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Author Topic: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?  (Read 11638 times)

briantroutman

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How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« on: January 12, 2016, 08:12:09 AM »

Imagine that absolutely all guide signs, route shields, mile markers, street name blades, etc. disappeared. And for the sake of this discussion, let’s also assume that you can’t get directions from private signs and billboards. Without using maps, GPS, or any other navigational aids, what’s the farthest you could drive and still know precisely where you were?

The reflexive roadgeek response might be “anywhere in the country”, but as the question occurred to me last evening and I thought more about it, I came to the conclusion that it would be much more difficult than I assumed.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 11:17:42 AM by briantroutman »
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cabiness42

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2016, 08:45:24 AM »

From my home, I'm extremely confident I could get at least as far as Three Lakes, WI, without signage.  Drove the Chicago-Three Lakes leg over a dozen times while living in Chicago, and the Jeffersonville-Chicago leg over a dozen times since I've lived here.  Without any signs, I may have to split the trip over a couple days to avoid driving at night, but I could do it. 

If I had to, I could probably make it all the way to Seattle without signs, but there is a reasonable chance that I'd go the wrong way at an interstate split at least once along the way and get a good distance before I realized my mistake and had to backtrack.
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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2016, 08:57:23 AM »

I could probably get around the towns surrounding the one where I grew up without any problem.  There aren't really any signs beyond street signs anyway, so you generally need to know where you're going.
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TravelingBethelite

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2016, 09:28:41 AM »

The farthest I might be able to get from here is Harrisburg, PA, knowing the region's roads well enough, maybe Knoxville or Charleston, WV, if I really needed to.
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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2016, 10:28:21 AM »

I'm fairly certain I could make the Davenport-to-Valpo drive. I could probably make it as far west as Des Moines, as far east as Detroit or Lansing, MI, and as far south as St. Louis, and as far north as the Appleton/Green Bay area. If I deviate from Interstates without signs, though, I'm screwed. (which is a shame, since 2-lane roads are much more fun to drive)
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slorydn1

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2016, 11:08:18 AM »

This is certainly a thought provoking question. I started to type from here in New Bern, NC to our condo in Hallandale Beach, FL for sure, and definitely the state lines on both I-40 and I-95 in both directions.

But, and here's the big but:

I'm gonna need gas heading westbound. My 16 gallon tank precludes me from making it all the way to Tennessee without fueling up again. If I pick the wrong exit off of I-40 to get gas then I am completely screwed if I don't realize it soon enough.

I can make it to both Virginia and South Carolina with ease. My car could practically drive itself just by reading the pavement between my house and I-95, LOL.

But, even on I-95 once I cross the state lines, all bets are off because I'm gonna need gas at some point, too. Assuming I find gas and my way back to I-95 heading southbound I should be alright until I get to Jacksonville, FL where the various lane shifts and splits will all conspire to do me in. I'd like to think I could stay on 95 without much thought process but its been a few years, I'm not as confident that I wouldn't choose the wrong lane or ramp at some point through there.

I guess I'm not as good at this as I first thought when I began to type me response and had to delete it and start over, LOL.
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SD Mapman

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2016, 11:16:39 AM »

I can get anywhere in SD or WY, but once I leave those two states, my confidence level goes way down. (about 530 miles or such)
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jbnati27

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2016, 11:53:26 AM »

I'm confident I could find my way to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, Asheville, NC, Charleston, SC, probably even all the way to Miami FL. Going the other way, I could probably get to Chicago, down to Nashville, Atlanta and beyond on I-75 wouldn't pose too much of a challenge.
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Brandon

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2016, 12:08:25 PM »

I could probably get a lot of places without signs.  All I usually would need is a map, a clock, and a way of computing mileage (odometer).
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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2016, 12:20:58 PM »

I could get from home to work and vice versa (that's about a 60 mile commute). Outside of that, I'd probably get lost even in my home town. If I'm not careful, in my own neighborhood. If I can make it to the NJ Turnpike (and I probably can), I can get as far as NYC on the other side of the GWB before getting lost. That's about 93 miles. Wouldn't be able to do the reverse, though. Similarly, from work, I can just stay on the Garden State Parkway all the way to its terminus at 87/287. That's 150 miles and (assuming I'm already on Parkway south) I could do the reverse as well. I'd have to be very careful to find my exit on the way back, though
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jeffandnicole

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2016, 12:46:16 PM »

Along I-295 in NJ, almost anywhere I would know my exact location.  In my county or the next one over, on most streets I would figure it out very quickly.  Moving away from this area,  if it's a highway I've taken before (at least twice), I would probably know approximately where I'm at once I get to an upcoming intersection, including if there was no signage at or approaching the interchange.
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Mapmikey

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2016, 12:55:10 PM »

I would be fairly efficient getting around Virginia and most of the Carolinas.

If I had a map I could probably muddle my way to most places...

Mike
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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2016, 12:56:21 PM »

Excellent question from the OP.  Assuming no maps, I would like to think that I could make it from my home in SE PA to the west coast via the PA turnpike, I-70, and I-15 combo, but in actuality I would be happy to make the proper turnpike exit to make it out of the state on I-70.  I would be pretty hopeless once I got to the I-70 splits in St Louis & Kansas City though.
So, for me personally, I would have to choose traveling a route I am very familiar with.  I could make I-95 from Philly to Richmond until all bets were off.  Then I'd probably be going by the direction of the sun in the sky to figure out if I'm going south-southwest towards Miami....
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jeffandnicole

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2016, 01:08:15 PM »

I would be fairly efficient getting around Virginia and most of the Carolinas.

If I had a map I could probably muddle my way to most places...

Mike

Per the OP:

Without using maps...

Using maps, many of us wouldn't have a problem getting around.
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spooky

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2016, 01:18:03 PM »

I know I could find my way to I-90 and from there I would like to think that I could get all the way to Seattle, but I'm sure there's an interstate split somewhere that would muddy the waters. Looks like Cleveland would be the first spot to trip me up.
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Mapmikey

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2016, 01:24:38 PM »

I would be fairly efficient getting around Virginia and most of the Carolinas.

If I had a map I could probably muddle my way to most places...

Mike

Per the OP:

Without using maps...

Using maps, many of us wouldn't have a problem getting around.


I was assuming a map with no route numbers shown...
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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2016, 01:32:53 PM »

I expect I could get pretty far in the places I know well.  I'm confident I could make the ride from the Albany area to SW Fla, having done it so many time.

I also know that when I got home from a trip in such a universe, I'd have a lot fewer pictures on the camera to worry about...
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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2016, 02:12:06 PM »

Starting in Omaha, I could get to the Canadian border, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Milwaukee, Chicago, Kansas City, Cheyenne and Denver.  But heck, this is the midwest, pretty easy getting around.  I'd never get past Chicago or Kansas City or Denver.

I recall a disoriented driver from Rockford Illinois many years ago managed to get to the Canadian border in Maine, but she did not intend to go there.  Still, I was impressed she managed a fairly direct route there, and didn't wind up doing a large circle around the midwest.

Sad to note, had a coworker with SEVERE dyslexia, he was unable to walk even a few blocks and return to his apartment without getting lost.  There was a bus stop immediately in front of his building and he could ride to work successfully, but anything else travel related was extremely difficult for him.  He wasn't real good at his job either, illiterate and entirely mystified by the concepts of 'left' and 'right', it was quite a challenge having him around.
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1995hoo

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2016, 02:20:25 PM »

I am certain I could make it from home to our relatives' houses in Pembroke Pines and Fort Myers (both in Florida over a thousand miles away) or to Mont-Tremblant in Quebec (about 720 miles). I could probably get to New Orleans easily enough via either of two routes.

Not sure about places like the Maritime Provinces. I've been through New England over the years but have not personally driven there very often. Making the connections to I-84, or getting it right on I-95 past Boston, might be tricky with no signs.
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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2016, 02:30:16 PM »

My sense of direction is pretty good- I'm confident I could get anywhere within about 700 miles of here served by an interstate or U.S. highway, as long as I already can visualize where the destination is.

I could definitely get myself to Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis, LA, Portland, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Boise, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Tucson, and Kansas City without getting lost. Beyond that I may have some trouble.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 02:32:41 PM by corco »
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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2016, 02:41:08 PM »

Probably either Florence or Birmingham, AL.
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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2016, 03:06:05 PM »

I think a lot of people are leaving out the "precisely know where you are" part of the question. 

I could travel 1,000's of miles knowing the general direction I'm going in, but I'm not going to know exactly where I'm at for much of that time.
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1995hoo

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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2016, 03:09:58 PM »

I think a lot of people are leaving out the "precisely know where you are" part of the question. 

I could travel 1,000's of miles knowing the general direction I'm going in, but I'm not going to know exactly where I'm at for much of that time.

I don't find that to be all that different from now. A few weeks ago my brother-in-law called us as we were driving south on Florida's Turnpike. When he asked where we were, our answer was "somewhere south of the toll barrier and north of Yeehaw Junction." From a practical standpoint, that's probably a more useful answer than giving the milepost.


Edited to clarify: In other words, I don't construe "know exactly where you are" to mean "always be able to say you're X miles north of Y location, or you have Z miles to go to the destination," or the like. I construe it to mean you'd know what road you are on, how to get from there to your destination, and have a sense of the last major town and the next major town.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 03:39:26 PM by 1995hoo »
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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2016, 03:57:46 PM »

Ugh...only up to Washington DC. But I still don't have a license.
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Re: How far could you drive with absolutely no signs?
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2016, 04:25:31 PM »

Very confident I can get to San Diego from Seattle. 

I wouldn't drive at night, though.  I need those advisory signs or daylight to get through the mountains. 
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