Tuesday, September 1, 2015

RV Road Less Traveled

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Are we the only ones who always seem to choose the wrong routes? We like to stay off the major highways and see rural America, but we are always in some kind of trouble.

Last month we had to unhook our toad and make a U-turn at a low overpass. Today we spent over two hours along 30 miles of North Dakota road construction that was worse than anything we experienced on the Alcan Highway 30 years ago before it was paved.

We are not sure if the North Dakota Department of Transportation is in charge out here or the “fracking” companies. We had dropped off Hwy. 2 in Stanley, ND, heading for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Unit, and there was no indication that our route was a virtual nightmare. There were no detour signs, no flag people, inaccurate mileage signs and narrow passage points.

This seems to be a pattern for us. Are we poor navigators, or does everyone deal with situations like this?
--Newbies trying to learn in North Dakota

Dear Newbies:
I applaud your sense of adventure -- keep it up. The alternative is staying on boring, exit-laden, super highways and reading billboards.

There are a few things you can do to alleviate some of your headaches. Many GPS systems have major construction updates and low clearance warnings. You can make a habit of asking locals when you make pit stops to see if you can garner any information about possible surprises ahead of you. Some companies like AAA are well known for travel map information that is very up-to-date.

With all that said, I still go back to using today's technology as your best source of information. Services may be out-of-date, locals may be ill-informed, signs, as you well know, can be deceiving.
As far as who is in charge in the new hot fracking areas, that could fuel a great debate. So much activity and new infrastructure makes some of my old stomping grounds look unrecognizable.

I just asked Dr. Google for North Dakota road conditions. I was directed to the Dept. of Trans. North Dakota site. There I found a state map. On it I found your route lit up like a Christmas Tree. When I clicked on the construction site it warned of “poor road conditions.” If you would have stayed on Hwy. 2 you wouldn’t have a tale to tell. Now you have this great campfire story and it only cost you a bit of slow going and maybe an RV wash.

Chances are you will hit as much construction or more on major travel arteries than you will on the back roads of America. Keep doing what you enjoy and deal with the challenges.

--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V.Shrink


Anonymous said...

I use Google maps - it will show road construction and accidents a long the route. Also the "Waze" app is good for identifying problem areas.

MrTommy said...

Great comment (about going the adventurist route). We try to stay off the freeways and major highways as much as possible, choosing instead to ramble through small towns and villages. People are friendlier, food is often better if you choose to 'eat out', and there's just no rush. Once we finally were able to retire, we also retired the term "rush".

MarvThom said...

Mac guides us for the most part. Mac being our Rand McNally 7735 GPS. Warns us of low bridges and routes us around, narrow bridges, curves and steep hills ahead. Also in populated areas when we are going shopping, it will route us so we can make turns (short route may have a median preventing turns.) Magellian (sp) also is supposed to have a RV GPS. And also Dr Google of course. Camping World sells a self branded Mac (branded Good Sam). Mac has a seven inch screen that means we can see it with a glance, and is very accurate. As well, the Alcan above Whitehorse is barely paved, even just months after being repaved. They apparently "chip seal" rather then pave.

ruboj said...

Think about investing an an RV or truck GPS & keep it updated. I use the Rand McNally RVND & update it just before we leave on a trip. It shows low clearance situations & construction areas. Google maps are great for current construction & accidents & street view works great when looking up addresses. As in Boy Scouts, be prepared & have fun!

Busyretirees said...

We also like to use backroads. I find them more relaxing and stress free as compared to the Interstates. Last year we purchased the new Garmin 760 RV LMT with the 7" screen. Love it. It has warned us of low bridges along our route, showed us gas stations, rest areas, campgrounds, etc. We also use the maps on our cell phone. Agree with Mr. Tommy, what's the rush. Take it easy. Remember, we are retired, not retarded.

Anonymous said...

I bought a truckers atlas --- saved me a lot of trouble. It lists low clearance bridges. Routes that are safe for tall rigs are indicated. Also has weigh stations, rest areas and other items of interest to others than truckers.

Sunny One said...

We use Google Maps and Waze and have been able to avoid some major delays. Unfortunately the info is not consistently available so we are prepared. Pre GPS we navigated across the Yellow Dog Plain and Huron Mountains from Skanee to Big Bay, Michigan, using a county Gazetteer Map book. The roads were there, for sure. We stopped at the store in Skanee to ask about the road and were told it was a good road all the way through with "only one bad place." We were assured we would make it fine. Off we went in our Renault Alliance. It was so beautiful, no other xcars, waterfalls, views across the plain to the mountain range, the road was fine, until we got to the.one.bad.place. This was about 300 yards of sandy washout with a ridge down the middle and one side. No way around, as there were trees and rocks alongside. Hmmm. After sitting for awhile assessing the situation and walking up one side and down the other, hubby put the car in low and hit the road, sticking to the ridges on the right and center. We wobbled on and made it through! Now, though, we felt trapped. We couldn't go back, had to go on, but what was ahead? We came to a LARGE puddle crossing the road entirely and after careful assessment, found it was shallow and solid on the bottom. Soon after, we met a couple in a Toyota pickup coming our way. They assured us the road was fine behind them, and paved only a couple miles further on. They asked what it was like where they were headed. We explained the.one.bad.spot, and said we thought they could make it since we had. It was only a couple miles further for them to see it and figure out what they wanted to do. There is now a huge nickel mine and big commercial trucks travel that road daily. I am sad that the wilderness is lost there.

LMS said...

This site will direct you to all the State Road Condition websites in the US. I have it bookmarked on my laptop under CAMPING & TRAVEL.

Anonymous said...

Check out the app called WAZE. We just used it in AZ and it was great to tell us where there were traffic jams, objects in the road, and accidents.