Have you ever been steered down an utterly ridiculous route in your own neighborhood by a digital navigator? Then you’ll appreciate this.
Helping out at the Dubois Chamber yesterday, I took a call from an unnamed man who has visited Dubois before and wanted to return.
“Have they removed the highway between Jackson and Dubois,” he asked, “the pretty one, over the Togwotee Pass?”
I laughed and said of course not, that in fact it has been recently improved.
“Well, I was looking on Rand McNally’s online map,” he said, “and that highway doesn’t exist. I thought maybe the Indians took it away.”
I laughed again, thanked him heartily and looked it up. Sure enough, that household name of highway maps and atlases, Rand McNally, routes people from Jackson down to Farson, across South Pass, through Lander, across the Reservation, and back west toward Dubois. A 287-mile, six-hour trip that ought to take about an hour and a half:
US Highway 26/287 does not appear on their map. The (more or less) straight line from A to B has vanished.
Needless to say, I immediately contacted Rand McNally’s online support about this problem, pleading with them not to rob Dubois of its lifeblood, as tourism so important to our town’s economy.
In return, I’ve received ticket number 1094112 and a promise that my submission will be reviewed.
I probably couldn’t hope for any response at all from Google Maps, which directs everyone wanting to go from Denver to Jackson to head straight west on boring old I-80. It doesn’t even suggest the possibility of heading north at Rawlins and exploring beautiful Wind River Country, heading up that gorgeous valley past the Wind River Reservation and through that lovely green stripe between Dubois and Jackson at the top there:
At least MapQuest offers both routes, with the information that the route through Lander takes an hour longer. Of course, nobody looking at the online maps would understand the difference between an overnight in Rock Springs and an overnight in Lander or Dubois. Pity there’s no easy way to convey the scenery en route.
Maybe this will come along with virtual reality mapping.
Last evening I attended a town meeting to consider a new project to improve traffic flow through Dubois. My husband and I cast sidelong glances at each other when the consulting engineer from another town spoke about potential “loss of service” and the results of traffic monitoring, which showed little evidence of traffic jams.
We knew this already.
Part of the objective is to prepare for future increases in traffic. I didn’t think to ask whether he has any contacts at Google or Rand McNally. Perhaps he knows something I don’t know.
© Lois Wingerson, 2018
You can see new entries of Living Dubois every week if you sign up at the top of the right column at www.livingdubois.com.