It was a rainy Friday afternoon in the Bay Area when my family was packing up our car to head to our annual family beach trip. Every September since before I was born my family rents a beach house in Santa Cruz where we spend the weekend. We play card games, boogie board, and play football on the beach all weekend. The final beach chairs and suitcases were loaded into the car, and we headed down the steep hill from my house and got on the freeway headed towards the beach. The way to get from my house to Santa Cruz requires crossing a steep series of curvy roads through the mountains. My mom had plugged in the address of the beach house into her iPhone, and was following the directions of the automated voice telling her which exits to take and which turns to make. The drive was going as planned until my mom’s phone ran out of battery. My sister and I both didn’t have cell phones, and our car didn’t have a charger or GPS so at first, we were concerned about how we would find our way to the beach house without the help of the navigation system. My mom reassured us that she had driven to the beach house many times, and knew how to get there without the help of the GPS.
As we approached the curviest part of the drive that crossed over the mountains between the Bay Area and Santa Cruz we began seeing signs indicating a road closure up ahead and an upcoming route detour that would take us around the road closure. As we approached the road closure more signs appeared warning us that there had been a large landslide on the road up ahead. The rainy storms had left a larger impact than we realized there would be. The traffic slowed as we approached the sign indicating the detour. We finally made it to the detour and were turned off the main highway and left driving off into the mountains. Beyond the sign telling us where to turn off the main road, there were no other detour signs left indicating us as to which turns we should make to get back on route. My sister found a map in the glove department and began trying to route us towards the beach, but it was very difficult. Many of the small roads we were driving on weren’t on the map, and the route we were taking was headed straight off the map. None of us had ever been in a situation like this before, and I started to get pretty worried. We had no way of finding a gas station if we need one or any reassurance that we would be able to find the beach. Luckily my sister has a really good sense of direction and the car had a built-in compass so we were able to eventually able to find the beach after driving around in the mountains for a while.
Although this experience was scary for me, it opened my eyes to how reliant my family was on technology. Even though I didn’t personally own a cell phone, I was reliant on many different technologies that my family used. Today, I use a GPS every time I drive somewhere, and it’s hard to imagine a world without access to a GPS system to help my get to my destinations, or help me when I’m lost.