Thanks to those of you who sent me email over the last while, wondering how I was doing and what had become of me. I’ll try to get back to you all in the next few days. It turns out that the best way to hear from you folks isn’t to blog, but to stop blogging — then I get mail! Who knew?
Anyway, I’m fine, thanks. I just got out of the habit of some regular habits, that’s all. Does that ever happen to you? And then I realized it had been rather too long, so here I am.
Meanwhile, I have a new addiction. Those of you who don’t know me in person probably haven’t realized that I have a stupidly impaired sense of direction. This means I could get lost pretty easily if I don’t watch it. I do watch it, of course — I over-compensate, and hike through mazes of trails regularly. But I mark my way, turn around at every junction to see what things should look like on the way back, and whatnot. I even carry flagging tape for when I go way off the trail.
Last week I blew it. I suppose there were a few trails that looked very much like other trails, and then I realized I was in the wrong place altogether, and it wasn’t a place I’d seen before. Moments of panic ensued. But I over-compensate, remember? So at least I had a compass. The dog and I bush-crashed our way out and all was fine. Except, you know? I don’t want more moments of panic like that. I hike in the woods every day and love to explore obscure trails. I don’t like getting lost.
So (here comes the addiction part) I bought a hand-held GPS unit. And is it ever spiffy! I can mark specific places ("waypoints") so that I can easily navigate to one of them from anywhere. When I park the car, I mark the location. When we get to a landmark we like in the middle of those old logging roads, I mark that spot. I’ve even marked the location of various Decaying Dead Things in the woods. Dead deer, for instance, which the dog wants to eat. Now we get an alarm when we’re coming within range of these places, and can opt to head the other way while there’s still time.
The unit even keeps track of where I go and draws a trail map for me as I wander, so it’s terribly easy to re-trace my steps later on. Best of all, I can guess things (distance, direction) and then look at the GPS to see if I’m right or not. It’s teaching me the lay of the land.
This easily wins the "most useful gadget" prize. And you know, it’s just a little bit addictive.