What’s App? Navigation by Committee

You’ve probably used navigation aids for a while now, things like mapping programs, GPS, app-based maps, etc. While they’re enormously useful, they do fall short when you find yourself paddle-walking a bike in bumper-to-bumper traffic with no end in sight. Sure, some devices show real-time traffic info, but it’s up to you to identify trouble spots and figure out how to avoid them.

Waze displays real-time traffic data as reported by other Waze users, so when it says another route is faster – however improbable – it likely is.

Enter Waze. This app collects real-time data from its users cell phones, allowing the service to flag trouble spots immediately along your route AND to identify faster alternatives when the current route is really backed up.

It works, as I discovered last summer. I was headed to Florida, not realizing that my departure date coincided with the end of school. The Waze app calculated my preferred route and spit on it, offering me a series of roads I would never consider taking. At first, I thought the route was a bug. There’s no way going through Dale City, VA would get me to Fredericksburg faster than a straight shot down I-95.

Turns out, the app was right. While another riding buddy followed the Waze route, I stuck to my own. And what was normally a 45 minute trip turned into a three hour slog in painful stop and go traffic. Then, the route opened up, just as the app predicted. Meanwhile, my friend got to Fredericksburg in a sane 60 minutes, had lunch–and a nap–while I practically walked my bike the whole way.

I can tell you that whenever that app made a new route suggestion, I was all over it. I never got stuck again. And I never heard the end of it from my friend.

You (or your passenger) can report road issues, helping others avoid what you encounter.

Waze works by constantly collecting your position data and feeding that into a cloud-based computing architecture where data can be analyzed and reported. This is especially beneficial because new traffic delays are instantly detected as Waze users begin to slow down. Users can also actively contribute by using the app to flag items like road hazards, police locations, and more, which are then communicated to other Waze users along the route.

If you don’t like having data collected about your whereabouts, this may not be the app for you. As for me, it’s worth the trade-off. And the silence.

Dale Coyner is the owner of Open Road Outfitters, specializing in motorcycle campers and cargo trailers and the author of books on motorcycle travel.

Customer Check-in: Richard Park

photo 1Shortly after taking delivery of his color-matched Escapade LE, Richard Park from Ontario, Canada sent me some nice pics of his rig.

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That’s a 2014 Harley Ultra Limited in Amber Whisky and Black. That’s an awesome color combination, and it looks really good on the trailer as well.

Nice bike, and nice trailer choice Richard!

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If you’d like more info about a custom-painted trailer like this for your bike, learn about it here on the page for the Escapade LE, or use the contact form below to reach me directly.


Detour: Wigwam Motel #6, Holbrook, Arizona

Wigwam_Village_No-_6_2013-09-26_15-11-44The intersection of an expanding US highway system, growing tourism and entrepreneurial spirit created some unique landmarks on America’s roadsides in the early and mid-20th century. Take Wigwam Motels for example.

The first Wigwam Motel (which is modeled after a tipi, not a wigwam. I know…details, details) was erected in Horse Cave, Kentucky in 1933 by Frank Redford who designed his motel to complement his existing museum (er, gift shop, actually) of native American artifacts. Seven Wigwam Motel villages were constructed across the country and today, three survive.

There’s a good chance that if you’ve seen a picture of the Wigwam Motel, it’s the complex in Holbrook, Arizona. Built along a route famous for its distinctive structures, Wigwam Motel #6 captured the imagination of travelers along US Route 66, offering the unique opportunity to “Sleep in a Wigwam!”. Its owner, Chester Lewis, installed coin-operated radios in each room and the money collected was sent to Redford as a royalty payment for using his motel design.

Thanks to the care taken by the Lewis family, Wigwam Motel #6 has avoided the fate that befell most of the structures along Route 66. The motel complex was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Coronado Scenic Byway

Petrified Forest. More importantly, it’s located near US 191, the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway, which is described by Wikipedia as “a very dangerous mountain road with many sharp curves and little or no shoulders on steep cliffs.” Sweet.