Do you ever stand up for “the old ways?” Sure, our kids think we’re relics when we do, but we boomers know what we like in this brave new world … and what we don’t! That’s what BoomerCafé’s Ranter-in-Residence Carrier Slocomb writes about: Facing challenges from our kids.
And the challenge from the kids was…
“Loser buys dinner at the best seafood joint on-island! Are you game, old man?”
It was the kind of old-school versus new-school bet that our adult children are so fond of.
The rules for our upcoming eight-hour trip were simple: we’d all leave for the Outer Banks at the same time. Speed would not be a factor — get a speeding ticket and you forfeit the bet. As always, my wife and I would rely on fold-out state maps, while our sons and daughter would navigate exclusively by GPS.
Why? Because the Air Force keeps 24 GPS satellites in continuous orbit around earth. In simple terms, GPS receivers work by determining a user’s distance from these orbiting satellites. Each satellite’s assigned an imaginary sphere, and it’s where these spheres intersect that a device’s earthbound receiver locates itself … and you.
Fold-out state maps work a little differently. Okay, there’s really no comparison! Caroline looked amused by the challenge. “Not a chance, right?” she asked. “Nonsense,” said I. “The power-grid could always go down, crippling them totally.”
We left at the same time, steering into an early sun. It wasn’t long before we lost them south of DC. “Did you pick a route?” Caroline asked, opening the roads map. “Kind’a … um … no.”
For the next twenty minutes Caroline studied Virginia and North Carolina maps. She was like a coach poised at the head of her team, pensive about her tactical plan. “This town looks interesting. Let’s lunch down there.”
Her suggestion took us off all major traffic routes and onto secondary roads. The town she chose was small, with a park that had clean tables set beside a shaded creek. Lunch was in our picnic basket, and the dog was happy for new scents to hunt. We snoozed under an ancient beech tree for thirty minutes.
Next, she took us along The Great Dismal Swamp. The dog was confused by so many foreign odors, yet we found the Swamp lovely in a creepy way. Thereafter, we headed toward Edenton, a lovely little anachronism on Albemarle Sound, a place to explore smallness and breathe in clean salt air.
And each stoplight we passed under told us the power-grid hadn’t failed.
We made Rodanthe on Cape Hatteras at twilight. The kids were pacing on our rental’s front porch. “No contest! Pay up!”
Over fish and crabs, our children admitted they’d traveled heavy traffic routes, leaving the highway only for occasional potty stops. Because GPS only displays the most popular routes, they hadn’t learned anything about the countryside they rushed past; like zipping blind through a long tunnel, I guess.
“We crushed you! You finally gonna toss out those stupid maps?”
I looked at Caroline, gleaming like a beautiful shell beside the agitated surf, our kids. “Sure,” she said. “But only when we’re done looking around.” Yeah. Not a chance.