Our editor-in-chief criss-crossed the state visiting sheep and alpaca farms as she researched her story for our January/February 2023 issue. Her journeys took her down beautiful, remote rural Missouri roads. Can she get to her destinations without Siri telling her where to turn?

Photo Courtesy of Sandy Selby

I don’t own a road map.

The realization struck me as I was rifling through my glove box. There was the owner’s manual for my car, about three years’ worth of insurance cards, a package of dehydrated hand sanitizing wipes, and even, remarkably, a pair of gloves. But no map.

A decade or so ago, I never would have left home without one, but now I can’t remember the last time I unfolded, then improperly refolded a map. I can still remember the clammy sweat on my palms as I clenched the steering wheel and prayed my way through unfamiliar cities, stopping every so often to get my bearings on the map. Like my phone book, day planner, and calculator, however, my road map now resides on my smartphone.

There’s no point in tangling with a map when the pleasant voice of Siri is there telling me where to turn and warning me of upcoming hazards. She keeps me on schedule by letting me know, to the minute, when I’ll arrive at my destination, and she gently scolds me if I veer off course.

“Return to the route,” she says.

“It’s okay, Siri. I’m just going to get some gas and then …”

“Return. To. The. Route.”

Photo Courtesy of Sandy Selby

Is it only my imagination that she gets more exasperated every time she says it?
Siri and I had a grand adventure as I traveled around the state visiting sheep and alpaca farms for our January/February 2023 cover story. We traversed interstates, rural highways, and gravel roads, and I would have been tempted to trust her guidance completely until two of the farm owners warned me that Siri might mislead me. They kindly told me the exact place where I should stop trusting the voice on my phone and start trusting the people who were familiar with the route.

There’s a thrill that comes with venturing onward without a map or the navigator in my phone. What sights will I see if I make an unplanned turn or follow the directions of someone who has been down that road before? And what if instead of starting off a new year with a list of resolutions, I let myself relax and enjoy the journey? I think I will relish that freedom, but if I get lost, I can always ask Siri to help me return to the route.