Traveling across America on a motorcycle is a fantastic way to see the country. My boyfriend and I have been doing this for twenty-seven years, and it’s been lots of fun. But, in the early years, it was sometimes a hassle. We were out of touch with family and friends until we found a pay phone, or mailed them postcards. I had to carry a disposable camera to capture photos of the places we visited, and then mail it home to have the pictures developed. And when I finally got one of the first cell phones, it and its charger were too big to carry with us. (Two people on a motorcycle, even a big one, leave little room for luxuries.) Eventually, I got a smaller cell phone with a built-in camera. Unfortunately, the display washed out in bright daylight, and it was hard to frame the photos properly. Even worse, it was very difficult to upload the pictures from the phone. I needed a better solution. Along came the iPhone 3G. It not only has a great camera, but it’s easy to upload photos from the device or e-mail them to your friends. The iPhone and its charger are very small and portable. Best of all, there are thousands of apps you can download to make your trip more interesting and fun. I was excited about it and couldn’t wait to take it with me on an extended, five-month, 9,500-mile, road trip. Replacing maps and scribbled notes As we always do, we took a Rand McNally map book with us on the trip. In the past, we’ve used its front cover as a convenient place to jot down phone numbers, addresses, and other information. Now, all that is stored on my iPhone. We carry the Rand McNally as a backup, but the iPhone’s GPS and mapping capability take care of most of our needs. In addition, I can use the iPhone to get a quick weather report about the area we’re traveling into—very important when you are on a motorcycle, and something you just can’t do with a Rand McNally map. During our trip, we visited friends in San Angelo, Texas. It was a hot summer day, and our friends took us to lunch. They locked their keys inside the car. They had the OnStar service, but didn’t know the number. I pulled out my iPhone, goggled “OnStar,” connected to the OnStar operator, and handed my iPhone to my friend. Within five minutes, the car was open, and the missing keys found. We were heroes.If all else fails… We were having trouble finding a Harley Davidson dealer in North Carolina—one of the few times and iPhone app wasn’t any help. An IT friend had given me the 800 number for Google’s free business locator service, Goog411 (800-466-4411). Call the number and an automated assistant will find what you’re looking for, and send you a text message with a link to Google Maps. I searched for a Harley Davidson dealer in North Carolina. A few minutes later, I was on the phone with someone at the dealership, discussing our particular situation, and looking at a map with directions to the dealership. There’s not much room for luxuries on a motorcycle. However, there will always be room for my iPhone!
The iPhone and third-party apps come in handy when you hit the road—on a motorcycle.