeling from the shock when I got there…

  11. LB says:

    What an enjoyable post (despite your Garmin meltdown). I love that Bob said “go buy a new one”.
    As I read all that you did to help your Aunt, I could only imagine what a gift you are to her.
    I’ll look forward to the next post, Lynda

    • Lynda says:

      So do I, Laurie, LOL! I have it half written but have been far more busy than I anticipated for many days now. I guess it will be done by this Friday and it will be a double post kinda day. I don’t like doing that, but sometimes you just have to. 🙂

    • Lynda says:

      Yes, there is more farmland than I ever imagined and all of it is pretty. Funny to have lived most of my life in SoCal and to have never known where all the food comes from. Lots of it!

  12. Steve Schwartzman says:

    In general the map app on my phone has been helpful, but on some occasions it has led me to the wrong place, or told me to turn where construction made it impossible to turn. The map app helped in New Zealand, where a lot of my driving attention went into maneuvering on the left side of the road, so the less I had to figure out where to turn, the better,

    • Lynda says:

      Yup, to be sure, no system is without it’s flaws, Steve. You said:

      “…on some occasions it has led me to the wrong place, or told me to turn where construction made it impossible to turn…”

      I have experienced that very thing! I have also been advised on-screen that I was off road or in a field where new construction was involved. Funny how the map showed the brand new Walmart by my Auntie’s house and yet indicated that I had parked in a field to go shopping there. Keeping the maps current must be a never ending task. The verbal instructions were a boon for me. As were the popup pictures of what the off-ramp and signage looked like! For a person like me who rarely travels 15 miles from home, well, it did have its charms, even with the flaws. 🙂

  13. Playamart - Zeebra Designs says:

    long ago i did some illustrations for a lady who was 90 years old.. i quickly cherished her friendship, and later she made one statement that had a strong impact— she stated, ‘if i could live my life over, the one thing i would change would be to visit the elderly more often.’


    tonight i’ve been reading from ‘back’ to ‘front’ on your posts – so glad that you made that road trip, and i look forward to reading more!

    • Lynda says:

      Lisa, it has taken an age for me to get down to writing about the last leg of my journey. In this time of mulling over what I want to share I have made a very strange and honest discovery about this trip myself. I won’t tell here in my comment but do have nothing on my plate for tomorrow. I have thought about it long enough and it is time to tell about it. I will say that I am proud of myself for even realizing it!

      ‘if i could live my life over, the one thing i would change would be to visit the elderly more often.’”

      Earlier this week when talking to my Auntie she shared with me that one of the young women living down the hall from her has made friends with her. She said that she comes to visit several times a week and gave her number to her with instructions to call any time she needed her help. This puts my mind at ease since no one in the family has contacted her since I left and I am too far away to help. I makes me glad to know there are people in the world like you and my auntie’s neighbor who make a difference in the life of the elderly. I hope to have a friend like that when I need her. ❤

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