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  1. Default Don't trust your GPS blindly!!! A word of caution! :D

    Hey friends, I just returned from 17,000 miles living on the road this summer. The greatest thrill of my life! I rotated between three or four different cars and people but most of the time I had a GPS and I would like to give some advice there. It was my first time in using a GPS and I will say that it is a nice thing to have in that it will tell you near by points of interest you might not find. However, beware to anyone making a cross country travel, if you are not having a 4 wheel drive it will often take you on little back roads. One memorable occasion was at 2 in the morning in the middle of nowhere Utah, the GPS trying to take me down literally an unused endless dirt road to get somewhere right off a main interstate, so unused in fact that there were weeds growing up so high it got all stuck up in the bottom of my car. This in a small car that does its best just to get moving. Because of that I ended up spending the night in a remote rest stop literally in the middle of nowhere. I always sleep in my car on road trips but in truck stops so this freaked me out!

    Another would be in nowhere New Mexico trying to get to an alpaca farm in Mora again that is right off a highway... it decided to wind us up a one lane dirt road going up the side of a small mountain area... Lucky that my fiance is from India and used to such things so he had the idea to keep honking the horn constantly to alert anyone on the other side to avoid a collision lol.

    The other occasions were going winding back roads all across Maine only to find myself at a closed road just a few miles from the destination, some times without a detour.

    Anyway just a word of warning, GPS can be a great luxury, but always stick to your maps as back up as we should know. Most maps are clear enough to mark which routes are 2 lane highways, off road, etc, so check the direction the GPS is taking you in and make sure your car can handle it. Often there's a main route and it is only a few miles longer that direction.

    HOWEVER.... one nice alternative the GPS does provide here is the back roads you will see are 90% of the time more scenic and of course so much more refreshing than main highways. My main word of warning is just about dirt roads for cars that can't handle them! Especially at night where there is no cell phone reception, not a good place to get your car stuck! :D

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Never Leave Home without a Good Paper Map

    I use GPS for map-making projects, but I'd never navigate solely by one. Paper maps are much more interesting and they provide little known detail about little roads that you might want to follow. GPS machines have been responsible for way too many deaths and inconveniences because roadtrippers have used them without using their brains.

    Thanks for the cautionary tales!

    Glad you had a great adventure.

    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 08-12-2010 at 08:04 AM. Reason: Typo in title

  3. #3

    Default Wholeheartedly agree......

    Hello the_escape,
    Glad to know you had an excellent adventure, and a safe one.

    While I'm far from being a Luddite, I do retain a healthy dose of skepticism concerning "GPS only" navigation, be it on land or on the water. In fact, I simply will not rely solely on GPS. I am fond of saying "there is no COMPLETE substitute for maps and the refined ability to read them".

    Some 8 months ago, the daughter of one of my skiing friends, herself an exceptionally bright, determined, and self-sufficient young woman of 27 years of age, ventured from our Park City, UT base of ski operations to visit her brother, who was working the ski season at Jackson Hole, WY. She drove up in daylight by the route she'd driven some time before. Her return, two nights later, was after a day's skiing in the midst of a heavy snowstorm (which ultimately dropped over a foot at Jackson Hole). She was anxious to get back to Park City and foolishly punched in "shortest route" into her rental car's GPS. She then foolishly followed the GPS directions onto a little-used National Forest road which was gravel beneath the deepening snow cover. Fortunately, she stopped before getting stuck, turned around, and retraced her path until she got a cellphone signal again. She called her Dad, and with his help figured out where she was (not that the GPS didn't indicate, but it was difficult to determine the best way out), and returned to the main highways. The overnight temperatures fell to below zero F that night--probably certain death had she gotten stuck and run out of fuel.

    And unfortunately, as noted by Mark, this kind of thing happens regularly. It's so easy to avoid, too, with the most elementary application of common sense and map-reading skills.


  4. Default

    I totally agree with both of you!!! I was highly skeptical of using GPS at all actually, I kind of grew up on the road with my mom and I was always navigator so I am an oldschool mapaholic when it comes to driving but I thought what the hell.... plus I'm 23 so the urge to use all new technology is in my blood hehe. Anyway, on the last leg of my trip I arrived in San Francisco and changed cars and company, only having the backpack on my back, I made the switch so fast that I realized none of us had paper maps at all, not a single one! This was my first experience in having absolutely no map and I didn't get one until I hit Colorado. I will say I would much rather go without a GPS than without any paper map because there were so many times when I wish I'd had the map!

    Yes yes yes everyone always make sure you have the paper map! Especially a word of warning to people my age because everything is going the way of GPS these days. I have met many people who just say paper map is entirely useless. My friends just recently left on a trip in the summer, I rushed to AAA to get them road maps as a small help, they just looked at me like, "are you crazy? We have GPS you weirdo!" lol. They left the maps at home!! :(

    btw Mark you point out something that is true about paper maps they have the detailed info GPS doesn't. Especially the little dots of scenic routes, I've never seen a scenic route option on GPS although I've only used just a small garmin so maybe more expensive ones have it. And Foy, glad to know your friend turned out well from her GPS experience!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I have the best of both worlds - a laptop with Microsoft Streets & Trips and a GPS module.

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