PLEASE! What time is it?

Telling time by our shadows
Telling time by our shadows

“Is it quarter past five or quarter past six?”

“It’s quarter past . . . oh. Did I change my watch or not?”

“I don’t know. I changed mine but I think I changed it back again.”

“Isn’t that the six o’clock news we’re watching?”

“It’s Dothan (Alabama). It was the five o’clock news the last time we watched it when we were on Central Time.”

“Well he just said the six o’clock news.”

“He said it was coming up.”

“It’s six o’clock Eastern Time so it’s the six o’clock news.”

“We’ve changed time zones, not Dothan, unless they’ve moved it since this morning.”

“Alright, smarty pants. The time on the microwave should be correct. It says . . . ah, I think I set that to my watch and I don’t know what time my watch is set to.”

“The clock in the car! I changed that from Central Time to Eastern Time after we came through Mexico Beach. That will definitely be on Eastern Time.”

On numerous occasions we’d been caught out by driving into another time zone and had been plus or minus an hour without knowing it, sometimes for a couple of days. With no deadlines to keep, time was more a habit than a necessity.

Having checked the road atlas I knew exactly where the time zone line was and had sat, rather childishly, staring at my cell phone to see the exact place where the time read out would jump forward an hour as we drove eastwards on the Gulf coast of Florida. It was an event for us – not changing time zones but remembering that it would happen.

What was so confusing that day was that we had driven from Central time to Eastern Time, then south and west into a state park and north onto a peninsula. The park according to its “quiet hours” was on Eastern Time but on the campsite our phones had gone back to Central time. According to the road atlas we were right on the dividing line on a spit of land across from St. Joseph’s Bay.

Telling time by the sunset. From land  . . . .
Telling time by the sunset. From land . . . .
 . . . to the sea. How could you NOT walk on this boardwalk?
. . . to the sea. How could you NOT walk on this boardwalk?

“So if the park gate is on Eastern Time, are we on Eastern Time even though, according to our phones, we appear to be back on Central Time? What time do we set our watches to?”

I really had no idea so decided to set the microwave clock forward an hour and start cooking as it was then six thirty. Somewhere.

Changing times zones is no phenomenon to an American used to traveling or telephoning around the country, but the whole of the UK is on Greenwich Mean Time (or British Summer Time but let’s not confuse the issue any more than I already have with daylight savings time) so that any road trip taken doesn’t involve guessing what the time is upon arrival. One simply looks at one’s watch (or clock or phone). Unless you are driving through the Channel Tunnel to France, but any fool knows to add an hour for arrival time in France and subtract and hour when coming back to the UK (except us of course, the first few times we made the trip).

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The ten o’clock news came on and we were still undecided as to where it was ten o’clock and which time zone we were in.

“Well I’m tired and I really want to go to bed but it’s too early if it’s ten o’clock.” I laid down the bed anyway and looked at the clock. “Aha! I haven’t touched my bedside clock, so it’s still on Central time. “I can just put it forward to Eastern Time which is 11:00. Bedtime!”

That little trick didn’t work. I still woke up early, five o’clock Eastern time, four o’clock Central, as they say on TV.

After waiting until a sensible 8:00/7:00 I announced, “I’d like to go for a walk on the beach today at high tide. I’ve got a tide table here. High tide is 3:28 PM.”

“Is that Eastern or Central?”

We had a number of departure times for our walk as we’d messed up all our timepieces. Except our phones. They were accurate, but which time zone were we in?

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40 thoughts on “PLEASE! What time is it?

  1. Stayed at St Joe’s decades ago in Westfalia campmobile. Fabulous. Thx for the attractive photos, they r gorgeous. Trick we’ve found for time zones is to try a call with cellphone. Then it resets the time, as though it wasn’t otherwise going to expend the effort until you bothered.

    Love your writing, following now.

    Jim and Debbie


  2. I know exactly how you felt, having had a similar experience when we reached the Florida Panhandle. That boardwalk looked so much like the one at Henderson Beach State Park.


    1. Oh my. I have a confession to make. It may be the one at Henderson Beach. The boardwalk pics are mixed up in my Panhandle picture folder. And it’s been a while since we were there. My stories are mixed up too with past and present!


      1. We were just there or I would most likely not have even noticed. I find myself forever having to go back and look at photos and posts to remember where I’ve been. 😉


          1. I just purged about 7000 photos. It was a painstaking project but I suspected I had a lot of duplicates or many that no longer appealed to me. I was right! 🙂


  3. St. Joe’s looks lovely, beautiful photos of the sand patterns and the boardwalk. I’ve always wanted to go there, we’ve stayed in St. George Island nearby and loved it. The time thing is funny, our phones sometimes take awhile to update and I too like to keep and eye on them to see when they do it.


  4. What a gorgeous sunset. *sigh*. *sniff*. I don’t have a watch, and I only look at the clock to check how much time I have left to work before the cavalry arrive him from school. You should try living without a clock and see if you eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tree, get up when you’re ready, etc… could be fun!


    1. arrg. Since I updated my computer it has decided that it will auto correct my writing and keeps changing my words, as you can see above. it’s “home” not “him”, and “tired”, not tree. You are not a tree, as some famous inspiring person once said.


      1. It should at least put a glaring squiggly line under a word when it messes with it. Naughty computer! Mechant! My eyes slipped right over the him/home and I quite like being a tree! Not so good for your translation work though. You’ll get the sack!


  5. Spot on…..sometimes it’s so confusing and for some reasons our phones take a while to flip. They are about as trust worthy as Hildi. You out did yourself with photos this post….lovely. 🙂 In your shadow photo, do I detect a sparkly purse hanging from your shoulder?


    1. Hahaha. How could you tell? Thanks for the compliment. Our phones were correct-ish. We’ve noticed that sometimes campsites do their own thing when they are near a time zone line. We stayed on a campsite in CA but they chose to be on Mountain Time to save confusion (?) when driving into Yuma!


  6. The only thing that helps me get through the time zone madness is my cell phone. Thank god for those! Especially confusing is trying to remember when Nevada is the same TZ as Arizona and when it’s an hour behind. AZ doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time – so that further adds to my unending confusion. 🙂
    gorgeous photos, by the way!


    1. Trust AZ to be different. I can’t see what difference it makes whether the sunshine is at the beginning of the day or at the end. Most people would be grateful for it either way. But then again, when you get home from work, it’s 115 F and the sun is balzing down . . . .


  7. Ha ha that is so true and hilarious. Now have you tried staying at Bullhead City, in AZ then cross the bridge and you are an hour ahead in Laughlin, Nevada? I think you can write a hilarious piece on that too.
    Great beach and sunset pictures which I also have a million of 🙂


    1. Thank you! Enchanting. I like that. In AZ they don’t do daylight savings time as you probably know. It’s very confusing as it’s Mountain Time during the winter and “Pacific Time” during the summer. They seem to think they get enough sunshine in AZ!


  8. This all sounds just too complicated,,, move the clock forward, then back, then forward again… when the sun goes down and it gets dark’s night and when the sun comes up and it’s light it’s day that’s all one needs to know, and if you need the plane to fly over before a glass of wine,,, it flew over whenever it suits you…


    1. That’s all fine – especially the wine thing – but sometimes we were trying to arrive before the campsite office closed. We’ve had fun and games – not – arriving after the staff had gone.


  9. The sunset is really neat how it flattens. I have the time trouble at my daughter’s house. Only their valley is on standard time, surrounded by California and through the pass, Nevada both of which are daylight savings time. I go by the sun and give up unless I have to be in town, then I have to wrack my brain-are we fall back or spring forward?


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