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Friday, December 18

island navigation

It is beautiful here. OK? You think you're getting used to it, then you are doing something mundane like cleaning up the kitchen and you turn and the view startles you into inaction.

But the place is familiar to me now. Or I thought it was until I had to navigate solo. Usually Russell would be driving us around, but he isn't with me this time. And as much as I love my son, the idea of spending from 4 am to 5 pm in his coffee shop was not exactly a spine tingler. So, after stocking up on groceries ( Island prices: loaf of wheat bread $5.50, small peanut butter $3.99, can of kidney beans $1.39 ) I ventured out to find my way back to the house from "downtown". Billy set the GPS for me, I was feeling secure.

Hopped into his SUV, figured out the gears, told the GPS to take me home, pulled out to the street and the lady said "Please refer to the map"


The "map" was a blue line with a blue arrow and a red bigger arrow. I took a deep breath and went in the direction I remembered, expecting the lady to break in any minute and tell me in that soothing slightly foreign voice where to go. Nothing. The blue arrow worked its way off the screen and I wound up in a dead end with a bunch of off-duty snow plows.

I called Billy. Distracted and busy with customers, he told me to just follow the map. It wasn't so hard. And to call him when I got home. No, I thought, this isn't working. I'll go back to town and start over.

The lady remained silent.

Since I was heading for the ferry landing, getting back was pretty easy. Keep the water in view, look for buildings, I got to the intersection near the shop and the lady awoke, told me to turn left and then immediately right. She was bringing me back to the shop. The shop is not one of the memory points. How did she know? Weird.

So, I parked in front of the shop, played around with the controls, re-set the thing and she promptly told me to proceed. It was like a lover's voice, warm and reassuring. I smiled, relaxed the tight grip on the steering wheel.

So, crisis averted. Until we got up the hill and she gave up. Told me she couldn't help me anymore, the info wasn't there. I should watch the map and be careful. And the arrow dropped away.


Let me explain that it is one thing to navigate a city, where you have touch points, landmarks, guideposts. A convenience store, a bar with a mural of jazz trombonists, a cupcake shop with striped awnings, the used guitar place. Here, unless you can tell one fir tree from another you are pretty much out of luck. The road twists and curves beautifully, every so often the lush green parts for a glimpse of blue sparkle and then closes up again. The houses are set back behind the trees, most of them hugging the water or straining for a view of it. None of them care to be by the road, it seems.

And suddenly, the lady tells me to make a legal U-turn. Huh? I don't think so lady. I look at the road sign and it is Smuggler's Cove Road. This is not a name you forget. I turned on it, chanting "spyglass hill, spyglass hill" because I knew that one took me home. The blue arrow trembled, fidgeted and then pointed strong to the red house icon. I was going the right way.

I am sitting in Billy's big man chair, looking out over the water. Below me the road curves down and away with no guideposts. In 3 hours, I will leave here. A pot of chili on the stove, a loaf of bread being kept warm in the oven. And I will find my way back to town. I will. GPS lady or not.

I can do this. But next time I'm leaving a trail of bread crumbs.

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