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Old 08-26-2014, 07:13 PM   #21
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Name: Jack L
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For some of the western states I use the Benchmark Road and Recreation Atlas and a simple GPS that just provides latitude and longitude. The Benchmark Atlas shows latitude and longitude and I have been into some very interesting places with the help of both the GPS and Benchmark Atlas.
I was exploring some unmarked dirt roads on the Navajo Reservation in Monument Valley this May and made a wrong turn. With the compass in my truck, the GPS and he Atlas it was easy to get back on track. Knowing exactly where I was and where I needed to be made it simple. I consider a good map showing latitude and longitude and a GPS a must for boondock trips.

A handheld GPS like mine (20 years old) just tells your global position from satellites and my inexpensive, old and sturdy unit is very accurate. Common sense, a compass and a GOOD map will never let you down.

The newer GPS with software and the ability to give directions probably would be useless in this application.
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Old 08-26-2014, 07:20 PM   #22
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Thom (Parkliner owner.) suggested the navigation program Co pilot. I downloaded it on a tablet and it works very well. I really like the fact I can plan my route the night before and can pick from different route options and move routes as needed. When traveling I just prop the tablet between the shifter and the dash. With a 10" screen it is easy see at a glance. I also carry paper Maps.
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Old 08-26-2014, 07:35 PM   #23
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We have added a Garmin more than a year ago and use both paper and the Garmin.

Have added a point of interest app that shows us all the campgrounds within about 20 miles of where we are on the road, that has been helpful and shows many community campgrounds I would never know about.

Was surprised that we use this device so much, finding a place to eat, gas stations on our side of road, etc.

Would never travel without the paper atlas though. My ragged one has 4 routes highlighted on the way to Oregon. At the end of the day sit down with your daughter and highlight the roads you traveled. You could highlight before, but we often end up on different roads.

Yes, the Garmin is often wrong. Still like it.

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Old 08-26-2014, 07:52 PM   #24
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We have a Garmin, but seldom use it any more. The maps are getting a little stale, and I don't get free updates. So, I tend to use the Google Maps on my phone. My Garmin did a pretty good job most of the time, but it never did know know that US 30 exists in Ohio. You could drive all the way across Ohio, with it screaming "Turn Left! Make a U-Turn! Turn left! Recalculating!" For what it is worth, US 30 is a divided 4-lane limited access highway for much of the way, and has been there for years.

When I was a teenager, a friend and would often play a game. We would take his dad's '72 Camaro, and I would lie down in the back seat and take a nap, while he drove wherever felt interesting to him. Eventually, he would pull off, and it was my job to figure out where we were, and navigate us home. No maps allowed, and it was usually played late at night. It was excellent exercise for the brain!

When I started getting hooked on GPS, I noticed that my built-in navigating skills started to rust. So, now, I more often only use the GPS in heavy traffic areas, so I can focus on not becoming road-kill, instead of having to figure out which exit to take in a major city.

By the way, +2 on what Franswa said -- have the kid navigate! If he gets you lost, have him figure out how to get back on track, without fear of being in trouble. Make it an adventure, and have some fun with it. That's the stuff that memories are made of. He will brag to his friends about that for a month!
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Old 08-26-2014, 07:57 PM   #25
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I always take the belt and suspenders approach. Tom-Tom + Triple A map + print out from Mapquest or Google maps. The GPS is most handy when we are at our destination and want to go out to dinner or just go exploring and are unfamiliar with the area. We can always find our way back to our campsite.
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Old 08-26-2014, 08:19 PM   #26
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I'm a paper map kind of guy. I still have AAA make those flip-book "Trip-Tiks" for me.

A friend of mine who is a total geek (1st adopter of any tech gadget) was aghast that I didn't already have a GPS so he gave me a Magellan for my birthday. I stuck it in a drawer for a month... then out of curiosity started to learn how to use it. First thing I discovered was being in the drawer ate up my "free update" period, updates are now $100 per year. Then Southern California is so much under construction that whole new roads pop up, and old ones are re-routed that this thing isn't aware of. ...and it thinks my work address is a tenth of a mile west of where it physically is. It only recognizes the front street address. If a property is on a corner to your left, it will send you down to the next block to make a U-turn so that "You Have Arrived" at the front door to your right.

The City of San Diego has official streets that were never built, but they show up on the GPS. If I come to a dead-end at the edge of a canyon where the street continues on the other side of the canyon, and I nake a detour that is not programmed into it, it will "recalculate" to bring me right back to the dead end. It directed me once down a private driveway that it thought was a street to end up behind a locked gate across the actual street that the address I was looking for was on.

I got it for nothing, and it's worth every penny of what I paid for it.
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Old 08-26-2014, 09:00 PM   #27
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For paper back-up I use Delorme atlas Gazetteer
Amazon.com: delorme atlas & gazetteer
Ditto on the DeLorme, especially if you don't want to be on the interstate all the time. Very detailed and lots of other useful information.

If you don't have one and decide you need more detail in an area, Office Depot and such usually have them in stock for the state.
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Old 08-26-2014, 09:13 PM   #28
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The Delorme and Benchmark maps are similar. If you buy one be sure you get the latest one. Sometimes they are several years old when a newer one is available
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Old 08-26-2014, 09:49 PM   #29
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I got it for nothing, and it's worth every penny of what I paid for it.
Frederick, get a, get a, get a Garmin, and make it one with free updates. I had the same problem with the map updates until we got the new one. Basically I couldn't see spending that much on map updates. There are a bewildering array of models to choose from. We got this one and it is light years ahead of the 5 year old model it replaced. Free traffic updates for life too! Not too big or small, $153 currently in the jungle. It will change your opinion of GPS.

http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-2557LMT...+nuvi+2557+lmt

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Old 08-26-2014, 11:24 PM   #30
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If you have a GPS navigation device that allows you to store destinations don't make your home address one of them. Device gets stolen and thieves know enough to check it for a home address. They know you are not there right now because your vehicle is "here".

Use the address of a nearby business for "home" so that when travelling and want to find directions for home the directions will take you to your local gas station, grocery or drug store. You can find your way home from there. The thieves can't.
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Old 08-27-2014, 04:43 AM   #31
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I had never heard of Benchmark. Looks like they only cover western states, but the product looks good. Delorme covers the country.
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Old 08-27-2014, 05:00 AM   #32
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American Map Company. Stopped printing in 2010
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Old 08-27-2014, 05:21 AM   #33
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I use both. The GPS for travel (I have a big screen GPSMAP 7200 but in recent years use the on-board navigator of the Ford Flex.

Once there, I have a bunch of the state-wide Delorme Atlases to scan the area to choose interesting destinations for exploring the area.

And I have a number of US-wide atlases (Michelin and others) in case the GPS ever goes out.

Another plus for the auto-based GPS' is that it normally will have a fairly complete POI (Point of Interest) index of local attractions and stores. And it can't be beat if looking to find emergency services for a camping mishap. Mine has "hot buttons" for police/hospitals. But without a specific destination in mind the paper maps are best for me.
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Old 08-27-2014, 07:32 AM   #34
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Maps and Smartphone GPS

Ginny always has maps for our trips, for some of our favorite places she has local maps as well. We use smartphone GPS for finding non-mapped places. As well we use Smartphone GPS for geocaching.

The smartphone always knows where we are and is happy for finding anything.

We also have Delorme maps for Maine, NH and NC. If you're near exit 17 on the Maine Turnpike stop in at Delorme and see their multi-story globe and visit their store.

Ginny also carries the eastern and western mountain directories that provide information on all the steep hills and mountains.
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Old 08-27-2014, 07:33 AM   #35
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Good discussion, thanks for the replies. The following comes to mind as I read the posts:
a) The kid. Good point about teaching her to read maps and getting her involved and such, but exactly how many of YOU really did/do this with YOUR kid? I will try and do better by her but dangit Dad is just trying to get down the road!
b) I do not have a “Smart” cell phone, just a plain old dumb one good only for actually talking on. I do wonder if a GPS app might have real advantages though.
c) Free updates to maps. Yes that was a selling point of the one I got, I did not get the traffic function though. I hope that my pre-trip planning will help avoid any real problem areas as I do tend to skirt Cities if possible.
d) The GPS, and computer maps (Google Maps, Mapquest, etc.) do choose some interesting routes at times. One thing I see frequently is their tendency to take a zigzag diagonal approach to getting you over to a parallel road. I see this a lot and when I am in an area I know, like leaving my home town, I just drive down a little farther and cut over all at once avoiding a bunch of stopping and turning. I guess the computer does not care about how much you have to brake and turn.
e) I will have to investigate the POI (point of interest function), it sounds very interesting. What I really want is an “all the locals eat at this joint because it has cheap great grub” function.
f) I have been pleased that the Garmin does not announce that it is “recalculating” but just quietly, and pretty quickly, goes about doing it. I have messed with it around town some and can just imagine what the machine is thinking: “Where is this guy going? Why did he not turn where he was supposed to? I am a good mind to let the dumba** get lost. I know, next time out I will direct him down through the ‘hood’, that will fix him.”
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Old 08-27-2014, 07:44 AM   #36
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Going to Canyon de Chelly from Four Corners, I was relying on my GPS. It told me to turn left from the highway, which I did. After about a mile on a good paved road, the pavement ran out. Since there was a lot of road paving equipment around, I figured they were just working on the road. At 23 miles in (always the optimist), I was still on a narrow, unpaved road. I'd long since reached the point of no return, when I saw this, and KNEW I'd taken a wrong turn:


Now I check the map before heading out
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Old 08-27-2014, 07:52 AM   #37
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There is no doubt a GPS can make the wrong choice, the reason Ginny is first order maps and GPS for specific locations when in an area.

A nice feature of phone GPS is that it's always with you, updates daily, fits in your pocket.

A Smartphone is like a Leatherman Multi-tool. It performs all kinds of functions, almost beyond counting.
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:28 AM   #38
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A couple comments:
1. My kids are map literate and I would encourage the 11 year old to use this opportunity also. My kids love using the maps and the GPS. We sometimes have competitions between the two.
2. I would still use a stand alone dedicated GPS. (Garmin or ...) I have been too many places where cell phones don't work so my cell phone maps are a backup only.
3. The GPS is 99% good and only 99%. Garmin and their suppliers put an incredible amount of work into making them very good, but the very fact they put that much work into it tells you it is a very difficult task and they probably are not 100% correct. Every night I check my route for the next day to make sure common sense and the GPS match. I and many others could tell you many stories about why we are not 100% confident in them.

Have fun with your trip!
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Old 08-27-2014, 10:59 AM   #39
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Frederick, get a, get a, get a Garmin, and make it one with free updates.
I picked up a Tom Tom for about $125 from Costco with free lifetime map updates about 3 years ago and pretty happy with it. Get a few updates a year from TomTom - having said that the lifetime is only as long as TomTom deems the product's useful life to be...so suspect with the way the life of electronics goes these days I may only have a few more years out of it.

The main reason for the purchase was three fold: 1) often travel on my own so reading paper maps while driving not easy 2) when I do have a co pilot to read the paper maps they have more than once gotten me into big problems in regards to sending me down the wrong road in the dark and no space to turn around. LOL 3) while on the road I can ask the GPS where the nearest grocery store (name of choose) or gas station is. I love the last reason as it has saved me a great deal of time driving around a town looking for what I want/need.

The GPS has occasionally tried to send me down a road that was clearly not meant for trailers or that had been decommissioned. Mostly when outside of large urban areas. I think one has to use common sense and not totally take its word for it if there is any doubt as to where it is sending you! LOL The nice part is most times if you ignore its direction to turn down a suspect road and keep driving a short distance past, it will more often than not quickly come up with a far more acceptable route.

The GPS I have also shows the length of the various traffic delays on the route and the distance they are from your current position. It updates the delays and adds the new ones as they happen. It will also offer up an alternative faster route if there is one & tells you how much faster it thinks the alternative route is. Nice feature to have when traveling in a strange to you city & your clearly stuck in a big traffic jam due to an accident miles ahead.

I agree with the others that when you plug in the address (actually using the longitude and latitude works best) always look at the whole route it calculates. If you don't want to travel on gravel roads - change your settings so it knows that! If any doubt as to the route it has suggested I will also use Google maps on my phone to see if it has a different suggestion.

One also needs to keep in mind that the GPS and Google maps when calculating the time it will take to get from A to B is assuming you are doing the max speed limit the whole route..... never going to happen - either due to traffic volume or the fact I don't do over 65mph when towing. Wish that someone would make a GPS (perhaps they already do?) that gives you the option of telling it what your personal max speed limit is going to be. Also wish the TomTom would calculate Border waits. I find it funny it knows about traffic accident delays etc on both sides of the border, so why not the actual Border waits if your crossing one.

I do keep a large atlas in the trailer for pre planning as well and for use if the GPS is clearly having issues with obtaining a signal or coming up with a route I like.
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Old 08-27-2014, 11:31 AM   #40
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I have several generic comments with respect to GPS and they’re mostly about a solo traveler or if the driver is also responsible for navigating:
· Big display, in color. You are taking your eyes off the road, often at a confusing, heavily trafficked intersection. Color makes differentiating features, like the planned route vs side roads, easier.
· Mount it as close to your line of sight (without blocking it) and as far away as practicable to minimize the refocusing your vision for distance. Down on the dash against the front window works for me. I do have to lean forward to push buttons (when using the Garmin). Some states do not allow suction cupping the GPS to the windshield but are apparently okay with the bean-bag type mounts loose on the dash. Go figure.
· It needs to talk to you. In busy traffic you’re not going to want to take your eyes off the road. The spoken directions will be important.
· Don’t sweat a missed turn. Set the GPS to automatically recalculate if you miss a turn. It’ll still get you there and the extra time vs. a lane changing accident is a good trade. You are on vacation.
· Never pick the shortest distance. Downtown Big City, USA, and through every sketchy neighborhood. ‘Nuff said.
· The both my Garmin and the Flex’s navigation allow me to set average speeds for residential, main roads and freeway speeds.
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