Ed’s Weekly Rant- Navigation – Paper Map or Electronic Device

a user is setting the gps on his carCall me old and stupid because I’m a map guy, but has anyone else every put their trust in a GPS while driving and ended up in a parking lot or dead end street? Maybe I wasn’t listening and should pick a better voice, one that says, “turn now you big dummy.” I’m sorry, but these devices are not foolproof and I know I’m not the only person who’s been led astray by one.

My first experience of trusting a GPS was on a boys bike trip where I was the old map guy and the three younger dudes all had fancy electronic gadgets that were supposed to take us to our cabin in the Smokey Mountains. When my buddy’s GPS said we’d arrived at our location I laughed out loud. There wasn’t a cabin, house, mailbox, or anything inhabitable in sight.

Cathryn and I relied on our GPS, a road atlas, and a guidebook on our recent cross-country trip on Route 66. Although not perfect, the book was the most reliable resource. I’m ranting on this topic because of Cathryn’s niece who recently told us paper maps are completely useless. This is from a Millennial who relies on Google to find the nearest shopping mall in the city.

Navigation systems are now built right into our vehicles and are supposed to be safer and more convenient – no more distracted driving or wire plugs hanging from your rear view mirror. But what about those fancy displays that tell you everything except what you ate for lunch?

The display on my dash likes to change when it feels like it and I constantly have to take my eyes off the road to get the proper screen back up. Same with the read-out for my odometer and speedometer, fluid levels and tire pressures that change with the weather.

My favorite is when my display goes black with a message that’s it’s unsafe to take your eyes off the road while driving. And how does one clear such a message? By taking their eyes off the road to select the appropriate button. It must have made perfect sense to the idiot engineer who designed it.

Who’s gonna cook, clean and pick?

IMG_2968I’ve never used this forum to preach anyone’s political agenda, and I usually try to remain impartial to any policies that may affect me when travelling abroad, but in this case I’d like to offer my two cents on the illegal immigrant status in the United States.

Being Canadian and living in such close proximity to the U.S. we are bombarded with American news hourly, especially the everyday antics of their politicians and president. It was on our recent trip along Route 66, from Chicago to Santa Monica that I made certain observations and came up with one big question for any American who believe’s there’s no room in their country for illegal immigrants.

Who’s going to cook your meals, clean up after you, and pick your produce?

During our trek across eight completely different States I noticed something missing from common laborers ‘everywhere.’ There were no fat white people making my breakfast, cleaning our motel rooms, or picking vegetables in the fields. The only ones I saw were being waited on in places like Denny’s, where they were shoving massive amounts of biscuits and gravy or waffles and pancakes into their pie holes.

Whether they believed in deporting illegals or not, none of the white folk I saw seemed to have any problem whatsoever with who was putting their food in front of them or cleaning up after them. It was obvious that the younger generation only cared about the mobile devices they were fixated on and probably couldn’t have told you if it was a human or machine that served them.

So back to my question. If America is successful in kicking all the illegals out of their country who the hell is going to run the place? I wonder how many politicians have immigrants working for them at home? I’d bet there are more than a few. I’m just a bashful and passive Canadian. What do I know?

Road Less Traveled – Crossing America

IMG_4073Cathryn and I just completed Route 66 from Chicago to L.A. and a return trip across the United States on a more northerly route, racking up over 6,000 miles on mostly forgotten roads that were once the main arteries in America. As much as possible, we traveled the old U.S. Highway system that is still in use but often replaced by Interstate super highways.

Following Route 66 was like a cross-country scavenger hunt. We used a guidebook to seek out the old road or what’s left of it and eroding memorabilia from a time past and almost forgotten. Millennial’s have no concept of the road, and as folks our age travel to never-never land the sites and stories will disappear forever.

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Everyday People – Everywhere

IMG_2954 (1)Once again, while travelling Route 66 from Chicago to L.A., Cathryn and I have had our faith in humanity renewed. There really are friendly people left in the world, all you have to do is say hello and talk to them.

Who’d have thunk there’d be anyone willing to talk to you in a metropolis like Chicago – it’s one of those places you’re programmed to think that you can’t make eye contact with anyone for fear of them saying, “What are you looking at?” So much for preconceived ideas. Our first glaring example was at the Congress Plaza Hotel in the windy city.

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Africa, One Continent, Many Cultures

IMG_2768 - CopyWe live in the center of the North American continent. It consists of two large countries, considered ‘westernized’ by the rest of the world. With the exception of some aboriginals in the far north, and perhaps a few other groups trying to cling to their heritage, I believe we share a similar culture. We are composed of different races, with different beliefs, but we share common goals like freedom and democracy.

In the last month and a half, Cathryn and I have experienced three distinctly different countries in the African continent. A drop in the bucket when you consider there are currently fifty-four countries. Planning this trip, I had three separate goals: to see something different for my sixtieth birthday and check off the pyramids of Giza on my bucket list. To break up the trip into three, using each location as a base for further exploration. And to work our way into a warmer climate to wile away the cold Canadian winter.

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Same but Different

IMG_2572Let’s start with vacation vs. travel. To those inexperienced in the latter, as opposed to the former, you’ll completely understand. Others may think the two getaways are the same, but they are quite different. Vacations tend to be those one-week jaunts to somewhere warm, where you can relax and forget all about work or whatever other crap life throws at you on a daily basis.

Travelling entails extending those sojourns, not only to relax or escape every day life, but to explore new places and perhaps venture off the beaten path. Two weeks at an all-inclusive resort may sound the same as two weeks in Europe, but they are very different. So, the question is do you want everything to be the same as home? If you do then stay at home. One reason to travel is to experience something different, whether it’s the weather, or food or wine or landscape or culture.

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Bill Bryson – Neither Here Nor There

here nor thereNeither Here nor There: Travels in Europe

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Edmond Gagnon‘s review

Jan 28, 2019  

 

I’ve known about Bill Bryson for some time and saw a movie about his last travel adventure, but had never got around to reading any of his material. I had ‘Neither Here Nor There’ collecting dust at home with my two shelves of other books to read, and since I was about to leave on a travel adventure myself, I took Bill’s book along to pass the down time when not engaged in sightseeing, eating or drinking.
Having traveled solo like Bryson did in this book, I can truly appreciate his adventures and misadventures in an era before the internet, cell phones, and GPS. Like him, I still love unfolding a map to plan the next day’s route. Bryson is the type of person who is comfortable in his own skin and has no qualms about travelling alone.
He is a good writer, with a sarcastic sense of humor, and an unquenchable thirst for metaphors. The book is more of a collection of snippets from the various cities and towns along his route. He likes to pound the pavement and sit in local watering holes or cafes to get a good feel of each and every place his visits.
Being the author of my own travel book, with some similarities, I generally liked the read, but found it a bit awkward at times – especially when the author went off on one of his rants. His American arrogance toward the rest of the world showed through on more than one occasion. I’m not saying that Mr. Bryson is predjudice against all foreigners, from what I’ve experienced in my travels it’s just the way some Americans are. They love to travel, but expect everything, like food, to be the same as home.

Stocking Stuffers for Readers

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It’s coming. Christmas will be here before you know it. If you’re wondering what to get that person who’s hard to buy for, and they like to read, then consider getting them an autographed copy of one of my books, or a complete gift set of my Norm Strom Crime Fiction Series.

Any of my books are online through sellers like Amazon, or available at PB Books or Juniper Books, in Windsor. I will be selling and signing books at several functions and craft shows from now until Christmas. Click HERE for a complete list of the events.

If you want to see my individual books and read their intros please click HERE.

The People We Meet

IMG_0398When Cathryn and I travel it’s not all about the journey or the destination, or even the food and drink. Granted, those are all good reasons as to why we travel, but we also love to meet new people and share in their culture. People are one of the reasons you’ll see us perched on stools at the bar instead of sitting at a table by ourselves.

It’s not that we don’t enjoy each other’s company, we do, and we travel well together. Spending days or weeks together 24/7 can be trying for any couple or even close friends. Consider yourself lucky if you can get along with your travel partner.

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