Monday, April 28, 2008

How We Confused Our Navigation System on the Natchez Trace

The DeLorme Street Atlas USA 2007 GPS device showed us the turn by turn route from New Orleans. It directed us north on Interstate 55 on course to Memphis, Tennessee. For miles, the green arrow on the laptop snaked along past Jackson, Mississippi until Ed saw the brown sign Natchez Trace Parkway, exit right. He turned right.

“Off course. Proceed to Blagh…Blagh…Blagh. Turn West on Blagh…Blagh…Blagh. Off course,” repeated the female computer voice in an urgent, warning tone.

I muted the voice, but the directional arrows kept going. It actually looped in circles when Ed drove around a circular lot twice before deciding to park in front of the Natchez Trace sign. The spirals continued each time we pulled into a lot to read about the historic significance of the area. We just laughed. We’d really confused our navigation system. So what! I can still read a map. We rejoined Interstate 55 in Vaiden, Mississippi.

Sometimes you have to go “off course.” Our little route change took us on a scenic, relaxed drive. According to Road Trip USA, “The Natchez Trace appeared on maps as early as 1733, and from the 1780s to the 1820s, when steamboats made it obsolete, the Natchez Trace was one of the nation’s most traveled roads.”

I only waked a short segment of this preserved wilderness road. Some 200 years ago, it grew from an Indian Trail to the road that linked the Northeast and Old Southwest. I marveled at the bravery and stamina of those early travelers when I walked along a section of the Old Trace. They simply followed a trail, I road in a Prevost Coach with a GPS device leading the way, well most times showing me the course.

April 21, 2008

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