The Adventuresome Naviguesser
BY JACQUI BENNETT, Low Country Ocicats

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GC, RW Low Country Sandman

I made an error in judgment on my travels to the cat show one weekend . . .

In fact, it was a very b-e-e-e-e-e-g error in judgment.

"What" might you ask was this error?

Well, the error was in making assumptions . . .

The Assumption

The assumption was that I "know" the way to Deland, Georgia, where the cat show was taking place.

Now, I have been making the trip both from my home to the city of Deland for quite a while. Its not a "rocket science" kind of trip at all.

You travel I-75 to I-10 to I-95 to I-4 . . . easy, peasy, pumpkin and pie.

While the route was straight-forward, I also "know" that I am capable of becoming lost in a room with two doors, and so does my husband, hence my handy dandy "Naviguesser" permanently mounted in my car's window (unless the hotel is really scary).

A Naviguesser is an electronic device with a GPS locator which can tell the driver how to get to any given address which it recognizes --- as well as give the names and phone numbers to restaurants and other fun stuff in whatever cat show vicinity one happens to be in.

Note from Author: While the Naviguesser is MUCH more reliable (usually) than a human counter part, it is not nearly as much fun to talk to and it NEVER remembers to suggest Mocha Moolatte breaks.

I "know" that sometimes my trusty Naviguesser's opinion of the fastest route (calculated by its experience of my average speed on interstates and my average speed on non interstates and a weighted average there of) is not always the "fastest route" as it doesn't know about such silliness as perennial constructions, tolls every 37 feet and the frequencies of Dairy Queens and daily requirements of Mocha Moolatte's . . . so I ALWAYS let it calculate multiple routes and then pick whichever one suits my fancy that evening/morning/cat show trip.

This time, I noted that one of the two Naviguesser routes suggested had me continue down 75 and cross through Silver Springs to Deland. It took over 50 miles off the trip and while it did involve about 60 miles of non-interstate it "appeared" to take about 15 minutes less.

What the heck! Sounded good.

The Adventure Begins

What I didn't "know" is that while there is UNDOUBTABLE a completely paved route through the Ocala national forest (swamp), my Navigator had a hankering for some off-road adventures.

One would think that along with the options of selecting freeways, toll roads etc, "PAVED" should be a preferred option — but evidently the programmers of the handy-dandy Naviguesser assume that "paved" is a mere formality.

The first clue that something might be iffy was the command "turn left" . . .

Turn left? Is that a road? OK it's a gravel road. Probably just a mile or two it should turn into a paved road. I must have missed something. No biggy. It's an adventure . . .

Two miles . . . and again it said, "Turn left" . . .

That is NOT a paved road . . . It's not a gravel road either . . . that's DIRT! That road is half as wide as this road and this road ends! I didn't know national forests had there own roads?

Two miles later I hear the words. "Veer right" . . . But how deep is that puddle? It crosses the whole "road" (note road in quotations as I think we are now on a deer trail). It looks like a duck pond!

SURELY there is a paved road right up here soon?

Keep On Going

As we drive through the "puddle", mist comes up in a swirly mass and the trees bend in over the car with branches like ghostly hands draped with webs of Spanish moss.

I hear my traveling companion whimpering, "You should go slower".


"This is kind of spooky"


"You don't mind if I don't ask you to stop and I'll drive do you? "



Twelve miles of swamp and mud later, expecting to see the requisite axe murderer jump out into the game trail and to be eaten by a giant alligator, we finally found the paved road.

My poor little "domestic" Xterra, which has never had to off-road its entire life, was now covered with mucky debris. My traveling companion asked me innocently,

"So what do you think was actually out there in the swamp?"

"Deer, bears, alligators, snakes and axe murderers", I replied.


Coming back from the show we stuck to the interstate :-)

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