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A GPS unit plays dead

What to do when the GPS unit dies mid-trip?

The Garmin unit that I’ve been using for almost three years suddenly stopped working Friday between Ocala and Gainesville, en route to Cordele, Georgia. It froze up, then when I tried to reboot it, refused to come on at all. Fortunately, Cordele is right on I-75, and with my iPad to back me up, I didn’t have any trouble finding it. But Friday was only the second day of a road trip that has me zigzagging across four states. So Friday night, I downloaded a Garmin program onto my iPhone, mapped out the route from Cordele to Charleston, S.C., and went to bed.

When I started my car Saturday morning, the GPS unit, which I had left plugged in, fired right up and knew exactly where we were. Ah, the wonders of a good night’s sleep. But it seems to have developed an aversion to freeway driving, because it directed me across I-75 and onto country roads. And why not? Back roads are a lot more interesting than interstates.

So I went zipping across country, past cotton and soybean fields, pecan groves (and a sloppily spray-painted sign that read “Stealing pecans may be hazardous to your health”), pastures where cattle and sheep grazed (separately), a farmers co-op, a partially collapsed mobile home with vines growing out the windows, barns with sloped floors and rusting metal roofs, and tiny block-long downtowns with no chain stores. The road rolled gently up and down, and curves were long and slow and easy to drive.

Sixty-five miles later, the GPS unit directed me onto Interstate 16. The back-roads part of my trip was over. The GPS under worked perfectly the rest of my drive into Charleston. But now I have a weapon – the threat of an already-downloaded navigation system on my iPhone. We’ll see what happens if it plays dead again.