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Friday, August 28, 2015

How We Almost Curtailed Our British Adventure: Part 2

Walking the Long Bridge in Bideford, England

As I said in Part 1, our GPS unit was clearly malfunctioning. Lacking adequate maps, we had to follow the M road in the general direction of Amesbury, our destination for the night. We could only hope that we would reach it before darkness. 

Thankfully, England enjoys long summer days. Far longer, it would seem, than our stores of patience. At least, that is, after a twelve hour plane ride, and a couple hours of sleep.

Although we don't usually use rest areas, we pulled off in one this time. Given our troubles, we headed inside, where we used the restrooms, and asked a salesman in one of the shops for directions. Thankfully, he confirmed that we were following the correct route, and suggested an off ramp that would take us into Amesbury. From there, hopefully we could reach our hotel.

Are you familiar with English rest areas? Many of them resemble strip malls in the United States, and cater to a traveler's every need. In addition to the toilets and a gas station, this one had several fast food establishments, a coffee place, and a bookstore. Although we had never seen one during previous trips, this one had a large atlas, available for five pounds. We opened its pages, and found it gave us just the highly detailed information we desired. While it might not replace the street-by-street directions of a properly-functioning Satellite Navigation System, this old school book seemed like a godsend. We couldn't have been happier as we pulled back onto the M road, and continued our journey. That night, despite the wonky instructions of our GPS unit, we found our hotel. After hauling our suitcases up several staircases, we were finally able to relax in our comfortable room.

Later, we discovered that somehow, perhaps months ago during the planning stages of our trip, as we entered our destinations into the system, it had somehow got switched over to Pedestrian Mode. We switched it back to Driving Mode, and after that, we never had a problem again. In fact, this year's driving was even more pleasurable than before, given that we now had two available means of navigation handy.

Another view from the Long Bridge

Staying home and pretending to travel doesn't force one to face those fears and overcome them. Besides, it's often in navigating your way through any complications life throws into your path that make any journey an experience you treasure later on. Now I can look back on that difficult driving experience and smile. Plus, we've got an additional navigation aid, that will surely come in handy on a future visit to England.

Still, it's taken me awhile until I could write about that experience, which probably gives you an idea of how frustrating and bewildering we found it.

Does travel make a difference in one's life? It's hard to quantify an answer like that. All I know is that being in Bideford, really being in this north Devon town I had read about in Westward Ho!, to which I had already traveled vicariously through Charles Kingsley's eyes, soul, and pen, proved a meaningful experience that could never be enjoyed by the armchair adventurer. I don't know about you, but for me, that's a reason to travel. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to relax in my comfortable armchair and do a little reading. Right now, being an armchair adventurer sounds really appealing.

Dragon Dave

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