Archive for April, 2009

Frustration

Monday, April 27th, 2009

The harshness of Denver weather isn’t its severity, but its wild fluctuations. Yesterday, Sunday, was mild and pleasant in the morning, but cool and rainy in the afternoon. By ten o’clock it was snowing heavily. The forecast for today is heavy snow. Last Friday, the high was 75 and I was sure that we wouldn’t see any more snow. I was wrong, but I’m in good company. No one can accurately predict Colorado weather more than three days ahead.

This same pattern was repeated earlier this month. On the 15th the high was 71 with beautifully clear blue sky, but on the 18th we had a blizzard. The following day, it reached 50 and most of the snow melted.

This is pattern is often referred to as, “the warm before the storm.” We live in a high desert plain. January and February are often dry and mild. Our heaviest snowfall traditionally comes in March and April. What is cruel about this is that our mild winter weather lulls us into thinking that we should be camping. When spring arrives, we are chopping at the bit to do just that, but just when we think we will, the hammer drops. It’s frustrating.

There are benefits to this kind of weather though. I believe the fluctuation between warm and dry, to wet and cold, and back again, helps keep the insect population in check. Also, our weather here isn’t boring. I lived in Hawaii for a year. The weather there was so predictably the same that I tired of it. I remember how much I looked forward to my return to Colorado where there are seasons.

Heather Gardens snow
View from my window.

Especially now that I live in a condominium where I don’t have to shovel sidewalks, I’m able to appreciate the snow. Right now as I write this, it is beautiful out. There are still a few snowflakes falling and yet it is sunny with some blue-sky showing. The streets are wet, but clear. The trees are draped in white. Certainly, our farmers appreciate the moisture and it will green everything up nicely. It does make camping difficult though.Snow covered Airstream

Where In the World?

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

I’ve just recently bought a GPS navigation device. I suppose I’ve been slow to adapt, but for a long time it just seemed a little extravagant. My wife has been my navigator for years, but after she had her stroke, I realized a GPS might be a good thing. She didn’t become dyslexic, but for some reason she sometimes says left when she means right, or vice versa. This has caused some tension and stress, for both of us.

On one trip my wife told me to turn left. I asked her, “Are you sure?”

“Yes,” she said, “turn left. I know where we’re going.”

I let up on the gas pedal and we begin to slow. “What are you doing?” She asks.

“I think we’re supposed to go right.”

By now we’re almost to the intersection. “Go left, go left, or we’ll miss our turn.” She said.

“Okay, don’t get excited.” I start a left turn.

“What are you doing?” She gasps, “You’re going the wrong way!”

Now I start weaving down the lane line like a drunk driver. “You told me to turn left.”

“No, I told you to go that way,” she says, pointing to the right.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” I exclaim, “We can’t go both ways!”

“Don’t yell at me!” Her eyes start to tear, “I’m doing the best I can.”

So, when Circuit City announced it was going out of business I waited until the last week of their closeout sale to shop for a GPS. There weren’t many left by that time, but I was able to get a Garmin Nuvi 260 at half price. I’m impressed with what it does. It has replaced my vintage Airguide dash compass and altimeter.

To be fair, it’s easy for me to be absent-minded and miss a turn while I’m talking to someone in the car, but I can also do that even when I’m by myself (I daydream). With the Garmin though, it interrupts and reminds me.

It’s still new enough for me to find it entertaining and I’ll turn it on to listen to it’s directions even if I’m only going to the grocery store. The female voice sounds unemotional to me, but I know some people think their GPS gets angry when it says it’s, “recalculating.” I think they’re imagining that.

This isn’t to say the text to speech software doesn’t have its quirks. It will tell me to turn on, “Sym Aaron street,” when the name of the street is, “Cimarron.” That tickles me every time.

I think many people are naturally inclined to give their GPS a name. It’s understandable to name something that seems to have a personality, talks, and gives instructions. A friend of mine named his Magellan GPS, “Maggie.” That’s a cute abbreviation. Some users name their GPS after an ex-wife, for obvious reasons.

Remember the computer game; Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? The game taught geography and history by having the player chase clues around the world to catch the thief, Carmen. I’ve chosen that name. Carmen Garmin might be an annoying alliteration, but I like her even more now that she has a name. What do you call your GPS?

Carmen
Carmen Sandiego

About the Author

Hi, my name is Forrest McClure. I've been writing for the magazine since its inception. My wife and I travel with our 1966 20' Globe Trotter or our 1986 32' Excella. So, my primary interest is vintage travel trailers.