As I type this, the Navigon GPS iPhone app is installing onto Bellatrix! As anyone who has ever met me knows, I suck at directions. Unlike my iPhone, I have no built-in compass. I’ve heard that most people can just feel which way is east and which way is west, but I totally cannot. When I moved to Vancouver from Ontario, for the first three or four days of driving I totally felt like I was driving east, even though all the signs clearly said I was on the Trans-Canada highway going west.
Since I bought my iPhone, I’ve been using Maps to give me directions as to where to go, but Maps requires that you look at the screen, zoom in to see street names, scroll when the little blue dot that represents you goes off the screen, etc. I need a GPS that will tell me “Turn left at Granville Street” outloud.
******squeee! It’s installed!!*****
Anyway, after doing some research and talking to some peeps, I decided to go with Navigon as my GPS.
Although I did find it odd that this app is apparently appropriate for anyone older than 4 years old:
I guess all those driving four-year-olds aren’t very good with directions either.
Also interesting, you shouldn’t operate your GPS while driving:
Which is funny, seeing as it’s a freaking GPS navigation system. And that you can set it for “car,” “motorcycle,” and “truck,” in addition to “bike” and “pedestrian.” I suppose I should use it while pushing my car?
So, despite the fact that I’ve lived here for almost nine years, I know surprisingly little about the geography of the Lower Mainland. This is in part due to my terrible sense of direction1 and in part due to the fact that I rarely left the City of Vancouver (save for occasional jaunts to North Van for hiking and skiing) until I got my new non-Vancouver job. I could count the number of times that I’d been to Surrey on one hand before I started working there! And now I’m not only working in Surrey, but my job involves driving to meetings all over the Lower Mainland! Since I started work three weeks ago, I’ve been to meetings in Surrey, New Westminster, and Abbotsford (twice) and have been to three different hospitals (Surrey Memorial, Peace Arch & Royal Columbian) that I’d never been to before for workshops and such. A few of my coworkers have suggested I invest in a GPS, but I’ve decided that I’m holding out until my cell phone contract with Telus ends (next March) so that I can get an iPhone with its built-in GPS and compass. Oh iPhone, how I long for you! In the interim, I’m now BFF with printing directions from Google Maps.
My observations about driving thus far:
- I never noticed how often they give traffic updates on the radio. I’m an avid radio listener during the day, but I guess that when I was a bus girl, I just always blocked out the traffic updates.
- And the traffic updates on the regular stations aren’t sufficient – number 1 on my AM dial is AM730 – All Traffic, All the Time!
- People slow down when approaching bridges, even when there is no reason to do so. I mean, sure if there’s a bunch of lanes all trying to squeeze onto a little bridge, you are going to need to slow down, but even when a two lane road goes over a two lane bridge with very little traffic volume, everyone seems to hit their brakes.
- And speaking of bridges, there are a freaking lot of bridges in the Lower Mainland. I guess it’s the price you have to pay if you want to live near all this water! Thus far in my work-related journeys I’ve crossed the Oak St. bridge and the Alex Fraser bridge (daily!), the Knight St. bridge, the Pattullo bridge, the Port Mann Bridge2 and the Massey tunnel.
- Total strangers will stare at you when you drive a Smart Car. And they will ask you how much it cost, how much it costs to fill up the tank, and how well it handles. All. The. Time. Not that I mind – I’m totally a Smart Car evangelist!Total strangers will stare at you when you drive a Smart Car. And they will ask you how much it cost, how much it costs to fill up the tank, and how well it handles. All. The. Time. Not that I mind – I’m totally a Smart Car evangelist!
- I’m totally getting a left arm tan, completely with killer watch tan lines3, from driving with my arm resting on my window as I drive.
1And by “terrible” I mean “complete lack of.” Kalev and Tod both tell me that most people can actually sense direction. Like, they can intuitively feel north-south-east-west. This concept is completely foreign to me. And, I’m willing to bet, to Dave, who shares my directional sensing deficiency and relies on his wife, the human GPS, to get where he needs to go.
2Shortly after I crossed the Port Mann, a semi jackknifed on it which tied up traffic for SIX HOURS! Needelss to say, I took a different route home!
3For the record, that’s killer tan lines from my watch. Not tan lines from my killer watch.
Image credit: Copyright Kalev. All rights reserved. He granted me license to use it for anything I want, in perpetuity, in all forms, real and imagined, forever and ever amen.