Friday, May 07, 2010

My Google Maps Experiment: Part 1

So, as I mentioned in my last entry, I was playing around with Google Maps a bit and debating taking a different route from Charleston to central PA than my usual I-95 drive.

When I got this idea, it was because I was bored with seeing the same thing all the time and didn't think I could handle 13 hours straight in the car this time around. There was no great formula behind creating an awesome map and I didn't work around any experience - I had never traveled most of what I selected so I had no idea what I would encounter along the way, and I didn't particularly have a list of cool things that I wanted to see that influenced my map choices. Basically I dragged the little blue line around to roads I hadn't been on that maybe went through some towns I wanted to see and that weren't interstates, but that at the same time didn't double my total trip time or anything drastic like that. Maybe once I get home, I'll share the map if I remembered to save it.

I was very nervous about taking some random route. It's not that I'm not a good driver, or that I can't read maps or anything. I wasn't able to upload the map I ended up with to my GPS unit, and while the world has long functioned without GPS, it really is a great advantage over trying to read directions AND drive at the same time. Had I had a navigator, I would've had no qualms about this at all. But I was looking at the final directions and seeing turns and merges and such that occurred back to back every couple hundred feet for a small stretch and I was just thinking of the impending disaster. This stretch did, in fact, kick my ass, but not because I didn't read the directions.

Anyway, today was the first day of my drive. I think I traveled like 500ish miles - not the best budgeting on my part, but I was convinced I needed to get past Richmond, VA on day one. Don't know why, just felt it necessary. I headed up US 17 for most of the trip. As I passed through Myrtle Beach, I had a really weird experience.

A few years ago, while I was living with the at-the-time-boyfriend, I had this dream. It happened twice, and then never again. But in this dream we (he, I, and a bunch of my friends from school) were in Baltimore, MD. Inner Harbor, to be specific. And we entered this nightclub. The club itself was two floors and mostly glass, so you could look out over the harbor area from all directions in the club. This club was called Club Kryptonite. I was a little shocked today when I was sitting at a red light and gazed past the stupid Planet Hollywood on the corner to see this large coliseum-looking thing with a 'K' inside of the shape that is on Superman's costume/uniform/whateverthehell. This was the logo from the dream. In fact, the door/entrance of the building looked the same. Large pillars, sort of dramatic. The club itself wasn't at all right...but it just took me aback a bit. I had never been to this section of Myrtle Beach before, so it wasn't some vague memory hanging out or anything. Nor do I think "oooo I'm super psychic!" I just think it was a weird coincidence.

Right. So I carried on with the US 17 thing through North Carolina. Very pretty, NC. I think I could live in various parts of the state for maybe 3 months at a time in each place. (This is an estimate.) There are lots of big, beautiful rivers and lots of trees - mixed forest type trees, not just the same boring trees over and over. Don't get me wrong, I like trees from the palm family, but it's getting a little monotonous. North Carolina has lots of evergreen type things. And they also have some cypress trees growing around the edges of certain bodies of water. I like cypresses A LOT.

North Carolina seemed to go on forever, and then I got to Virginia. My directions in VA (which were generated by Google Maps, not written by me, so prob sort of my fault but wtf Google?) ended up being sort of confusing at best. It also didn't help that my only indication that I'd actually entered Virginia were the "Speed checked by radar" signs. The long stretches of road that wound through some random forests were nice. Loved them. It was shady, there were hardly any cars on the road, and it gave me the chance to (reasonably safely) have a little car commercial fantasy and see how my new(ish) car handles on slightly curvy/banky roads. I haven't had a lot of chance to figure that out before today, but now I know and it's all good. With shitty alignment and tires that desperately need replaced, she still drives like a dream. *sigh*

Okay so the major problem occurred surrounding the following directions.

In theory, these are great. I looked over everything while I stopped to let the puppy walk around, and I had it down. I was ready to go. NCarolina 11 went fine - very fun. There were no signs ANYWHERE I could find indicating that I was ever on Beachwood Blvd. until I was far past where I supposedly should've been seeing these signs. I hadn't seen a single US-258 N sign. Until I saw at the same time a US-258 S sign. I got temporarily distracted by this, but quickly righted myself and was back on this 19 mile stretch to the actual US-258 S I should've been turning onto. Except...when I got there, that sign was not there. It was somewhere else. And it wouldn't lead me to the weird branches of 58 I was supposed to be hitting. Believe me. I tried. And tried. And tried some more. I retraced myself for a good 25 minutes before I said fuck it and tried it my own way. I ignored the "Business" part of the directions and figured eventually I'd get where I needed to go. Not so. I ended up somewhere residential with no signs for anything that I could find in any direction. And I was so confused that I couldn't get my directions straight. So, throwing in the towel, realizing that there was very little driving left until I arrived at I-95 to get me to my hotel, I turned on the GPS unit. I figured it could at least get me the hell out of that shitty little town (Franklin, VA btw) and get me back onto some sort of track. That would've been great except I was getting ZERO satellite contact. I spent another 20 or so minutes just driving around trying to get some sort of connection. I got nothing until I accidentally ended up in the middle of an industrial park for some steel mill or something. Luckily, the GPS chose the same route as my Google Maps one. Except that little section of directions I showed you was about halved. Half of those steps did not exist. Maybe I'm just blind, or selectively perceptive, but it only took me three of these steps via GPS to get where I needed to go. It was not a big huge super awful ordeal - but frustrating nonetheless. Patience can be, but sometimes is not, my greatest quality. My first 9 hour day ended up being an 11.5 hour day. I did get to stop and check out a few more things than usual, which was nice. But 11.5 hours was a bit much for me at this point.

Tomorrow will be shorter. Despite the slight temptation to just get home, I'm going to finish this out the way I planned tomorrow. And it'll be fine. I refuse to get ridiculously "bad" lost!

Anyway. I'm babbling. This is really of no consequence, but I can't sleep so I figured why the hell not. :) That's how it goes around here, get used to it.

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