3. August, 2008 - road trip

I thought it would be bigger...
I thought it’d be bigger…

Well, not much of one, but yesterday I got in the truck and spent a couple hours driving around Minnesota (more pictures will appear there over time), telling myself that I was giving my new GPS (a Garmin nüvi 750) a test-run, but mostly just getting out of town and out of the house for a few hours, plus shooting a few photos along the way.

I got to discover a few things along the way. First off, I’ve gotten very hassle-averse (or lazy). I got to New Ulm, and there were no clear signs to the parking area at the Schell’s Brewery (looking at the google map, I’m still not sure if there is a real parking area there), and there were about a half-dozen cars with people trying to figure out where to park clogging things up, so I just turned around and headed back down the hill and cruised around the town a bit. I’ll get there again sometime.

Second, the GPS can be pretty stubborn. There was construction (it’s summer in Minnesota), and the GPS sometimes insists on directing you where you can’t go, resisting all attempts for you to follow an official detour. I’m sure there’s a way to convince it to shut up for a few minutes, but it doesn’t have the latest informaiton, and I haven’t yet figured out how to update it, so that can be a pain.

Third, it was completely non-obvious to me how to say “Just get me to the city I want to go to – I don’t want to try to enter an address.” That’s buried on the second screen of stuff, and it took me a few tries to find it.

Fourth, it’s a pain to switch from “fastest route” to “shortest distance” and neither is exactly what I want all of the time. Sometimes the fastest route is stupid, too. Going from Mankato to Hastings, the GPS wanted me to drive on 169 all the way up to Shakopee and then across Cliff Road to Hastings. That might be the quickest route when nobody else is on the roads, but I strongly doubt it’s a very good choice on a nice weekend day. The route it chose (the white part of the trip) once I switched to shortest-distance mode was mostly on quiet country roads with lower speed limits, and speed zones in the various small towns, but I’m pretty sure it was faster because I could do 70mph on the quiet country roads, rather than be limited to 65mph in traffic on 169, and even slower on Cliff Road.

But other than those minor gripes, I’m pretty happy with the nüvi 750. It saves my trip data, which was one of my must-have items. When I get home, I can plug it straight into my Mac, run a program, and get a map of where I went from a website. If I drop an extra $20 for one of a half-dozen different available pieces of software, I can get better maps, too. I’ll probably do that when I do a real road-trip. And I suppose I should probably rtfm, too. But overall, it was easy enough to use that I only burst out in expletives a couple times, which is pretty good for the first day playing with a new toy.

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:02:07.