Long and Winding Road

Back in the days before every twelve-year-old had GPS on the iPhone in his or her pocket, planning a long road trip started with copious quantities of shoe leather sacrificed while hunting down paper road maps. Folding paper road maps, many showing only one state or metropolitan area, perfect for those quick hundred-mile weekend journeys. Unfortunately, week-long multi-state sojourns could easily lead to dozens of of maps cluttering the car and confusing the traveler almost as much as the inevitable undocumented detours.

There are two types of road warriors. Some adventurous types just set out in the general direction of the intended destination and hope for the best. Others insist on having every turn, pit stop and pothole documented before packing the car. Back in the day before the internet was even imagined, these drivers always had memberships in the American Automobile Association, commonly known as AAA or ‘triple A’. AAA provides custom maps for its members called TripTiks, complete with notes about detours, slow-downs and even tourist attractions along the way. for the detail-oriented geek like me, TripTiks were as necessary back then as my iPhone is today. And by the way, AAA still provides paper TripTiks today, along with a smart phone app that can produce them on the fly.

Whether you prefer today’s latest tech or a trunk full of paper maps, when you set out on a journey there are always elements you can’t see until you meet them face-to-face. Even Google can’t give us advance notice of a traffic jam caused by an accident or a detour caused by flooding, disaster or crime. Depending on your perspective, these are either miserable surprises conspiring to waste your time or delightful opportunities to explore and learn.

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