Navigation thoughts.....

Monday, March 15, 2010

Attending some of the sessions at the Gypsy Journal Rally got me to thinking about how our navigation has changed over the years. "Back in the day", we used paper maps. If you could afford AAA membership, you got a TripTik for your travels. If you were really lucky you had a passenger who could tell you where to go (no pun intended...well, maybe....).

As the interstate system evolved we found that a road atlas was a great way to plan out a trip. Then came the computer programs like Microsoft's Streets & Trips or Delorme's Street Atlas. Then came MapQuest, Google Maps and even (for us motorcyclists) Harley-Davidson's Ride Planner. Somewhere in there commercial GPS devices were thrown into the mix.

When I toured the country on my Harley in 2005, I used a combination of Streets & Trips and my Harley-Davidson road atlas. The atlas was handy because it listed all the dealers across the country. It also turned out to be handy when I realized that Streets & Trips then 1) didn't avoid dirt & gravel roads and 2) didn't show me when I'd be going over a mountain pass. Each morning I wrote my basic turns on an index card, transferred to the inside of my windshield with grease pencil and tucked the card in my tank bag. As I made the turns, I'd erase that line. If you click to enlarge this photo I took in WY, you can just see the edge of my directions for that day.

When I met Stu, I had a Garmin in my car...that I had NEVER used for routing. I bought it if I needed to get "unlost". LOL! When my car went to my daughter, the GPS went with it. Previously my husband had an early GPS for his motorcycle and that went to my son-in-law when he purchased it.

Fast forward to today and how we currently travel. Stu already had a large Garmin in the Freightliner (it does truck routing to help us avoid length & height restrictions), and a Garmin Zumo for his motorcycle (waterproof and meant for motorcycles). Since then we have added a fairly basic Garmin Nuvi (bought used for a good price) that we use for rental cars when on vacation.

That said, I still tend to use Microsoft's Streets & Trips while Stu prefers Google Maps and the Harley-Davidson's Ride Planner. We still have the atlases in the truck for that overview look that seems to help from time to time (and to find Harley dealers as we travel...LOL!).

Note from Stu:

Back in the early 60s, my family took a cross country trip (east to west and back again). We traveled much of Route 66 trying to talk my folks into every roadside sight we could. My brother and I would take turns being the "Navigator", riding shotgun and firmly gripping the AAA Triptik, calling out every detail. We never missed a turn. The tripTik was full of local information, including radio and TV station (all 3 of them) as well as mileage, elevation and small weather averages. What a great time we had.

Before my Mom passed away last year, I asked her about the TripTik. She had kept it for over 40 years. Alas, she got rid of it when she moved from 35 years of full-timing to a retirement home. Oh well, I still have those great memories in my head, for a while yet.

So I got to wondering how many other folks travel & navigate? GPS, paper, software? Vote in the poll and post your to see if I can learn anything new!

How do you navigate? free polls

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Donna & Stu


  1. I took two trips from Florida to California back in the early 1960's and all I used were free filling station maps. Remember them? Along with free glasses, S&H Green Stamps and they'd check your oil, radiator and tires for free too. I remember paying 37 cents for gas up in the mountains of Colorado and thinking they were highway robbers! Gas was mostly a quarter back then.

    We do have a Garmin GPS in the wife's car; but seldom use it. I now have a Droid, so I have Google directions and maps on the cell phone -- it will even show you pictures of the intersections. Cool.

  2. hi.... i was surfing around online today looking for blogs about people living and traveling around in RV's. I came across yours.

    I am working at putting a resource site up for RVing and would love to repost some of your blog there.

    The site is I'm trying to build up stories, resources all with the aim to provide people inspiration so they take the plunge and live the dream!

    If you feel you'd like to participate, you can email me at, or just reply to the comment and i should get that.



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