Among the many items disappearing from life these days are paper road maps. You know, the ones everyone had in the glove compartment, the ones that were handy to have, but impossible to re-fold.
I was surprised by a recent news program I saw that reported the use of paper maps is down 60 percent. In fact, paper road maps are currently being collected as antiques-in-the-making.
During our "snow bird" years, every fall before we made our annual pilgrimage to Florida and again before our springtime return to Chautauqua County, we always visited the local AAA office for road maps and travel guides. Armed with all this information, we'd carefully lay out the 1,200 mile journey and the stops along the way.
When at last the car left our driveway, Tim was in the back seat, in charge of snacks and beverages, and I was installed in the front "navigator's slot" beside George. Next to me were the road maps with the route for each day of the trip carefully marked.
The success of those long treks was made possible by our extensive pre-planning and the AAA's excellent maps and guides.
Now, with road maps fading from use, what's a traveler to do? According to the news program I saw about the demise of paper maps, today's GPS is the traveler's best friend.
The report went on to point out younger folks, who have never dealt with such "relics of the past" as paper road maps, have no idea how to use one. A group of teens was given the task of stretching out a paper map and studying it to find a destination. They were totally confused by the assignment and were at a loss when they tried to re-fold the large map.
The result of the experiment was to be expected. After all, today's younger generation, so comfortable with everything electronic, has totally embraced the technology of the trusty GPS.
I'll have to admit, these handy directional units offer an efficiency paper maps didn't have. Not only do they clearly announce every twist and turn of a trip, they also make adjustments for false turns - re-calculating! - get you back on course and report the time necessary to arrive at your destination.
In our family's case, though our long snowbird treks are now a memory, we still enjoy an occasional extended drive to a new area or attraction. And, thanks to a gift from daughter Sherri and her husband Jack, we, too, are now proud owners of a nifty little GPS.
We've named the friendly voice of our trusty GPS "Matilda Sue," since she's taken on the role of a fourth family member as we travel.
The only fault I can find with the GPS is that it can't give you the big picture you get from a large road map. But then again, there's the plus factor - we never have to re-fold Matilda Sue.