In Gladys we trusted
It was a blisteringly dry hot day in Las Vegas as we packed our luggage into the hire car at the airport. While our teenage son had some interest in the glitz of the US gambling capital, it held little appeal for my husband and me. Our plan was to get out of there as quickly as possible.
I breathed a sigh of relief as we extricated the GPS from our luggage, plugged it in and entered the details that would direct us with minimum fuss to our ultimate destination, the Grand Canyon. In the forefront of my mind was a previous European holiday. My husband had insisted that all we needed to get us from the charming Tuscan town of Lucca to the hire car depot in the heart of Paris were a few directions off the internet and a map of Europe (Scale 1: 2,100,000). Needless to say that expedition ended in recriminations and tears. I was confident the GPS would transform our US holiday experience; no more maps awkwardly strewn across the car, stressful navigational guesswork or inevitable bickering over directions gone wrong.
As we pulled out of the airport carpark I handed over the navigational reins to our GPS guide, affectionately known as Gladys, and relaxed in the front passenger seat. A half-hour later something was not quite right. By our reckoning we should have left Las Vegas behind but it was still clearly in our sights. Cracks had started to appear in our hitherto calm demeanour, but confident Gladys was insistent that we stay on her chosen route. Throwing caution to the wind we continued, past the urban sprawl, ubiquitous fast food outlets and never-ending shopping centres.
An hour later, Gladys informed us that we had reached our destination. Before us lay a barren work site littered with rubbish, not the magnificent natural splendour of the Grand Canyon. Gladys had failed us miserably. In the depths of despair, a light-bulb moment suddenly occurred. In our rush to leave the airport we had overlooked selecting the correct US state in the GPS destination address. Consequently, Gladys had directed us to a new housing estate called Grand Canyon Village in the outer suburbs of Las Vegas, Nevada, not the spectacular Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Gladys was forgiven. With a minor adjustment to the GPS, off we drove to her dulcet tones.