Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A GPS for our Wanderer

Maggie's GPS arrived today and I nervously opened it.  After the last wandering incident it couldn't get her quickly enough.  

We ordered her the Verizon Gizmo.  It's a child's phone/GPS.  It can call out to two lines, while four designated numbers can call in.  It's pretty affordable compared to other models on the market (since I've been looking at so many this month) at $79.99 (no contract required) and the plan itself was added onto the plan we already have for $5 a month.  

It's the second GPS to arrive here in the past two weeks.  The first one arrived and was bulky.  I couldn't imagine it working with Mae and her extreme fashion sense (she cares a lot about how every aspect of her clothing looks and feels). And when I turned it on it didn't work.

I emailed the company to find out that they only use AT&T and T-Mobile sim cards, neither of which work out here in the sticks (the very rural area where my family lives).  

So we turned to Verizon.  I was prepared to be disappointed.  Would she wear it?  Would it work out here?

It arrived and I opened it and charged it and then activated it.  I also applied the sticker that came with it that I thought Maggie would prefer:

Once it was all set up I put it on her wrist.  She held very still (which is not usual) while I put it on.

And then she turned it over and said "ice cream" about a dozen times, a smile slowly spreading across her face.

We had a winner... as long as it worked.

We hadn't only gotten one watch though.  We'd gotten two.

We decided that since emergencies seem to abound these days it would be best if Sadie had one too, just in case she ever needs to call for help.

Sadie picked the butterfly screen for her GPS/phone:

Sadie and I went out on the porch to experiment with the phone before dinner.

We don't have great cellular service out here (Verizon is the only option that works at all, and the signal is still rather weak) but I was able to call Sadie and she was able to call me.

To call she pressed the large button on the phone twice.  It then gives her verbal directions and asks her to push the button once to call me or twice to call Paul.

If the button is pressed once (without pressing it twice, rapidly) it makes various funny sounds that had both girls entertained.

Sadie can answer her phone by pressing a button, but I have Maggie's phone set up to automatically answer after ten seconds (if she doesn't press the button to answer).

After the kids went to bed we decided to test out the GPS.  Sadie and Nani went for a walk, while I made sure not to look where they were going.  I gave them a two minute head start.

After that I hit the GPS button to track Sadie's watch on my phone (on the Gizmo App, which I'd downloaded) and I started looking for them.

It took about sixty seconds for my phone to tell me where they were.  I hit the button a second time to find them again.  This time the location came back after about thirty seconds.

I looked at the map.  If it was right they were on the other side of the orchard.  I glanced up and could see Sadie's blue dress on the other side of the trees.

I gave them another head start and then used the GPS to track them down to the river.  

I'd call that a success.  

After I got back home I looked at the maps on the app and I thought I'd share a little more with you about Maggie's... adventure.  I've blocked out some addresses and names, but this is a satellite picture of how far she got in the fifteen minutes she was gone, before the US Forest Service located her.  

The next picture shows some things that cause me stress every time we drive down the road and I picture her walking along down the road in her tights, barefoot.

Since I wrote my first post I found out that the Forest Service guys were already in the truck and were returning home from somewhere else when they heard the dispatch.  They decided that since they were nearby they might as well drive down the road and see if they could spot her.  

Thank heaven that they did.  

I had headed in the opposite direction (towards the river).  I've had a few people ask about how my feet got so badly burned and basically it was from running across the flood plain, with bare feet, when it was over a hundred degrees.

Now I have to say, I wouldn't have thought that that would cause a second degree burn covering an entire foot... but it did.  

On the ground the flood plane looks like this:

The ground itself is absolutely ordinary:

But I can attest to the fact that it does get hot.

Today, twenty days after she ran away, is the first day that the burns didn't feel like burns. I am very thankful for that fact.

And I also snapped a few river pictures so you could see the reason that I was so desperate to get down there.  This is the river a short distance from the house:

We haven't taken Maggie to the river in the last two years because we know she would be incredibly drawn to it.

But it still makes me nervous.

The bank is exceptionally steep this year:

Back to the GPS.

In addition to working wonderfully as a phone and a GPS, I'm a big fan of the fact that the strap is pretty sturdy and has a little piece of plastic that goes over it that makes it more difficult for a small child to take off.

There's only one thing, so far, that I would change about it if I could.  It's water resistant.  I would really, really love if it were water proof.

Time will tell if it will hold up to our rough and tumble girls, but I'm cautiously optimistic.  I hope in the future I can write another post telling you about how the Verizon Gizmo has continued to be a blessing that helps me sleep at night.

I hope that we never have to use that GPS feature in an actual emergency... but it's nice knowing that it's there if we need it.


  1. Thank you for the visuals that help to see what actually happened. She was pretty far! And God's providence at work: the Forrest Service guys were nearby already! How great is that!

    I was wondering, since you use the pool so much, how is that going to work? Will she not wear it all the time? Will she wear it at night while you're sleeping? Anyway, I'm sure you'll figure out all the glitches, but at least you have something for now. I hope this works out for you. I know it does give you greater peace of mind, and that is a good thing. And I'm glad your feet are better.

    I have to tell you, that river is very beautiful, and if I were a kid I'd want to be down there all the time. I remember as a kid whenever we visited family that lived in rural settings near a river, or went on a family picnic or camping and there was a river nearby, that's the first place we'd go. It's very normal for kids to be attracted to rivers.
    Hope this GPS is the solution for you for the time being.

    God bless. ~ Bonnie

  2. Thank you for sharing some beautiful pictures.

    Australian paramedics are struggling from failing tracking systems. Their tracking signals are disrupted by “black holes” in areas with towering buildings. The system also runs on an outdated 2G network.

    This causes dispatchers to received outdated data. Instead of getting live updates, there is a huge delay. In some situations, ambulances were found 50km from their actual location. Dispatchers would then send the wrong ambulance instead of the closest ambulance. Electronic Logging Devices


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