Sunday, August 13, 2006

Logitudinal Latidude In North Carolina

I’m typing this while riding in my Honda Element on I-77 South. My wife Charlotte is at the wheel. We’re about fifteen miles north of Charlotte, NC and amazingly, we are listening to Car Talk on NPR. I say amazingly because I, like most Northerners, tend to think of the south as being some sort of uncultured wasteland. I don’t know why I have this bias when I know it isn’t true. In actuality, I’ve traveled enough in the South and gotten to know enough people to know that it is just as “cultured” as anywhere else. Besides, what’s so damn cultured about Car Talk on NPR anyway?

Actually, a few years ago we purchased this cool NPR station directory from, well I guess it would be from NPR wouldn’t it? Anyway, we keep the directory in the car and whenever we’re traveling and we feel like a break from music, we just whip out our handy NPR directory and before you can say “Nina Totenberg” we’re enjoying some fine programming courtesy of National Public Radio. We have yet to travel anywhere in the US that doesn’t have an NPR station within range and THAT is a beautiful thing.

This is the first trip I’ve taken with a laptop and it’s kind of fun in an embarrassing to admit, geeky kind of way. For example, my laptop has a program called Microsoft Streets & Trips which came with a cool GPS sensor that plugs into the USB port. This allows me to monitor the progress of our journey in a way that is only rivaled by such high tech activities as “looking out the window” or “checking the speedometer”. For instance I just took a quick glance at our location and found that we are at 35.395 degrees North latitude by 80.851 West longitude and I have to say….if you’ve never been here (and let’s face it, I’m not even there anymore), it’s a lovely place.

I should also point out that we are traveling at 85 miles per hour (yes Char’s a bit of a lead foot), which, I could’ve found out by leaning over and looking at the speedometer but, this is WAY cooler and far more practical. I could easily spill my coffee or strain my neck the other way. Also, we are traveling almost directly due South, which I couldn’t tell you unless I had a compass (which I don’t). I can also tell you that we should arrive at our destination (Myrtle Beach, SC) at around 2:30 pm this afternoon. Now THAT really is one piece of information that I couldn’t have gotten without this laptop. Well, unless I, you know, looked at a map and maybe did some math.

People always think I’m crazy when I tell them this but, I really like these long drives (this one will be around thirteen hours). We always wind up listening to music we haven’t heard in years, talking about all sorts of crazy shit that seems to only come up when you’ve been in a car for hours on end and laughing at things or people that we would never have seen from an airplane. I also like the idea of waking up in one place and, just by the simple act of driving (or in my case riding, since Char does most of the driving), going to sleep in a place that is several hundred miles away. It seems more, I don’t know, basic than flying in a plane. Flying is obviously quicker and has a different kind of magic going on, but there’s a lot more apparatus involved. Airplanes and air traffic controllers and airport security and science that I’ll NEVER know about, just to mention a few. When you drive, you just put some gas in the tank, get behind the wheel and hit the road. Well, unless you’re me. Then you also have to plug in your new laptop and fiddle around with your GPS sensor for awhile before you can even leave your driveway.

I guess I’ll wind this up now so that I can use one of the other high tech gadgets that I brought along to while away the hours on this trip. It’s called a “book”.

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