Monday, June 22, 2009

Mobile for the Mobile

I’m not sure how long a novelty usually lasts but one that keeps going like the Energizer Bunny is the Map feature on the iPhone. There are people out there driving down the same road they’ve driven for years, who now confirm their known location with the GPS feature in the iPhone. “Yes, I am exactly where I already knew I was, and I can confirm it!” If the GPS gave the wrong location, I’m concerned that my kid’s generation might one day question whether the house they’ve lived in for so long might actually be where they live! “It sure looks like my house, but the GPS says…”

We are on family vacation right now and this one is a bit different. For the first time, we are traveling in an RV. At 30 feet long, it drives like a 12,000 lb marshmallow. It’s a bit old and the turning radius is not as good as a Boeing 737, but I’m optimistic it will get us to some great places of nature. Unlike the family van, it doesn’t have a GPS. We are navigating with a paper map - very old school. This is fine with me, as I’ve been looking forward to an old fashioned family trip. I was rather pleased that our older RV didn’t include a Satellite TV as I really wanted some good quality family time.

Of course there were a few items we brought for “comfort” that included the Satellite Radio, my laptop, an iPhone (actually two), a Blackberry (I’m still transferring contact info), digital cameras and the kids brought their Nintendo DS’s, which we didn’t realize until we checked to see why it was so quiet in the back of the RV. I really had no intention to use the iPhone, except to check for messages at the beginning and end of each day. The maps we had didn’t give much detail so I did end up using the Map on the iPhone to find the way to the first RV site we had pre-booked, which I also did on the iPhone or the Blackerry… I don’t remember which. I was surprised when we arrived at the site and they asked us which hook-up package we wanted. Water, sewer, 30 amp power, cable and Wi-Fi were some of the options. The site had a small restaurant, showers, laundry and a pool. While the kids were asking “are we there yet” I was wondering “have we even left yet?”

Finding our second RV site became somewhat problematic because it was the start of a weekend. Most places were full and some had offices that were closed Saturdays and Sundays. While we traveled, I entered about half a dozen locations in the Weather option on the iPhone and we choose our next area based on the weather forecasts. I was able to find an RV site on the web and I called and made a reservation. I entered the location on the iPhone and got a route and ETA for when we would arrive. Thanks to some traffic cams, we were able to avoid an accident on a bridge in one city. That saved us some time. Most importantly, I desperately needed a Latte at one point while driving. A simple search for Starbucks in the Map Application and I drove to the nearest red pin. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the iPhone a necessity on a trip like this but it helped us enjoy our time a little more with fewer hassles.

My idea of a long family road trip, like Clark Griswold and his family did in the 1983 movie National Lampoon’s Vacation, without any of the new techno gadgets was a bit unrealistic. So far we haven’t let technology interfere with quality time, but we have found a way to let it supplement our experience in a positive way. At one point while driving on a long straight section of highway, the song Holiday Road (them song for Vacation) started playing on the radio. I looked to my left wondering if I might see Christie Brinkley driving past me in a red Ferrari…. “CLARK!!!


  1. At least the Griswold's had that cool map application on their home Atari system!

  2. True, and with the introduction of sophisticated mobile devices like the Android, Blackberry, iPhone, and Palm Pre more of the old "Pac Mac" era games are back in style. It's retro applications gone wild!!!