Donna Takes Us on a Wild Ride

The hand painted sign directly in front of us read: “If you don’t have a permit, F?!K OFF!!” Given that we didn’t have a permit, this gave us pause. We had no intention of taking a challenging track during our leisurely journey to the east coast, so we opted to turn back at this friendly signpost. (Incidentally it also felt like the sort of area you may be chased out of with a shotgun if you didn’t belong there… or maybe that’s just an American thing?)

It was clear we probably weren’t taking the most direct route to Hobart. The space to turn around with the trailer attached was next to nil, so after getting out to walk the grassy area surrounding the dirt track we were slowly able to turn around and make our way back to a larger road.

Donna had done it to us again. She is a constant companion to our family of four, on the road with us through our every twist and turn. Donna is our Hema GPS, and given that we have now done over 25,000kms together, we have gotten to know her personality a bit.

She arrived to us secondhand. Most of the time she is highly reliable in helping us make it to the next location. Sometimes not the fastest way, but we always make it.  She also has off-road tracks programmed into her “mainframe”, which is nice support when we venture off the bitumen.  Periodically, though, we pass through an area that has changed notably since Donna last learned it. It’s not really her fault. Her maps are outdated by now. When Donna starts to lose it – perhaps she shows us dangling over water or running parallel to a road – we move back to old fashioned maps. Lake periodically suggests she should be renamed “Mrs. Never Know Pants”.

These stretches where Donna is exceedingly confused usually only last for a little while and then by her 14th announcement that she is “recalculating,” she is back on track.

Yesterday we were making the trip from Derwent Bridge back to Snug, Tasmania just south of Hobart. We were less than 200kms from Hobart, so we didn’t expect the trip take long and departed with a goal of setting up and having an early dinner.

I kept looking at the map, and it was basically a straight shot on one of the main roads running east-west in Tasmania. Repeatedly, Donna called for us to turn onto small streets. It felt like there should be a way to bypass Hobart on our route, so we took several of her suggested turns in hopes of another path through.  Each one ended. One led us to a place that said “No through road”, another brought us to a 4wd track that said no trailers permitted. The last one arriving at the menacing hand painted sign resulted in us pulling the plug on Donna.

We kept wondering: What had gotten into her? She normally prefers main roads to dirt ones. Her behavior was totally out of character. Mrs Never Know Pants was having a no good, terrible, horrible very bad day!

Amazingly, it took four hours for it to occur to me that perhaps Donna wasn’t being “crazy,” but rather maybe an actual setting was wrong.

Alas, I figured out she was set to the “short” route rather than the “fast” route about 15 minutes before arriving at our destination. In an area full of mountains and many more dirt tracks than paved ones, this setting made a huge difference.

I turned back to the boys and asked whether they had changed it. They erupted in laughter. Oh the joys of traveling with children..

2 Comments on “Donna Takes Us on a Wild Ride

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