Why I love Mapquest.. (long boring read, you've been warned)
So I purchased a new car this saturday, I hadn't even had my first full tank of gas through it, when I decided to go snowboarding about 200 miles from home. I go online and print off directions from my house to Snowshoe, opting out of there original recomended directions for the route that involved a rural hwy I love(rt 33). I get about 100 miles into this and the directions are flawless, I come to a small town where the directions say turn onto rt 640, make a slight right onto rt 642 and continue on 640 for 15 miles. Well I did this. Little did I know, this rd I was on, wasn't a state maintained rd, it was a gravel rd, that had at least 6" of snow on it, that had plenty of tire tracks already, which lead me to believe it was a well traveled road, therefore it was probably the right way. I was wrong..
Being in a new car, I hadn't become accustomed to the gas gauge and how touchy or accurate it was. It is one of these that tell you how many miles until empty, which is awesome, even gives you current MPG. Well I turned onto this rt 640 with 105 miles to go until empty, since it was only a 15 mile drive I figured no problem. I get exactly 1 mile onto the rd before it gets bad, turns out it goes straight up this mountain, which was covered in at least 6" of snow. I keep it in 1st gear going up as there are alot of switchbacks and I wasn't sure how good this car would handle in the snow, AWD or not. Well keeping it in 1st gear going up the mountain helped with traction, but not with MPG. I get to the top, about 3 miles later, and my gas gauge now reads about 60 miles until empty.. crap, I guess 1st gear+driving in snow deep enough to scrape the underside of car+mountain driving sucks for MPG. Well I figure I'm at the top of this mountain, no biggy, I'd drive through the valley to the next rd, state rd 250.
I was wrong, again. I go another mile or two downhill into the valley, and next thing i know, I'm going back up another windy, crappy, snow covered mountain, so 1st gear it is, again. I get up and back down the mountain, it says I have about 30 miles to go until empty. I know the road dumps out near a town on 250 according to mapquest, so I figure no big deal. I keep going. Bad move. I haven't had cell service for the last 7-9 miles, I've seen about 5 houses total, none of which looked inhabited, and I now have 30 miles to go until empty, which at the rate im eating gas going through these snowy mountains in 1st gear, thats not good. Lucky me, I have another mountain to cross, I figure this is the last one, as mapquest tells me I only have a few more miles to go, and I've already crossed 2 mountains in 10 miles, at worst I'd have maybe 2 mountains to go, tops. I was wrong, again... see a trend here?
I get up and over the next mountain, I have 10 miles until empty, I was affraid to turn around for fear of not having enough gas to get back to the nearest town (about 20 miles away now). I get to the bottom of that mountain and there is 1 more, I KNOW this has to be the last one as I'm at 15 miles now since I turned onto the road, and mapquest, being as accurate as it always has been, says the road is only 15.x miles long. I continue. This mountain was a good 2 miles from side to side. I get to the bottom and there is a road, victory! I celebrated to soon however, I get to the bottom, what do you know, the road, is not rt 250, its none other than a state forest fire road.... that is closed for the season. Here I am, in the middle of no where, 5 miles until empty, 20 miles from a gas station, in the snow, no cell service, at a gate that is shut and locked.. I freaked out to say the least.
I had no choice but to go back the way I came, the terrain was to rough and the snow to deep to just go around the gate. I am forced to turn around and try to remember what I read about those nutty "hyper-milers". I had to turn the heat off (its -1 degree at this point), get my gloves, ski mask, and jacket on, roll the window down to keep the windows from fogging, turn the radio and lights off, anything electric had to go, and I had to drive the 20 miles of mountain back in the highest gear possible to avoid over-revving the engine and eating excess gas, i had to COAST down the snow covered mountain roads, this is the worst possible thing to do in the snow, i kept my foot on the brake and tried to apply consistant pressure going down these mountains w/o losing traction, i kept the car in 2nd gear with my foot on the clutch so that just in case i were to not be able to slow the car with brakes, id let off the clutch and let the engine help slow me. It took me an hour to get back, driving up the mountains in 3rd gear at 10mph, and coasting down as slow as possible w/o sliding off one of these switchbacks.
I made it back to the gas station 20 miles from where I started, my tank said I had 0 miles until empty the entire last 10 miles back, I was stressed out to say the least. I fill up, using an ancient gas pump, this thing topped my day off, if you squeezed the ancient handle more then 25% of the way, it would shut off as if the tank were full, so I had to stand in the now 5 degree temperature, wind blowing, squeezing the handle as light as possible, it took almost 10 minutes to fill the tank. I went inside, got a map, found out what happened... that rd I made a slight right onto, 642, actually V'ed right there, I took the right hand of the V, silly me, apparently that would've been considered a right turn, I should've stayed straight and I would have wound up right where I needed to be. Apparently since this road veered slightly to the right, on the left side of the V, I was expected to know this was the correct rt. Well 2.5hrs later, I was back where I started, except on the right course.
Looooong story short.. always have a backup map, no matter what. Even better, if you think theres a chance you could run out of gas, turn around before you find out if you can drive 20 miles on 5 miles worth of gas.
But you are alive....
I enjoyed the tale! But, please carry paper maps in your new car from now on. Your situation and your decisions are perfect examples of what I have coined "Sedenquist's Rule of Serial Consequences" -- Thank goodness you made back it back to pavement safely.
Originally Posted by NickF829
I enjoyed the read, and didn't find it boring at all.
It also is a great reminder for two good rules to live by.
1, If you've got a quarter of a tank or less, fill up whenver you get a chance.
2, Computer Directions are nice, but once you get off of those directions, it can be hard to figure out where you are. That's not a problem when you've got yourself a full sized map.
Yeah I learned the hard way about maps and gas tanks, I was neive and wanted to A) see what kind of mileage I could get to a tank of gas in the new car and B) left un-prepared because I was excited to drive my new car in the mountains and go snowboarding. I've got maps from all over in my other car, it was mostly poor planning and even poorer judgement on my part. I'm actually considering one of those GPS units after this past weekend, I know it would only get used sometimes, but for that 1 time you REALLY need it, i'm sure its worth its weight in gold.
this is to kinda give an idea of the roads I was dealing with.. you can see the switchback, this is 1 of many many that I had to go through, with about 6" of snow, I had no problems with traction, it was just all the different factors that made this a nightmare of a shortcut
Click here for photo
Last edited by UKCraig; 01-25-2008 at 09:23 AM.
Reason: editted photo to link as it was forcing horizontal scroll
You could have ended up a statistic. Thankfully you made it back OK. It seems like it would be good, standard practice to have a sign closer to the beginning of roads like this saying something like "warning, road closed 4 miles ahead" or something like that.
Yeah, papermaps to bag up any technology is always a good thing. I carry one of those Thompson book of maps of my state which is about an inch thick but takes you down to street level in every part of the state. It has come in handy a few times. I also carry an atlas that focuses on all the forest service types of roads in my state, too. It has also come in handy.
But I have to admit I haven't bought new ones for awhile so they're probably a bit out-dated. I could find myself in a situation where that's a big problem.
I haven't seen one of the newer GPS in action but I have friends with older models that have street maps on them. They have really had mixed results. It often tries to send them the wrong way down 1-way streets for example. But I bet the newer ones are more accurate. And any additional information might be helpful in the type of situation you are in. At least you might be able to pinpoint where you are in relation to where you want to be and get a fix on distance, etc.
At this time of year, I think your tale is a good reminder to all of us to be more careful when we're out there.
Glad you made it back out of there. I'm not trying to "pile on" here, but will simply repeat what I'd said in another thread:
The technical term for those who rely solely on a navigation system is: LOST
There is no complete substitute for maps and the ability to read them. I'm so map-oriented I typically spend much time, hours in fact, just reviewing maps for upcoming trips. I enjoy it, and I don't get surprised very often after I'm rolling.
Atlases make good novels
Foy, I'm the same way. I just bought an Arizona Benchmark Atlas, and I've been reading it like a novel for the past several days. Found some really cool POI's in it too!
Originally Posted by Foy
"Take a trip and never leave the farm"
The Benchmark series is the best product I've seen for getting to know a particular state. I learned of Benchmark here when preparing for the October/November 2007 cross country and pan-California road trip. And the POIs included are many and varied. Whilst planning my daylong drive from Ventura to Watsonville, via Carrizo Plain, I "found" Bitterwater Road and the James Dean Memorial at its northern end. I'd not likely have searched it out, but what a neat "find" just from looking through the maps for the umptheenth time, no? For the most part, Benchmark is entirely superior to my old standby, DeLorme. I can't wait for my next trip to Montana and the Benchmark map study which will precede that.
I'm the guy who used to pull a World Book Encyclopedia volume off the home bookshelf and spend the evening going through the "M-N" volume rather than watch Hogan's Heroes on TV as a kid, so perusing maps is a natch for this particular geek (a "never lost" geek, of course).
Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-26-2008 at 11:47 AM.
Reason: added link to the Benchmark Map recommendation page
NGS Member since age 12
Ha! I used to do that with the Encyclopedia too. When I was much younger, in my kindergarden-1st grade years my parents told me that I used to drag out their Rand McNally atlas, and when the earthquake hit in Southern California I was busy circling places (of course, at that young I thought that the little symbol for a campground meant an earthquake had hit). Years later, they got me a annual subscription to National Geographic and I've been collecting maps ever since. I've got hundreds of maps from all over the world in a box somewhere, and wherever I go I pick up a local map to add to my pile. It's my little hobby.
I have the best of both worlds. I carry my laptop in my truck, it has Microsoft Streets & Trips installed along with a GPS puck.