My husband just got a new Smart Phone to use with his job. It is a huge leap forward in technology for him. His new phone can access his e-mail, the internet and play games he has only imagined. He is in the process of learning about “apps” for his phone and seems pretty excited about them, whatever they are. I don’t even have a cell phone so his latest toy is way beyond my comprehension.
 
The first time we went out after he got his phone we needed directions to a resturant. Normally this would be a problem but Rob gleefully pulled out his toy, magically got on the internet, looked up the restaurants address and googled directions. We arrived 10 minutes early for our dinner appointment. Completely smooth.
 

I should have been all grateful and amazed but instead I was kind of melancholy. It was the end of a Young Family Era.  The Lost Years were over, replaced by a handheld device that can play solitare and balance my checkbook. How sad.
 
You have to understand that for the first 10 years of our married lives, my husband prided himself on his sense of direction. We married in Arizona and never bought a map. We lived in Utah and then Colorado and still never owned a map. We didn’t need to. Rob never got lost. He used the mountains and valleys as his guide and always knew where were headed and how to get where we needed to go.
 
Then we moved to Illinois. Illinois has no mountains, no valleys and absolutely nothing on the horizon to hint where you are. Thus began THE LOST YEARS. For seven years we spent endless hours driving in circles down country dirt roads, unable to find our way out of a paper bag.
 
One of the most imfamous family stories we have of getting lost was the time we drove two hours to St. Louis, couldn’t find the major (How Could You Miss It) bridge across the Mississippi River into the city and ended up crossing on a bridge that was closed, slated for demolition.
 
 As we drove across, completely unaware the barricade had been removed, we both commented on the bridge’s terrible shape because we could see the swirling water through the gaping holes in the concrete road underneath us. A couple of gang thugs met us half way across the bridge at a broken down toll booth where they had manually lowered a bright yellow fence arm across the lane.  There were no other cars on the bridge in either direction. Rob rolled down the window and the kid in the booth said it would be 50 cents to cross the bridge. We had to scrounge in the glove box for change. They lifted the heavy yellow arm and we decended into the middle of the ghetto of downtown St. Louis. Two hours later we emerged, two stupid white people in a beat up Honda Civic, having cruised naively through the most violent part of the then ranked #1 most murderous city in America.
 
Two weeks later we watched the evening news, shocked to see  the bridge we traveled on being blown up as the ribbon was cut on the nearby major roadway replacing it. We are probably the only people in the whole world who ever paid  a 50 cent toll to get into St. Louis. All because we were lost and had no map to lead us efficiently  and safely on our way.
 
I wish I could say this was the only story I have of hair-raising fun while being lost in Illinois, but its not. It took my husband a long time to accept he had no special powers of direction and that on the flat lands of the Midwest, he needed to use a road map.
 
But those years are gone now, replaced by a Smart Phone which will guarantee we will never be lost, never be out of gas in the middle of nowhere, never be told we are no longer needed to drive the Church youth group to activities because we will get lost with other people’s children in our car. What will our future family reunions consist of? Stories of traffic jams avoided, amazing gas milage accrued because we only used the most direct route? 
 
You can obviously see why I am a bit sad about the march of technology moving us forward.
 
Unless, of course…. my husband’s habit of constantly forgetting to pack his phone charger on trips holds true and his beloved toy runs out of juice. I can only hope.