Alec is also on the back cover of the Motor Carrier Atlas

Cartographer - little know fact about my past. I have often been asked what I did before Bob and I started trucking and I usually say I worked at the court house, I worked in Data Processing, or sometimes I even say I worked in the appraisers office but I very rarely say I started as a cartographer....
When I started working at the Morton County Courthouse I worked in the newly created appraisers office.  Kansas took on the monumental task of revamping the tax system and they started from the ground up.   Every piece of property was looked at, cataloged and the whole state was mapped.  We had aerial maps that was flown of our county and then we created property maps to go over this along with topographic maps and then went as far as to have soil classification maps.  It was a huge undertaking and it was exciting.    While I am not qualified to create a map I was very qualified to look at a map, look at a deed, and plot out the property boundaries.  In time, we digitized all of the maps and then where able to print out exactly what we needed when talking to a tax payer.  I like maps and everything that goes into creating maps.  
Now in the truck we have slowly progressed from using our Rand McNally Motor Carrier Atlas to using our Rand McNally GPS as it is faster and is constantly updated.  I have even gone so far as to try and throw out the paper Atlas as why would we need that old thing?  When I need a route I look at the GPS, I look online, or I look at my computer for a route before we take off.  Reading a map is becoming a dying art as in a survey 6% of those under 30 cannot read a map at all and 4 out of 5 are not comfortable using a map.  That is sad as there is so much information on a map that is overlooked and the more you learn about maps the more there is to see. 
So the question is which is better a GPS or a paper map?  As with most questions the answer is "It Depends".   After what has happened this year a Rand McNally Motor Carrier Atlas will also be in our truck and a Rand McNally GPS will also be on the dash.  Both have been of great assistance to us.
When we were asked to go into New Orleans right after hurricane Katrina we found out quickly that without our GPS we would have been very VERY lost as the street signs were mostly gone.  We were relatively new to a GPS at that time and we were sold that it was the next best thing to sliced bread!  That GPS saved the day and a GPS has been in our truck since. 
The GPS failed us though on the recent hurricane Matthew we found out that our GPS was no help as it could not read road closed signs.  The roads the GPS wanted to take us on were flooded and when we went off route the GPS threw a FIT.
Within a short time the GPS routing was tuned off.  Out came the Motor Atlas and very quickly we rerouted ourselves to get around the flooded roads and we were not constantly being told recalculating. 
Both the GPS and the Atlas were able to get us to our destination in severe weather and the aftermath of no road signs or flooded roads.  Knowing how to use both is needed when driving a truck across the country or into new areas every day.

Comments (4)

Linda Caffee

Bob and Linda started their driver careers after their children left home for college in 2000. Bob started as a driver for a large motor carrier with Linda as a rider. They decided to enter the Expedite industry as team drivers in 2005 and purchased their first Freightliner. Both, Bob and Linda have had their Class A licenses since the early 80's starting out driving in the oil field and hauling grain as fill in drivers where Bob worked as a diesel mechanic. Linda worked at the local country courthouse in data processing.

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Shelby you bring up a lot of good points and I know an Atlas will always have a place in our truck... but I will say the GPS plays an even bigger part in our lives every day.

December 24, 2016 4:25:56 AM

Good points, I am as you know now off the truck and back to working for an aerial mapping company. I always say I fully trust the GPS, it rarely has an incorrect position, however, it's road database and logic are sometimes very flawed, great tool, but you need to also use the logic between your ears! Every year here in Oregon there are a few cases of GPS vehicle navigation systems leading a driver astray, sometimes with fatal consequences.

As far as routing when I was on the truck and even now, I would look at paper atlas to see generally how I wanted to go, program a route into the navigation system and then check that and edit as necessary. I also almost always pulled the destination site up in Google Earth and then used Street View to make sure I could actually get the truck on the surface streets the GPS was recommending. By the time I started driving the route, I was about 99.9% sure that the GPS was going to get me there as planned. This all takes a bit more pre-planning than punching an address in and then blindly following the magic box. I found a great trick with the paper atlas was to buy the laminated version and then use dry erase markers to plot route, good visual aid as you trip plan and end of trip, a damp cloth erases your doodles, I would note planned stops, etc. too.


December 22, 2016 9:39:56 AM

Great article Linda! Technology is great until it doesn't work then you need to be able to navigate "old school". We carry the atlas along with several smaller more detailed maps and specialty maps from the US Forest Service. Paper works every time.

December 22, 2016 8:11:26 AM

Keep your paper atlas just in case.

December 22, 2016 6:51:39 AM