When I first started to travel, there was no Internet. I’ll let your gasps settle. There was also no GPS. Go on, inhale, exhale. No smart phones. Yes, dinosaurs were also roaming around.
Now some 20+ years later, after this great leap into the Internet Age, I barely even bother to research the location before I show up anymore. If there’s a signal, my phone pretty much becomes my personal tour guide, and it can even translate a few choice words in any foreign language should I need to ask a stranger to take a photo of me, or to tell him I am not interested in being a mail-order bride. But that’s another story for another day. Technology has made life extremely easy for recluses, anti-socials, and lone wolves (aka solo travelers like me). It has also made me a lazy traveler.
For example, on this trip, I did some logistics research to plan the itinerary. But I barely looked into any of the actual stops except to skim through some Google images. I’m horrified by my own behavior. What happened to my “always prepared” motto for the road? I used to make lists of places to see, noting historical (or shopping) significances, and mapped them in logical sequence to maximize each hour of daylight. There would also be lists upon lists of dining options, detour side trips in case of roadside changes, transportation options… so many lists. I was my own tour guide before I even set foot in the new city!
Fast forward to this road trip and it was really a case of just winging it on the road. I don’t know if it was false confidence from having three other capable adults in the car with me, or some crazy bravado from the fact that I was in my own country and have mastered the local language. Ultimately, I blame it on my super smart phone. And the aforementioned Google. If I could just swallow a pill and have Google downloaded into my cerebral cortex I could be so much more efficient. And probably 100 times lazier.
I say all this because in writing today’s post and going over my pictures, I see that in failing to research the area, I had completely overlooked Red Canyon, which was on the way to our itinerary destination of Bryce Canyon. I had missed the significance of its vermilion-hued rock formations embraced by the Ponderosa pines, and the fact that Butch Cassidy grew up in this area. Instead, all I got from driving through the main road was how scenic this place was–definitely a different shade of red from yesterday’s Monument Valley. Ugh, what a wasted opportunity. Red Canyon had warranted a full stop and at least a short hike.
So, what’s the moral of today’s story, dear readers? A smart phone does not make a smart user. Laziness is not a virtue. And most of all, there is hardly any phone signal at national parks!