You would think I would be good at giving directions since I have so many opportunities to do so throughout the day. Telling the kids how to do something, instructing staff on procedures, showing guests how to get somewhere, indeed I have lots of practice. People tell me I am a good writer so you would think the directions to our lodge I have written would be sufficient. However, each year we have a few groups who have trouble getting to Voyageur.
Directions will soon be a thing of the past when everything is powered by GPS, right? Wrong. There are too many things that can go wrong with the GPS to make it a guaranteed thing. Take my mother-in-law for instance. The other day we were going to use her GPS to find a person’s house. She had the address and the GPS unit but unfortunately she didn’t have a plug in or batteries for it so it wouldn’t even turn on. Then there’s human error you have to account for. I’ve seen Mike struggling to drive and type the information in at the same time and there’s too many buttons too close together for him to successfully input the information into the GPS. Then there’s the possibility that the GPS unit doesn’t have a new street or that it’s wrong altogether. Then common sense has to take over but by that time it might be too late.
Getting directions and following directions are actually two different things. It’s difficult for me to listen to someone tell me how to get somewhere. I’m much better with written directions or a map. We make sure we include written directions to our place in our confirmation letters and have a map on our website.
Specific Local Directions
From Grand Marais head NW on County Road 12, " the Gunflint Trail," 56 miles to County Road 11, "Sag Lake Trail," right or north 1 mile to Voyageur Canoe Outfitters driveway.
The directions sound fairly simple to me. In other places our literature says things like, "about an hour from Grand Marais." I wonder why it is then that each year we have a guest who ends up in Ely, MN? I know they say it is the canoe capitol but our return address has Grand Marais in it. We don’t advertise Ely anywhere in our information yet these folks wait until they are in Ely to call and get better directions. Imagine their surprise when we say, "Turn around, travel Highway 1 to the shore, 61 to Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail to our place and we’ll see you in about 4 hours." Not a pleasant situation to find yourself in at the end of a long day of driving.
Or even better yet are those guests who find the Gunflint Trail but can’t find Voyageur. There are signs along the Gunflint Trail saying how much farther Voyageur is from each waypoint. It’s 56 miles, a little over an hour of travel time to Voyageur. Still, we have had individuals travel the Trail past our sign to the Trail’s End Campgound seeing signs that say, "End of the Trail" and "Trails End Cafe." Something doesn’t click and they end up driving around the campground(cul de sac type loop) and traveling the Gunflint Trail all of the way back to Grand Marais. How they don’t notice the bull moose at Windigo or any other landmarks that are the same along the way I’m not sure. But, we have had more than one group end up back in Grand Marais wondering where on earth Voyageur is.
To these guests we say, "Find Highway 61 and point your vehicle west or south. Put your foot on the gas pedal and don’t let up until you reach the County Line. From there, we don’t care, you’re no longer our responsibility." Seriously, you wonder how on earth these peope will survive in the BWCA if they can’t even find our place with directions and signs all over.
I guess having directions and following them are two separate things. I’m finding this is common for everything whether it’s healthy eating, over indulging in alcohol or other things we know may not be good for us. We have the directions so to speak but we just can’t seem to make ourselves follow them. From now on I’m going to practice following directions and see where that leads me, maybe I’ll see you there too.