I clearly recall a time when last Saturday could have happened with technology no more advanced than a map, a pencil and a decent sense of north and south.

I clearly recall a time when last Saturday could have happened with technology no more advanced than a map, a pencil and a decent sense of north and south.

Sunny, warm days in October are nowhere better than in Missouri, so the three-hour drive to Lake Ozark was something to look forward to, even though the leaves’ colors are muted this year.

Still, the very presence of the Internet makes us insecure about things we already know, so I entered the relevant data and asked the great unseen forces what ever should I do.

The Great Oz said, hey pal, it’s a three-hour drive. If you take the interstate (boring), it’s two hours and 59 minutes. If you take U.S. 50 (the way I was going to go anyway, so why was I asking?), it’s three hours and two minutes. If you take door No. 3 (more country roads, more small towns, more stoplights), it’s three hours and eight minutes.

So this didn’t really add to the sum of human knowledge, but it did manage to waste three minutes of my life plus a couple of sheets of paper to print a route I sort of already knew.

I had a passenger, and he had a smartphone, so what could go wrong? No, don’t turn right, he said at the only logical place in a small Missouri town to turn right. Went on and minutes later realized we were headed for Chicago. Now the smartphone had to do double duty to undo what it had just done five minutes before. That’s one smart phone.

But we got a lovely view of the city.

Back on track, we neared our destination, where apparently they just put in a new interchange and rerouted a highway or two. The Great Oz is sometimes slow to get the memo on those things. I’ll give the smartphone (and my passenger) this much: We got no more turned around than if I’d put on a blindfold and driven backwards.

This is why I believe in leaving early, a habit I will cling to until the Great Oz tells me I must stop.

The trip back was easier. We figured we knew the way. Still, we waved at Bagnell Dam and did not stop to feed the carp. Daylight was burning, and who knew what challenges we, like the pioneers of yore, still faced?

In Tipton, Mo. – the city with a water tower painted like an 8-ball – there is a small treasure called the Dutch Bakery and Bulk Food Store. I always stop. This isn’t the fairly good Dutch Bakery west of Sedalia that also sells furniture. It’s not the one just off I-29 on the way to Maryville that seems to mostly sell candy. No, this is the cool one.

I was loading up on spices, produce and fresh bread when I saw Jonathan apples – my wife’s favorites – for $5 a peck. I reached for the phone and got the OK, adding to my $30 grocery tab.

How much magic and serendipity have these little devices drained from our lives? I can distinctly remember being in these situations before – the $5 peck of apples, yes or no – and just having to make the call. Let’s see: She might be happy and pleasantly surprised, or I might end up eating a lot of apples I didn’t really want. I always swerved steadfastly toward the wrong answer, but that’s part of marriage, and it’s not the end of the world.

We did make it home before dark. My passenger screamed a lot at his phone, which was bringing unpleasant news from a distant football game, but at least the phone was too busy with that to send us to Wichita.

I’m sure our lives are richer for having all these toys. I’m also sure everyone’s blood pressure used to be a lot lower.