Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Travelling in the 21st century

My how times have changed. As I said in my previous post, we went to Reno this last weekend. I remember going on trips with my family as a kid. We got in the car and went, maybe checking the weather reports on the radio, tv, newspapers, calling people we knew in the area, stuff like that. If we made this trip back in the early 70's we would have just said, "Don't know if we'll hit snow or rain or really nice weather so let's be prepared for all of it."

Now we have the Internet. Web cams. Online weather reports from many sources.

The week before we left I started monitoring the weather reports for the areas we'd be driving through. I also pulled up the traffic web cams to get a visual of what the roads looked like. On some of the web cams they had the temperature too. I saw a big cold front come in and some of the places we were heading were getting snow. All of the reports said it would be gone by the time we got there, but just to be safe we bought tire chains (don't really have a need for them around town and we can take them back if they are unused and get our money back, so a good precaution).

The morning we left I checked the web cams - all clear. And sure enough it was. If I had a GPS, I could have tracked our exact location all the time so we could see where we were and how much longer we'd be on the road. A friend of mine said he did this and input all of the rest stops so they could see how much longer before they could get rid of all that soda they just drank. While in Reno, I was still watching everything and saw a snow storm came through Saturday night. One web cam showed the area covered including the road. That was at 9am. By 5pm the road was almost dry. By the time we left, all but a few traces of snow was gone and everything was clear again, so we drove home relaxed and confident we'd have a nice trip.

Sometimes technology makes our lives miserable and can be a pain to deal with. Other times - like taking a 10 hour drive somewhere - technology can be wonderful. You can be prepared for road conditions, you know what clothes to bring/wear, you can see what's coming up, where you are and how much longer to go. I've been around computers most of my life, yet I think because I'm old enough to remember when they weren't around I still get amazed by some of the things you can do.