A Very Unparked Domain
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Visual Flight Rules

We have come to rely heavily on our BlackBerry as a navigation tool. We use Garmin GPS Navigation software and Google Maps Mobile on the BlackBerry every day. We also use the BlackBerry web browser to look up accommodations, restaurants that work with our diet restrictions, gas stations, etc. And it has been really handy for keeping track of lists like our food allergies. The BlackBerry has turned out to be a wonderful and convenient travel tool for us. And we’re about to lose it.

When we cross the border into Canada, we have to shut the BlackBerry off and take the battery out so we don’t get hit with outrageous international roaming charges.

Suddenly we’re on visual flight rules. How exciting!

I was promoted to my family’s designated navigator in elementary school, so I am perfectly happy working with a paper map. In a pinch, Neil and I have navigated on this trip using the simplified maps in travel coupon books, the zoomed out maps in hotel chain directories, and the cartoon maps on promotional placemats. We like to make the most of the tools at hand.

“Eyeballing it” works out fine for highway driving, but gets a little more exciting when we’re in traffic in the heart of a big city. We do our best to time our travel for off-peak traffic hours, and that helps to some extent.

What losing the BlackBerry means for me as the navigator, over and above losing electronic maps and voice prompts, is that I now get to front-load my work. Every night, I’ll be preparing for the next day by researching (gluten-free) restaurants, facilities, etc., on the Internet, looking up directions, etc. I do a lot of that kind of preparation even when we do use the BlackBerry, so it isn’t a big change for me. I’m all in favour of “spontaneous” and unplanned travel, in theory–it just becomes a little impractical when you are traveling with any kind of health, physical, or dietary limitations. You know what they say: a navigator’s work is never done.

Going VFR is exciting, and I know we’ll manage just fine, especially if I can stay awake long enough at night to do the next day’s prep.

It’s just that losing the BlackBerry feels just a little bit like sailing off the end of the world.

And doesn’t every traveler want to feel that way sometime?

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1 comment

1 Mark Slatin { 06.13.09 at 11:03 am }


I just wanted to give a quick shout out and thank you for letting some of us “shut-ins” to live through you and Neil vicariously.

It’s fun to try to visualize where the heck you are and see, if only via a snapshot, a taste of your journey.

Back to work for me!

I look forward to your next post – you get the visual flight rules, I get to look at a screen to get my info?

Safe travels,