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GPS is Great but Stupid!

Not long ago Katrina and I were showing our 1969 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler Cale Yarborough car at the NASCAR race in Bristol TN. On Saturday there were no planned activities so we thought it would be a great time to see some beautiful TN back roads on a sunny spring day. Then we had a brilliant idea; let’s get some ice cream! It was nearly 80 degrees out and we were in spring fever mode.

Our first thought was to look for a Dairy Queen which is our first choice for a collector car ride to get ice cream back home. I pulled out my “smart” iPhone and looked to see what was around us. The nearest DQ was over 10 miles away which wasn’t that bad but the “Ice Cream Store” showed up on the list and it was half the distance. Since there was a lot of Bristol race traffic in the area we decided the Ice Cream Store was for us plus it sounded like a nice quaint old school ice cream shop.

We plotted a route to the Ice Cream Store on the iPhone GPS and off we went. Just getting out of the Bristol Speedway camping area proved to be a challenge. The Highway patrol and track officials were already setting up special traffic patterns to get attendees into the track on Sunday morning and that was the opposite direction or our intended path. Plus GPS does not know when local officials decide to close streets and make all traffic lanes flow one direction.

All worked out and we finally got the car, the GPS and ourselves all headed in the same direction. All was well and then the “smart” phone told us to make a right turn followed by a left turn. Ok, no problem. No problem even when we did this a few more times and the roads kept getting smaller and smaller. We now knew the Ice Cream Store was not closer than the DQ! We were going deeper and deeper into residential areas; certainly not where an ice cream store should be located.

Then it was back to a highway and all seemed well although the area was far from economically vibrant. About this time we saw some fire and smoke blowing across the road and “the smart GPS lady in the box” told us to turn NOW. We did, right into the smoke cloud. As we passed through I happened to spot a road sign that said “No Outlet”. That is a fancy term for Dead End, You’re Screwed! In the distance we saw some rather tall flames. They were coming from a pile of leaves and other yard waste but it certainly was on some fireman’s radar….I hope.

Well, I may not be a marketing genius but I do know that no one would put up a quaint little ice cream store at the end of a dead end residential street in the poorest part of town they could find. Curiosity had the best of us by this time so we continued on down the very narrow and winding country street. Suddenly, the smoke cleared and our mystery was over and so was the likelihood of getting any ice cream very soon. There in front of us was a rather neglected house with about a dozen white panel trucks parked all around it. We had indeed found the Ice Cream Store…it was the home to a bunch of street driven, music playing, bell dinging, oil dripping, slow moving ice cream trucks that make dirty little children run for blocks to buy a 4 month old half melted popcycle!

We sat there and laughed for a while and then decided to see how smart our “lady in the box” could be. Could she find us a Sonic? They have great malts! I did a search, accepted the nearest results and the smart iPhone lady in a box directed us in a similar path down the dead end street and through the smoke. We went through someone’s backyard around a swing set, made a couple of completely legal and one illegal “U” turns, passed through an abandoned industrial park and then, suddenly there was a traffic signal.

We made a left turn at the signal, spotted the Sonic and sped to our destination. It was a fun excursion but reminded us not to take directions from an unknown voice from a smart phone who is likely not all that smart. Next time we will just go to the DQ!

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I grew up and lived in Iowa for a good portion of my life before moving to Southern California. After 20+ years we now live outside Nashville Tennessee. I have been into cars since I was old enough to remember. I don't have a brand loyalty although I do prefer American Muscle especially the 1969/1970 NASCAR Aero Cars. (Check out our other web site at site) As long as it has four wheels and an engine I get excited. Few men are lucky enough to be able to share their passion for cars with the woman they love. Fortunately, my wife, Katriana, is also a gear head and many of our activities revolve around the cars. We have a small collection that includes at least one car from each of the Big Three. It includes a Best of Show winner, a survivor, a driver with lots of patina and several others. Katrina prefers all original cars while I like to modify them so we have a few of each. When we aren't playing with cars we are out working with or showing our miniature donkeys. You can see more about that part of our lives at

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