Thursday, January 17, 2008

To Penn State or Bust!

Hello Everyone!!

Did you think I forgot about you??? I haven't....I've just been busy! So let me get you up to speed. Right before Christmas we journeyed to State College, PA for my families annual Christmas Party. This party has been taking place for as long as I can remember. It is for my Mom's side of the family ----- the Howe's. It includes my Mom & her sister & her two brothers and all of their respective spouses, children, and grandchildren.

So, we booked the hotel, packed the minivan, and got ready to head north. The weekend of the party, snow was forecasted for State College all the way south through Maryland. We decided to take our chances, and make the trip. I packed extra clothes for all of us just in case we got snowed in. I also packed all of the snow gear boots, ski pants, gloves, hats x 5! Whew! We were ready.

In the past when we'd go on a trip, I'd make sure we had a map, I'd ask for directions and we'd set out. Then, we got a computer and I'd go on the Mapquest website and print out directions. Last year, we got a GPS system so now we just enter in our destination and follow the GPS where it tells us to go.

Brian bought me the GPS for Christmas last year because he was tired of me calling him at work to ask if I should go East or West or North or South. I honestly have the WORST sense of direction. I mean it is so bad that usually I just think about which way I think we should go, and then I go in the OPPOSITE direction. I am the perfect candidate for a GPS system. So now that we've had the GPS for over a year, you'd think that I never get lost right????? Wrong. Believe it or not you can still get lost with a GPS! I know it's shocking and sad, but it's true. In fact I've gotten lost in the past 30 days!

Here is how a person (myself) gets lost when they have a GPS in their car. First of all, our GPS lets you choose it's voice. There are a bunch of voices you can pick from. My kids like the female voice with the English accent and the female voice with the Australian accent, so it is usually set on one of them. The GPS is pretty funny because she pronounces everything phonetically, so sometimes she is way off. After awhile she is also pretty annoying. That is when I turn off the sound. That is also when I get into trouble.


What usually happens is that I turn down the volume on the GPS so I can hear the radio or ipod. Then I miss my turn and the GPS has to recalculate. It does this automatically, so you'd think I wouldn't have a problem. Wrong. What happens is that I don't know enough to know how to get places, but I know just enough to be dangerous.

For instance, just last month I was going up to PA to meet my cousin for lunch. We were planning to meet at an exit off of 83. I had some things to return at Greetings and Readings, so I decided I'd head up to Hunt Valley Town Center (which is on the way) to make my returns and do some shopping before I met my cousin. Now I have been to Hunt Valley many times. I like to take the scenic route (Schwann Road) because it is so pretty. Well on this morning, I turned down the GPS so I could hear the music. I was driving along jamming to the song when I suddenly realized that I didn't know where I was! Aaagh! It looked like I was on a major road. Aaagh! I looked over at the GPS and sure enough she was recalculating with every exit. I decided to take the next exit, well that just happened to be 695, the Baltimore beltway. Now, my GPS wanted me to take 695, which I knew would then take me to 83. However, I didn't want to go that way. I wanted to go back and take the scenic route. So I ignored the GPS and exited off and managed to get myself headed back in the right direction. Well, since I hadn't been paying attention when I got on this particular highway, I wasn't exactly sure which exit to take. Meanwhile, my GPS was still trying to get me to turn around and go back to 695. It was no help at all! Of course, I drove right by the exit. Shoot! Now I had to get off at a different exit. I got off, got back on and drove right by the exit AGAIN! (I am not kidding.) The GPS was still trying to take me to 695. I decided to take one of the upcoming exits and try to back track. Bad idea. As I shared earlier, I don't have the best sense of direction, so my odds weren't very high of actually getting back to Schwann Road. Sure enough, I headed the wrong way, and 20 minutes later I was stuck in a not very nice part of Baltimore! (That is code for scary slum.) Is that crazy or what??? So, what did I do? I called Brian. Shoot, I got his voice mail. I was actually starting to panic, when it dawned on me that I DID have a GPS in the car. I just needed to follow it. It was still frantically recalculating, trying to get me back to 695. I turned up the sound, and followed the directions. Sure enough it took me to 695 and then 83. Another 25 minutes later I arrived at Hunt Valley Town Center. It was a week before Christmas, so parking was scarce. I circled the parking lot for about 15 minutes. When I got out of my car, I had about 30 minutes to make my returns and get to the restaurant on time. (I ended up being 5 minutes late!)

So, that is how a person can still get lost with a GPS.


Let me get back to our weekend in State College. We headed out after the kids got home from school. We'd planned to stop and eat dinner on the way. We entered our destination into the GPS and set out. Now, Brian is not like me at all. He likes to have the sound turned up on the GPS. He likes hearing her talk to him. A lot of people that we know have named their GPS. Not us. Garmin tells us her name is Karen, but we don't call her anything. Brian just calls her "Me Lady."

The GPS will say, turn left in 500 ft. Brian will respond, "Yes, Me Lady."
Then she will say, something like turn left in 100 ft. Brian will respond, "As you wish, Me Lady."
This goes on the ENTIRE time Brian is driving. Funny at first. Not so funny 4 hours into it.

Anyway, the GPS is a great invention, but sometimes it takes you on a crazy route. It will take you down little side streets and back roads, if it is the fastest route. It doesn't take into account the fact that the speed limit may only be 5 miles per hour on one of those streets. If it is set on just highways, it may take you way out of the way. We have ours set on the fastest route.


Well, Brian and I hadn't been to visit Penn State for 4 years, so neither of us really remembered exactly how to get there. Veruka on the other hand, had just been up there this Fall with Gma & Gpa. So the GPS, Me Lady, decided to take us up the side of the mountain. Who knows where we were!!! We were winding our way up the side of the mountain with nothing but a measly looking guard rail between us and certain death! Then every couple of miles you'd see a sand pit off to the side of the road that was there for RUNAWAY trucks! 18 wheelers! I mean obviously it was that much of a problem in the past that they had to add these sand pits along the turns, it was not very comforting.

So we wove our way up and through the mountain with our GPS spouting out orders, Brian responding, "Yes, Me Lady", and Veruka so helpfully informing us that this was DEFINATELY not the way she came with Grandma and Grandpa. Then it happened, the GPS lost satellite reception! Aaagh! Now honestly, I don't understand how that could've been possible, you'd think since we were higher up, we'd be closer to the satellite! But no, we lost reception. Brian looked at me and I looked at him. There was total silence in the car. And then, by some miracle, she came back on! I've never been so happy to hear Me Lady!


Thankfully, about a half an hour later, Me Lady took us to the main highway and we got to State College without further incident.


We had a great weekend. It is always so nice to see everyone. My parents and my sisters and I all stayed in the same hotel, so we had fun there too. It did snow on Sunday, but not enough to keep us there, just enough to be pretty. Of course when we headed home on Sunday, we had 3 disappointed kids. They'd been hoping to get snowed in for days.


Oh my gosh, Santa's here!!!! Let the fun begin......

















Our Hosts!
















Love this picture!















Fun at the hotel pool.





























Glammed up Grandma, in her designer goodies from Jeff!
















One of the best gifts EVER! My Prada purse!!! (Yes, it's real.) From my Brother-in-law, Jeff. He got all of the women in our family designer purses.

We had brunch at the Nittany Lion Inn on Sunday before we left. Here is what happened when Brian tried to take my picture in front of the building. There's always a joker (or in this case 3) in every crowd!

1 comments:

Mikki said...

Cracking up!! What an entry. I loved the part about "Me Lady!" Even though I haven't seen you all in years, I can still picture Brian saying that.

I couldn't see any pictures :-(. I'll have to try later.

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