GPS – Globally Positioned Somewhere?

There are two things you need to know about driving a motorhome towing a car, it can’t stop quickly and it can’t make a U or K-turn. This always creates some interesting (read that tense) moments in the cockpit when we are in an unfamiliar area looking for a turn.

We use DeLorme Street Atlas software  with a GPS receiver on a laptop to do our navigating. A great product, a big, full screen picture of our route, the ability to zoom in to a detailed street view, and lots of flexibility when it comes to adjusting its recommendations.  This last point is a critical requirement for us. As we have found out the hard way GPS systems are far from perfect when it comes to choosing how to get from point A to point B.

A road to avoid

It has no idea what you are driving and will tell you to go on roads that don’t allow trucks or motorhomes. It has no idea how tall your rig is and will put you on roads with low clearance bridges. It will try and save you five minutes by putting you on a potholed country lane just to cut a corner. It has no idea that hubby is afraid of heights and doesn’t want to drive on switchbacks or roads with sheer drops and no guard rails. That’s where I come in. Generally I put in where we are, where we want to go and let the GPS plot our route  Then out comes the Road Atlas, the Mountain Directories,  and myriad other references and our route is adjusted accordingly.

Of course I have no claims to infallibility either. Once when trying to get to Stone Mountain outside of Atlanta, Georgia the plotted route looked fine, until we found ourselves in a suburban neighborhood turning into a dead end street. Which brings me to my earlier point. You can’t stop on a dime and back up to avoid a wrong turn. Our only option was to make the turn, unhitch the car, turn the rig around and then re-hitch. The people on the block watching this show of ours had quite a chuckle. Hubby wasn’t amused.

We have also found the GPS can be slightly off in its distances, telling us the turn is coming up in 30 yards as we are driving past it. Or road construction has occurred and the exit we expect to be on our right is now on our left. As I said, navigating unfamiliar roads in a large vehicle can make for some tense moments in the cockpit. So please, if at one time or another you are driving behind an RV that is puttering along, and seems unsure of  where it is going, have patience. It’s probably the GPS’s fault.

About JudithC99

Wanderer. Writer. Artist. Photographer. Learner. Traveler of the Red Roads


  1. JB Brown

    I have tried and tried to use my GPS both in the camera and a hand held Grumin to plot the pictures I take. I find as along as the satellite image has detail, and I can find where I was, I can do a far better job than the GPS. Now I leave the GPS off and the hand held stays in the car. I look at the image from space and plot the pictures. Sometimes, like with the pictures of the “big catch”, I intentially miss-place the spot I was when I took the picture, Both to not give away where the big fish live, and to get more hits by placing The spot away from other pictures I have taken. The GPS does not allow for this.

  2. I only use my TomTom to locate the nearest espresso machine (I’m a latte junkie!). If I ask it to find Starbucks it will usually find me one that’s about 8 miles in our wake. GAH! I wish it had the ability to transmit to the software designers when I’m yelling at them.

  3. We’ve been led astray so many times by GPS. I shudder to think what would happen if we were using it in an RV!

  4. Alexander Barsness

    GPS is really very useful if you are in an unfamiliar place.,

    My internet page

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