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Uffish Thoughts: Adventures with GyPSy February 3, 2012

Posted by klondykewriter in Uffish Thoughts.
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Uffish Thoughts: Adventures with GyPSy

By Dan Davidson

January 2, 1012

– 896 words –

“Recalculating,” says the voice from the GPS device – call her GyPSy – on the dash of the Escape as I turn off the route it has projected for me along Dundas Street in Toronto. I’ve had to turn, for the software installed in the device has no knowledge of the construction project that occupies the space where it would like me to drive. Within a block it has recalculated a route which will take me right back to that same set of construction barriers if I chose to follow it.

I’m not blaming the machine for this particular diversion. It’s not like the one the day before – but I’ll get to that.

I’m using a GPS in the first place because of the experience at the airports in both Toronto and Calgary. One of our first stops on the way to picking up a rental vehicle in either city has always been to buy a current map of the place as an aid to memory. Driving there every other year is not enough to keep one’s mental map sharp.

In Calgary in September there were no good maps to be had. This was bad because the route to my cousin’s home had been altered by the combination of an airport landing strip extension project and an additional “new community” further along the Métis Trail, past the blocked turn that I would normally have been able to take for the 15 minute drive to her house. Instead it took us 40 minutes.

So in Toronto, slightly more than two weeks later, the same lack of maps caused us to invest in the luxury of a GPS system for the SUV. It took us about half an hour to figure out how to use it before we pulled out of the rental bay at the airport, but we liked it.

It was neat. It both announced the route and showed it to us on the display, and that took all the guesswork out of looking for the next major turn. Oddly, it got us out of the spaghetti that surrounds Pearson Airport without any trouble at all, and while it made me drive on Highway 410, which has way too many lanes to be in my comfort zone, it took us straight to Bloor Street and just past High Park to the bed and breakfast where we were staying on this part of our trip.

That was a long day, as we’d just flown in from Dublin. We bought a quick meal at the nearby Tim Horton’s, stopped at a convenience store to pick up a few supplies and a map (just in case), and went back to the B&B to turn in early and rejoin the time zone.

Our daughter and her partner live not far from there, what became a 15 to 20 minute drive after we’d done it a couple of times. The first time, however, GyPSy decided we should turn right instead of left at a crucial point along the way, and seemed determined to put us on the QEW and off to Hamilton.

Her second “turn right” command put us in the grounds of a near-by hospital and when we had navigated through its internal lanes to the street above it, she took us right round the circle again. We did this twice trying to break the spell, but to no avail. Since going into the hospital again made no sense, we carried on, only to hear a strange new command.

“Make a U-turn.”

Well, no, not on a major route with three lanes going southwest and a barrier between us and the lanes going the other way. GyPSy amended the direction to “Make a U-turn when it is possible.” But it was never going to be, so that didn’t help a lot.

Fortunately there was an intersection with a stop light not too far ahead, and we turned right up into a street that would, we learned later, have taken us to Bloor Street not far from our B&B, but this day we stopped in a parking lot, consulted the map, drove back towards Lake Ontario, hung a legal left at the stop light, and connected with Queen Street shortly thereafter.

Queen Street was the major downtown access street we had needed to get to in the first place.

GyPSy recalculated and guided us straight to our daughter’s place in Parkdale without further incident. The conclusion we reached was that GyPSy was pretty good most of the time, but when her directions made no sense, ignoring them would force her to come to her senses.

So – back to Dundas Street, where rejecting GyPSy’s advice is clearly the way to go, We have to get down Dundas and past the Eaton’s Centre to reach the chocolate shop where my sister-in-law’s photography is being displayed. Abandoning a through street in downtown Toronto is always dicey, because it leaves you at the mercy of a batch of “no left” or “no right” turn signs coming off the intersecting streets, and can lead to some unwanted detours. This day, however, we manage to go only a few blocks out of our way before being able to get back to Dundas.

GyPSy works fine after that, and we reach the shop without any further problems.




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