My husband and I are on the road, a trip to work with friends at a camp in upper New York. Last time I went to New York was over 30 years ago; this is the first time my husband has ever been in the state. We are driving and have filled our pockets and the car with a variety of electronic devices promising us easy connection to Illinois (and the rest of the world) whenever we need or want to be connected. Well, almost.
My friend did make a casual reference to the fact connecting would be a bit harder from camp, so I told several people I would be out of touch once we got there. What I didn’t think about was how often things don’t go according to plan. Small things, really, like the major power outages happening in the east right now that we drove through in Ohio, or how often the GPS would lose satellite connections as we traveled, or the wireless connections in New York hotels that did not work. But we are tough and we can adjust. Or at least we thought we could until we found ourselves on a one-way trip to Canada.
This is probably a good place to mention we did not plan on going to Canada, and we do not have passports or documentation of our U.S. citizenship on us. We did find out quite quickly those papers are expected at the border both when entering Canada (even by mistake) and when trying to re-enter the U.S. (having left by mistake). We have found out people on both sides of the border look at you with disgust when you show up with only an Illinois driver’s license. Our explanation that the GPS sent us into Canada without our approval did not help. One Canadian took pity on us and told us as we were being escorted back to our car that “It happens all the time”. She told us to program the GPS for New York, which we had done, and to take it off “quickest route”, which I had not. After about an hour and half and 4 different sets of unhappy border guards on both sides, we were allowed to return to our car and resume our trip. Overall it was a small price to pay for such an adventure.
Once we got back in the car however, I reached into the back seat and pulled out the PAPER atlas my mom had loaned us. We really only took it as an afterthought, but suddenly it was much more valuable to us. It gave us a total view of where we were at and where we would be next, something that seemed more important in light of the last 90 minutes.
I am a librarian and I do love my books. I also love technology and enjoy exploring new devices. This trip however, the paper version has won. I am really liking this old atlas, and being back in the U.S.A.