10 July 2011

Travel, maps and things...

Good or bad navigating the highways and byways of the United States is something learned. I was curious enough to want to learn. Through some really good teachers and many others, I learned how to read maps ... route myself.

Before I started trucking, I'd been limited to travel between New England and Florida. My sense of how large and awesomely beautiful this country is was limited. I love to travel (even if it's just imaginary or some long time dream to accomplish).

Going to truck driving school, going on the road, seeing the United States from a big rig, gave me a sense of the enormity of the United States, how intertwined the US Highway/Interstate/Freeway system really is.

I've had an advantage, though. I've been all across the United States in a big rig and though our routing was done by the fuel department ... it was necessary to be able to read a map, too. In a leisure situation, routing is not so pressing though no less important. Conversely, fuel/gas stops on a cross country move/relocation is absolutely necessary.

Over the years, I've used Rand McNally. I keep an updated 'Motor Carriers Atlas' and a 'nationwide' fuel stop directory around my desk at home. Both can be found in most large truck stops or in a local map store. Of course, if/when I'm traveling, the laptop, and these two books go with me.

'The Motor Carriers Atlas' (also by Rand McNally) is detailed by state and includes major interstates, US highways, and scenic routes not meant for big rigs or other 'high' profile vehicles. It includes pages for low clearances, and restricted routes. It's the complete traveler's map book, I  think.  I like the 'National Truck Stop Directory', too. This valuable resource includes information relating to fuel/gas stops, parking, restaurants, motels, repairs, and more. Like the Motor Carriers Atlas, the truck stop directory is designed in an easy-to-read format and is an invaluable tool for anyone making a long distance trip.

I still enjoy routing 'imaginary' trips. Where would I go? Would I choose the shortest route possible, or would I choose a slightly longer route to avoid construction, major metropolitian areas, toll roads? What's my hurry? Do I need to get from one place to another in the shortest amount of time? Do I have the luxury of leisure? Do I want to take side trips or spend a day or two somewhere I've never visited?

Have a place you want to go? Real or imagined? Let me know.....

Posters note: The opinions, observations, and personal preferences shared in this post are 100% mine.

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