Road Trip 2021: Day 1 — Surviving the nightmare

Misdirection by Google Maps almost strands us

This is an account of what happened on the very first day as we embarked on our 11-day southwestern road trip in December 2021. Check this post for an overview of the full trip.

We planned this segment from Fremont to Indio as a simple, boring, long stretch of freeway driving that was expected to be uneventful. Of course, that was not to be!

As we were cruising along on I-5, Google Maps reported a slowdown on the freeway due to an accident that would delay us by 30 minutes. It offered us an alternate route. And we took that alternate route. Big mistake.

Road Trip Snafu #1

While the alternate was just a little slower in speed, it was really smooth sailing, up to a point. That is until we got to the onramp that would get us back on I-5. Only, that onramp from Twisselman Road was closed, presumably for road construction! How can Google direct us there! Naturally, we went past that spot, and Google Maps promptly rerouted us into yet another alternate: Lost Hills Road. The nightmare began.

Road Trip Snafu #2

By the time we reached that point, the sun had set and we were into nighttime driving. What made this stretch a nightmare was that Lost Hills Road off Twisselman Road was nothing more than a collection of potholes and mud pits. The potholes may have been tolerable for trucks, but they sure wanted to destroy the undercarriage of our Toyota Prius. We did catch one of them badly and heard our undercarriage scrape…twice. Ouch.

Driving on that “road” was essentially negotiating an obstacle course for over five miles. All along, the fast-moving I-5 was in plain sight, just to add to the frustration. Somehow we survived that stretch and then got back on track.

The Silver Lining

Our predicament in the dark on a desolate road had just one advantage: I could have a rest stop before continuing on our arduous journey!

I believe we lost about an hour in this escapade, but hopefully avoided a half-hour delay on the freeway, thereby losing, at best, just half an hour on the whole!

We swore never to take a detour off I-5 by choice again.

Important life lesson: No voluntary detours unless you are familiar with the area!

The rest of the way to Indio proved uneventful. Except for a nagging question in my mind about what we may have done to the undercarriage of our beloved Prius.

This is part of a series of stories about our road trip through the southwestern United States in December 2021. Please follow the links below to check out the other parts.

3 thoughts on “Road Trip 2021: Day 1 — Surviving the nightmare”

  1. Fun article, Venkat! painful, but fun! Misdirection from Google — I’ve been there. On the way to an appointment, plugged the address in and went what I took to be a merry way. I must have been lost in thought, responding to Google’s prompts automatically to turn left at the next stoplight, etc. I remember thinking, isn’t Baltimore lovely, so many different scenic ways to get to a known address. Well actually there aren’t that many ways and Google was leading me into the next state.
    How’s the Prius?

    • Thanks, Nicole! Prius seems to be fine. We checked for any indication of any leaks for a bit, but didn’t find any. So, crossing fingers…

  2. Never trust google maps or a GPS is the lesson we all learn at some time in our lives. I can concur being stuck on a side road in view of the freeway is the most frustrating thing.


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