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  1. Default Advice needed for navigating cross country with paper maps only - Reality Race show

    My wife and I may be contestants on a reality road race that has us navigate cross-country. Each day we will need to drive to a destination that could be a small town, or a large city. The goal is to arrive at our destination each day in the fastest allotted time. Smart phones will not be allowed (we will be given a flip phone), so we will have to rely solely on paper maps.

    What would be your advice on the types of paper maps that we should get that would help us 1. Navigate via interstate, as well as in the various cities. 2. Quickly identify the fastest/shortest route between locations 3. Quickly find gas/food along the way so we can get back on the road.

    The obvious choice is the ubiquitous Rand McNally Road Atlas, but I wonder if there are other better options or suggestions out there.

    If you have any other tips or suggestions that could help us on this cross-country road-race, it would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Interesting show concept. I'll say an atlas like Rand McNally is about as good as you'd get. Certainly, you can find maps with greater detail - you might even consider getting state by state individual fold out maps - but if the goal is to get from point a to point b as quick as possible, you're going to generally want Interstates and other major roads, so the extra roads you'll find on a map with greater detail would likely not work well with your goals anyway.

    Finding gas and food along major roads in the US is virtually a non-issue. There are very few sections of road where you'd go more than 50 miles without fuel options, and those areas should be pretty obvious to see on your maps.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Practice, Practice, Practice

    The particular map you get is really not the issue. What will be important to your doing well in your games is that you know how to use whichever one(s) you choose to take along. Reading between the lines of your question, I get the feeling that you are not used to traveling on the basis of paper maps, but rather on the advice of a silicon-based 'intelligence' that has done all the work for you: picking the route, finding roadside services, and talking you through each step of the process. All of that will now fall on you and there simply is no substitute for practice. Pick your maps and take a few 2-3 hour trips in your own neck of the woods. Practice picking a route. Practice following that route on a map. Practice finding services when none are marked on the maps. (Hint: towns, major crossroads, and freeway exit ramps) Time various routes to the same location so that you learn the relative merit of a short slow route vs. a longer route on higher speed highways. The point of "Amazing Race" type games is how well you do when deprived of your gizmos and left to your own wits. Go sharpen those wits, and good luck!

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    Will you be told what town you are going to at the beginning of the day so it's like a treasure hunt?

    What other rules & constraints are there?
    Adhere to the speed limit? (onboard recording?)
    Stop and borrow someone else's phone and talk to your mystery helper?
    Radar detectors?
    CB radio?
    radar jamming?
    Traffic report broadcasts (AM/FM radio)

    Simplest answer I know to getting your food fast is to choose a fast food place but not at peak time and never Taco Bell (they aren't fast). You could just eat cold sandwiches or stale hot dogs from the gas station if time is really critical.

    If the game routes you into rural areas far from interstates it'll get more challenging to find fuel and food. But convenience stores are common and have both.

    I suspect the real point of the show is to get you and your wife to fight on camera. You might want to rehearse that part too.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Interesting show concept. I'll say an atlas like Rand McNally is about as good as you'd get. Certainly, you can find maps with greater detail - you might even consider getting state by state individual fold out maps - but if the goal is to get from point a to point b as quick as possible, you're going to generally want Interstates and other major roads, so the extra roads you'll find on a map with greater detail would likely not work well with your goals anyway.

    Finding gas and food along major roads in the US is virtually a non-issue. There are very few sections of road where you'd go more than 50 miles without fuel options, and those areas should be pretty obvious to see on your maps.
    Thanks so much for the advice.

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    The particular map you get is really not the issue. What will be important to your doing well in your games is that you know how to use whichever one(s) you choose to take along. Reading between the lines of your question, I get the feeling that you are not used to traveling on the basis of paper maps, but rather on the advice of a silicon-based 'intelligence' that has done all the work for you: picking the route, finding roadside services, and talking you through each step of the process. All of that will now fall on you and there simply is no substitute for practice. Pick your maps and take a few 2-3 hour trips in your own neck of the woods. Practice picking a route. Practice following that route on a map. Practice finding services when none are marked on the maps. (Hint: towns, major crossroads, and freeway exit ramps) Time various routes to the same location so that you learn the relative merit of a short slow route vs. a longer route on higher speed highways. The point of "Amazing Race" type games is how well you do when deprived of your gizmos and left to your own wits. Go sharpen those wits, and good luck!

    AZBuck
    Great idea. I like the idea of doing some practice trips. Thanks for the help.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by noFanofCB View Post
    Will you be told what town you are going to at the beginning of the day so it's like a treasure hunt?

    What other rules & constraints are there?
    Adhere to the speed limit? (onboard recording?)
    Stop and borrow someone else's phone and talk to your mystery helper?
    Radar detectors?
    CB radio?
    radar jamming?
    Traffic report broadcasts (AM/FM radio)

    Simplest answer I know to getting your food fast is to choose a fast food place but not at peak time and never Taco Bell (they aren't fast). You could just eat cold sandwiches or stale hot dogs from the gas station if time is really critical.

    If the game routes you into rural areas far from interstates it'll get more challenging to find fuel and food. But convenience stores are common and have both.

    I suspect the real point of the show is to get you and your wife to fight on camera. You might want to rehearse that part too.
    Yes, each morning we will find out where our destination will be that day. It can be anywhere from 3 to 10 hours away.

    As far as I know, we do have to obey all traffic laws, and cannot use any technology even from someone else, but we can ask for help, and those people may use the technology if they want. I know previous contestants have called 511 on their flip phones to get construction updates.

    I appreciate your advice. Especially, the one about them trying to capture drama between me and my wife.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    If, as I suspect, the towns will be picked because they are obscure you will need to practice using the road atlas index feature. (it's in the back and gives coordinates to find the towns on each state map page)

    Maybe if you can have a country atlas (like National Geographic Atlas of the United States) which shows geography and demographics and stuff you'll do better. That kind of atlas will have a superbly detailed index of places. Rand McNally might leave out the very smallest places which would leave you wondering who to ask where New BugTussle is when the RMcN only shows Old BugTussle.

    Reality shows seem to select contestants based upon their probability of yielding drama. Then the setups are calculated to induce stress in order to yield drama.

    Without drama it would just be a show about driving to someplace. What fun is that?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    Some more thoughts. The hook is predicated on the idea that taking away your phone is a huge hindrance to dealing. We older folks would be at a major advantage in that because we learned how to read the maps because that was the high tech at the time.

    Get the paper map (road atlas) and learn the symbology for interstate. For US highways. For 4 lane US highways. For improved roads. For small roads. For dirt roads.


    There is a method to the markings used. If you can read those markings quickly and proficiently, you'll have no need for google maps or a GPS. (at least for navigation)

    Get an in-car compass for maintaining a sense of direction. Or even just a handheld kept in reserve - just know that you MUST get out and away from the car and other iron objects for it to read correctly.

    I'd also have a pilot's VFR Sectional map to help give me some sense of terrain involved which could help inform choosing a longer route thru the valleys but on faster roads rather than taking a windy switchbacky little road that's short but slow.

    I think old age and treachery would probably prevail in this show. :-)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    I'm in agreement with most of the above, especially the part where older contestants would have no issues trying to find your way across country.

    When traveling on interstate highways, you might want a book called THE NEXT EXIT. Buy it in advance and learn how to use it. It will tell you what's at every exit on the interstate, from gasoline/diesel, restaurants/fast food places, convenience stores, auto parts stores, motels/hotels, and even grocery stores. For east-west freeways, they'll tell you what's on the north side and what's on the south side of the exits. For north-south freeways, it will tell you what's on the east side and what's on the west side. You read it either going up or going down, depending on what direction you're headed. It will also tell you where the rest areas are located (but alas, not whether they are open or closed), where a given route interchange is, and it will warn you where services are few and far between.

    Unfortunately, this book is only for the interstates. If you are looking for services along a US, state or county road, you'll want to look at the larger towns along the way.

    I think the only thing I'd really miss, without a smart phone, is my Gas Buddy and TripAdvisor apps. But I traveled for many years without them -- you learn to read signs!


    Donna

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