Always knowing the destination

Jennifer Moonsong

By Jennifer Moonsong Jobe Publishing Regional – It’s vacation season. Just last week we went on our annual family vacation. I insisted on taking a Rand McNally Atlas, but I admit I didn’t open it once.

When I was a kid there was a sense of wonder and wanderlust attached to roadmaps. These days, it was difficult for me to even locate an old fashioned atlas. I went to three stores before I finally found one, and it made me reflect on the many ways the proverbial summer vacation has changed in my lifetime.

For starters, the built in GPS on our smart phones can lead us anywhere. That isn’t to say it’s always right, but it does update more frequently than a paper map.

Not only can our phones navigate us to our destinations now, but they bark out directions in any accent we choose and instantaneously calculate the time and other variables between multiple routes.

Back in the day, the night before vacation it was very important to go out and buy several rolls of film for the camera and batteries to fuel it. When it came to picking several rolls of film for more photos or a few less rolls of the better brand for fewer, better quality photographs, the struggle was real.

For most of us our phones have replaced that, too.

As for long car rides, entertainment used to be a fresh box of crayons or Crayola markers and a Lisa Frank Coloring Book, accompanied by a hefty collection of music for the Walkman, which also required a lot of batteries. The other option was turning the  radio dial through a lot of fuzz and scratchy signals to find a familiar song, and being really excited to hear a tune you loved.

If all of that failed to amuse, there was always looking out the window to watch the world go by; Watching a show or movie on the road was obsolete.

Because of Youtube and Pandora we can handpick songs and genres to listen to. Netflix downloads to our phones too, and limitless forms of entertainment are literally at our fingertips.

Upon arrival at the destination, I used to wonder what we would eat and if there were any cool stores to shop for souvenirs at.

We no longer have to wonder. A list of restaurants and stores, accompanied by online inventories and menus that list descriptions and prices for every meal are available for every map-dot.

At the end of my reflection, I can say it is indeed different but I cannot say with certainty that it is better. It is easier, yes but easier doesn’t necessarily translate to better.

On a road trip sometimes getting lost is the funnest part. It’s on those back roads you didn’t plan to take where you find the most amusing things. Looking out the window and seeing the changing world was one of my favorite part as a kid. If you happen to go the same way again, it was fun to see familiar things and new things that had changed since the last journey. Not knowing what you were going to have for dinner, and often times not knowing what hotel we were going to stay in added mystery. Kids these days we’ll never know that excited and somewhat uneasy feeling I’m going to three hotels to get a room for the night and finding the no vacancy sign.

Sure, it meant sometimes staying in a musty hotel room or having something you didn’t really want to eat for supper, and settling for peanut butter crackers back at the hotel. In retrospective, that was frustrating, but it was half the fun.

I don’t know that I would change it if I could. Would you? I do know it was fun to remember.

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