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14 June 2006: Into Nevada

First, before the photography, a little commentary; this last weekend I picked up a GPS for the trip. Although I've played with other peoples', including the in-dash variety, I've never owned one of my own (not even for the US 395 trip, which probably could have used it).

Eventually I settled on a Magellan RoadMate 360. The high-end Garmins, especially the nuvi and the 2720, were overall stellar units but their prices were pretty ghastly; the nuvi, nice as it was, started at around $750 street, and the beautiful, speedy high-end ones clocked in at over a grand (!). The 360, on the other hand, offered street-level navigation, voice prompts, instant compass/coordinates/speeds, and did not require those grotty map downloaders you find on others in its price range for $499 list, which I'll get for $430 when the mail-in rebate comes back.

Things I like about it: the GPS tracking is very solid and fast -- once it gets a lock it holds on to it, and it usually acquires one in no more than 30 seconds most of the time; map updating on the road is quick; pretty detailed and current maps (most of the complaints you will find on Web reviews about its map data not finding certain streets are pretty specious; I tried a few of their test cases and they simply turned out to be typos on the part of the whiner, not the unit), and no need to use a map downloader utility because USA (plus Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico) and Canada maps are built-in; instant coordinates, speed and heading information is a cool feature.

Things I don't like about it: windshield suction cup can be rickety on rough roads (I guess it's a good thing they're illegal in California anyway); can't just put the map at an arbitrary place, you have to pan to it; no Mac support! ... not a big deal now since the maps are current but this will stink later when I need to update them; has glitches with detecting transition roads; does not properly indicate co-signed routes.

On the whole, so far it's done very well here in Southern California. I'm going to give it a couple more days, and if it doesn't screw up or blow up, I'll probably keep it. I don't think I'm going to find a unit much better in this price range; I looked at the Lowrance line but they seemed to have quality issues with a lot of units exhibiting strange power-up instability, and while I considered the Tomtom, people have reported it gives bizarre directions and the one in the shop didn't have its card so I couldn't try it out. (I have also read that it doesn't report L&L, which seems bizarre. Why compute it and then hide it?) We'll see how it goes.

On with the photographs.

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Inspection station as we near the Nevada state line. Note the closures this late into the season; pretty much all the passes were impassable (yuk yuk yuk). Only Mono Mills Rd/CA 120 -- see last log entry for its history -- was still open.

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Nevada state line and Mineral county line. Mineral county is pretty stinking deserted; its 2004 population estimate was a dismal 4,912, most of them in Hawthorne, the county seat. (I have been through Hawthorn on US 95; there's pretty much nothing else of consequence for miles. Hawthorn was either named for local cattleman Willam Hawthorn [no E], or for the Hawthorne family, of which author Nathaniel Hawthorne hailed, but only 3,311 [2000] people are there to share the mystery.) The name, understandably, comes from the rich ore veins in the region.

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Looking back on the California side to see how far we've come, and a little reminder that US 6 did go all the way to Los Angeles, once upon a time.

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Boundary Peak (not Boundry as the sign says), the highest point in Nevada at 13,143' -- nearby Montgomery Peak (there's that name again) is 13,441', but it's not in Nevada. As the name suggests, this tall spire within the White Mountains straddles the California-Nevada border. It is, obviously, the tallest peak in this picture. (There are a few sources that disagree and place the height at 13,141'. I'll begrudge it the two feet, I think.)

US 6 also passes by Nevada's second highest point, Wheeler Peak. We'll get to that when I actually hit the road.

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PM 4.0 into the Montgomery Pass.

Next Tuesday: Montgomery Pass! I'll give the I-10/I-8 itinerary then, I've been talking too much in this posting.

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8 June 2006: Benton and Eastern Mono County
 
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20 June 2006: Mineral County, NV
 


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