My daughter, Samantha, is hoping to attend Walla Walla University this fall. So last Thursday found Samantha, little brother, and their dad and me on the road to Washington. Although it took us most of the day to arrive, with the help of Google, we had no real problem getting to the university.
On Sabbath (Saturday), Samantha was hoping to check out a particular local church, just back over the Oregon-Washington state line. Google maps assured us that the church was just about 22 miles or so from our hotel.
We set out at 8:15, wanting to be sure we arrived before 9:00 for 9:30 services. We brought my husband’s smartphone along just in case we needed a little extra help (although its GPS record thus far had not been very reassuring).
First thing, we were confused when our directions told us to start out by taking 2nd Street–which we knew was the nearest cross-road–and drive towards Oak Street–which happened to be the street that we were starting on. After a bit of confusion, we used the phone to locate the next road we were supposed to reach. At least that told us which way to turn, and we were off!
That next road was a highway, and we were supposed to follow it for about 16 miles, if I remember right. Right from the beginning, though, the smartphone was saying, “No–turn now!….Okay, fine, turn left in 1.4 miles…Right here! Take a left now!….Okay, fine, turn left in 2.3 miles….” Of course, I am ad-libbing, but if you’ve ever used a GPS, you get the picture.
I finally turned the GPS off.
After Google’s appointed number of miles, we did, in fact, come to the street Google said we would. We took the left. Then we took the next turn, and the next.
The scenery was beautiful. Waving fields of grain, up close and personal. Casual powerhouse windmills lined the horizon. Rolling hills gently flowed in every direction.
At one point we got pretty suspicious as Google directed us off of our destination street, Stateline Road, and onto a side road by the name of “White”, but we figured we would probably meet Stateline Road again soon. We did–after an extra turn we added in when White Road ended.
Back on Stateline Road, we drove and drove. Definitely in farming community, we started carefully watching addresses. We were not comforted by their inconsistency. One side of the road seemed to be going up, the other down.
The church was obviously not in the one mile or so that we expected it in. After lots of curves and a decision-forcing “Y”, I turned the GPS back on.
Oddly enough, it was telling us that the church was not even on the road we were on. Rather, it said to go into the next town (several miles away, mind you), turn right, take a few more short turns, and arrive at the church. We should be there by 9:33.
We figured it was worth a try. (By now, we were happy that my husband, who has a terrible aversion to being lost, had decided to stay back at the hotel for some extra rest!)
So on we drove. I was directing my daughter as we approached the right-hand turn. “We’re probably half-way there….Maybe another mile….Almost there….” And all of a sudden, she said, “There’s the church!” and turned into the parking lot! Ha. The GPS said we had a few miles to go; Google said we should have passed it miles ago.
It was 9:15. It “only” took us an hour to get there. Well, at least we were on time!
Fast forward to the end of church. Samantha and I decided to take a wild guess and find a better way back to the hotel. We left the church parking lot the opposite way we came in and turned onto the nearby highway toward Washington.
In a few minutes, we could not believe our eyes! “Is that the Shell where we’ve been getting lunch?” “I think so because isn’t that the bank?” “No–wait–yes! It is!”
In a moment, we were right in the middle of the university campus. In a few more minutes, we were back at the hotel. Fifteen minutes tops. We laughed so hard, we cried.
It was a scenic drive a la Google, supreme.
I knew I had to tell you about it. Now don’t get me wrong. Google maps is right much more often than it is wrong. But I got to thinking: how many times do we trust the experts–and later discover the experts were wrong?
There are a lot of things we do not know. We need help from time to time. But sometimes it is just better to trust our own best (sanctified) judgement. God is faithful to lead His people.