This is partly a post about the limits of GPS.
I don’t have a separate GPS unit. I use my phone – which is a Droid, so the app is GoogleMaps.
I also don’t use to navigate, turn by turn – I find that annoying and dangerous. I mostly use it to, well, map out the route and then occasionally check to see where I am – that’s what I find it most valuable for. I can read a map, and I like maps just fine. But a paper map can’t tell me where I am. That’s often a critical need.
Where are we, anyway?
I’ve rarely had a mishap. The most recent – before this trip - and potentially most disastrous happened when we went to DeSoto State Park a few weeks ago - the app kept telling me that the lodge was on the south end of the park, and I knew that wasn’t correct. It took me on a backwards way to get to the crucial turnoff, and then at that point, indicated that I should go right. As I said, I knew that wasn’t it, so I disobeyed and turned left anyway. We got there, eventually, but this was a serious enough mistake on their part to warrant a note. It was strange. Someone just dependent on that app would get quite lost and end up 30 miles away from their actual destination – 30 miles of really windy roads along a canyon, too.
Anyway, last week in New Mexico, at the end of a pretty long day (started climbing in our own yard, went to Tsanawki, then Chimayo..) we ended up Taos, and then at the Rio Grande River Gorge, and then it was time to go back to the rental which was, as you know, in the middle of nowhere. I entered in both “Ojo Caliente” and “Espanola” as the nearest locations and both times, the app told me to go a certain way – down to the Rio Grande, across and along the river all the way down.
Well, okay. That seemed reasonable. Might be a nice drive. River! After several days in the desert, I was not going to argue much with rivers.
So we drive (I drive) away from the bridge, south. Again, a crossroads. The app is telling me to go left. All the traffic with me bears right. Every single car, ahead and behind. I think…hmmmm. But, well…I went left anyway.
At about a hundred feet, the road turned to gravel,and then started down.
I mean down. Like, steep, switchbacks down, and I’m driving on gravel (slowly, but still) and the boys are sitting motionless, eyes wide open, silent.
(So, there’s that.)
What? Is? This?
Let’s backtrack. Let’s go back to the Rio Grande River Gorge Bridge, which was amazing and well worth seeing and walking across.
I didn’t take a photo of it, but there was a smashed up spinet piano in pieces at the bottom of the gorge. I wonder if someone tossed it or it somehow, in some way tumbled off a truck. Which is harder to imagine?
So, you see that gorge there.
I basically drove down that. Gorge. On a gravel road, not expecting it, and not having any idea where we’d end up.
But it was all right, because this was where we ended up:
It was getting late, so we really couldn’t stay too long, but as we drove along the river back to Espanola, I regretted that I’d not understood the nature of the River Grande in this part of the country and how easy it would have been to find a spot to swim, tube and play.
A respite in all that dryness.
Yet one more reason to return.
(Looking at the map now I can see that there was, of course, another way – that right hand turn, which would have taken me on a straight path through some forests and then right to 285 – but I don’t know why the GPS didn’t put it first. But that’s okay. The first bit was startling, but the end result – driving along the Rio Grande – was a lovely consequence of taking that crazy, indirect way home.)