Thursday, August 2

Episode 2

After saying Goodbye to all our friends, we climbed into our car and headed out.

We had prudently called Verizon to sign up for the international plan, which allows for phone calls and data roaming, so we could use Google Maps as our GPS. As a backup, Dori had carefully planned out our route for each day, and had copied a road map. We were all set for touring the lovely countryside of Burgundy.

Or so we thought.

To get where you are going, you have to leave where you are, right? Sounds simple, but we didn’t count on the complexities of exiting an ancient crossroads town in rural France.

Just outside the gate of the castle, we faced our first decision: Which of five roads branching out from the town “plaza” – actually a grove with three large old trees – led towards the highway that would take us to Vezelay, our intermediate destination for the day? (ézelay).

The obvious choice led to the right, but the GPS said that was wrong. Then we took the road next to it, but that couldn’t be correct, since it led back into Sens, whence we had fetched our rental car earlier. Ah – we’ll take the far left one, a relatively “wide” road going out of town.

The GPS gave us the name of the street to take, but that didn’t quite match with a little lane on our left that led back into the village. In addition, the other alternative, which the GPS seemed to favor, appeared to dead-end at a private residence up the hill. At least that was the way I interpreted the evidence.

So, down the road we went, uncertainly but with no other apparent recourse. With the GPS expressing increasing unhappiness with our choice, we made a U-turn and re-entered the village, to the spot where the tour buses for the rest of our wedding group were parked in the shady grove. Dori got out and asked the drivers which way to go. They weren’t local, and weren’t sure, so we re-traced our way, only to have the GPS insist that we were wrong.

Could that driveway up to the private residence actually be our desired road, as Dori thought it might? Could my perception and judgment have been incorrect? It was worth a try.

Yup. The GPS moved its little indicator happily along as I confessed to Dori that I had allowed myself to violate navigation rule #1: Trust your instruments, not your eyes or your intuition. We came to what I had thought was a dead-end, only to have the road veer off to the left and out into the countryside.

We were finally on our way, having consumed more than thirty minutes of precious time and a great amount of emotional energy just to find our way among five roads that converged on a complex intersection in a tiny village. To be more precise: We expended all that time to navigate a distance of about two hundred yards.

Why? Because the road signs were not clear to us, and because the road we wanted lacked a pointer, or at least one that we could see. And the GPS couldn’t fix our location precisely enough or get us on the right route within such a small area. And I was too confident, again.

Was this a harbinger of things to come?