Category Archives: GPS

Recalculating: Berkeley to Livermore and Back

Recalculating: Berkeley to Livermore and Back

Who wanders for pleasure, wanders alone
marking no boundary, barrier, zone.
The earth has no limits and time has no chime,
my steps undetermined by schedule or clime.

This used to be my modus operandi
travel my sweet tooth and freedom my candy.
No email or Google, no iPad or phone,
without Internet service, I rolled like a stone.

But today I am traveling from town to town
with heavier luggage–more weighted down.
And though I go singly, I’m never alone
thanks to my computer, my Kindle and phone.

Right now I’m imprisoned and my progress is bound
by the cords of my ear buds confusingly wound
round my camera charger and Ethernet connector.
My GPS determines my vector.

No more do I travel unfettered and free.
Cell tower to tower is where I must be;
so every person that I’ve ever met
has me perpetually in their debt.

Birthdays to remember and twitters to answer,
queries of grandchildren, hip sockets, cancer.
Traveling with this extra weight is not pleasant.
I much prefer traveling just in the present

unfettered by email, phone calls or that voice
calling instructions at every choice
of northwards or southwards or eastward or west.
Yes, I know GPS directions are best,

but if I’m never lost and never alone,
I might as well stay home and talk on the phone,
for most of adventure has come when I’m lost
from all of my past, whatever the cost.

Still the ways of the present make planning much easier,
finding my next destination much breezier.
These tricky freeways have changed in past years
and I find my memory much in arrears.

So perhaps for today I’ll turn on GPS
so I won’t get so lost and I won’t have to guess
which freeway to take: eight-oh-eight? eight-oh-six?
Getting myself in a terrible fix.

Tomorrow’s the time to become vagabond,
using personal radar and my fairy wand
to maneuver through life by the skin of my pants.
Just for today, I won’t take the chance!

P.S.  Thanks, Patti, for the loan of the GPS!!! Actually, it has been a Godsend.

The WordPress prompt: The Happy Wanderer–What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?

Lost in Iowa

Lost in Iowa

We are lost in Iowa,
pulled off the highway onto a gravel road.
Not content to give himself totally over to the control of GPS,
he checked its suggested route last night and instead devised his own.
But now, lost, without a clue as to where we are,
we have pulled over
to contemplate our situation.

I open the door to catch a breeze.
The yellow blooms of sweet clover and purple alfalfa
line the little road.
Wild anise and tall marsh grass
complete a scene
of perfect rural quiet and suddenly,
I am no longer lost.
I am back on the running board of my dad’s beat-up red pickup,
waiting for him to finish mowing the lower field.
I’ve eaten one chokecherry
from a nearby bush
and my mouth is puckered
by it’s astringent sting.
I go back sixty years
as I drink icy spring water
from my dad’s metal water can
wrapped in wet canvas
to keep it cool,
then jump back fifty years more
to my dad’s youth,
to try to imagine how he felt
with the prairie stretching hundreds of miles
in every direction.
My dad, his parents and two sisters in a two-room house.
There was privacy in the barn,
a dog for company.

Their closest neighbor
an ancient Hunkpapa Sioux named Charley
in his dugout house
half a mile up the draw,
town an hour’s ride away or more by horse or wagon.
With no diversion of cell tower or satellite dish—
there was only his family,
the land and his imagination.

My dad killing the coyote,
then finding her pups and bringing them home.
What would his dilemma have been?
Did he raise them,
then turn in their pelts for bounty?
Did he release them,
and then never know when he killed a coyote
if it was merely a pest or a former pet as well?

What did he think when he lay in a patch of clover?
Did he smell the wild anise and imagine
the sweet stickiness of licorice?
Did he pick the wild asparagus
for his ma to poach?
Did he have the idle moments
with which my childhood was filled?

What child now lies in the grass,
looking for something for his mind to rest against?
What other traveler,
lost on a gravel road in the scorching sun,
opens her door to a breeze
that flows like water down an empty creek channel,
looks up from the GPS screen
that promises to restore them
to civilization’s knowing?
Will she, as I have, relieve her lost present
by losing herself in the past?

That girl who sat on her dad’s running board
who would journey so far to unimagined places,
still travels the mind back to pleasures
of a world it was possible to be lost in,
sweet clover and wild anise
giving a taste of precious emptiness.

In this age of machines that can guide us
so surely into a  future,
where we are often so found
that we are lost in it—
savor those mistakes
that bring us back
to flounder in ourselves.

We, too, know the way.

daily life  color006

Dad with sleepy coyote pups on South Dakota farm, 1924

The Prompt: Wrong Turns—When was the last time you got lost? Was it an enjoyable experience, or a stressful one? Tell us all about it.

I am cheating and publishing here a poem I wrote on a trip two years ago.