When we left in 2003 we hadn’t thought about navigating at all. We bought a used roadmap of Europe on the same flea market where we sold our stuff. Navigating GPS systems generally were a gadget for expensive cars. However, I (Coen) did have one of the first Garmin handhelds, which I used on my motorcycle trips. These could not hold maps, like today’s devices do.
An Upgrade: the Garmin GPSmap 60CSx
We chucked the yellow Gamin eTreks in a box, not to be seen again until Iran, where we started using it to mark camping spots, retrace our route when necessary, and to find our bearings in major cities when staying a little longer, as it laid a virtual breadcrumb track.
My friend Edwin works for WayPoint – Garmin’s main distributor in the Netherlands – and he was so kind as to provide us with an upgrade: he gave us a GPSmap 60CSx [long since not available anymore: but these are the most recent Garmin handhelds]. This handheld Garmin is still considered by many as the king of the road in GPS land: Rugged, waterproof, doesn’t eat batteries and is perfect for in the woods.
For What Do we Use the GPS?
As our fuel meter isn’t always working [don’t ask me why], our day-to-day use of the GPS is registration of the distance we covered, so I know when to fill up again.
We still use it to mark camping spots as well, and the ability to load the GPS with Open Street Maps [which have greatly improved over the last years] has given our navigation a whole new dimension. Both positive and negative.
Apart from navigation, we use the GPS to find geocaches. This worldwide game has evolved a lot since we found our first cache in Bangkok. What we love best about geocaching is that it brings us to most beautiful and remote places, which we normally probably would have given a wide berth.
Another feature I use is to see what time the sun will set and the phases of the moon. It can be useful knowing that we still have two hours of daylight to find a nice camp spot, while the later helps planning shooting full moons or star trails.
Improvements for the Future
I’m not going to give you a total review of this popular GPSmap 60CSx because it has been tried and tested by many before me; a quick Google will tell you all you need to know. But I will hint on this: If Garmin would develop a screen that is readable with sunglasses, they could hit the jackpot!
I am driving with prescription sunglasses, so glancing at the Garmin’s screen while driving means having to peek over the top of my sunglasses and moving very close to it. Which, you may understand, can be annoying as well as dangerous.
The best thing of this particular GPS, however, has nothing to do with all the above. It’s the message we’re getting every day when we turn it on. Edwin programmed a thoughtful phrase when he gave us the Garmin:
Edwin, we think of you every day!