QOTD: Trouble Finding Yourself?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd trouble finding yourself

Listen, we don’t want to hear about that summer after high school… unless it involved a road trip requiring precise and detailed navigation!

That’s right, today we’re talking about finding one’s way through life in the most literal sense. Charting a course. These days, reaching your destination usually involves a pre-programmed route, satellite linkup, and a detached female voice ordering your every move, barking commands at every turn.

Do any of you still hang on to the old ways?

We’re not talking about a sextant and compass, though the latter can really come in handy if you’re out in the middle of nowhere and have a general idea of where civilization lies.

We’re talking about maps. As a kid, and continuing to this day, I loved maps. Topographical ones, ordinary ones, atlases, online satellite views, you name it. I’m mad about maps, but most new drivers only see such a thing when it’s displayed on their car’s infotainment screen. Maybe a portable GPS unit entered their older car’s equipment roster soon after purchase. They make pretty good companions, assuming they’re on the ball. Perhaps your phone is all you need, plus an Uber-style mount.

Whatever the aid, it makes that old stack of real, honest-to-goodness paper maps an antiquated thing of the past — useful only for campfire kindling after you break down (or “run out of gas”) far, far away from the bright lights of the big city. Many of us still possess such a stack. But how much use do these non-digital pieces of pressed wood pulp get?

If you were heading out on a typical road trip to a somewhat unfamiliar destination, would they even come along with you?

For that matter, does your glove box even contain a map? And if it does, does it ever see the light of day?

We want to know. Has your map life gone wholly digital?

[Image: Jeff Wilson/TTAC]

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3 of 39 comments
  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Jul 28, 2020

    Another possible QOTD. What no longer produced, or more than 10 year old, make/model do you most often see on the road? For me Chev Astro/Pontiac Safari vans. I see these still regularly being used by contractors. Toyota Echo. Lots in school parking lots and being used by delivery drivers.

    • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Jul 29, 2020

      There used to be an Echo driven in my neighborhood. It's been replaced by a clapped out 2003ish Camry. During the winter if go into seething fits of take when I'd see it because its driver and I left for work at the same time, and the driver was of the sort where a credit card sized aperture in the front window was sufficient to see. Every other window? Covered with snow and ice. Also, perish the thought of merging onto the highway behind him. You'd better keep the power boiling in third so you can rocket past at the bottom of the ramp, or risk getting creamed by a semi.

  • Pwrwrench Pwrwrench on Aug 03, 2020

    Like someone else mentioned, if I am going to a new place I use the AAA maps and make a "cheat sheet" listing the turns and some landmarks along the route. Have not used the GPS Nav systems much. 10 yrs ago people trying to find my house got lost using the electronic nav. Got many panicked phone calls. Had to figure out where they were, by description, at night. It has improved since then, but...

  • Art Vandelay So half of them voted for the same people that were selling them out and taking bribes? Wow
  • Jkross22 Not sure this is the issue it was 10 years ago. iheart and other services are available for streaming from phones. Sports, political, foreign language/music seem to be the most popular stations on AM but not FM. Much better quality when streaming AM stations.
  • Wayne that pict is NOT a small truck, it's a station wagon with a bed.
  • Azfelix Spotify only for me. I have zero preprogrammed settings on FM or AM bands on my car radio. I can listen to emergency broadcasts on my solar/hand crank/rechargeable battery powered AM/FM/shortwave radio that is stored in a Faraday box.
  • Joe Chiaramonte Although in some markets, some AM news stations are simulcasting on FM, FM doesn’t offer similar coverage. FM signals are limited by terrain, AM signals are not. In a disaster, losing AM will eventually matter. AM signals also “skip” on the ionosphere at night, allowing much deeper coverage. From the California central coast at night I can listen to stations in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles.