Google May Be God – But Not Everywhere!

May 15, 2017 | by Jim Beazley

Travel is a stern teacher. She will rap your knuckles if you forget her hard learned lessons.

Lesson #1: Map out your travel plans.

Tenaya Lodge - YosemiteOn a road trip out of your urban environment it is not unusual for our Google Map God to stop speaking. It may seem a relief after seemingly incessant instructions and reminders of our mortal limitations with the phrase: “Re-calculating.” But on a recent business trip to the Tenaya Lodge in the Sierras we RE-learned a hard lesson about our “Google dependence.”

We live in a “wired world”. We are used to our digital phones working everywhere, especially if we live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Google Maps – with “turn by turn directions” – has replaced the paper maps which used to fill up our glove compartments. While understandable, this is not always necessarily a good thing. Your grandpa’s paper map is never out of cell coverage.

When Silence is NOT Golden

To set the scene, here we are about 5 hours into a road trip Google says should take us only 4 hours. For the record we didn’t believe this fantasy: there was traffic, detours and the usual “recalculating” which we knew added time to our travels.

No Service“Oh shit!” I said. (Actually something much worse!) About this time we pulled into the “Arch Rock” entrance to Yosemite.” This wasn’t where we were supposed to be. In fact it was WAY off. …Like, an HOUR off.

But at FIVE hours into the trip, we became suspicious that just maybe something was wrong. Google was no longer offering any advice, nothing, nada. No warning, just not working. My phone, which we were using as the “live link” was now reading: “No Service!”

“Oh shit!” I said. (Actually something much worse!) About this time we pulled into the “Arch Rock” entrance to Yosemite.” This wasn’t where we were supposed to be. In fact it was WAY off. …Like, an HOUR off.

No Maps. No Service. What Next!?

Map: Where We Were

Map: Where We Were

To say “I don’t like to be lost” is an understatement on par with “Baptists don’t like dancing.” The Baptists’ dislike is a matter of faith, ideology. Mine comes from a bad memory of being lost overnight in Yellowstone with my 3 kids aged 9, 7 & 5. I actually HATE being lost.

Technically, we weren’t LOST. We knew where we were. It just wasn’t where we were SUPPOSED to be. And we didn’t know how we got there instead of where we WANTED to be.

As I sputtered obscenities, my cooler wife calmly looked for a map. Finding none, she suggested I try my car’s on-board guidance system. I doubted this would work since we didn’t have cell service. Happily I was WRONG! It turned out that my Korean Hyundai Azera’s guidance system was linked to a SATELLITE.

Map: Where We Were Supposed to Be

Map: Where We Were Supposed to Be

We were SAVED! At least we would have been had I not been totally spooked and ignored the car’s instructions to proceed further into Yosemite Valley to “Wawona Road. Little did I know that road would lead us straight to our hotel in under an hour. But that was not to be, instead, we back-tracked toward Highway 49 where we knew (now!) we should have taken to the hotel.

We arrived nearly two hours later than we would have if I’d just used the car’s guidance system in the first place.

Second Lesson learned: When you find yourself in a hole, STOP DIGGING!

Third Lesson learned: When given a choice between Cell Phone and your car’s satellite guidance choose the CAR.

Last, most important Lesson: Listen to your spouse!

BEFORE you hit the road…

Before you hit the road, do what we DIDN’T do:

1. Print out maps of your route and study them. This is especially needed when going to areas of spotty, or “No Service.”

2. Keep several paper maps in your car of your area, your state and of the area you plan to travel to.

3. Realize that as good as Google’s digital maps are, they are LIMITED to cell service. Silence means “No Service,” which is another word for “Lost.”