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Madeleine Begun Kane,
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Madeleine Begun Kane

When my husband Mark suggested an impromptu trip to Long Island's East Hampton, I instinctively reached for a map. Then I remembered; we no longer own any maps. They were soaked beyond redemption in a flash flood that destroyed our car during our last impromptu trip. We replaced the car, but not the maps.

"Internet to the rescue!" I said, as Mark tried to rush me out the door. But before he could finish saying "Let's wing it," I'd surfed to Yahoo's print map substitute. (From click on "Maps.") Next I obediently typed our destination's address, an inn Mark had just booked. (We're spontaneous, but not that spontaneous.)

I clicked on "Get Map" and within seconds I saw a map pinpointing the inn's precise location. Soon I was zooming in and out, generating other maps with varying perspectives. But I didn't play for long; printing was slow, and Mark was pacing.

I still didn't know how to get from here to there, so I clicked on "To This Location," typed our departure address, and up popped directions from house to inn with precise mileage figures from exit to exit. Of course, the absence of exit numbers and a misspelling ("Croos" in "Cross Island Parkway") didn't exactly inspire confidence.

Armed with maps and directions, we started our 87.4 mile trip, me navigating, Mark at the wheel. The first leg of the trip was reasonably familiar turf, so I'm afraid I paid more attention to the music (Blondie) and conversation (sparkling) than I did to the road. Big mistake.

"Turn off here," I shouted when I belatedly noticed our exit for Highway 111, causing Mark to careen across two lanes of 70 mph drivers. Based on the e-map's mileage info, we'd reached it at least 20 minutes early. But instead of being suspicious, we chalked it up to the "time files when you're having fun" syndrome. Besides, we had to take Yahoo's word on mileage; we'd forgotten to check our odometer.

Some people might have been daunted by the next command to turn east; our choices were north and south. But we blithely presumed Yahoo was wrong, picked south, and kept driving.

Next we were supposed to "bear left on HWY 27, heading east for 29.9 miles." If only there were a "bear left on 27." By then we would have happily settled for a "bear anywhere." Now we were daunted.

We u-turned and, using Mark's "winging it" approach, eventually found "27," bad-mouthing Yahoo all the way. Gloating over his navigational gifts, Mark would undoubtedly have bragged all weekend, were it not for a surprise we encountered 22 miles later -- an exit for yet another "111."

Yes, for some inexplicable reason, Long Island's Suffolk County boasts two "111's." And much as we wanted to, we couldn't blame the Yahoo map for our confusion. For as it turned out, it had specified the precise distance to the proper 111. Had we checked our odometer, we might even have taken the right road.

Our faith in Yahoo restored, we drove to the inn, had a wonderful weekend, and headed home. Unfortunately, around mile ten our map and directions blew out our open sun roof.

So we winged it.

© Madeleine Begun Kane. All Rights Reserved.
1st Published E Business Magazine
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