On the Road with Larry

Meet Larry.


My wife trusts Larry, so he’s is a frequent road-trip companion. Even though he led her down a farmer’s road to a fence protecting a cornfield, then declaring, “You have arrived at your destination” … she trusts Larry.

I know Larry has also successfully guided us to other destinations, but I’m leary of Larry. After all, a few years ago on a trip to Maker’s Mark Distillery, Larry led me down narrowing roads with rough pavement before his arrival proclamation – which was actually a farm-house on a gravel road with no distillery in sight. Fortunately, a resident didn’t come out of the house with a shotgun as I was turning around. Somehow, my gyroscope led me to Maker’s Mark without asking for directions.

Marker's Mark Distillary - Loretto, Kentucky

Marker’s Mark Distillery – Loretto, Kentucky

Because we moved earlier in 2014, we decided to take an 8-day road-trip vacation that fall. Larry was along, and he successfully guided us to our first stop (the Frank Lloyd Wright house known as Kentuck Knob in Pennsylvania), even though I only semi-trusted his judgment.

Kentuck Knob

Kentuck Knob

Upon Kentuck Knob, I knew all I had to do was turn left, travel 3-4 miles, and then turn left onto US Route 40 as we were bound for Cumberland, Maryland.

Oh no – Larry said (in his Aussie English), “Turn right.”

I cringed, but because my wife trusts Larry, I reluctantly turn right. Of course, Larry’s direction got a song going in my head – Over the hill and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go. We got to our destination, but hey Larry – WHY? All I had to do was turn left! Surely it wasn’t shorter or saved time.

Larry had successes on this trip that involved Gettysburg, Cooperstown, the Finger Lakes region, Corning, Falling Waters, and home … but he never regained my full trust. On our next-to-the-last day, he took me on another unexpected journey of zigs and zags. We did it, but I wouldn’t have taken that route.

Knowing we were returning to the Kentuck Knob area because Falling Waters is nearby, I figured Larry would again set us on the way to Grandma’s house – so I to prepare my counter to his wishes by checking multiple sources before leaving the hotel. Sure enough, he directed, “Turn right” – so, I sent him into recalculating mode by going straight.


FallingWaters – Frank Lloyd Wright Masterpiece

He quickly came around, thus got on the same page as I – and we safely arrived – and yes, Falling Waters is spectacular.

We were now ready to leave for home. Larry and I agreed on the initial part of the journey, but I was confident that he would take us in a direction that I didn’t want to go. Once we got to that point, Larry proclaimed, “Turn left.” … but I countered with an unexpected right.

He quickly recalculated to countered with new directions with a left on the next road.

I pressed on – ignoring his wish – and he recalculated again, then asking me to turn left in order to return to his wishes. Again, I continued straight.

Larry is relentless as he recalculates again, then asking me to turn left again – but I’m in full resistance mode. The previous pattern continued a few more time as the battle of wills was at its peak.

I pressed on with my plan, and eventually yes – the battle was now over. Victory for me – thus Larry succumbed to my easier road by telling me to continue on the road for 30 miles – we were now on the same page …. and my way took us 5 minutes more, but without tolls.

Take that Larry …. and meet your new traveling companion!


69 thoughts on “On the Road with Larry

  1. Glad to know I’m not the only one who tries to outwit my GPS! I trust it to a degree, but I always like to check out a map before I go, just to make sure. What I most love about my GPS is it lets me know what lane I need to be in. That’s a huge help when exiting a multi-lane interstate. Fun post. 🙂


    • Cynthia,
      Like many GPS devices, many languages are available … as well as choices of male or female voices. In our case, each even as a name … thus my wife chose an Aussie male named Lawrence. More importantly, glad you enjoyed this touch of real-life humor.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure what Kentucky Knob is, I will have to Google and hope I’m lead to the right information. Larry sounds like he has issues. I met his counterpart years ago when my sister and I were touring Ireland. Irish Larry took us on such a convoluted way to the castle we wanted to see, I thought for sure we were going to end up in the ocean. On the way home, he took us the direct route via highway to Dublin. Go figure.


    • Pauline,
      As you can tell, Larry is an old-style plug-in, and he only comes along when we don’t know where we are going. He’s had his successes, but oh no … human nature doesn’t want to emphasize them. Given navigation now on phones and on more cars, we won’t buy a new version … which means he may stick around.


  3. I did have a few bad experiences when I started using this contraption… but now that we’ve learned a bit about one another, it seems to be going very well. I think you’ll eventually find him very reliable.


    • Shimon,
      No question that GPS reliability continues to improve over time. I’m also amused when we get on a new road (and one that has yet to appear on the GPS) … that is, I’ve traveled though farm fields, streams, ponds, and gravel pits.


  4. I think the GPS on our iPhone is usually accurate, but occasionally does direct us to a odd path. My husband has his set to a British woman’s voice, and I’ve named her Annabelle.

    I’ve heard Falling Waters is spectacular, but I’ve never been there.


    • Merril,
      All of us have also witnessed mistakes on websites as MapQuest, etc … so they aren’t perfect, but actually have more successes than failures … but our human nature seems to imprint the negatives.

      If Annabelle ever takes you to Falling Waters, don’t forget Kentuck Knob (which is close, and one can purchase a combo ticket) … but built it around the designated time at Falling Waters. When in the area, also see Ohio Falls.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I use English on my phone and get a good laugh at the pronunciations of the French street names. I’ve also become pretty good at figuring out when it doesn’t know what it’s talking about but for the most part it has taught me a few new shortcuts.

    Might be best to lock up that travelling companion until your safely on the way home.


    • Yahooey,
      Wow … I hadn’t thought of the problem/issue of dealing with cross languages. Interesting thought. Meanwhile, I imagine Larry will join us again in the future, but at least most of the time he remains in the closet.


  6. It might not be Larry’s fault. In early January, we drove through that same region. Our GPS got us onto some strange choices of roads. Double checks on the phone app confirmed it was well past the map update time. We stopped relying on it.

    I think there is a gravity spot or something similar in that part of the world. Perhaps this one will work better. http://www.xkcd.com/407/


  7. Our car’s GPS, Hal, is so long in the tooth that he is mainly useful for identifying lanes (like Carrie Rubin’s), distances, and exit points. Hal’s information is on a DVD that’s at least 8 years old, so we just humor him most of the time. Poor Hal. I have wondered why he doesn’t object when, according to his map, we occasionally seem to travel across roadless expanses. Must be either senility or a twisted sense of adventure.


  8. Your last photo gave me such a laugh. 😀 “Leary of Larry” should be a song that we could all sing along with as we follow our GPS to who knows where. Fifi took us done roads that looked like cow paths in France…we knew we were heading wrong but there was no room to turn around.


  9. I’m a reluctant GPS user — it came with my new car and it is handy when searching for an address but otherwise I’m a map user. Not that I haven’t gotten things wrong that way!


    • Sylvia,
      Polly seems quite polite. I imagine Larry has told us to turn around, … or we do so on our own and send him into recalculating mode.

      Falling Waters is in western Pennsylvania, but you may be able to work a side trip to or from your trips to the northeast. Quiet the beautiful setting for the “weekend retreat” of a famous family from Pittsburgh.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I think Larry might have to disappear. If you can’t do it, I happen to know a guy, if you know what I mean. A small fee might be involved but he’s very good at his craft. He hasn’t dealt with this type of activity before, handling only those of the human variety but in order not to raise suspicion with your wife, he can be discreet and your wife will never suspect.
    Just say the word.


  11. I’m sorry for your “troubles,” Frank, but I sure am laughing! I use my cell phone navigation and have some of the same frustrations. I have NO sense of direction, so I rely on navigation now that we supposedly have it. Gone are the days I mapped it all out in advance. But my biggest frustration is when the directions begin to change because “Tilly,” that’s our navigating voice, decides to re-route mid-journey due to traffic buildup in one particular area. I think Tilly and Larry may be co-conspirators. Maybe we need to bring back our Thomas Guide and use it again!


    • Debra,
      Ah ha … so you are travel challenged … which also means you put a high degree of trust with Tilly. Is she (like Larry) Australian?

      Nashville, TN is a notorious travel nightmare … well, unless one is pass through 10 pm – 4 am … Larry detected a traffic issue and led us through downtown. Although we didn’t know the city, I imagine success was a collaborative between us and him.


  12. Sounds to me you have improperly programmed Larry. That must be it. I love my GPS, couldn’t travel without it. I have one built into the car and one I travel with. Granted both have at times gotten me lost, I don’t mind. I do not allow either to talk to me, that is the first thing I do, turn off their ability to talk. Then, I always update maps, at least once a quarter I do this. Finally, I check all program options if you don’t do this you are stuck with the factory and they are stupid.


  13. Your post gave me a bit of a chuckle, but it also made me think. Despite its flaws, I love living in the electronic age. But I can’t help thinking that we are becoming more dependent on those gadgets and less able to think for yourselves. I worry about the next generation. I think more and more these days about that saying about dangerous servants and fearful masters. Have they stopped making print copy road maps? ps. I don’t know any Aussie males these days called Lawrence (isn’t Larry an American contraction?) 🙂


  14. LOL! I think all of these GPS devices attend the same graduate school. We attempted the same trip as you to visit the two Wright houses in PA (aren’t they gorgeous) and “Penelope” got as confused as Larry. WW almost took a sledge hammer to our system. When Penelope works, she is very, very good, but when she wants to fight with WW’s more direct directions, we have “recalculating” hell to deal with.


    • E-Tom,
      So glad you could relate to this post. I’ve got the feeling Penelope and Larry are related. In terms of the same trip, Jim mentioned that there that could be an area where GPSs naturally have issues (as if they already don’t have enough issues).


  15. I’m going back a few posts here to comment on this one but for some reason I find talking about GPS/SatNav devices very interesting! I love love love mine, even though yes, occasionally they let us down – a few weeks ago, my boss’s one led her down a road that was only passable at low tide, she suddenly came up against the edge of the sea and couldn’t go any further!

    The main thing that spurred me to get one a few years back was that I was travelling somewhere at night, just me and the kids, and I got terribly lost down some narrow country lanes, it was dark and raining – in England there are many country roads that are barely wider than one vehicle, and you may go for ages without seeing any street names, or road signs, and I kept randomly driving and not finding anything. I did have my cellphone so I phoned Neil at home in floods of tears asking for him to look up on a map and help guide me, and he felt completely helpless as I was unable to tell him anything about where I was, where I might be near, where I had last seen any signs! It’s kind of funny now, but it was awful at the time.

    I do sometimes get cross with mine and argue with her, but mostly I’m extremely grateful to have her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vanessa,
      As you know, human nature tends to focus on the negative over the positive … as in locking into memory the times Larry has turned his issues into mine while don’t forgetting his successful guidance.

      As for your story … wow … a bit scary, and no question would probably have helped – assuming a signal. Thanks for sharing.


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