Before the brakes went out on our motorhome, we had gotten lost.  For reasons we still don’t understand, I was calm about the brake loss part.  What I was totally freaking out about was relying on Internet technology to help us.

The idea was offered by our friendly motor home dealer, who took our older Class C motor home in need of a new $10,000 roof and sold us, cheap, a bigger Class A rig.  Cheaper because what crazy person buys a gas hog, right?  We wanted diesel but fell in love with the one we ended up getting. The suggestion was we could take it for a spin to see if we liked a larger RV and our dealer suggested a nice park with a lake to visit. So, Eric and I decided to take it out for a joy ride in the central PA countryside, in search of a park we’ve never been to and never even heard of.

It takes a while for a man to admit he’s lost, so by the time it was a no-brainer, I was already begging my Google G1 cell phone for help.  I turned on the GPS and brought up Google maps.  However, we were in the rolling hills by the Blue Ridge mountains.  Cell phone signals come and go in the countryside and when you’re lost, definitely don’t work.

It was pitch black at night.  A class A rig is on a bus chassis, so picture a school bus ride up and down back roads at night, only this time you’re bringing along a bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. And two dogs.  I have sight problems and require lots of help with contacts, glasses and reading glasses.  This is why I chose the black G1 cell phone.  The black phone offers better color contrast against the screen.  The keyboard letters and numbers are larger, with keys spaced farther apart. But for the record, when you’re lost and trying to help your husband find the way out of the woods and curving roads with no houses on them, even a nice keyboard is not enough.

I could not Twitter for help.  It would have been a nightmare.

kim_cre8pc, “HELP” We’re lost somewhere north of Allentown on back roads.”

Tweeters, “I’m on a bus in the UK. How can I help?”, “You’re kidding, right?”, “RT @kim_cre8pc is lost!”

Every once in awhile the tiny blue GPS dot would decide to appear on my screen.  It never stayed long enough to tell me where we were or gave me time to shrink the view so I could see a larger part of the map to get our bearings and find a major road.  Most of the time I received a message saying, “We’re trying…blah blah blah…” and it would not respond at all.

Finally, the crazy hilly curvy road we were on dumped us on a road we knew and we headed home.  Unfortunately, the brakes overheated.  By the time we reached Allentown, Eric was relying on the emergency brake and downshifting at stop lights.  He realized he had nothing to work with to stop the rig when we got near Dorney Park, and that’s where we pulled off the highway and parked the motor home at a bank so it could be towed home.

Back in a real city, with humans and cell phone towers and everything, the map worked and so did the cell phone, so we could call our daughter to come and get us and the dogs (another funny part of the night…all packed into her small Saturn coupe.)  Point being that if we had gotten lost closer to the city, I could have been able to navigate better.  Could we have used a print map? Sure, except we hadn’t loaded up the rig yet.  This was a test drive.

Our dealer was on the case as soon as we called. The rig didn’t need a tow. It just needed to cool off. Nevertheless, they put in a new brake system, at no charge to us, because they weren’t taking any chances.  The rig had been sitting for a year and that’s often bad for RV’s.  I moved the maps and stuff from the old motor home into our new one (not new. It’s a 1997 with 27,000 miles on it.)  I know well enough that fancy technology can not replace a darned good mangled up and not folded back properly map.

I love my G1.  It does so many funky things, like tells me where the traffic jams are and what my horoscope is. It entertains the kids with tons of stupid stuff like Stewie (Family Guy) sayings, to cat and laugh sounds. It has a leveler, which we actually used to verify the automatic levelers on the rig. And a compass. But I downloaded that AFTER the brake loss incident.

I just wish it had worked when I needed it or maybe someone will invent a portable cell phone tower.

the rig

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cre8pc

Kim Krause Berg’s long background in web design, SEO and usability includes software application functional and user interface testing, accessibility, information architecture and persuasive design. She shared her passion for Usability and SEO through her site and private consulting at Cre8pc for 17 years. Kim founded Cre8asiteforums in 1998. In the fall of 2012 she sold her forums to Internet Marketing Ninjas and retired from private consulting to join their Executive Management team where she continues her work in usability testing, customer experience and conversions design.

My Online Course: Web Site Usability 101

Member:

American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T)

Information Architecture Institute

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)

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