Somewhere ahead lay a sleeping Parys. Behind, mercifully, the ripped-up multi-detoured N12.
All around, choking darkness.
At times like this, blundering along a lonely country road with more twists than Chubby Checker, your world shrinks to the extent of your headlight beams. With 12 hours already at the wheel, I could feel neck muscles seizing and a prickly sweat breaking out.
“PREPARE TO TURN LEFT.”
Then I noticed something. I’d always used the 2-D view of a GPS – you know, the overhead map view. Inexplicably, now I’d switched it on to 3-D. Suddenly I realised that, with a GPS set to 3-D, you can see around corners. In the dark. Sort of, anyway. I could see the road curving towards an intersection, just before I actually got to the curve. Then – hallelujah! – an intersection.
Anything you shay, shweetheart. Thank you TomTom: N1, here we come.
More and more of us put our faith in GPS. One in every four, according to research conducted for Nokia.
Sometimes our faith is misplaced. On my 10-km commute, the TomTom once directed me on a route that would have entailed climbing over a centre island.
After Parys, my faith is somewhat restored.
Thing is, I’d driven Cape Town-Jo’burg many times. Only, this time, I spotted a sign about delays in the Karoo. Great, there’s the alternative route via Kimberley and the N12.
Things were OK until Kimberley. After that, the slow torture of 10-minute stops around every corner slowed my progress to a dawdle. Between stops, where overtaking wasn’t expressly banned it was positively suicidal: too much dust, poor road surface and, eventually, gathering dusk.
I’ll admit it. I only turned to the GPS in desperation. There wasn’t any real expectation that “shortest route” would turn up anything useful in the deepest, darkest Free State. Well, it worked.
I liked the feature so much that, in Jo’burg, I asked for the shortest route between my Northcliff B&B and my destination, Nasrec. The usual route via the freeway is just plain boring. In return, I got a fantastic running route and a tour of some of the city’s more colourful areas. I could have done without the 50 000 stop streets, though.
By the way, do you have how many places called Parys there are in the Free State?