As a non driver my job on road trips has always been to navigate. Despite all the stories about domestic arguments over giving directions David and I rarely fought over it. If we were going on a trip we’d both look at the map before starting out and decide on a route and where we might stop for breaks. Once we were on our way it was my job to let him know when we were getting close to an intersection where we’d need to make a turn in plenty of time. Usually I could do this but occasionally if we were in a city, usually Melbourne, and I was not quick enough with my instructions or there was too much traffic to change lanes we might miss our turn. When that happened I would have to figure out what to do next. Was there another turn we could take to get back to our original route or were we going to have to turn around and back track. I never liked making these decisions in heavy traffic when we couldn’t stop because reading in a moving vehicle always makes me feel a little nauseous. I remember one occasion driving back to Adelaide after a holiday when we ended up on the Westgate Bridge and decided that it would be easier to go to Ballarat via Geelong than try to figure out the maze of roads in the morning peak traffic. It made a change from the usual route anyway.
One habit of David’s that I did find irritating was that even when I’d already said I thought we were going the wrong way he’d keep on driving instead of stopping so we could figure out where we had gone wrong. Things did get a bit tense on those occasions.
Melbourne often seemed to present challenges as it was the only large city we ever visited by car. I always felt pleased with myself whenever we arrived at our destination without getting lost. One time, travelling without a street directory I navigated by following the numbers of the tram stops, lower numbers meant you were going towards the city, higher ones away from it. Another time that my carefully laid plans were messed up was driving home from a visit to Canberra. I had a road map and a map of the inner city and knew where we needed to come off the highway and how we would reach the ferry terminal in Port Melbourne. Nearing the suburbs David felt tired so we pulled off to a fast food place and he had a nap and then we had a snack. When we left there instead of going back to the highway as I expected he set off on one of the local roads which naturally was not on the map I had. I didn’t even know what suburb we were in but once we worked that out I was able to navigate us back to Melbourne on a road that ran parallel to the one we were supposed to be on.
Neither of us really liked the idea of using GPS when it became more common though. We didn’t really trust it and honestly I think we just liked reading maps better.
Of course we got lost sometimes, we got lost in Leningrad and we got lost trying to find Hadrian’s Wall in England, getting lost when you need to be somewhere is bad but if you are not in a hurry it’s often when you make interesting discoveries.