Do you have a name for your GPS voice? Mine’s Nigel. My husband’s is Mathilda. Whatever persona you’ve assigned them, the relationship deteriorates when they send you into a traffic jam, down a one-way street or begin yammering in the middle of the best part of your favorite song. I’ve decided to end things with Nigel this summer and use maps to get where I need to go. It’s a quaint hobby, somewhat akin to tatting, but I still think it will come in handy when I land a spot on “The Amazing Race”. My first trip this weekend to the bucolic hills of northwest Connecticut began with a missed exit on the Taconic Parkway that lengthened my drive by 40 minutes. Every journey starts with baby steps, right? If you’re looking for graduation gift ideas, why not package up a Rand McNally Road Atlas and some gas money. The recipient will think you’re cheap or crazy, but it might inspire a summer travel adventure.
Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe in the power of travel guidebooks. Fodor’s. Frommer’s. Lonely Planet. Rick Steves. (If you’ve begun to wonder whether I have an absurd obsession with Mr. Steves, I’ll ‘fess up now. Yes. I do. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.) These books provide essential information for travelers, the “nuts and bolts”: maps, hotels, and attractions. However, they are sometimes out-of-date, particularly if you’re using a library edition of an old guidebook to plan a trip. It’s just the nature of the research, write, publish cycle.