Subject: Re: mapping softwear
Hello Navigators:

From what I read the preferred electronic in-car navigation device is from Garmin. I believe it has map cartridges or download capabilties to load both US and European maps. The problem with the Garmin is that is expensive, i.e., on the order of $1,000 to $1,200 USD.

I use two routing programs. One is from DeLorme: Street Atlas 2003 ("SA")(there must be a newer version) for use in the US. I have a small GPS unit that connects to my laptop through a USB port and SA will tell me where I am and how to get to where I want to go. It is not perfect, but it gives you a good idea. For Europe I use Map and Go, a German program which is very good, but whose interface from the laptop is somewhat antiquated. I have just ordered a USB/Serial interface cable for the laptop for Map and Go does not like USB, preferring the serial port which does not exist on newer laptops.

The geek in me loves to set up the laptop and have it speak, "Turn right in 150 miles." Jan is not amused. The adventurer in me says, "Go buy a Michelin map and figure it out for yourself." While the former is neat, the latter is much more fun. Don't travel with a schedule. Getting lost is fun. Consider stopping by the roadside to ask directions and finding out that you cannot really speak the language. Then reach back into the boot, pull out your maps and a bottle of wine and share a glass with your new guide. It will not take long for each of you to figure out where you are going and you might well enjoy the process.

Uh oh, the disclaimer: I am not promoting the use of alcoholic beverages as a method of ascertaining where one is or where one is going. Use of alcohol may be dangerous to your health.

Tom in Carlisle opening the olive jar.