Guided from above
As Al and I drove around the southern part of Florida a few weeks ago, we relied heavily upon the navigation app in our new phone for guidance. Not only did the GPS give great verbal directions, we could see where we were going on a moving map and even get a sense of the lay of the land from a satellite’s point of view. If we got off-course, the directions were quickly changed and a gentle voice would tell us the new route or advise us to make a U-turn at the nearest intersection.
Maybe the navigation system lulled me into a false sense of security, because it suddenly dawned on me that we were driving on cashless toll roads. Having never heard this term before, neither Al nor I were aware that a picture was being taken of the license plate as the rental car entered the freeway and exited. We kept seeing signs like “This is a cashless toll road. Pay by annual pass or by plate.” Then I noticed video cameras positioned over each lane as we were entering the Florida Turnpike and the lights came on. It meant the registered owner would receive a bill in the mail for any use of the toll roads, plus administrative fees.
We hadn’t signed up for anything like that with the rental company when we picked up the car at the airport. As I looked at the contract, I realized that we might be penalized at the end of the trip when we turned in the car. What to do? We finally decided to just enjoy the trip and to pay up at the end, if necessary.
The five hour drive along the Florida Keys from Florida City to Key West was beautiful … and free! (Well, sort of!) We hopscotched from one island to another by a series of bridges, enjoying the views of the Atlantic Ocean out one window and the Gulf of Mexico out the other. The satellite map of our route showed the water in various shades of blues and greens surrounding the islands, which seemed small in comparison.
We were planning on meeting our friends Rob and Joanne, who had relocated to Islamorada, for lunch and were guided straight to their doorstep. In fact, there was even a picture of their house and red front door on the screen of the smart phone.
The GPS was turned off while we power-talked, trying to catch up the years which had slipped by since they had moved. We were taken on a tour of their church, treated to Cuban food for lunch and then visited the Boy Scout Sea Base where Rob works. What a location. Wow.
When asked about hurricanes, Joanne replied that there hadn’t been a direct hit on Islamorada since 2005. “We have been very blessed to only experience a few tropical storms since we moved here. The old “conchs” — those born and raised here on the keys — keep saying we are due. I pray not!”
It was wonderful meeting up with special friends and getting a glimpse of life in the Florida Keys. Praise God for His protection over them and over us as we traveled … as well as guiding us along the way.
“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.” — Exodus 13:21 NIV
Judy Lowery lives in Springville. The Good News column appears regularly in the Porterville Recorder. You can read more at Judy’s blog, goodnewswithjudy.blogspot.com.