My Trip to Rutherford Hill or Why GPS Units Stink Outside Cities

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Have you ever had to drive somewhere and you know EXACTLY where you are going and yet you still can’t manage to find it?

This isn’t one of those stories.

This is the kind of story that you enter the address that you are going to into your GPS system and it spits back an answer that is halfway there. You have an actual, real address and yet you still can’t find the place. Technology has abandoned you or just gotten lazy. You really don’t know which and frankly, you don’t really care.

All you know is that while you are driving down the St. Helena Highway, your GPS system suddenly announces, “Destination” and you start looking around frantically. You see wineries, after all, this IS Napa. But the one that you are looking for? Not so much.

So you keep driving down the road wondering if this is one of those instances where the GPS gods forgot to switch between yards and meters and is off by some weird factor of 3 1/3 inches over the 4,000 miles you have been driving which means that your destination could have been oh, say, 3/4 of a miles back or ahead. So you continue on, panicked looking for some clue. Until you see a sign saying that you are entering Yountville and Now you KNOW that you have missed your destination.

So you pull over into the parking lot of some cute little market (which they all are in Napa. It is a rule, I think.) and you gather your thoughts realizing that your discombobulation is adding to your inability to figure out this problem. You park and double check your directions and realize that the problem is that your GPS took you to the town but not to the street address (An issue you will find occurring more often over the coming days. As it turns out your GPS sucks in the countryside where township-range addresses are ALL too common. Heck, you don’t remember the last time your saw a township-range address… maybe back in the days when you were doing title searches when you worked for the government or when your were in grad school and what the hell, they still beat the dickens out of metes-and-bounds addresses… 10 rods to the west, indeed.)

Of course, in a moment of clarity you realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat (I love cats… it’s just a saying, people) and approach your GPS system from a different angle. You start clicking the buttons on the dashboard looking for “ATTRACTIONS” nearby. and Voilà! You find that you missed the turn off about two miles back and that the location of the address that you plugged into the GPS unit was indeed known by the stupid machine. And now that I have asked it in a manner more pleasing to the satellite gods, it is pleased to provide me the directions to Rutherford Hill. (“Why didn’t I just ask in the first place? Silly human driver!”).

The map below represents my actual trip to the winery. Please note that I continued down the St. Helena Highway before I corrected my course and headed back into and through the town of Rutherford. Sigh.

Trip to Rutherford_Page000

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