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GPS’s and Geocaching


What would you do with a "day of rest?" I'll tell you what I did with mine. Since yesterday was a university day of rest for the faculty and students not involved in judging the various contests of the AACS National Competition on campus and since on our 33rd anniversary (WOW, a third of a century!) last Friday we didn't have time to do anything more special than grab an Italian sub at Firehouse Subs, my wife took a vacation day yesterday so that we could go to the Charlotte, North Carolina area. We had taken a similar trip one Saturday several months ago and found some places we really enjoyed. So I fired up our GPS, whom we affectionately call Stella, and off we went on a bit of a treasure hunt.

What Becka didn't know was that I was planning to take her to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, a restaurant chain we had yet to experience. It's our daughter Nora's favorite restaurant. (Now we know why.) Since I'm not familiar with Charlotte at all, I was counting on our GPS to get us there. It had us get off I-85 at an exit south of Gastonia. Becka asked if we were taking a different route to Mary Jo's Cloth Store (her main destination on this adventure), to which I replied, "Yes, I plan to check something else out on the way there." The Cheesecake Factory in Charlotte was miles beyond our exit for Gastonia, but I followed the GPS's instructions, apprehensively. It took us through some "interesting" neighborhoods in Gastonia, and eventually right back to I-85, of all things!

A few more miles down the road, Stella wanted us to get off at the exit for Belmont Abbey, still not in Charlotte proper. I had looked ahead at the list of turns and saw that we were headed toward the Billy Graham Parkway. From trips to the Charlotte airport I knew that that was an exit off I-85 and that we would have gotten there much sooner if we had just stayed on I-85 the whole way, without the two unnecessary Stella-recommended detours. Then when we were less than a mile from the road the Cheesecake Factory is on, Stella told us to turn right onto a little side street, in the opposite direction from what the turn list indicated for Sharon Road! It took us through a hotel parking lot, under the hotel's parking structure, and eventually back out onto the street we had turned off of. πŸ™ At that point, I turned Stella off and proceeded by my "internal GPS," getting us there in less than five minutes.

After lunch we made our way back to Gastonia, sans Stella! I worked on this blog post, sipping decaf coffee at Panera while Becka had fun at Mary Jo's, just around the corner. After that I meandered up the street to walk through several stores I knew were there.

picture of geocaching slogan

Several mentions of GPS's last week gave me an idea for a blog post. First a reader sent me a joke about a GPS. Then one evening former students of mine who are now missionaries in Romania and their two children came to our house for dinner. Part of the dinner conversation was about something they're interested in called letterboxing, which sounds similar to geocaching. Rather than explain either of those hobbies in this post, I'll let you click on the links if you're interested. Any way, yesterday's experiences with not-too-stellar Stella confirmed my desire to publish this post now. I wonder if I could ever do letterboxing or geocaching with our GPS without ending up in Zimbabwe!

Here are several jokes about GPS's and geocaching ... something I need to be able to laugh about after yesterday!

Scene: A conversation between two of my friends.

Friend #1: You're planning to visiting us tomorrow. Do you need directions?

Friend #2: No, I'm all set. I have your address, a GPS, and a GPS override.

Friend #1: What's a GPS override?

Friend #2: My wife.

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picture of geocaching t-shirt

One day a man and his wife and the man's best friend were geocaching and unexpectedly came upon a large, raging river. They needed to get to the other side to get to their cache, but had no idea of how to do so.

Suddenly the one man spotted a lamp lying on the riverbank. When he picked it up and rubbed it, out popped a genie. The genie told them he would grant each of them one wish.

The first man wished he were on the other side of the river. POOF! Before he could blink he was on the other side, looking across at his two fellow geocachers.

The second guy also made his wish to be on the other side of the river. POOF! He too immediately found himself on the other side.

When the woman saw the two men on the other side of the river, getting ready to head off for the cache, she said, "Man, I sure wish those guys were stuck on this side of the river like me. And POOF! You know the rest of the story....

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Here's another version of the joke above. You can decide which one you like better.

One day, three men were geocaching and unexpectedly came upon a large, raging river. They needed to get to the other side to get to their cache, but had no idea of how to do so.

Suddenly the one man spotted a lamp lying on the riverbank. When he picked it up and rubbed it, out popped a genie. The genie told them he would grant each of them one wish.

The first man asked the genie to give him the strength to cross this river." POOF! He suddenly had big arms and strong legs, and he was able to swim across the river, still almost drowning a couple of times.

Seeing this, the second man asked the genie give him not only the strength but also the tools to cross this river." POOF! He found himself in a rowboat and was able to row across the river, avoiding capsizing the boat a couple of times.

The third man had seen how this worked out for the other two, so he the genie to give him the strength and the tools ... and the intelligence ... to cross the river." POOF! He turned into a woman. She whipped out her GPS, hiked upstream a couple of hundred yards, rolled her eyes, and walked across the bridge.

divider

Two guys were geocaching and came to a river as it was getting dark out. They were trying to figure out how to get across, and the first one said, "I'll shine the flashlight across the river and you can walk on the beam of light." The second guy says, "What, do you think I'm an idiot?! ... I'd get half way across and you'd turn the light off . . ."

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Or more realistically, for those of you with GPS's...

Three guys are out geocaching, come to a river, and want to cross it. However, looking at their GPS they see that they have already crossed it and continue walking to their untimely demise.

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Are you a geocacher? Do you have interesting experiences with a GPS? Are you a fan of The Cheesecake Factory? Please comment.

quotation...

While at The Cheesecake Factory yesterday and admiring the painting on some of the overhead fixtures, Becka told me maybe I could recreate the Sistine Chapel on our bathroom ceiling whenever we redo that room. When we got back in the car, we heard an ad on the radio that said, "It's not like you have to recreate the Sistine Chapel on your bathroom ceiling or something." We both laughed so hard when we heard that that we couldn't remember afterwards what the ad was for.

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

Beauty is only skin deep. Trust me, I've looked. (Or as a non-English speaker told one of our girl students in France one time, "Beauty is only deep skin.")


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21 Comments on “GPS’s and Geocaching”

  1. #1 Wayne Bateman
    on Apr 15th, 2010 at 6:05 am

    My wife loves the cheesecake factory… I can take it or leave it. It’s decent food, though and the cheesecake ain’t bad. Ok, so the cheesecake is fabulous. Still… gimme a Smashburger, or a couple of slices of Pappa Murphy’s pizza, or some down-home fried chicken and I’m in gastric euphoria. Hey, Tyler’s Cafe in Flint, Texas is darn good eatin, too! Tell Keith I sent ya.

  2. #2 Wayne Bateman
    on Apr 15th, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Oh, yeah! Anytime you try to use a GPS in Dallas… forget it. Oklahoma has some stretches of highway that don’t appear on GPS… hmmm. And the most important discovery we’ve had with GPS is that our home is located next door. “You have arrived.”

  3. #3 Rob
    on Apr 15th, 2010 at 6:20 am

    @Wayne – Hey, Wayne! Good to hear from you! We thought the food at Cheesecake Factory was good and we’d eat there again, but we wouldn’t make a special trip to Charlotte, just to go there. If we were in the area, we’d do it again. Neither of us is a big eater, so we split a lunch special – Fettucini with sundried tomatoes and chicken – and we split a piece of cheesecake. We were both pleasantly full, and including the tip got out of there for under $25 dollars, having enjoyed some very tasty food. We figured it was probably our allotment of fat grams for the week, though. πŸ™‚ Be sure not to obey your GPS by going to your neighbors’ house instead.

  4. #4 Kathy Pritchard
    on Apr 15th, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Ahh — the GPS! I am convinced that someone must pay the GPS lady mega bucks to take you on the longest route possible just to get you to drive by their places of business! We just returned from a trip to FL (to see the space shuttle launch, which was a fabulous experience!), and let’s just say the “wife overrider” was a VERY good safeguard! This wife usually plugs in the GPS and then looks at the map to see the smartest way to arrive at destination!

    As for Cheesecake Factory, the menu is WAY too long — information overload. Portions are just right for sharing:-) Cheesecake yummy if you are a cheesecake lover. We have one within 2 miles of our house if you venture farther north than Charlotte!

    As for Mary Jo’s — HOORAY! I’d spend time there any day–just don’t come that way often anymore:-(

  5. #5 Sarah
    on Apr 15th, 2010 at 8:48 am

    My husband & I refer to our GPS as the She-Devil. She never fails to give us bad advice! You’d think we’d learn not to listen to it by now. lol

  6. #6 Greg
    on Apr 15th, 2010 at 9:17 am

    The joys of GPS. =) I recently upgraded my 5 year old GPS to a new GPS unit that has many new and upgraded features, however, GPS being GPS it’s still not an exact science. Like my grandfather used to say, “just follow the road signs” πŸ˜‰ My personal preference is the Tom Tom Go Live series of GPS units, they update the maps fairly frequently. =)

  7. #7 Vikki
    on Apr 15th, 2010 at 10:04 am

    We ate at the Cheesecake Factory a number of times when we lived in the Chicago area near Schaumburg, but decided Charlotte was too far to go just to eat out. Their food is very good and the cheesecake is to die for!

    Out GPS has led us astray or taken on the scenic route a number of times. We’ve learned to always have a back out of printed directions along.

    Two of our adult kids, who live in Wisconsin, have recently gotten into geocaching with their kids and absolutely love it.

  8. #8 Donna
    on Apr 15th, 2010 at 10:05 am

    My favorite memory from BEFORE GPS (when you had to ask for directions) — My Grandpa asked an older guy how to get somewhere. The older guy drawled, “Well, you see that church down there? You don’t go that way.”

  9. #9 Tiffany
    on Apr 15th, 2010 at 10:15 am

    We LOVE geocaching! We wanted a hobby that the whole family could do together, and we bought our GPS (whom we lovingly call “Kit” after Knight Rider’s car) primarily for that reason. Of course, we use him for driving, too, and he has certainly taken us on some off-the-main-road adventures. When we were in Charlotte last year, though, he took us off I-85, and we hesitated to follow him, but we did, and we later found out that he was taking a detour around a major traffic jam farther down the interstate. He took us back out onto 85 right after the traffic jam, and we never had to wait. We were so glad we had him that night! We’ve never been to the Cheesecake Factory, but it sounds like we need to try it out next time we’re up that way.

  10. #10 Carrie
    on Apr 15th, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Give me Mary Jo’s anytime! One of my main goals when I took a trip from Alaska was to visit there. :o) My brother works at Cheesecake Factory in Seattle, and my folks say it’s great — I’ve never been, though.

  11. #11 Brian
    on Apr 15th, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I have made two trips recently to Augusta, GA from Greenville and both times my GPS took me different ways. For some strange reason when I set it to take me the fastest route, it wants to take me via interstate through Columbia to get there. If I tell it to take me the shortest distance, it tells me it will take me 4 hours to get there!! I have to start out in one mode, then change to the other mode in order to get it to direct me down 25 South. And at least yours takes you next door, Wayne! I have to tell folks when they come to my house, not to listen to the GPS because it will take them about a block and a half away on a back road that isn’t even still my street. I can’t decide if it’s a GPS thing or a Greenville thing! πŸ™‚

  12. #12 Steve
    on Apr 15th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    So, do you yell, “STELLA!” as in Marlon Brando (A Streetcar Named Desire)? Ours is “Miss Nuvi,” not too original if you know Garmin brands, but just as much trouble. Karen gives her a little more respect since I made her speak with a British accent, but she hasn’t gotten smarter. She has saved our bacon enough times to make up for it, but once she got us stuck on a little mud track in the middle of a field that was supposed to be a road. I wish we’d named her “STELLA!”

  13. #13 Rob
    on Apr 16th, 2010 at 6:01 am

    @Kathy – Yes, wives are great co-pilots/navigators in these adventures. Becka usually trusts me to do the leg work up front of printing out mapquest or google maps instructions. Last summer we went from Detroit to St. Louis on our way home … intentionally, I might add. Our daughter Megan and grandson Drew were with us, and so we had Meg and Jim’s GPS Phyllis with us. Both Phyllis and the mapquest instructions took us on the same route to get to my aunt’s house — a house we had never been to since she has moved since our last visit. Anyway, that prescribed route took us to a closed road — there was a locked barricade across the street which clearly continued on the other side. I called my aunt who said that that street had been closed for a long time to help minimize traffic near the library. She told us what to do to come into her neighborhood a different way. I guess that community’s decision wasn’t passed on to either mapquest or the Magellan people.

    @Sarah – It’s a hard decision when you are in unfamiliar surroundings, isn’t it?

    @Greg – Thanks for the tip on the Tom Tom. I’ve had this GPS (a Magellan just like Meg and Jim’s Phyllis) for less than a year, so I probably won’t be replacing it anytime soon. But I will keep Tom Tom in mind.

    @Vikki and Tiffany – Thanks for your thoughts on CF, GPS’s, and geocaching. It’s interesting that this post and all three of my questions at the end struck chords with several readers.

    @Donna – That’s hilarious. I’ve gotten verbal instructions like, “If you see a little white church, you’ve gone too far.”

    @Carrie – I was pleased that Becka had as long as she wanted to look at, touch, and buy fabric. She does such nice things with it and enjoys it all so much that I was more than willing to go. Especially since I could have some quiet time at Panera with it’s free WiFi and stroll through some stores I enjoy also.

    @Brian – Our GPS has our house on the street from which our little three-house cul de sac issues, but several visitors have gotten here with their GPS’s (brand not known to me) in the past several weeks. I’m glad it’s not rocket science, or who knows where our astronauts would end up?!

    @Steve – STELLA! Too funny. I hadn’t thought of that context. Now it’s going to come to mind as often as we use STELLA! πŸ˜€

  14. #14 Michael
    on Apr 16th, 2010 at 7:36 am

    First of all, I’m glad you’re now a convert to the Cheesecake Factory. Awesome stuff. My wife and I need to go there sometime soon. As for GPS’s, we have a Garmin and it has come in handy a few times. My opinion is that GPS’s are best when you are in an unfamiliar area. If you’re in a familiar area, then I prefer using my internal GPS as you called it. I still think it’s a good idea to print out Google maps or something like that before you go to have as a backup. Additionally, having an atlas with you is also good in case there’s a detour you weren’t planning on. I think the feature of our Garmin that I like the best is the estimated time of arrival display.

  15. #15 Rob
    on Apr 17th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    @Michael – I hope you and sweet Abigail can go to CF very soon. I like your advice about having printed out instructions along. As you can see from my comment to Kathy above about our trip to my aunt’s house, that’s not always enough. And a map or atlas wouldn’t have helped us in her suburb either. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been in ours. I’ve heard Garmin is a good brand of GPS. I got my Magellan as a birthday gift last year.

  16. #16 Laura
    on Apr 19th, 2010 at 7:15 am

    I have always preferred paper maps to the GPS units . . . when we have to go out of the area, we print from Mapquest and take it along. We map-trained the kids along the way, and it really helps them to pass the time on long trips, because they can watch the mile markers & exits for themselves instead of asking continually “Are we there yet???”

    Some relatives of ours have GPSs . . . one unit is nicknamed “Jill the Pill” and the other is “Jezebel.” I’ve heard so much about the GPS voice crossly saying “Recalculating” when they have the gall to disobey the GPS recommendations that I don’t think I’d ever want one of those.

    Last summer, my sister-in-law and her family came down with a quiet handheld model to introduce us to geocaching, and it was a fun activity for the cousins to do together. I’m going to forward her the T-shirt picture . . . she’ll love it! We have since taken the little GPS on hikes, and I think it would be useful for getting out of the woods if we venture off the marked trails.

    Even paper maps have their drawbacks, though. When I picked up a new one of Greenville County to replace one that we had literally worn out, the new map (different brand from the old one) has several landmarks in the wrong places . . . the local high school is about 3 miles from its real location! It makes me wonder how much to trust the rest of the map.

  17. #17 Ellen
    on Apr 19th, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    LOL! Normally, our GPS has served us well, though it took us an extra hour out of the way when we traveled to Chattanooga last Christmas. For some strange reason, instead of taking us the interstate, it took us the back roads through MANY small towns. Needless to say, if we ever go back there, we’ll use a GPS override. πŸ™‚

  18. #18 Rob
    on Apr 20th, 2010 at 4:56 am

    @Laura – Paper maps can be a blessing and a burden at the same time. I never can get them folded back the way they were, or in any semblance of neatness at all, it seems. And as you pointed out, they are also sometimes inaccurate … even a brand new one! It’s great, though, that your kids are learning to read maps already. I know adults who, sadly, cannot follow a map. That one name is hilarious — Jezebel! Oh my!

    @Ellen – Does your GPS have the traffic feature whereby it directs you around traffic accidents and tie ups? If so, maybe that’s why it rerouted you. I’m all for GPS overrides. πŸ˜€

  19. #19 Nancy
    on Apr 20th, 2010 at 10:00 am

    My husband took our GPS on a trip with college students, and the lady in the box returned speaking with a British accent. And I’m convinced that she starts sounding a little huffy after the third time she’s had to recalculate for me.

  20. #20 Jenni
    on Apr 22nd, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I love geocaching and have introduced several friends and family to it!

    A friend and I have different brands of GPSs and when we were out caching, they would sometimes both calculate different routes to our next destination. The driver usually won that one! πŸ™‚

    I love creative caches and have found one disguised as a coconut in the jungle, in the belly of a rubber lizard, a fake outdoor faucet, one in a hollowed out book in a public library (had to solve a puzzle outside the library to get search terms for the card catalog to find the correct book).

  21. #21 Rob
    on Apr 22nd, 2010 at 11:48 am

    @Nancy – Our “friend” Stella has only one shrill accent. You must have one of them fancy ones.

    @Jenni – Thanks for sharing your geocaching enthusiasm and experiences. It really does sound like a modern-day treasure hunt.

    I’m going to post your e-mail comment below, complete with the picture:

    “I think this was on a t-shirt. Can’t remember where I got the graphic:

    picture of our geocaching definition

    Translation of abbreviations –
    TB – Travel bug. A tagged item with a unique code that geocachers move from cache to cache and you can track it’s route online
    SL – signed log
    TFTC – Thanks For The Cache
    TNLN – Took Nothing Left Nothing (some caches have trinkets and trade items)

    Thanks, Jenni, for sharing that! πŸ˜€