I’m very impressed with the latest wrinkle over at Google Maps. They have solved one of the last remaining problems with computer-generated directions: often you are given a suggested route that is just stupid. Sometimes I want to thump the screen and say “Are you nuts? I’m not going to drive through the middle of freaking Newton to get to 128!”
If the directions were uniformly terrible, you’d never use them, and that would be that. But they are often pretty good. You just want to modify your route in a few places. Like telling it to take the Mass Pike out to 128 instead of plodding down Centre Street like a dope. For instance, suppose you were visiting your parents-in-law near Southport, North Carolina and you needed to get to the airport in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I was in exactly this situation last Sunday.
Here’s the computed route from Southport, NC to MYR. But my father-in-law had certain knowledge that South Carolina Highway 31 is beautiful, fast, and parallel to 17 for much of the trip. What’s nice is that you can now just drag the blue route line and re-calculate the trip. Now all the turn and distance information on your trip printout is accurate. Here’s the new route to Myrtle Beach. I had to insert three way points to make it behave. But it was extremely simple to do so. My father-in-law kindly thought to give us a Triple-A TripTikÂ® Travel Planner for the same route. I feel bad for the people who make TripTiks. That thing seemed as ancient as a carved stone tablet.