Monday, January 25, 2010

When I departed Quartzsite westward for Blythe, I had intended to likely head north on 95 towards Needles. But, like most of the roads around here after the storms, it was marked as closed to through traffic!

I tried several side roads off the Interstate, but everyone was blocked - as below.

Eventually, I exited at Desert Center, and found a side road that only said it was flooded, not closed that provided a quiet place for the night. Back in California and on Pacific time again, my phone had automatically changed to the correct time. A bit disconcerting at times!
North on 177, I pulled over to look at a historical plaque describing a number of military training camps established in the area during the second world war.
This back road to Palen Pass was obviously washed out, and didn't really need at sign.

The road was a quiet drive north first thing in the morning, but there was a military jet or two performing some advanced maneuvers for a free air show!
In the distance, now westbound on 62, the San Bernardino mountains sported a fresh white coating of snow.
And some normally dry lake beds were now full of water! Both sides of the road.
Yep, that's snow all right.

Tomtom (the navigator), is not nearly as good looking as the one I had on my Alaska/Yukon trip this summer. But in spite of this shortcoming, it has proved to be a handy reference to have along on the trip. On occasion, not having had the chance to update the maps, it does not pick out the same route I would, but overall it is certainly an asset.

Many times you may pull off the main route into a town or city for food or fuel, and drive around a bit finding what you need. While you are certainly not lost, the fastest route back to the highway may not be evident or well signed. Simply punch in the name of the next town down the road, and Tomtom will find the way in no time at all. Similarly, driving through a major city on Interstates, you may know roughly where your turnoff is, but without a human navigator watching the map and knowing exactly where you are, it is easy to miss some turns. The navigator always knows your exact location, and whether the exit is on the left or right side, and what type of intersection it is.

In the photo below (you can click on any photo in the blog for a larger view), we are just at an interchange in Victorville, getting onto I-15 southbound. It shows my the whole layout of the interchange, and marks my route in green, as well as lots of voice prompts and reminders.
The upper right corner even simulates the highway sign that I should be looking for.
The bottom left corner shows that it is a right-angle left turn, 190 meters ahead.
This thing even knows the speed limits on most of the roads, shows your speed, and will remind you if you are too much in excess of that speed! Many times I watch as we pass a change of speed sign on the side of the road-most of the time, Tomtom is right on with the correct speed.
Here it shows the speed limit of 65 (40 miles/hr), and it shows my speed as 0, because I am sitting at a red light.

Like anything else, whether GPS based or human, you have to use some common sense, and only use these devices to assist in the decision-making, not to replace it.
Tomtom shows many tiny sand trails in the desert and even knows their names, and some roads that have yet to be built, but sometimes it also misses the obvious. I wanted to go from Yucca Valley to Victorville, and clearly the most direct route is via Lucerne Valley. But for some reason, it wanted to go all the way down to Interstate 10 and 15 to get there? I overruled it and eventually, when we were a long way up the correct route, it re-calculated and selected the route I was already on.

Slowly headed back for the coast and eventually, the cold north ...

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