Finding alternate routes - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-03-2014, 10:40 AM   #1
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Finding alternate routes

I know some of you have mentioned using backroads more than freeways as you travel. I like doing this when I know how to do it.

I was looking at Apple Maps on my iPad for the route to a campground, and it gave me two choices. One the freeway, the other a more interesting-looking route through the mountains. However, I know the area, and had grave doubts about this route, and looked it up, and found the road reportedly does not go through and if it does, surely takes more than the 1 hour extra the routing program told me.

So how do you evaluate a potential route when you do NOT know the area? How do you know what it would be like towing a trailer? Do you ask locals? Read up on it somewhere?
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Old 09-03-2014, 10:44 AM   #2
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We have not had this experience as yet since we've only had our trailer a few months and it's basically been parked in a provincial park. I think I would be tempted to ask locals before trying anything that looks risky. Using Google maps you can always zoom in if a road looks pretty twisty. Even paper maps can't be too reliable. We had a back roads Ontario map when we lived there and around our area would explore back roads which showed going through which didn't so I would mark with a line through the road so I'd know for another time not to go that route.

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Old 09-03-2014, 10:58 AM   #3
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I use the Delorme atlas and gazetteer for the state I am in. The roads it shows are there and with the topographical lines I can tell how steep the area is. The closer to together the lines are the steeper the terrain. Its easier to carry than a bunch of folded maps.

Atlas & Gazetteers, by State - DeLorme
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Old 09-03-2014, 11:16 AM   #4
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Off the Interstates and TCHs

Generally we do not use GPS for long drives. We usually look at paper maps; they usually define the class of road while GPS does not, ie. dirt or gravel. To that end Ginny has a paper map for every state and province. We also collect local maps for places we visit often like Port Orford, Oregon where like to drive the mountain roads and Hardee County, FL.

We find that a state map can be better than an Atlas, though we have them as well.

Before we use the GPS Ginny checks its route against the maps, not trusting the roads chosen by an electronic brain. (Like most people we have ended up on a tough dirt road because we followed the GPS.

We avoid Interstates. When we travel a new route, Ginny checks the Mountain Directory book/map for unusual grades, not necessarily to change the route but to know what's ahead.

In the United States there are a number of North/South and East/West roads that pre-date the Interstates. We use these roads frequently. For examples Route 2 across the northern tier, Route 17 down the east coast, route 93 through Montana/Idaho/Nevada, Route 101 on the west coast, Route 90 that parallels I-10 across FL and across TX.

There are simply tons of non-Interstates that are good quality roads. Generally if the road is paved we feel relatively safe taking it.

In Canada, particularly Newfoundland there is usually not a choice between TCH and the old road. There are few old roads here and many of them have become the TCH.
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Old 09-03-2014, 11:26 AM   #5
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Good idea to back up with a paper map. (Add to shopping list.) I didn't use GPS, just online maps. My Garmin tends to dump me on freeways no matter what I say (I say avoid freeways, avoid tolls, and it sends me across the ferry and up 5 instead of up 525 and 20 and the bridge.) The only way to get it to do an off-freeway route tends to be to add a waypoint.
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Old 09-03-2014, 11:46 AM   #6
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If you program your GPS to guide you on the shortest route instead of the fastest route ,you will often end up on gravel or unmaintained roads . I have been led down dead end roads by my GPS on many occasions. I verify what the GPS shows me with a paper map
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Old 09-03-2014, 11:54 AM   #7
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The other thing about a GPS shortest route is that it will often route you right through the middle of downtown wherever. I'm more about exploring once I get there not so much exploring on the way. So it's GPS fastest route out and atlas secondary roads once there. Or more specifically once there, atlas defined routes out to some local objective and GPS back to the campground.

I will admit that if I were full time retired my approach might change and I'd be facing the same dilemma you are.
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Old 09-03-2014, 01:00 PM   #8
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Another Approach

Our primary guide is still paper maps but another primary source for us is other campers. Conversations with other campers often leads to 'where have you been?' or 'have you been here?'.

We do have one advantage in that we spend a lot of time with Escapees who have been every where, many of our Escapee friends were full timers and traveled for a decade or more. They are always willing to share their adventures, suggesting places and routes.

Of course another good source is this web site, maybe an underutilized potential of travel route information.

When we started we had a book that detailed all the pre-Interstate roads and things to see on them. I am presently looking for that book and will post it when I find it..

One aspect of off the main roads is that often purchases cost less.

There are so many FRV roads out there to explore, not too wide, not too much traffic and away from the everyday of most of our pasts. Ginny will tell you that if there's no one on it, that's were Norm wants to be.

It's true you may have to drive slower but you see more. On those roads you can always stop and ask... you'll be the curiosity with your little egg.
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Old 09-03-2014, 05:25 PM   #9
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Rand McNally has a gps specifically made for rv's. You program your tow length and it will avoid road and gas stations that may give you an issue. Amazon.com: Rand McNally RVND 7720 7-Inch RV GPS with Free Lifetime Maps: GPS & Navigation
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Old 09-03-2014, 06:14 PM   #10
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I usually use a combination of paper maps and GPS, but sometimes I get lazy and just follow the GPS directions. Like returning from the Oregon Gathering I was told that I should pass through Sisters Oregon...relying on the GPS it directed me through a very scenic and interesting route following highway 242 over McKenzie Pass. I enjoyed the drive, I just wish every vehicle coming towards me would keep all their tires on their side of the center line LOL
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