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GPS revisited

My Christmas present to myself this year is a Garmin c330 GPS. I managed to snag this wonderful new travel tool cheaply at the Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) Sale at Walmart. I already have Delorme GPS with Street Atlas added to my laptop which I very much love and actually has far more capability than this basic unit has, but I am not comfortable leaving a laptop, especially one I need to work, in my car when I’m toodling around town for a day or hitting the local tourist traps. My new unit will be used for local driving and as a backup for the laptop on the long moves.

Aside from the excellent price, I chose the Garmin c330 because of the hundreds of great reviews it has gotten on the Internet. It is highly rated by most folks who tend to buy not just one but one for each car and for each college student in the family. The unit is designed to get you from point A to point B, that is all it does, and it does it very well. The screen may seem small at 2.1″x2.8″ but they use it really well and I was amazed that all the direction arrows are very large as well as the text along the top of the screen. It does not have text-to-speech to say the street names but it does say turn here, then there in a very loud, normal, crisp female voice while the street name is displayed along the top of the screen in very large easy-to-read letters. It also changes the screen colors for day and night driving. Easy access to millions of Points of Interest such as gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, local recreation, tourist attractions, etc. makes this a very valuable addition to anyone’s vehicle.

Garmin C330

I like the solid suction cup mount it came with and that it supports WAAS if you enable it. I like the touch screen, sound, and volume control wheel very much. The slot to add SD memory is well located and nice to have. You can store up to 500 favorite addresses which is great and they make it easy to store your home address for easy retrieval to get back home. Adding the spot you are at right now is also very easy which should make finding the car easier while on a walkabout. I love the way they link your account on their website to the following surprise for easy coordinate downloading.

I don’t like the odd shape which makes it hard to hold unlike the tablet types. A handle would have been nice with their shape. The documentation stinks though it will get you started easily. Their documentation on their website also stinks. I did learn there that one reason to buy a fancier (and way more expensive!) unit with FM broadcasting and MP3 support is to buy and download tourist guides at various sites for lots of places such as Washington, DC. When the GPS senses you have reached an important spot, it tells you all about it like your own private tourist guide. I can live without it for now.

What the box and reviews do not tell you is that Garmin fully supports the sport of geocaching which requires GPS to play. I was very happily surprised! In geocaching, you hunt down small caches that have been hidden all around the world. You would not believe how many are near you right now! The caches contain at the least a log book or pages to sign while larger ones contain trinkets and maybe a geocoin as well. You take a trinket or coin and replace them with one of yours. You also have the ability to log your finds online to share your experience with the rest of the community.

Some caches have themes. Some are very hard to find while others are very easy. Clues are available. Anyone can create a cache and post it at the geocaching website with the coordinates to find it. Many RVers are playing along. There are tournaments. Per the geocaching website today, “There are 488392 active caches worldwide. In the last 7 days, there have been 279726 new logs written by 40271 account holders.”.

The Garmin website makes it easy to download GPS coordinates for geocaches and stores them under My Favorites via a USB cable to a laptop. Select one and it will guide you close to it if it is along the road. If not along the road, you can pop the GPS off the mount to hand carry it though you may want to use another GPS with topographical maps instead for off-road caches. This GPS really was not made for any off-road or hiking caches though it can do it to some degree. Get a good handheld instead. This is also an older design. I like it just fine as do may others but you may want to look at the newer Nuvi line by Garmin which will cost a little more but has a more sensitive GPS chipset inside and newer maps.

See http://www.gpsinformation.net/ for a lot more information.

Woohoo! I bagged and logged my first find! I found a JOE nanocache at Exit 55 of I95 in Fayetteville, NC. My new GPS led me right to it. Add in a clue from the geocaching site and there ya go. It was the tiniest little magnetic thing, about 1/2″x3/4″. I didn’t recognize it at first since I have never seen a nanocache before and was expecting something else. Inside was a little rolled up scroll log to sign.

nano_cache.jpg nanocache.jpg

I have to admit I felt a little silly pulled over by the side of the road and searching an object for it. Cars pulling off the freeway were curious about me. I don’t care ’cause I FOUND IT! I’m finally no longer a geocache virgin. (Had to use that word to waste the time of perverts in the search engines. Muwahaha!) Tried to bag another but, unfortunately, it got nailed in a car accident a couple weeks ago I hear. Darn it! Oh well, plenty more to be had. This is gonna be fun. 😉

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