Sunday, March 24, 2013

Activities while on Hiatus, Part 1: And the conspiracy continues...

I'm going to jump right back into the blogging sphere with a post telling you what I've been doing over the last seven months. Here is the first entry:

Last weekend I attended a Winter Sparrow/Raptor ID workshop at a National Wildlife Refuge about 3.5 hours from my home. It was in a small town and I was leery of relying on the directions the Refuge posted on their website because they were incredibly vague:

"From hwy 29, go south on H for 25 miles before going east on CC."

Well sure, that's great, but how do I get to hwy 29?

Foolishly, oh so foolishly, I relied on the GPS (aka Navigation) in my android. How could I have forgotten the New Orleans incident ?

The first 2 hours of the trip went smoothly. I drove the major highways without a problem and even managed to hit the first alphabet highway without a hitch.  My problems with Navigation grew in proportion to the decreasing sizes of the towns. The further in to small town(s) USA I traveled, the more frequently Navigation lost a signal. There were a few times I had to pull over to wait for Navigation to recover its lost signal. I called Danno during one particularly long period of lost signal to obtain backup directions.

This was also the point I noticed the reliability of the Navigation maps was getting sketchy. Navigation wanted me to go south on hwy H, instead of north, and Danno pointed out this error when I told him what Navigation was telling me before it lost signal. Once the Navigation signal was regained and I was going in the correct direction, things went smoothly...for awhile. I'm convinced Navigation had had it with me and these small towns because it repeatedly tried to dump me in a corn field. The problem began in earnest once I turned off paved hwy H onto the gravel road of CC. About 5 miles on CC, Navigation wanted me to turn left...NOW. But when I looked left, there was a narrow gravel road running parallel to a cornfield, most probably an access road to the fields.

I ignored the first suggestion and with each access road I passed, the more insistently Navigation instructed me to turn. Turn now! Now turn around to go back to turn on that road! Turn! Turn! Turn! Then Navigation insisted the refuge was in the middle of a pond. No exaggeration. The dot representing the refuge was in the middle of a body of water on the Navigation map. Turn in the water! Do it! You have arrived at your destination!

After about the 3rd or 4th time of Navigation telling me to turn into the middle of nothing, I got panicky. I had to be at the Refuge at 1pm and it was 12:45pm. Where in the hell was I?? I turned into a parking lot that contained a large building and a few sheds. I had no idea if it was a place of business but the cars in the lot told me there were at least a few people around on the property. I called Danno in a panic and yelled at him about the Navigation . I tend to yell when I panic and Danno is usually at the receiving end of my anxiety. After talking (or yelling) for a brief period of time, I went into the large building and found that it was a hunting club hangout and the boys were sitting down for lunch. There was a slight pause and several eyes were on me as I entered the room. Yes, I know I don't belong here. I'm just here for directions and I'll be on my way. Chill out. I approached a waitress and asked for directions. Turns out I was less than a mile from my next turning point.

Feeling relieved, I turned where the waitress indicated and drove. And drove. And drove. Navigation, which was silent, woke up and insisted that my destination was in the pond to the left of me.

Here is my destination, according to Navigation :

Now it was 1pm and I had no idea how much further I had to go. Panic again blasted me in the face. I had the Refuge phone # in my phone and I hit the button to call them...or so I thought. A lady answered but I was so anxious I didn't hear the greeting she used.

"Hi.I'mSupposedToBeAtTheSparrowRaptorworkshopAndI'mLost.CanYouHelpMe?" I blabbed.

There was a moment of silence

"Workshop? Which workshop. Where are you?" the lady on the phone asked.

"The Sparrow and Raptor ID workshop." I paused, thinking I may have hit the wrong button on the phone. "Is this the Refuge?"

"No this is Acme Construction."


I burst out laughing. "Oh my goodness I'm so sorry! I dialed the wrong number. I dialed my mom's work number!"

The woman on the other end laughed and asked the name of my mother.  After chuckling for a few more moments. I hung up and carefully dialed the Refuge phone number. Turns out I was very close to my destination.

I arrived to the Refuge 5 minutes later unscathed. I wasn't the last person to arrive, only the second to last.  I swear I've learned my lesson now. Paper maps are the way to go.


  1. That's my nightmare. I'm terrible with directions, and hate going new places. Kudos for not driving into the pond. You're a smart cookie.

  2. I'm pretty much guaranteed to get lost at least once on every trip. At least I have a story when I return.