Driving Without a GPS in the Brandywine Valley

Yes, I usually use a global positioning system. But do I really need it?

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On a perfect fall day, I wandered country roads outside West Chester, happily lost. I had a destination, but no deadline, no timetable. So I set out without my GPS.

I was in search of a country market that offers the best cider doughnuts ever. I knew one route, following it beyond West Chester, until I came upon a sign: “BRIDGE OUT.”

I drove on and, sure enough, an old stone expanse over the Brandywine River was completely blocked off. I reversed my direction and quickly turned onto a road I’d never traveled before, happy not to have my GPS. My friend actually calls hers “Myrtle,” which sounds less like something a spy would need and more like a girlfriend with a map to all the best outlets.

Though I’m no rocket scientist, I do have a general understanding of the global positioning system’s satellites and signals. I like to imagine a sort of high-tech Where’s Waldo? exercise being initiated when a GPS is activated.

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