1 Oct – Travels with Gypsy (our trusty GPS)

Those of you who know me know how extremely technically challenged I am.

A friend of Pat’s – Ross – gave me some valuable pointers and a couple of hands on lessons in GPS use before we left home.

We would still be wandering around in the wilds of Albania if it wasn’t for Gypsy. She guides us with unerring accuracy and determination.

Travelling with Gypsy however has some idiosyncratic moments.

When I plug her in to charge her up at the end of each day, she turns herself back on. I try to remember to turn her off again but sometimes I forget. She often sleeps quietly throughout the night, her sensors easily turned to satellites shifting and orbiting overhead. However sometimes she looses the satellites, be it that they go off orbiting else where, someone forgot to pay the satellite bill, or the hotel has walls too thick for Gypsy to “sense” through. When this happens she wakes up and takes off on amazing solo nighttime journeys. We see her tracks in the morning. Last night for instance she travelled back and forth and around this entire city. Her trip odometer shows she traveled about 150 kms! This wouldn’t be such a bad thing on its own but often when she’s off on one of her “find herself missions” she starts “crying.” Her frantic wee beeps letting us know she’s busy working and seeking while we are trying to sleep. This results in midnight shuffling and rumblings as I try to remember where she is in a particular room. I sometimes don’t remember where I am in a particular room for heavens sakes. And of course sometimes – like last night – I slept through her cries – but during a period when Pat was awake she heard her but didn’t know where she was. She (Gypsy not Pat) was actually in the drawer by my bed somewhat muffled by numerous other items….

Another of Gypsy’s idiosyncrasies is her dislike of train and bus travel. I need to turn her off because otherwise she’d cry frantically for the entire trip. We think she’s trying to tell us we’re going too fast or that we’re off our route or something. But she sure goes wild. 

The last funny this about Gypsy is her random but sometimes adamant appeals for us to follow the route she’s chosen. If we go off the way point marks programmed into her for following the VE she doesn’t utter a word. There’s been many a time when we wish she’d get her knickers in a twist over those mistakes. She lets us sort those snarls out for ourselves. But if we’ve set in a specific destination and asked her to take us there from where we are. Hotels from bus stops or train stops for example. Well she goes squirrelly if we don’t follow her precise directions. Her little squeals loudly issue out of my Gypsy carrying pouch with enough intensity for us to comply with her higher directive.  

Could we do this trip without carrying vast quantities of maps – even if they were available. And there are no detailed print maps for much of this area? No. Pocket Earth has been our other go to navigation aid and it is an excellent resource. With pocket earth and a SIM card in what ever device one had pocket earth downloaded on – navigation without a GPS would be possible. However some of our days have been long. IPad and cellphones batteries might die before day’s end. So Pat and I feel that despite my struggles learning to use Gypsy, she has been our most valuable travel companion. That said – we’ve also used Pats good old fashioned  non-electronic compass several times. There are times when electronics simply don’t work. 

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