The Google Black Hole – Again

We’re on the road traveling from our boondock camp in the Coconino National Forest to Aspen Campground near Wood Canyon Lake in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest along the Mogollon Rim, still in Arizona.

Arizona Skies

Jagger and I are nearing our destination, but we’re running behind due to our later start this morning. We’re on Interstate 40, approaching Highway 99 when Google sings out it’s shorter to take highway 99. I look over at my Garmin GPS screen and it shows highway 99 is unknown for RV travel with my length and height. While I’ve found in the past that Garmin isn’t always correct, I have to make a decision.

I’m concerned knowing we will arrive at the forest campground right at sunset if we continue on our current route. At the last minute I reluctantly follow Google’s instructions. “I have a bad feeling about this,” I tell Jagger.

Within ten minutes, I’m sorry I made that decision and pull over onto a dirt shoulder alongside a vast ranch outside of Winslow, Arizona. The sun is getting lower in the sky when I pull up maps on my cell phone and research our route further. This is where traveling solo is not an advantage. I don’t have a co-pilot…just then Jagger chimes in,”What do you mean solo and no copilot?”

From the online maps it appears taking Highway 99 will turn into gravel forest roads and end up at the entrance to the campground. This is NOT an option as I don’t know what shape those gravel and dirt forest roads are in, so I make a u-turn going back to Interstate 40. Now we are another thirty minutes later on our arrival time.


I don’t know how I let Google, once again lead us down the “black hole”! Jagger looks at me, as I’m talking to myself. I’m sure he is concerned too, knowing I’m not in the greatest mood. After thinking about the question I just posed to myself I answer, “I wasn’t fully prepared researching maps before I left my last camp. If I would have taken five minutes to look at the online or Arizona Benchmark map, I would have saved thirty minutes of anxiety and frustration”.

Last May I purchased my Garmin GPS Navigator after dragging my feet for two years. They’re not cheap by any means, but after Google led me down the yellow brick road a number of times and finally again in Central California, that was it! The final straw was when Google wanted me to cross a bridge with a sign stating 8 tons maximum vehicle weight. Both the Workhorse and Coach weigh in at close to 10 tons. If I would have crossed it and something happened or a officer was watching, chances are the ticket would have more than paid for the GPS. As a result, I bought it first chance I got and had it mailed to my cousin’s home in Bishop, California, near where I was camping at the time.


When Jagger and I arrived at the campground, the gate was open, but all of the Hosts and Rangers had left or gone back to their RV’s. So it’s self check in for us this evening.  In all the 170 mile trip from the forest road outside of Flagstaff took the better part of five hours. While it wasn’t dark yet, the sun had set behind the horizon and it was getting dark quickly.

Aspen Campground

Pulling forward I remember to find a place to fill our freshwater tank, topping it off. Now we wind around the mostly deserted camp to find  our site pulling the Coach around the individual campground loops. Naturally, it was the last loop when we found our tag on the site pedestal, then backing the Coach carefully in while the sky continued to darken. This is only the second time I’ve set camp in the dark and it was very dark by the time I finished.

I had already put Jagger in the Coach and when he saw me coming in the door there was an excited puppy dance. Then we eased back into the evening routine. Dinner and eventually bedtime after I turned off the generator. Tomorrow Jagger and I will go down the hill to attend a Junior High Track Meet. One of my grandsons will be running in a cross country event and I promised to be in the area for our birthday. I do my best to keep my word.

Until next time, Safe Travels…Gary

More Photos: Aspen Campground

About The Author

Reply

Become A Vagabonder

Howdy, be notified when Jagger and I go on an adventure. Fill out the information below and click VAGABOND ME!