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Sam has become our fast friend. She’s accompanied us for the last two months and become an indispensable part of our travel team.

Short for Samantha, Sam is our GPS. Her cousin is also called Sam and belongs to my Dad. For some reason he named his GPS unit Sam and ours has the same voice so we call her Sam as well.

Ralph and his buddy Sam(antha).

Ralph and his buddy Sam(antha).

Her voice has guided us through major metropolises, safely steering us through the spaghetti strings of concrete that make up the highway systems of North American cities. Sam has lead us across the Mojave Desert and shepherded us through Louisiana bayou country and its complex of bridges.

She speaks in low, soothing tones and never gets flapped by the onslaught of rush hour traffic.

But for all her helpfulness, there have been a few times we’ve gotten frustrated with her and many times that she’s cracked us up.

Sometimes friend, sometimes foe - GPS Sam made our two-month trek easier (most of the time) and definitely funnier.

Sometimes friend, sometimes foe – GPS Sam made our two-month trek easier (most of the time) and definitely funnier.

Sam is subject to technical glitches from time to time. It’s important to remember she’s just a tool, like your calculator or spell checker is a tool to make those tasks easier. With any of these tools, you have to know enough to know when they are steering you right or wrong. You have to be smarter than the particular machine in use.

For instance, while navigating our way to Palm Springs across a particularly desolate patch of desert, she kept pushing back our arrival time though we were making forward progress in what we thought was the right direction. Everything else on her was working well; we could see the route and highway information. But since it’s hard to tell directions in the desert when the sun is directly overhead, we started second guessing. I mean shouldn’t your arrival time match the amount of progress made.

It took us some time to figure out this particular glitch but not without a bit of consternation in the process. We got to Palm Springs safely and not at midnight as Sam had warned us we would.

Sam’s pronunciation often makes us laugh. We noticed it several times along the way. For instance, she says “El Paa-azzo” instead of El Paso, when we were passing from New Mexico to west Texas.

In Florida, Tampa inexplicably became “Penga” and Toledo was pronounced “Toll-ada.”

The Paul S. Buchman Highway became the “Paul S. Buttman Highway,” which we frequently took when traveling around Florida, so we got more than a few giggles out of that one.

Since it’s construction season north of the Mason Dixon line, we quickly learned not to listen to her in construction zones because they confuse her a lot.

Initially amusing and then annoying was her habit of telling us to “keep left, keep left – exit right,” which is hard to do from the left lane.

Instead of saying, “don’t take the exit,” she says “keep left” every time we went past an exit that wasn’t the one we were to take. Repetitive for sure on a journey this long.

 

We also laughed when she told us to “the exit right then follow the freeway” where else were we going to go.

When you spend hours speeding along America’s highway a laugh is as welcome as navigational assistance, so thanks Sam – you’re a champ!