NMA E-Newsletter #138: Old Technology For The Modern Road Warrior

In this age of GPS guidance the road map seems like a quaint artifact of times gone by.

That is, unless, you encounter road construction, detours, or your GPS doesn’t yet have that new upgrade. That’s when that old creased, worn, twice drenched road map that live in your door pocket takes on new meaning and worth.

However, better than the typical state road map is the “Gazetteer,” a map book that is produced for many states, that shows every street, road, trail, railroad track, river, lake, park, and community in the state.

Once you start using a Gazetteer on your travels you will not leave home without it. And, if you enter a state that you have not been in before you will find a travel center, truck stop, sporting goods store or a Wal-Mart and buy a Gazetteer for that state.

All of us have encountered “detours” where we feel like we have gone to the moon and back to progress three miles in the desired direction.

We dutifully follow the signs, or the herd, and turn east for 16 miles, then south for 12 miles, back west 9 miles and finally north for 14 miles where we can just see over the hill to where we started, all to get around a culvert replacement project.

Enter the Gazetteer.

You can quickly find efficient alternative routes that take far less time and keep you headed in the desired direction.

So why don’t the official detours take you on the Gazetteer route? For starters, the official detour has to accommodate all the types of traffic the main road accommodated.

There has to be adequate height/clearance and weight bearing capabilities for large trucks. If traffic volumes are typically very heavy the detour route has to be able to handle those heavy volumes.

Then there are political considerations. Businesses want access for their customers. People living on lightly traveled rural roads may object to heavy detour traffic and want it routed elsewhere.

But, the typical sedan, pick-up, SUV, or two seater, with a Gazetteer on board, can easily navigate these superior routes, much to the chagrin of the GPS addict who is mystified by the road on his screen that no longer exists.

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