Monday morning. I got to Navajo Lake yesterday afternoon, after a complicated day.
The morning was fine. Left Bisti parking lot at about 9, headed north to Farmington. My real destination was the Aztec Ruins, which I wanted to revisit, and then go on to Navajo Lake. On the way into Farmington, one of my directories said there was a free RV dump station at a gas station there. So I planned to go there, fill up at the gas station, and proceed to Aztec. Waze was happy to give me directions to do that. As I made my way through Farmington, doing what I was told, I got nervous. It didn’t seem like I was headed in the right direction, what about that place over there, yadda-yadda-yadda. Just when I was about to pull over and re-evaluate, Waze exclaimed, “You have arrived at your destination!” And so I had. I remembered all the times I’d second-guessed the GPS app and experienced serious lostitude. I didn’t dwell on the times (very very few, but still …) when the app had done me wrong.
I got to Aztec without problem, spent a happy hour or so wandering around the ruins and admiring the new museum addition to the little visitor center.
I got back in the Beast, had a leisurely lunch, took a short nap, and told Waze I wanted to go to Navajo Lake State Park. Off we went in the right general direction, it seemed. I was a little startled when the signs said “Welcome to Colorado,” but that seemed OK, since I’d started out about as far north in New Mexico as you can get. On we went. The turns once again began to be counter-intuitive, but I had the morning’s experience fresh in my mind.
On we went. I began to get seriously concerned when it looked like the road was turning into a dirt road. But on I went. Until the absurdity of the situation, and the quality of the road, became overwhelming. I pulled over in some rancher’s drive, and got out the laptop. Yes, I had Verizon. Yes, I could pull up Google Maps. Yes, I was in a wrong place. Quite wrong. Turns out that Waze was trying to get me to Navajo Lake Park up in Colorado. And was doing a bad job of it, to boot.
I got out my paper copy of the Rand-McNally USA road atlas. It didn’t have much detail on the roads I’d gotten onto. It didn’t show them at all. But Google Maps and Google Earth got me oriented, I managed to do an impossible dirt-road U-turn, backtracked 46 miles, and got where I wanted to be: Navajo Lake State Park in New Mexico.
After that it was easy. It’s a pleasant spot, with trees and grass (and solid cell service from ATT and Verizon.) Just the break I wanted from sand and scrub. Right now it’s cool and cloudy and spitting rain. Delicious!
I’ll veg out here for a few days, and then head down to White Rock.
Lesson: carry detailed paper maps of the territory you’re in. Get the GPS app to tell you the details of the itinerary it’s plotted, and check those against the paper map before you launch. And read “Death by GPS” on Arstechnica