Monday, September 01, 2008

a one day get-away

First a bit of a back story... I've wanted to get a gps unit for a long time, but could never really justify the reason to get one other than, "That's cool". I'm not much of a traveler when it comes to cars. I pretty much live in a 10 mile radius of my home, work, friends, family, movie theater, grocery store. So what did I need a gps for? I tweeted this and at the urging of some family units, they recommended, "get one first, then go on a road trip!"
Hmm, the more I thought of this idea, the more I liked it. I had taken a road trip several months ago (maybe a year?) to a Cabela's sporting good store, and it was a horrible drive! I was by myself, had my google maps to get me there, but didn't print the reverse directions. It was night, it was pouring rain! trucks barreling down on me, it was a miracle I got home in one piece that night! I could have REALLY used a gps at that time.
So, I decided to go for it!
I've found a key issue with my gps unit (a Garmin nuvi 350), it really stinks on driving directions if you know how to get to a certain place! I've found that by testing it in my local neighborhood, it has taken me down wrong streets, told me to make wrong turns (ie: A left on a highway with a concrete divider!), and when I have it set for "fastest" route, it sometimes takes me a mile or so out of my way, just trying to keep me on a faster highway. I've found that my years of driving the area, I know all the shortcuts, and optimum routes... BUT then I realized, that is not the purpose of this unit. The main point of these gps units is to get you somewhere that you don't know how to get to!
So this holiday weekend I decided on a road trip. Just a two day (over night) adventure. Basically, It didn't matter to me where I went, just as long as I got far enough out of my home town to make it feel like I went somewhere. A sort of mini-vacation.
All said and done, I enjoyed it.
I had some problems even getting directions to the hotel. Google maps was telling me one address, and the hotel website was telling me a different address! Same street address, just different zip codes! Never did figure that one out. I finally decided that google maps was wrong (gasp). I printed out a bunch of google maps, with the right address, and familiarized myself with my USA road atlas on the best way to get there. I decided to not trust my gps, and to force it after a certain point to get me there via the route I wanted to take.
Well, as I started to approach the first gps recommendation for a turn, I decided to throw my original intentions out the window! :) I decided, to just trust the gps unit (who I've nicknamed "moses" because he was known for being lost in the desert for 40 years!).
Long story short, it got me to my destination with only one minor problem (I panic'd and took an exit too early, it luckily was not a major deal at all). Then on the way home it took me a totally different route, which surprised me.
I ended up having a great bonding experience with Moses, and now trust him. I have to remind myself though, to always bring a map/atlas as a backup though. To fully trust a little gizmo on where I am, with no maps... I'm not ready to do that yet.
As for the trip itself...
It was a nice little get-away. Nothing fancy. I stayed at a "Days Inn". A bit pricey for my liking (I'm cheap, I admit it!) for about $83 a night. Room was clean, but the building itself needed some attention. (ripped wallpaper, dirty scuff and yuck in the elevator, a general musty smell, soda machine out of order, etc.) But on the things that counted, I felt like it was clean (sheets, towels, bathroom).
The area I went was in upstate New Jersey. It felt a bit like going back in time at points. There was a certain 1950's feel to the architecture (or older). The town was very small. No walmarts, no gas station convenience super stores, etc... there was really 3 places to choose from for food, a local diner/bar, an Italian restaraunt, and a pizza shop. I choose the diner/bar. It turned out to be really nice inside, and they had a nice menu. I had planned on going back there for dinner, but since I had a late lunch, I was still full around 8pm.
While, At the diner, I asked the waitress about a place to fish. I pulled up my gps maps, and showed her two lakes not too far away, and said "can I fish here?" Well, the waitress at first hmmed, and hawed (what do those words mean?) then finally said, I don't think I'd recommend it. She said there are houses and condo's all around the lakes. (made me sad, to think that it's really difficult in Jersey to find a lake to fish at). She recommended a local spot that she said there are always people fishing at (after her asking the guys at the bar). I took her advice.
It was a tiny creek, under a bridge of a busy road, and next to a plastics factory. (welcome to NJ). Seriously, it too made me sad, that this was the only "hot fishin spot" for these people that live up in foothills of some NJ mountains. (hills, to you people who have real mountains).
But, it turned out to be just a great spot for me on my mini-vacation. I ended up catching a tiny 6" bass! I couldn't believe it! It had made the whole trip worth it for me.
If nothing else, this trip made me miss my days of being outdoors on a more regular basis. I used to camp a lot, and fish a lot, then slowly that just faded away. I think now, I'll plan my next mini (or real) vacation around getting back into the outdoors. It's nice to know and be reminded, that my entire world, is not just limited to suburban sprawl of strip malls, and gas stations.
For what it's worth... I still am faced with the moral dilemma of fishing. I enjoy it (usually) immensly (especially when I actually catch something!), but every time I go, it bothers me that I'm hurting another animal (fish) for my enjoyment. I think that will be a struggle every time I go, and I'll have to learn to live with it. Some say the fish don't feel the pain, but I'm not buying that. What I can only hope for is that it's like getting your ear pierced, hurts a bit at first, but overall not a big deal.
I'm curious too... I wonder how much the prices have gone up for a nights stay at a campground. I can remember $7 a night, maybe $15 for a 'nice' state run place. Something tells me I should prepare myself for a shocker. That's a topic I'm sure for another blog post.

Oh, one more thing...I THINK I might have seen a bald eagle! I only got a quick glimpse of it as I was driving on a twisty road. I didn't have time to get a good look at it. By the time, I found a driveway to pull over on, I had lost it. But it was a hawk like bird, that was brown body, and had a white head. I won't swear to it, but I'm pretty sure. I WISH I got a better look at it!


JWD said...

Really, really nice to read this long account of your get-away. Sounds like it brought you a lot of joy. (Even if it did dissipate rather quickly upon return.) I hope you'll find other opportunities in the near future!

Anonymous said...

I'm a strong proponnent of overniters; find them as easy to plan as they are to recover from, prep-wise. Kind of like an adreneline rush to ease the mundane. I'm a bit of a cheap-o like you but find that the cost is less than a monthly trip to the doc to "cure" sluggishness. You and "Mo" should hit the road more oft! Put it this way: had you not gone, would you have seen a bass and an eagle?

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure Moses was lost for 40 years. God did not permit the disobedient, ungrateful generation of Israelites to enter the Promised Land due to their complaints against God. That said, however, it's a cool name for your system.

Anonymous said...

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as life lasts." Rachel Carson