|Living With Traffic
Life with Traffic Pro- the Mad Hatter Rally
I ran my first Rally last weekend. It was a friends’ gathering, not an “official” car club event called the "Mad Hatter Rally". We all had to wear silly hats while running the rally, I scored a pair of the elusive Shrek Ears- which I happen to like wearing anyway.
I was never going to participate in a rally, it seemed to me that running around for hours having to follow directions to find things was my idea of a very bad time. That’s why I use a GPS. Just GO. Go go go go go go play play play play drive drive drive drive go go go go… Stopping is not a part of the plan. I only stop to fill gas tank or empty bladder- and always aim to do both at the same stop- if not at the same time. What the heck, after Jon T’s fabulous rally for the NJ chapter of the BMW CCA, which did look like a lot of fun, I could give it a whirl with Jon’s friends who do this all the time. How bad could it be?
I was really afraid of the legendary arguments in the cars. I knew that I have a tendency to get very wrapped up in things so I was scared I would tick off these nice people I didn’t already know, or worse, tick off Jon T who already knows what a bitch I can be. (Yes, I know.)
As usual, I found the meet point on Yahoo Maps, printed out the directions and got a general idea of where it was. When I got to the car, it turned out that Traffic Pro had the address already. As usual. It’s not often that Traffic Pro doesn’t have the address I need listed. So I punched the button and Traffic Pro told me that I’d be half an hour late. I called Jon and asked if that would be OK.
It’s just hours and hours of time saved going over the directions and learning a route just to attend a party. I rely on Traffic Pro.
I also was hoping to meet up later with friends who were going to see Rod Stewart at Jones Beach. So I started pushing for an early start time for our car at the rally. It seemed like forever until we got in the car, and it was a tight fit to say the least. A nice 4 door Audi but the driver is a tall man so the person sitting behind him had to be legless. I knew enough to go over all the instructions to look for bonus questions. The names of all the roads were scrambled so I elected Jon to unscramble them all because he’s so good at that at the movie jumbles. Jon wasn’t unscrambling and I started to panic. Jon, have you unscrambled those names yet? Jon, have you unscrambled those names yet? Jon, have you unscrambled those names yet? Jon, have you unscrambled those names yet?
Jon, have you unscrambled those names yet?
It's too late already to die young.
I find out as we go that you don’t have to actually unscramble the road names when you are out in farm country. If the turn is 13 letters long and has two W’s a HGT in it (HGTSTONRIWDRW) you can pretty much recognize “Wrightstown Rd” when you see it. This is a lot like what I was saying about the Traffic Pro, until you are actually using it, you don’t really get how it works.
Speaking of Traffic Pro (as always) I was constantly reaching for the buttons to find whatever road we were looking for. Pressing the imaginary keys just as my passengers so often stamp the imaginary brakes when they ride with me. Would using Traffic Pro be an unfair advantage in a rally? Actually, no. You are not really trying to get somewhere in a rally, you are trying to take the roads according to the puzzle and more than that, you have to be looking for the answers to the clues. If you take the minimal time to set the Traffic Pro or “save” any positions, you would see the next rallyer flying by you. This rally was timed. Setting the Traffic Pro is fast, but not that fast! If you wanted to input the road names, in this case, you’d have to unscramble them first. On the other hand, if you saved every position you could get back to them really fast.
I wonder if it is cheating to bring along a local roads map to a rally?
At one point I told them to let me out of the damn car because I wanted to go home. There was nothing but empty farmland everywhere, miles from my car. No taxis. Wah.
Somewhere around this time we got our act together and I got into the front seat and stopped feeling car sick. My assignment became being the one who runs out of the car wearing the rally hat (in my case, Shrek ears) to find the clues to answer the rally questions. Melody was the keeper of the answers, Tom the driver and Jon was the legless one who rallies so much he could guess the answers.
It WAS a lot of fun.
I was dying to hear our results but the scoring took so long I headed out to see if I could make it to the Rod Stewart concert. It’s nice to be able to just leave without asking how to get out and how to get back to the main road. I have Traffic Pro, so I can just GO. If I need gas, Traffic Pro will tell me where the next station is. I checked Traffic Pro to see how long it would take me to get to Jones Beach (Wantaugh, NY) from Richboro PA versus my home in New York City and decided to stop at home first. Traffic Pro told me I’d be in by 830pm. Then I could make it to Jones Beach by 9 ish maybe. Of course you are SUPPOSED to work all this out while the car is stopped, but like all the other Traffic Pro users I know, we set it on the fly while we are driving. It’s just too damn easy. You can change your route on the way, add in stops as you need them, no problem.
The weather turned ugly, the traffic was nasty, I ended up at home at just about 9 and bagged Jones Beach.
Oh, and we won the rally. By 20 points.
Now I am addicted.
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Life with Traffic Pro- Getting lost
When I bought the Z3 in 1997, the first thing she did (yes, she) is get me lost. This is remarkable considering that I bought the Z3 within yards of my high school, where I learned to drive, learned all the back roads, wasted my youth and all that. Even my yearbook predicts that I would grow up to be infatuated with cars. My car is bewitched. She regularly takes me on little unscheduled side trips. She finds beautiful backroads for us to ride and share. All the Z3s are like that really. Note: Never send your friend with the Z3 out to pick up take out dinner, it will be hours before you see them again, your food will be cold or worse, your friend will display a sheepish look and say “I forgot to pick up the food”.
But but but they were having soooo much fun and there was this road and it was so curvy and then there was this really cute…
Would having a GPS take the magic and fun out of driving?
The day after the Mad Hatter Rally was fabulous weather no one expected. I headed out to Jon’s place in Piscataway to pick up my trophy and see Spiderman II. Good excuse as any for driving. Top down, music blaring bombing down the New Jersey turnpike. Yeah baby, this is what it’s all about. La la la. Exits counting down, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10… Uhm, was that 10 I was supposed to take? Traffic Pro was recalculating, maybe I missed my exit. I wasn’t paying attention, if Traffic Pro had spoken to me, I wasn’t listening. Too busy grooving to the music. No matter, I would take the next exit and Traffic Pro would route me back to Jon’s.
I was curious, did Traffic Pro space out or did I or did we both?
So I started to pay attention as Traffic Pro brought me back to Jon’s house by the back roads. Gorgeous little back roads through the country by the river over small bridges. Was that Emmy (my car’s name) who held her hand over Traffic Pro’s mouth when it tried to tell me to take Exit 10? She takes me on little trips, maybe she was taking Traffic Pro too? Traffic Pro was being a little spacey, it was taking just slightly longer to give me the turn information than usual, letting me make some mistakes, all of which took me onto beautiful roads.
I was laughing out loud by the time I got to Jon’s.
4 years later the Traffic Pro had so completely integrated into my car that it picked up my car’s personality.
Man, I love this thing. I bought myself a spare Traffic Pro today just in case anything ever goes wrong with this one that I can’t fix. I don’t want to drive without it and I haven’t liked any other GPS I have seen. It’s a car part.
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