gps

Using Google Maps with the Garmin Zumo 660

One of the best things about motorcycling is spending a nice day exploring twisty back roads far from home.  One of the worst things is getting lost while running low on fuel and being clueless not only about where you are but where to find gas.  Fortunately, technology comes to the rescue again with a variety of water-resistant GPS units built especially for motorcycles.  Last week, I became the owner of a Garmin Zumo 660 GPS.  I also purchased a bluetooth headset kit for my helmet so I could hear the unit.

After a rocky start, which included trying to charge the Sena SMH10 bluetooth device through the MP3 port (doh!), I spent a couple of rainy nights familiarizing myself with the Garmin.  It's an impressive device, as it should be with a retail price over $700.  But it had one very disappointing handicap: it can only import route sheets from Garmin's MapSource software.  Not only do Google, MapQuest and Bing Maps make MapSource look like a relic from the Windows 3 era, MapSource is only available for Windows, not my Mac.

Yes, the Garmin will let you import destination points from the more popular online map vendors but the Garmin will construct the route for you.  That's fine if you want to get to Point B as quickly as possible but I usually don't want the fastest route.  I usually want one of the least efficient paths -- one which will take me through small villages and across covered bridges with a stop at my favorite hot dog stand which may 20 miles off the optimum route the Garmin creates for me.  (For instance, my favorite route from Washington, DC to NYC is through West Virginia's Monongahela Forest).

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