The Roadless Travelled


Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I’m pretty sure my GPS tried to kill me yesterday.

Backstory:  every two months, the trivia company whose games I attend holds its Battle of Wits, where all the teams that have scored a certain number of points are invited to duke it out for cash prizes.  They rotate this around to the various restaurants where they hold their regular games, which has resulted in me being led on a merry chase up and down the I-4 corridor to pretty much every Gator’s Dockside restaurant in existence.  This particular instance was being held at the Gator’s at Cagan Crossings in Clermont.  Far too much alliteration there for this to be an easy trip.

It started with Google Maps flat-out not being able to find the place.  Not pinpointing the wrong spot, not giving inaccurate directions, just the simple Google equivalent of, “We have no idea what you’re talking about.”  This did not bode well.  But I was given assurances that this restaurant did exist, and at the address provided.  So I took a tremendous leap of faith, typed the address into the GPS app on my phone, and set out, giving myself a good extra hour just to be on the safe side.

I should have guessed something was up when, instead of taking me directly south to get to Clermont, the directions had me go south on I-4, then west, then back north again.  It seemed an awfully circuitous route, but I chalked it up to I-4 generally being faster than trekking down some surface road.  And for once, the traffic around Disney wasn’t lethal.  Yes, my app said I still had about forty-five minutes of driving time once I got off the interstate when MapQuest had said the whole trip would take about half an hour, but this was technology!  Surely it would not lead me astray.

And it didn’t.  It led me right to Cagan Crossings.  And then right past it.  Now right then, I should have gone with my instincts and just turned onto the bizarrely named Cagan Crossings Boulevard, but my trusty GPS was urging my forward.  So I assumed it was taking me some back way, a less-congested route to my destination.  And it was.  It wasn’t congested by traffic, or by any real urban development either.  Just the occasional open field with a cow or horse in it, and plenty of dinged up metal mailboxes at the end of dirt roads leading off into the trees.

But in my blind faith, I kept on.  Until my GPS told me to turn right onto Green Swamp Road.  Nothing good ever happened to anybody in a place called Green Swamp Road.  Especially when said road turned out to be mostly gravel.  I just wanted to play trivia, not visit the set of Deliverance.  And still my GPS was blithely telling me that not only was this the proper way to go, but that I had several more turns and many more minutes to go.  In what was left of my life, I assumed.

Well I’d had about enough of this.  I pulled off onto the grass — certain I’d be permanently stuck there — and tried a different GPS app on my phone.  Which, when it gone done laughing at where I actually was in relation to my destination, told me that yes, I should have turned onto Cagan Crossings Boulevard back near civilization and why on earth did I need a smartphone app to tell me that?  I pulled a u-turn, certain that just beyond the tree line, a family of mutant inbred sharecroppers was watching with disappointment.

Armed with accurate directions and common sense, I made it to the restaurant.  And finished in second place for my troubles, winning $150.  A prize that paled in comparison to the gift of a second chance at life I’d been given.

As you can probably tell by the fact that you’re reading this right now, I did not use the GPS to get home.

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