“Recalculating… Enjoy Your Trip!”
Updated: May 31, 2022
Thank ye tech gods for inventing GPS, and the Google Maps lady whose calm and confident navigation gets us where we need to go! Otherwise, we’d still be trying to find our way out of Seattle, two weeks later (we were trying to get to Issaquah -- don’t ask).
But GPS apps can sometimes grow tired and/or mischievous and have been known to instruct folks to drive off piers, through golf courses, to the edges of ravines, and onto old wagon trails that disappear into cornfields.
There are 100s of GPS horror stories that we can all relate to. We may laugh about our own map-app misadventures now, even if they weren’t so funny at the time. Here are the experiences of a few other unlucky travelers.
Pumpkin Patch Detour
So recently, actually, my gf and I were going to find a glass table on KSL [KSL.com classifieds, Salt Lake City]. We mapped the address and drove over. We ended up on this street with the house number close to what we were looking for, but not quite. There was this dark house that it might have been. So we park across the street and walk over. I kinda go up the driveway a bit to try and see a number. Suddenly this dood with a flashlight comes running up to me screaming “You trying to steal my pumpkins?!?” We’re like what? No, we’re looking for a certain address. Meanwhile he’s shining this light in my face. I ask if that’s been a problem here and he’s like “ya, I’ve had 64 pumpkins stolen”….still shining the light in my face. So I’m like damn, that’s crazy but no, we aren’t here for your pumpkins. “Ok, well I see a car come driving by slowly and park across the street with all that’s been happening.” Like ya ok but people get lost haha So he still wanted to f’ckin see our license plate. Then we left haha pretty weird though I honestly couldn’t tell if he was joking around or serious when he ran up to us screaming that xD!
— Ryan Alder
From: “What is your strangest experience with using GPS?” on Quora, 11/19/2018
Gas Station Ahead
Oh, I have a good one. This may take awhile.
My family is scattered all over the country. My parents live in Southern California as does my oldest sister and her family. My younger sister lives in OR. My family and I were living in Northern AZ at the time. I have another sister that lives in Northern CA in the Sacramento area. This sister’s son, my nephew was getting married and we were going to drive from AZ to No CA, a 15 hour drive, mostly through the desert. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was mid July, the hottest time of the year.
We decided we would rent a car and drive straight through, leaving around 6 pm so we could drive all night. This would help avoid the 112 degree heat. We figured we could stop at a rest stop for a couple hours if we got too tired. I only had 4 days before I had to be back to work so we didn’t have much choice.
So we pick up the car and head out, we paid extra for the TomTom GPS since this was before most people had GPS on their phones.
We drove for about 6 hours nonstop, only a couple bathroom breaks, after all my girls at the time were only 8.
The rental car was nice it had a fuel counter (back then only a few cars had that) it told us how many miles we had left before we would run out of gas. I brilliantly thought I would take it to around 20 miles remaining before I got gas. Remember, this is the middle of the Mohave desert, in the middle of the night. Like I said, brilliant! We had driven through Barstow CA about 20 miles earlier so I figured that a gas station shouldn’t be too far away.
So, we get to the 20 mile mark, I ask the TomTom where the closest gas station is. It tells me it is 10 miles away. Crap, I thought. I was thinking for sure there would be a closer one. No worries, I have 20 miles to go. So I put in the route and start driving. It takes me off the freeway and guides us through this dark unlit neighborhood, right here, left here, right here, and so on and so on. For 7 miles it did this. It was so dark I could not see in front of the headlights. I had no idea how to get back to the freeway even if I wanted to, let alone have enough gas. So I decide it will eventually get us to the gas station.
After eight+ miles It says 1/4 mile ahead. Strange you would think there would at least be some light ahead from the station, nope pitch black!!!
1 minute later it says “you have reached your destination”. Right then the road ended, actually ended!!! It disappeared into the blackness of the night. There was a barricade to stop you from driving off into what seemed like a desert field which stretched at least a mile. The barricade had a sign on it that said “END”. Way, way, way off in the distance you could see some lights, we sat there for several minutes trying to decide what to do. My wife said hey, didn’t you bring your binoculars? I did because we often go to Lake Tahoe when we visit my sister since she lives only an hour away.
I grab the binoculars out of my bag to see if that is what I think it is. Sure enough, it was a gas station. It was!!! One that was impossible for us to get to, especially since there was NO ROAD.
There was nothing I could do to get to it. Now the gauge said 10 miles or less left. I decided l had to try to get back to the freeway. Screw that stupid GPS, I was going to try to get back without it.
I started driving in the direction I thought was correct. I figured worst case we would at least be on the freeway when we ran out of gas. Believe it or not I got to the freeway in 1.5 miles. Yeah!! We got this far wonder if we can find a station off the freeway before we run out?
We actually ended up on the freeway at the on ramp right before the one the GPS had us get off on. We drive 3 miles and pass the off ramp we initially got off on and an additional 2 miles. Low and behold the very next exit there was a huge truck stop!!! We had less than 1 mile left before we would run out when we pulled up to the pump.
I almost pitched that piece of crap out into the desert, but I didn’t. (yet)
So we get to my sister’s, go to the wedding, visit with family, had a great time. Now it is time to do the return drive.
By now I am wiped out. Normally I do all the driving because I get car sick and my wife never does, she can read for hours. If I even look down into the car while it’s moving, I am done for the day. My wife insisted that we take turns driving so I switched with her so I could sleep. I’m fine if I fall asleep quickly.
I set the GPS to take us home so my wife doesn’t have to worry about getting lost. I tried to tell her how to go, it was “take the 99 to the Mojave Hwy, towards Barstow." By that time it would be my turn. Nope she wanted the GPS set. So I did it and fell asleep.
Three hours later I wake up. We are now headed south on the I 5 towards Los Angeles. We are almost to the Grapevine, 75 miles past our interchange.
What are you doing? I yelled. She said, what? The GPS says I’m going the right way. I look at it, it is going to take us to AZ through the Los Angeles basin, 200 miles out of our way.
Needless to say I am pissed. Even turning around and going back to the correct interchange, an already long 15 hour drive has now turned into an 18 hour drive.
This time I did toss that piece of s*^t out the window onto the freeway where it got crushed by the cars behind us. That little tantrum cost me $300.
Even to this day I don’t trust GPS completely. I know it has gotten more accurate as time has gone on but it still will send you the long way around occasionally.
Word to the wise, never completely trust your GPS.
— Rod Woolley
From: “What’s the craziest route your GPS ever took you?” on Quora, 3/5/2018
“Y’all better get the hell out of here NOW!”
Driving across the country with my girlfriend from NYC. Google Maps takes us off the main road, but I zoom out to double check and it looks like a good shortcut to get where we’re going. The trail gets dustier, and suddenly we’re at an open gate through which the “road” keeps going. I check the map again, and it looks OK, so we enter through. I figure, if the gate is wide open, we’re probably safe.
Passing a large barn, suddenly about 15 huge dogs come running after us. Real big dogs. Barking, angry dogs. We keep driving as per Google’s instructions but the “road” suddenly ends and there’s a creek that we could in no way cross to keep driving. So, we manage to turn around with these huge dogs surrounding us and slowly drive back the other way. Only when we get back to the gate this time, it’s closed.
In our rear-view, we see a golf cart sputtering towards us. It’s an old lady. We roll down the window, not long before we hear “Y’all better get the hell out of here NOW!” We try to tell her we’re sorry and explain what happened, but she’s not hearing it. “If y’all hurt one of my dogs, I’m gon SHOOT YOU!”
My girlfriend is freaking out, but the gate is closed, so the old lady pretty hilariously has to explain to us that it will open automatically if we approach it closer. “It’ll OPEN automatically if you just PULL UP!” So we drive up and it starts to open, but we’re too close to it, and awkwardly back up to let it open all the way before hightailing the F out of there. Never taking the “shortcut” in the middle of nowhere ever again.
I actually submitted a report to Google about this and never heard back from them.
— Redditor /u/girlingboyer
From: r/AskReddit, “What creepy place have you accidentally visited using Google Maps?” 2019.
Your Final Destination
My daughter and I were visiting a college in Bangor, Maine. After a nice trip, we had our GPS take us back to the car rental agency. Except … it just didn’t seem like it was taking us the right way. We were in the middle of nowhere and pulled up to a graveyard and the GPS said, ‘You have arrived at your destination.’ We did end up having a pleasant walk around a beautiful cemetery, however.
— Alan Willett, New York
From: 5 Hilarious Stories Of GPS Directions Gone Wrong | GEICO Living
Bring Your Swimsuit
Finally, we remember, with a certain freewheeling wanderlust, the early days of Google Maps when travel was a real adventure! Read on: Google Maps Shows Funny Directions
Video by Al d'Vilas