Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Curses! Foiled again!


The scene: A teeny-tiny office in North Texas. A map of the United States covers one wall, and LawDog is currently measuring a route betwixt Bugscuffle, Texas and PaddlefasterIhearbanjos, NotTexas.

LawDog: "muttermuttermutter."

Enter, stage left, Baby Officer, snarfing a Cretaceous honey bun, recently excavated from the depths of the office snack vending machine.

Baby Officer: "Whatchadoin'?"

LawDog: "We're picking up one of our critters in some godforsaken hole in a corner of NotTexas that I've never been, so I want to have a good feel for the route. You do realize that honey buns aren't supposed to -- you know -- crunch?"

Baby Officer (crunching happily): "I'm young, I gotta cast-iron stomach. You do know that the Sheriff bought a GPS for these trips, right?'

LawDog: "Yes, I did hear that. Weren't you using said GPS unit when you went to Tyler by way of Waco last year?"

Baby Officer (shrugging): "Nah, that was one of your fellow dinosaurs. He didn't enter the destination information properly -- Garbage In, Garbage Out."

LawDog: "I like my maps. Look, they're even laminated."

Baby Officer (rolling eyes): "Okay, Lewis Clark, have it your way. I'll go grab the paperwork and the vehicle."

LawDog (yelping at Baby Officers retreating back): "AND Clark! Lewis AND Clark! Two different people!"

Scene closes with LawDog firmly removing the Garmin GPS unit from it's Cordura case, lofting it into the open filing cabinet, and authoritatively slamming the file shut while muttering sulphurously.


The scene: The interior of a standard police cruiser, some distance away from the Bugscuffle County Sheriff's Office. LawDog is in the shotgun seat, staring in disbelief as Baby Officer manages (more or less) to drive, text on a cell phone, and pound down a 64-oz Cappuccino Mongo Shake from Giblets Coffee House and Cafe -- all at the same time.

Baby Officer (attempting to lick the last bits of sugary caffeine goodness from the bottom of the half-gallon barrel): "Ey! Eb geb Gee Pee Ess oug!"

LawDog: "That's not a feed-bag and the last drop will do fine without you. I swear to Shiva -- when your heart jumps out of your chest and starts vibrating down the road, I am not picking it up. Now what did you say, in English this time?"

Baby Officer (slightly manic grin): "Whoo, that's good stuff. Pass me the Garmin, wouldja? Hey! It's not in here!"

LawDog (piously): "Goodness. I do believe this here is a Teaching Opportunity in the Arcane Art of LandNav. Now, this here is what we call 'a map'..."

Baby Officer: "Hold on, I got the GPS app for my iPhone. Give me a sec ... yep ... here it is ... how do you spell, 'PaddlefasterIhearbanjos' ... dude, stop banging your head on the dashboard!"




LL said...


Ask Ambulance Driver how I feel about the GPS. I use mine a lot when I'm far, far from home and I suspect I will become lost, but ummm, I always have a back up copy of a mapped route, highlighted and within easy reach.

911 and the Randomness.. said...

Gotta love technology and my generation! Love the post!

BadFrog said...

Thanks for helping me start my day with a spray of coffee over the screen!

My children have all learned the main advantage of a map over a Garmin - no batteries to run out of power, always at the worst possible time.

Wondercat said...

oh dear lord. i am sooo glad i wasn't drinking any sort of caffeinated beverage when i read that. now, however, my ribs are aching from laughter.
'Dog, your talent for witty and oh so very vivid prose is unsurpassed, except for maybe a few of the denizens of the Monastery.

Tim Covington said...

This makes me want to knock out young officer and then drop him off in the middle of nowhere with just a map, compass and a gps with dead batteries.

Farmmom said...

Oh what a lovely way to start my day! Thank you for the giggle.
This kid sounds a lot like Officer Bright and Shiney here. Any more than a passing resemblance?

Anonymous said...

I hope you're not on board when BabyOfficer drives into a lake because the GPS says its the direct route. Or up a one-way road, or gets taken through the neighborhoods even Old Scratch avoids, or . . .


Anonymous said...

I think knowing both is to one's advantage. GPS because it offers some pretty useful features while it works, and the manual way for when (not if) the GPS packs it in.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, and maps are useless in the dark when you are alone in the car, can't safely stop, and OBTW aren't sure where you are anyway because the street signage is useless to non-locals.

I especially like the map feature that just tells me what the next street is called in the dark, because goodness knows no one bothers to stick street names anywhere they are findable or legible, or housenumbers for that matter.

I love maps, but for solo auto navigation GPS is the best.

Can't tell you how many tmes I stepped off a plane in a strnage to me city, ( cough Atlanta) and had to find some place on one of the 15,000 "Peachtree roads" on the other side of town inthe dark, sometimes in the rain.

And having "ethel" , just say, "recalculating" when I screw up a particulary stupid/obscure exit/intersection is kinda nice too. Because at that point the nice mapping directions are useless.

Lergnom said...

The first time I used our brand new Christmas present GPS, it dropped me off at the (closed) back gate of Fort Dix, insisting that 'you have reached your destination', when it was supposed to have taken us to Asbury Park.
Things have gotten better since then, but I now have the distinction of being able to get lost with a satnav device.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Technology can be your friend. After entering the address, you don't need to refer to the directions someone has given you to get to their place.

Farmgirl said...

GPS is useful within a city where it's easy to get lost.

For getting *to* the city I prefer to rely on a map. Then TomTom's voice of the day doesn't scare the crap out of me when I've been driving for eighty miles on the same highway, merrily humming to myself and singing to the radio, and he thinks I need to make a left turn ahead.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the Dog is kin to Meriwether Lewis......

hilinda said...

I find knowing where you are going to be most helpful. As in read the maps before you need to know. Learn your territory, and those near you. A good mental map is superior to any printed map.

GPS can possibly confirm a map route, or one you can almost but not quite remember, but I don't trust 'em on their own.

Couple years back we had a middle of the night call to go rescue some poor woman who was way off in the woods, stuck in the snow on a seasonal road that her GPS told her to go on. It wasn't anywhere near the most direct route. No idea why it told her to go that way. She could have stayed on the state highway and gone directly where she wanted to go.

Instead, because she blindly followed her GPS directions, she had a couple hour hike out and her car was stuck there until Spring. No way to get a tow truck in there.

Maps are good. Good maps are even better.

Online mapping is often as capricious as a GPS. I don't rely on their "directions" either. Learned that one the hard way. I can read the map myself, thankyouverymuch.

And as far as having someone's directions to their place- that's often the best way, since they can include landmarks and current road conditions that nothing else can provide. Typing an address into a machine can't do that.

aczarnowski said...

Got my first taste of the sweet sweet GPS addition waiting to happen this last weekend using google maps on the new Droid. Yep. I could get dependent on that.

I'll do my best not to, though, Dog.

Rorschach said...

I'm a big fan of all of the above. I ALWAYS print out maps for at least two possible routes for my trips. But I have my GPS along as well, because chit happens and the road I planned on taking will be under construction or there is a massive wreck or one of the passengers will be suddenly taken with explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting from that roadside diner we ate at 20 miles back and we have to veer off the projected path to find the facilities... and a hose.... or you need to find an ATM to pay have the interior of your car steam cleaned before you can continue on your trip.... it's also useful when you get to your destination and don't know the lay of the land or where certain buisnesses are etc. I happen to LOVE my GPS, even if it does occasionally get rather bumfuzzled. My WIFE on the other hand hates it... but then again she can't read a map either. she has to have turn by turn written directions and if she gets off the intended path she's hosed. I've tried to teach her but she just has no ability to understand the geometry involved. Had an instance just the other day where i was dispatched on a moment's notice to go pick up some tubing fittings for work. I had never been to the business but i had the address. I plugged in the address and the GPS calculated the route. I followed the route and got to the street it said the business should be on but found it was actually int he middle of a slum and no legitimate functioning business had been in that neighborhood in years. Come to find out that there are two streets with the same name in Houston, one was a street and one was a road, and they are 40 miles apart. You can't really blame that on the GPS, it sent me where I asked it to send me, I just asked it to send me to the wrong thoroughfare. but in a city as big as Houston, which was built without the benefit of planning or zoning, you have to expect there to be mix-ups like that from time to time.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

After years of selling and troubleshooting aviation GPS units, I finally used a car GPS for the first time this week. It annoyed the heck out of me, because I had no idea of where I was in relation to the rest of the city, no good feel for the route, and the darned thing only wanted to give detail as far as the next turn (and awfully short notice on those, too).

It did make navigating from tourist landmark to tourist landmark awfully easy - though figuring out which lane to be in took a lot of head-out-of-cockpit time.

I think that I shall use it to get out of the friend's neighborhood, while keeping my eyes peeled for visual landmarks so I do not have to depend on the annoying thing and can actually learn my way back.

Believe me, when I fly, no matter how nice my GPS, I keep a thumb on the map - and inside a mountain pass, the map works far better.

JeanC said...


Ian Argent said...

I use both. Having a GPS handy is great for spur of the moment things where I can't prep a map ahead of time, or as noted when things go pear-shaped.

OTOH, uisng a GPS for long-distance nav without looking at a map and prepping the route mentall first is BAD. Guy got killed in oregon a couple years back by ending up on a seasonal-use-only road and breaking down. Took a week for searchers to find his car and family; he had left to find help...

Last advise I have on GPS - use it as often as possible so you are familiar with your particular unit's foibles; and know when to intelligently override.

Tennessee Budd said...

I'm fond of maps, myself. On the last trip to Florida to see the girlfriend, I bought a Delorme state atlas, just because I'm thinking of moving there, & if so, it'd be handy. I also have them for KY, TX, and (of course) TN.

threadbndr said...

I'm asking for a GPS for Yule from the Marine!Goth and his bride or Mom-and-sis. Moving to a new town will break down the hardiest of souls.....

Tulsa here I come. (But I will be buying a city map for JIC, of course.)

I am one of those unfortunate souls who has very little in the way of an inborn directional sense. So I learned how to navigate by map early and well. My dad used to designate me the "co-pilot" and have me map out the route and then call off the landmarks on all the family trips. Of course, that also kept the elder munchkin (me) out of my mom's hair so she could tend to the younger munchkin.

I have the "distinction" of getting lost between the front gate and Onslow Beach recreation area at Camp Lejeune TWICE during the same leave. After I drove through the back gate of the post for the third time twenty minutes, the nice MP flagged me down and very seriously asked, "M'am, are you lost?" LOL

File Cabinets said...

I feel like the slamming of the files in the filing cabinet is so cliche. But it is a classic move.

Brigid said...

paddlepaddlepaddle, I hear banjos. Yes, that was MY day.

Thanks for the smile. And thanks for the big steak and the Texas hospitality the other night. It was great to finally meet you, and always seeing P. is a treat.


Anonymous said...

What's a GPS?


Anonymous said...

Trust me, young pilots are worse. Not that I'm all that old myself, but it seems like nobody wants to even make a trip down the beach without all the bells, whistles, and portable weather onboard. Pansies.

Derius Thoran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Derius Thoran said...

Had the misfortune of having to lead my uncle's trail group last month. (10+ touristy types on horseback, YEAH!)

While the story and the multiple *facepalms* involved in leading said bunch on a 5 mile excursion, most of whom thought horses were like bicycles was both hilarious and maddening, the fact that one of them silly buggers was actually trying to use a cell phone GPS had to be the best. (snort)

Old NFO said...

Damn, you're having the SAME kind of week I am... GPS is truly GIGO, and it's gonna be interesting when the constellation starts dying and those 'fixes' start drifting... :-)

Ian Argent said...

Teh sats have been fairly constantly refreshed over the years; and there's currently a fair number of spares in orbit. If the USAF goes Tango Uniform sometime in the next 5-10 years I'll worry about it

Jake said...

I like driving old and off-the-beaten-path roads, so between my 2009 map, my 1947 map, and my GPS, I am quite well covered.

I hardly ever set the GPS to do turn-by-turn navigation to a destination; its main use to me is having a detail map of wherever I happen to be, with through routes shaded in bold that I never would've guessed: "Oh, so *Sixth* Street is highlighted - that must've been the state highway in the 30s... surely interesting things lie on Sixth Street then"

Anonymous said...

I have seen those contraptions but I have yet to need them. Maybe I am lucky, but maps have never failed me. They never run out of batteries or the screen gets messed up (may have dropped some cola on one or two, but they usually hold good after a quick wipe)and they tend to be big enough not to get misplaced.
I will confess also that I am not a total Luddite. I will plan any long trip with Google Maps and print out the results to take with me. However a real honest map is a necessity, the only time I did not take my trusted Rand McNally Road Atlas I was stuck in a 3 hour shut-your-car-down-and-play-cards traffic jam because I could not look up an alternative route. And no, there is no way I will let a box tell me to take some detour unless I can have some eyeballs on the printed route. Like Charlie Daniels once said :
I think I'm gonna reroute my trip
I wonder if anybody'd think I'd flipped
If I went to L.A., via Omaha.

robnrun said...

I must be in the wrong generation. I much prefer to build a mental map before each leg of the trip, preferably off of an actual map (which could be google or mapquest). That way I have the big picture and the details, and can adjust accordingly. If I miss a turn I know that the next road will or will not work and why. Turn by turn directions that use left and right instead of cardinal points from a 'map' that lacks topography, geographical features and major reference points is not my idea of fun.

Anonymous said...

Had some colleagues come to visit last summer, young guys from overseas wanted to get to NYC from Central NJ. Didn't ask a local, just got in the car and started following the GPS. Which, swear to God, was sending them via Pennsylvania.

Lise in NJ

Anonymous said...

Almost all the problems with GPS are operator error exacerbated by operator obstinance liberally seasoned with operator stupidity.

Follow the directions in the lil' brochure in the bottom of the box, keeping in mind your new bestest buddy is a machine and will follow your blockheadedly mistaken instructions explicitly. Use your head for something other than a hat rack, carry and know how to use a half decent map, and you'll be fine.

One of the most common mistakes is assuming the machine knows the difference between Street, Avenue, Lane, Court, Circle, Drive, Parkway, Road, Route, Trace, Trail, Track, Place, Drive, Court-Street, Way, and any of the other thirty two hundred cute names for roadways. Also it needs to know if whichever of the above is East, West, North, South, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest or has no designator. Or if the address is listed as being on S. 113th. Pl. E. or SE 113th Pl. or 113th Pl. SE. of E. 113th. Pl. S.

Find those on a map of a city you've never been in before.

Gerry N.

Turing Word: iditerap - Where inner city black "musicians" with filthy mouths go to freeze to death.

Anonymous said...

Biggest benefit a GPS gives me is a detailed map and my approximate location on said map.

My GPS is one of those handheld units, intended for hiking, not driving directions. It's a heck of a lot easier to use than a paper map (although I have those, too), and you don't have to fold it up, either.

It's an electronic map. It doesn't give directions, say anything, or ever prompt me to turn.

I like it.

(And yes, I'm one of the "GPS Generation"... who still knows how and prefers to read a map, albeit an electronic one.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh.
I needed one.

Larry said...

Ah, technology...

"Follow the directions in the lil' brochure in the bottom of the box, keeping in mind your new bestest buddy is a machine..."

But does it know where to score the best grub in West Stepacross Mudpuddle? I'll bet not.

Funny thing about machines. They break. In full accordance with Murphy's Law (at the worst possible time). Which is good for guys like me (repairmen), not so good for guys who can't open a garage door when the power is out.

Larry said...

BTW, I wish I was kidding about people who can't open a garage door when the power is out. I'm not. The down side to technology, what happens when it's not available?

BryanP said...

GPS is a useful tool, and has saved my butt on one trip. But I still keep real maps in my car and know how to use them. Maps good.

John Peddie (Toronto) said...

Additional laughs (or headbanging) can be enjoyed here: "borrow" the neophyte's watch and offer to loan him an analogue watch (you know...the real kind, with hands and stuff) til he finds his.

Then watch a twentysomething, in uniform, trying to learn how to tell time.

Mark said...

Thank the Lord for a truckers atlas. I make it a point to always check out my route on the web, then on the atlas. If the 2 disagree I go with the atlas. Never had a problem in over 20 years of driving.

Justthisguy said...

This reminds me of another problem. You think driving while 'phoning is bad?

What's worse is a Deppity weaving drunkenly down the road because he's looking at the computer screen instead. Happens a lot around here. I have half a mind to write the Sheriff and suggest putting two deppities in each car, one to drive, the other to play Freecell, or whatever it is they do with those things. It would save gas, too. And insure immediate backup.

Rick R. said...

I use GPS when I'm going someplace new, or on long trips.

But I ALWAYS have plotted my route on a actual map frist, and I always try to take teh time to ensure I have that paper map in the car with me.

The GPS is useful, however, in prompting me of my upcoming turns (in enough time that I can cross several lanes if necessary without looking like I'm playing Pole Position. It is ALSO useful if I need to make a quick unplanned detour, or find teh nearest gas staion, hotel, department store, or Chinese place -- because stuff like that is IN my GPS memory and is generally accurate.

I have also found myself stuck in a rural hilly area, with no visible landmarks, and the road signs I can see are NOT labelled in accordance with the map I have.

Likewise, maps (especially that bound copy of the entire state on topo sheets you've had in the backseat for the last five years) also can have erros, and DO go out of date. I can get free map updates (including updating the list of public locations, like gas, food, hospitals, etc, in my locations database) to my GPS via the Intarwebz by synching it up with my computer for five or ten minutes whenever I think about it.

If you do not know what road you are even ON, and you cannot figure out where the road you need is when you get to it, because the map uses the state route number and the sign has the local name (or vice versa), the GPS is a win, while teh map won;t help you until and unless you can FIRST locate yourself via terrain association. (Good luck terrain associating in a lot of locations -- either the world around you is flat and featureless with square road nets like the Upper Midwest, or the terrain is so rolling yet still low and the roads so windy, like much of the Southeast.)

On the other hand, I have zero qualms about ignoring the GPS if I think I have a better route. I actally enjoy telling the cute Aussie voice, "Prepare for disappointment, lady!" when it's prompting me for a turn I'm not taking, and "Make me!" when she directs me to make a U-turn.

A map is a tool. A GPS is a tool. These are not the SAME tool, nor are they interchangeable. They have different (but related) roles.

I wonder if people familiar with telling direction or time by the sun habitually used to denigrate those who used a magnetinc compass or watch when they first came out. "Compass doesn't do you a lot of good when you're near iron, does it kid?" "Too bad your watch broke, son -- if only you could tell time by the sun, you'd be fine. Like me."

ALL TOOLS can break. ALL TOOLS have situations where they suck. Even waterproofed high detail maps have flaws.

Word verify -- "nonedene" (No Apaches?)

Flintlock Tom said...

Why would you need a map? Don't they have road signs down there?

("No, dear, that wasn't our turn-off. Our turn is comin' up soon.")

TOTWTYTR said...

You have them too? I thought it was only EMS that had technology dependent young folks. The kind that need to use the GPS for every address in Sorta Big City because they don't know how to use the street guide.

And my bosses thought that I was kidding when I suggested buying OnStar for the ambulances. You know, so they could get directions to the hospitals.

I gotta retire.

PA State Cop said...

Had a Patrol leader in Bosnia who couldn't read a map. Had a GPS strapped to his wrist and a PLUGGER in the truck but coulnd't find his butt with both hands and a flashlight. Needless to say I had a 12 sheet map folded over and knew where I was within a 100 yards. Goof.

Woodswalker said...

LD, I'm out one keyboard...."PaddlefasterIhearbanjos" indeed and my co-workers are convinced that I've finally LOST it for good.

While not a total Luddite, I do like maps...either paper or electronic, tho the paper has the advantage of not needing batteries. Much Like Thomas Maps...which have some intentional errors to deal with outright plagarisms, the electronic peabrain in the GPS has tried to send me across ponds, through truly roadless areas and a host of other interesting places, some of which I REALLY wanted a leapfrogging overwatch team or three.

I guess it takes brains as well to get somewhere. Somehow I don't seem to get lost much if all all.

FUNNY tho...I'm still snickering.


AlisonH said...

Was a passenger in a car where the driver insisted on following the GPS rather than the two people in the car who knew how to get to the Golden Gate Bridge and points north the fastest way up the west side. Ended up driving through the most excruciatingly slow touristy areas of San Francisco, from between the cable cars on down to Fisherman's Wharf--it was just nuts.

BeeBo_Lahonski said...

Good luck using either in downtown Chicago, all of the easily visible street signs say "Stickyfingers L. Corrupto Memorial Drive" or things to that effect. Of course, that is not the real name of the street used on things like maps and GPS readouts, so unless you are charting your course with the accuracy of a submarine navigator, you rarely know for sure what street you are on or just where you are.

Another reason to hate Chicago.

CarlS said...

Showed this to a young couple as I repaired their laptop, and they enjoyed it. But ..... they had no clue what "PaddlefasterIhearbanjos" meant. No context whatsoever! Was it so long ago, in the previous century .....

Anonymous said...

No doubt they would think PaddlefasterIheartomtoms meant their GPS? Full circle.

tanksoldier said...

Man, write a book. If we can't get you to run for Pope or President we should at least be able to get a book out of you...

pyrodancer89 said...

This post just made my night of studying for finals several times better. I'm of the GPS generation, and have found a GPS useful on certain nights when I'm traveling from the suburbs of MD into DC and the main road is conveniently blocked by some fallen trees. Route recalculated while I'm detouring and I'm able to get to my eventual destination. Spring Break road trip through North Carolina with a friend? Entirely different story. Pre-printed turn by turn directions from the internet supplemented by maps with highlighted routes. This way, when we get lost due to the highway splitting into two different highways and not being clearly marked which was which, open up the map, manually "recalculate" route, and eventually find our way back to where we wanted to be.

Oh and I echo the guy who said write a book. I'd pay big money for that.

Anonymous said...

I like maps. A HUGE downside of trying to use a GPS is you can't listen to your favorite music or else you won't hear what the danged GPS is trying to say!

And maps have never caused me to try to turn onto railroad tracks or into a lake. Of course, I guess I shouldn't blame the GPS systems in those cases but the idiots who overly rely on them.


Anonymous said...

dude- that was my posterior detaching and experiencing gravitational inclinations in a floorwards direction.

Cybrludite said...

I swear Google Maps has it in for me. There must be a sub-routine in there somewhere that says "If $_USER="Cybrludite", then GOTO $_LOCATION="The Ghetto".

Earlier this year I was in Memphis for a job interview and a sci-fi convention, and was taking a Female Person Of Interest out to dinner that Saturday. Going to the interview that Friday morning, I decided to leave a bit early so I could recon the odd looking route Google gave me from the convention hotel to the steakhaus. Good thing I did. The silly program sent me through as bad a neighborhood as it could find in the town, with a roundabout path that nearly took me to Arkansas. Once outside the steakhaus, it took me all of ten seconds to figure that, hey, if that's Union Ave, I can take get here that way and not have to reach for the .40 in the glovebox on the way to supper.

The main two things I find GPS good for is planning back-road routes ahead of time, and to manage ad-hoc detours in unfamiliar places. And even that second one can be avoided with a little traditional map work ahead of time.

Jim Fox said...

I was thinking Bugscuffle was closer to Nacogdoches.

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markm said...

GPS is nice, until you discover an error in the database. Then you'd better have a map as backup. Two examples:

1) About eight years ago, Northwest Airlines misdirected my luggage on a flight home from LA. Three days later they've finally got it to Traverse City, MI, and someone is driving it the 60 miles to my farm. In a heavy snowstorm...

And I get this phone call from the driver. He's on Old Alba Road where his GPS sent him, looking at a locked gate at the Northland Cattle Ranch. (Yep, a cattle ranch right in the middle of a Michigan forest.) So I give him verbal directions to turn around, go back to the main road, a couple miles north, and then around on the new Alba Road.

See, a couple of miles of Old Alba Road is a private road, a narrow open-range track across the cattle ranch. A long time ago, they'd keep the gates open in case the Fire Department needed the shortcut to one of a handful of places on the far end of the road, but no longer. Even when it was open, it was definitely the slow and scenic route to my place.

And it's probably a good thing the gates were closed. I wouldn't have tried to drive it in my 4x4 in the snow that was falling then, let alone an airport minivan! Depending on that guy's driving skill, he might have got far enough in that the minivan just wasn't going to come out until spring.

Eight years later, Mapquest still defaults to this road, and I still can't find a place on their web site to tell them their data is screwed up.

2) Recently I went to a customer's in northern Indiana with the head of sales. Going down, his GPS tried to divert him to the scenic route, but I convinced him to go by the turnpike instead, and the GPS soon recalculated the sane route.

Coming back, he wanted to follow his GPS and see where it led. After starting dead away from the turnpike exit I knew of, soon it was insisting "turn right NOW" when the only thing on the right was a square mile of corn. We came to the end of corn field and turned right on the road there - and the GPS continued saying to turn right. Two more right turns and we were back where we started, with the GPS wanting to send us on another 4-mile loop.

Ian Argent said...

And both those anecdotes are why I almost always run the GPS, even if I have directions; or know the route. It gives me a handle on how it "thinks" (or fails to) and when and why to override it's judgement.

Given the chance I will overview the maps; if possible with the overhead imagery turned on with Google or Bing.

(Note that there's only about 3 sources of maps that feed into the commercial producers, an error in Mapquest may also be present in paper maps. And, as always, the map is not the terrain...)

Malamute said...

Mapquest is hilarious. I think Google maps is about as good around here. Mapquest sent a mover on a route through Yellowstone park. In February. Yellowstone park is snowed shut in October, and isnt plowed open until about April or May. It also doesn't allow commercial trucks through it. They ignored the directions the client gave them. It only added about 6 or 7 hours of driving to their trip. Other things I've noticed, road names nobody thats lived in the area for 30 years recognize, and roads that don't exist at all, have been fenced over since the 70's, or were river fords back in the horse and buggy days. Google Earth isnt much better in most of those regards.

Funny, those old fashioned paper maps have humorous things on them like "Road closed for winter months" and other obsolete information. The paper maps, oddly enough, seem to have been up to date enough not to include the old closed buffalo trails and river fords, and use road names that living people recognize.


markm said...

And even if the map is inaccurate, it also shows the roads that do go through.

Mark Horning said...

When I use a GPS, I pretty much use it as I would a moving map display on an aircraft, in conjunction with a paper map.

Because sometimes you really have no clue where you are and a map by itself won't help. This is especially true for states that do not believe in mile markers or numbered exits, of if you are in the back parts of Arizona.

I mean, you might think you are driving down forest road ABC, but it's not really marked that well. Satnav can be pretty handy for determining if the wash or the coyote track is what is supposed to be the "road".

KD5NRH said...

I have yet to go far enough to use the GPS without overriding its route at least once.
I'm still trying to convince them that one road (which was planned during the Depression, but never actually built) doesn't exist. The fact that it would have included a bridge, which is clearly absent on satellite images, should be a clue. I wonder how often the guy who owns that section of land has to pull people out of the creek after they follow the GPS route through his pasture.