October 22, 2021

Google Maps — You. are. Fired.

Due to my back pain I rode with Jane today from the Mississippi River state park to Lake Chicot state park. I’m not too sad as it was 80 miles of highway riding through flat (and mostly harvested) cotton fields was not so appealing.

After crossing the river into Arkansas we were ready to get to our campground. Google maps wanted us to turn right, so of course we did. The road sign for the state park said to go straight but hey, what do they know. A hundred yards later we were screwed…. We were on the North Levee road with no way to turn around. Think Gravel, dust, and steep grades on both sides of the narrow gravel road.

Crap! 7.2 miles and then we are supposed to turn left onto Audubon Trail. Which then goes to our campsite. What else can we do except take it nice and slow, raise as little dust as possible, and hope that nobody comes from the other direction!

Well, 7.2 miles later we get to our turn for the Audubon trail and that is exactly what it is! A trail! The road goes left but at the bottom of the levee is a gate, chained closed. I hop out to investigate and see if it is locked and what is on the other side of the gate. Well it isn’t locked but the other side of the gate has not seen any traffic in a very very long time. We would be driving in a pasture, with a barely discernible path. 100% something you would never pull a camper on!!

At this point our only option is to curse Google in the most colorful language possible, and try to very carefully turn the camper around by backing into the turnoff. Jane very skillfully backs the camper onto the ramp and then begins to pull to go back the other way. The wheels begin to spin. No way!! stop and go and spin, stop and go and…. the traction catches and we are turned around. Now all we have to do is drive another 7.2 miles back the other way on the same dusty gravel.

By the time we get back to the main road, the truck is beige instead of nearly black. The camper is covered in dust, and neither of us is in a very good mood. We follow the signs toward the state park and I thoughtfully suggest deleting the Google maps application from Jane’s phone. This way is about 17 miles longer than Google’s way but it is much better and we arrive safely. The ranger gives me a knowing chuckle when I suggest that maybe the park should have a notice to ignore Google maps when trying to get to the campground. We are not the first! Nor will we be the last I suspect.

We will follow the instructions to try to get Google to make a correction.

In the meantime for the search engine side of google here are some key words that may help the next unsuspecting traveller.

Arkansas Chicot State Park, directions, Audubon trail, north levee road, ignore google!! Audubon trail is NOT a road!!