row2k Features
Trailer Tricks
Rowing Hack: Sat-Mapping Your Gas Stops
March 3, 2022
John FX Flynn

With folks hitting the roads again soon as the spring regatta season descends on the rowing world, this week's Hack is a timely, tech-driven trick to help drivers find shell-trailer-friendly gas stations and food stops out on the road: Use The Satellite Map View on Your Phone.

Nope: this hack is not ground-breaking and, in fact, two pretty seasoned trailer drivers suggested it to us separately: Vespoli's Charlie Huthmaker, who has shared some cool phone-use hacks before, and long-time Leon High coach Brett Tillotson.

"Have your sidekick use the satellite view on your smart phone map to preview potential stops. You can see if parking lots are big enough and the alignment of the pumps," says Huthmaker, who also confessed: "I just came up with it this summer because, for the first time in ages, I was in the passenger seat!"

Tillotson, for his part, pointed out that you can--and should--use this trick to scout out your overnights, so you can find those elusive hotels with good shell-trailer-sized lots so essential to longer trips.

Just because a great idea is already in wide use doesn't mean it can't be a cool Hack, and if you and your co-pilot are not using your phone this way to plot your gas stops and overnight stays, then here is the perfect excuse to add Sat-Mapping your Gas Stops to the arsenal.

After all, your phone and its satellite view feature have come a long way in the decade since Rowing Hacks last looked at the best tips for traveling with your 60-foot friends, back in 2012's Fast Times at the Filling Station.

Back then, there were some cool apps to use to find truck stops and specific amenities, but nowadays, a quick Google or Apple Maps search shows all options at upcoming exits--and it is a cinch to toggle over to the satellite view to see which gas station offers the simplest approach.

A pro's tip: look it all up before you even get in the truck
A pro's tip: look it all up before you even get in the truck

As seasoned haulers, you already know what to look for, of course: pumps parallel to the road, with enough "pull-in" space to get your sterns out of harms way, or, for stations with pumps perpendicular to the road, a generous amount of "pull 'round the back" room so you can swing around the station when you are done.

You'll also be seeking those spots that have both fuel and food, so you can follow the patented Rowing Hacks "Park Once" Plan. That ensures you can get everything you need all in one trailer-safe stop and get right back on the road.

The map apps will even tell you how many minutes a given stop could add to your trip, which is pretty helpful, even if it does mean we probably need to retire our favorite alliterative advice for trailer driving: "No See? No Stop?" That was our reminder to never pull off the highway unless you can actually see the station from the road. That tip has saved many a tired driver some wandering on side roads to find a gas station that was a bit further from the interstate than advertised, but: technology moves on!

Now, when you do find a good satellite-scouted spot, we still recommend jotting it down. "Good stop" notes are another simple hack; after all, odds are good you'll be making that same trip--and stop--again in the future and that note will save you some searching. Heck, you could even use the phone for that too, with any good note-taking app.

Do you have a Rowing Hack that you use when you are logging trailer miles?? If so, share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

If you have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion, then please send it to us and we will feature your idea in a future column.

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