Monday, August 24, 2009

Remote Vacation Navigation

Let's say you are 19 (almost 20). You're with a friend, driving from Seattle to Anaheim and back. The trip down was hurried. For the trip back, you have a little bit of time to spare. You've been told you should drop by Yosemite National Park. Yet, the whole time you've been planning this trip, you and your friend have talked about seeing the California coast.

But California has a big coast. You're 100 miles inland at a chain hotel off of I-5. How do you decide where on the coast to go and how to get there?

You dial the All-new MOMstar Navigation support system. Thanks to the wonders of cellular telephones and high-speed Internet in remote places like West Virginia, you call Mom and she'll tell you what part of the coast she considers a must-see. She can tell you how to get there from your current location AND how long it should take to get where you are going.

The call goes something like this...

"Hi, Mom." (Operators like to be called Mom.)

"Hi, son!" (It is company policy to treat customers as if they really are family.)

"I don't think we have time to see Yosemite while we're in California. We both really want to see the coast."

"Where are you now, son?"

"Kettleman City."

"Okay, let me do some figuring and I'll call you back."

Several minutes go by, giving you just enough time to use the bathroom, flip through about 37 cable stations, and tell your friend not to worry, "Mom" always comes through. Then the phone rings.

"Okay, son, here's what you do. Head slightly south and over to the coast on SR-41. That will bring you to Highway 1. Turn right and head north. That will take you through Big Sur and past Monterey. Then you can go into San Francisco and drive across the Golden Gate bridge. Will that work?"

You ask Mom to hold while you consult your friend. Seconds later, you say, "That'll be cool. Thanks, Mom."

She gives you turn-by-turn directions, telling you that, once you hit Highway 101, to follow it through the city of San Francisco to the Golden Gate bridge. Just before you hang up, you think you hear a man in the background, who oddly enough sounds just like Dad, say, "They'll get lost in San Francisco."

All is well, until several hours later when driving through San Francisco, you miss a turn and end up off course. So you call Mom again.

"That's okay, Son. Highway 101 isn't such an easy-to-follow highway once in the city," she assures you. She asks where you are and gets you back on course. Not only that, minutes later she calls back and asks, "Did you cross the bridge yet?"

"We're working on it," you tell her, kind of annoyed that she called back so soon. How could you even have gotten to the bridge that quickly?

"Okay, as soon as you do, get off at the second exit for a quick stop at the Marin Headlands. You'll get a great view of the bridge and San Francisco from there."

She's been right so far, so you follow her advice. And you're rewarded with the ultimate San Francisco vista.

You call back.

"We made it, Mom."

"Good," she replies. "So, is it safe for me to go to bed now?"

"Yes, thank you," you say, since the call center is on the East Coast and it's after 10:00 PM there.

Right before signing off, you remember to throw in, "I love you, Mom."

"I love you, too, son," she replies.

Just like the reviews you'd read told you, overall, using MOMstar is a good experience. A little touchy-feely, perhaps, and even a bit hokey. But it sure is convenient. And you did get to see a great view.


  1. I've been fortunate enough to have Momstar for years! I love her!

  2. Does MOMstar navigation work in Prague? What about Thailand or Cambodia? :-D

  3. Shan, I KNEW you were going to ask that!

    MOMstar has not expanded to an international edition yet. And it only works at certain locales in the US.



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