20 June 2006: Mineral County, NVA note first of all: it occurred to me from some of the E-mail I've been getting that people think I'm already on the trip. No, not yet! Just as a reminder, the photographs I'm posting from now until 1 July (when I really do leave) were previously taken when I drove US 6 to US 95 in early May. The actual trip doesn't take place for another good week and a half, and then I guarantee the updates will be a lot more fast and furious and will cover a heck of a lot more ground (the best selection from each day's 300 miles posted, say, daily or every other day, hopefully).
In the continuing adventures of GPS, I've figured out some tricks on the Magellan RoadMate 360 to get it to display arbitrary map positions (by manually defrauding its GPS cache), and found a hacking menu for getting deeper into the operating system. I'll have to post a RoadMate hacking page when I get back. Also, I stress-tested this one by driving to a closely parallel frontage road (W La Cadena Drive paralleling I-215 in north Riverside) and seeing if I could fool its lock-on-road algorithm into accidentally tracking me on the wrong street. The narrowest margin between La Cadena and I-215 is about 10 feet, probably nearing the limit of even GPS plus WAAS, but the RM360 could only be fooled in one place -- passing south on La Cadena through the Columbia Avenue interchange, requiring the combination of the nearby south I-215 onramp, continuing on La Cadena under the Columbia Ave bridge where the signal dropped out, and onto a region of road where there wasn't road on the RM's map (because of W La Cadena's reconfiguration during the Riverside Interchange upgrade construction). And even then, it only falsely put me onto the freeway less than half the time in five passes and each time rapidly corrected itself within three seconds, and the navigator did not spuriously recalculate directions even when it was mistracking. Furthermore, when I drove on the freeway, it never improperly locked onto the frontage road, even in that same area. If it took all that to get it to bug out, I believe that's a very solid performance and certainly better than what I've been hearing about the iWay 350C (for example, here is gpsinformation's review, a thorough test from guys I really trust -- read under Areas for improvement for their concerns; even the otherwise adoring GPSLodge review commented on this, under Issues with Navigation).
So I'm pretty happy with the RoadMate 360, now that I'm getting into the guts of it and banging on the hardware. Barring any serious goof between now and the 21 days CompUSA gives me for the return, I expect I'll be bringing it along for the ride.
Finally, as promised, the I-10 and I-8 itinerary, starting 1 August.
PM 6.0 ascending to the Montgomery Pass.
Note how the speed limit is 70mph, on this one-lane-per-direction highway. Phreeeow.
Esmeralda county was one of Nevada's original nine territorial counties in 1861 (Mineral county was actually derived from it in 1911). Tradition indicates the name came from early prospector J. M. Corey, who named the local mining district for Esmeralda, the gypsy dancing girl in The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. Originally, its county seat was Aurora (see US 395 Part 16 for some of the contentious history of that town) until 1883, then Hawthorn in modern Mineral county until 1907, and finally the town of Goldfield (along US 95) in the present day. Boundary Peak is actually part of Esmeralda county, even though we saw it while driving US 6 through Mineral.
Esmeralda county is the least populated in the entire state, which for Nevada is really saying something -- only 971 , with an estimated 2004 population of just 1,176. Goldfield, once the largest town in Nevada due to its eponymous gold strikes during the turn of the 20th century, today maintains roughly half the county's residents for a 2000 population of merely 440. That's quite a fall for a town that had nearly 30,000 inhabitants during the peak of gold production in 1906, and that ultimately produced almost $90 million of the precious metal from the initial 1902 strike until the cessation of most commercial mining operations around 1940. Wyatt Earp was once a sheriff in Goldfield, in 1904.
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