I think that I have a good sense of direction, until I find myself a stranger in a new land. When going into Canada, which I do from time to time for work, I don't always take the same boarder crossing or route. I’ll also admit to not taking time to look over any maps to get a sense for the lay of the land. On my most recent business trip to Canada, I carefully printed directions I found online so that I might find my hotel more easily. Best laid plans, one wrong turn and I was on a freeway hopelessly heading the wrong direction. An hour later I found my way back to my destination.
Because I was born in Seattle and have lived there most if my life, I am able to easily reach destinations using a diversity of routes. As the city grows and roads change, I have to reorient on the fly, but in general I know the lay out well enough to shift gears and find my way.
I remember as a kid, before my family took a road trip, we would look over maps in advance. The overview helped to give me a sense of where things were as we headed off for our adventures. As I got older I would still look at maps prior to, and during adventures, to see if there was a grid or some organization of the place that I could make sense of. I can normally get where I need to go by coupling the map method with itemized directions. I’m at my best navigating ability when that itemized list includes landmarks.
The problem is I don't own many maps any more, and the ones that I do own are out of date. I don't have enough information to keep me from getting lost each time I cross the boarder. This time the kind Canadians that I met as I was trying to find my way said "she had faith in me finding her way" the problem was I didn't have faith in finding my own way. Another person I know texted to me, that changing my view to one of being on an entertaining adventure might be a great idea. I am definitely more ready to assume this perspective when there are no business meeting time constraints. Thankfully I did get to my appointments on time and had some unplanned adventures.
My lessons learned from this trip are: to buy a current map of my next destination to learn the lay of the land, get step by step directions, and ask people for landmarks to enable me to find my way more easily. Here's to my next adventure!
How do you orient yourself when driving in unfamiliar territory? Are you are directionally challenged and if so are there tricks you can do to orient yourself? Are good old fashion maps relevant for helping us in unfamiliar places?
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