Friday, January 1, 2010

When Short is Long

Remember the tale about Little Red Riding Hood? In a hurry to get to Grandma's house, she took a shortcut through the deep, dark woods, where she bumped into the Big Bad Wolf. The perfect beginning for a survival story.

Well, things haven't changed much. Today we have folks (who represent Little Red Riding Hood) all in a hurry to get somewhere and willing to take shortcuts through Big Bad Wolf country to get there.

What the heck am I talking about? Well, for one, I'm talking about Jeramie Griffin who loaded his family in the car and headed off across the Cascade Range, taking a shortcut to "grandma's" house (actually to his in-laws' house) for the holidays. He programmed the brand new GPS that he had received for Christmas to take the shortest route. And in no time flat, the Big Bad Wolf showed up, the role being played by deep snow that stuck the car and left them stranded overnight. And wouldn't you know it, they had an infant along and ran out of baby formula. When the situation started looking grim, they filmed a good-bye video.

But they were not the only Little Red Riding Hoods out there. Three Portland, Oregon residents and their small dog pulled a similar trick while using their GPS to locate a hot springs along a snow-covered forest road in the southern Willamette Valley. After they got stuck, they walked 17 miles trying to find a spot where they would have cell phone coverage so they could call for help. When rescuers found them, they were exhausted, hypothermic and had no survival equipment with them. Can you say the word LUCKY?

And, of course, there was the couple I wrote about a couple of days ago who suffered a similar situation because they relied on the GPS to get them safely through to their destination.

I don't know how many ways I can say this, but the GPS has no clue about road conditions. That's your job to figure out. Don't just plug in "shortest route" and then follow the digital voice while it tells you to turn left, turn right. If you do that, you are turning over to a bunch of diodes the responsibility for your life, and that of your family or friends or pets that are traveling with you.

Shortcuts are sometimes the longest way to go. Not only shortcuts in a travel route, but shortcuts in all aspects of survival. Take the time to gain knowledge, obtain experience, increase good judgement, develop skills, and carry the right equipment. Take time in your planning and execution, so it comes out right.

Happy New Year to these surviving families. May things go better for you from now on.

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