Friday, August 8 2003

More on NAV

Just got back from another long trip in my self-navigating Lexus (to Bellingham, WA and back; sadly, I didn’t think about setting up a photo shoot with Lauren along the way until I was already halfway home).

I was surprised that the Hotel Bellwether wasn’t in the car’s database, until I learned that the place hadn’t existed until August 2000. Lexus gives out free update discs (when they’re in stock), so this is a problem I can correct sometime soon.

I was not at all surprised to discover that most of the surface streets in the Bellingham area weren’t routable. The car knew what the roads looked like, and could even tell you the name of the road you were on, but it was unable to actually give you directions that used them.

The same thing happened to me in Flagstaff, and I kind of expected it in Bellingham. It made recovering from a wrong turn entertaining, especially when the GPS lock was lost, but a bay is a hard thing to overlook when it’s nearby.

A real surprise was discovering that I’ve somehow overlooked the “add waypoint” button for a year and a half. I knew you could add them interactively on the map, but I’d somehow missed the button that let you use all of the destination-selection options to create a waypoint. It’s grayed out when the car is moving, so I suspect I’ve just never looked at that menu while parked before.

Unfortunately, the “delete waypoint” button just crashes the system, at least when pressed at 85 miles per hour. It reboots in a few seconds, at least, and even remembers the current route.

I mostly obeyed the car’s recommendations, so there were no vengeful surprises along the way.

Musically, I had the iPod on shuffle-play most of the way, occasionally pulling in at a rest stop and setting it to play a particular album over and over again (or, more precisely, selecting the album so I could play the same three songs again and again).

It was a pleasant trip. I took it in two easy days on the way up, stopping just north of Portland the first night (after spending 30 minutes parked over the middle of the river; I was too tired to correctly parse the flashing sign that read “bridge open”).

Coming home, I did it in one shot, after realizing that the best way to avoid East Bay traffic was to just keep going in the middle of the night. 977 miles door-to-door, which is a long drive even for me, but an open highway, a Lexus, and an iPod really work well together.

Mind you, I’m not driving anywhere for the next few days…