Thursday, July 29, 2010

ATV-SUV Trails Near Canyonlands

Canyonlands Overlook by L. Sessions
I think I've told you before about Dennis, a friend of Offroading Home who helped find us a new home when ATT went out of the web business.

Well, he's been putting together a map of one of the most picturesque riding areas in Southern UtahCanyonlands.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Hamburger Rock Trails]

It all started with a ride known as "trail 25" at Hamburger Rock and grew from there – as they say, "the rest is history."

Monday, July 26, 2010

On The Butte With 'Desert Walker': A Gold Butte Summer

One of the advantages of posting a blog such as Offroading Home is the opportunity to meet some interesting 'characters.' I was at Kurt's Grotto just after the "fiends of Gold Butte" and BLM idiocy which closed it off, and struck up a conversation with two riders who looked like they knew what they were doing.

When I started to tell them about the maps available on the blog, they already knew all about it and showed me that they had been using them a lot. Since then the two, who use the moniker of 'Desert Walker,' have assisted in verifying tracks and waypoints and every so often send a photo of something they've seen.

When I began receiving photos of the Gold Butte rides they were taking in the middle of the summer, and heard about the 'unique' modifications they've made to their rigs, I then knew that they were indeed characters so decided to 'interview' them via Email, which went pretty much like this:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer ATV-UTV Gatherings

For the most part, Offroaders are a bit of a solitary lot. I mean that we tend to seek out experiences with much smaller groups. However, at least once a year being part of the riding "community" is good for the soul.

It's a great time to experience an unfamiliar riding area with others who are more familiar with the trails. AND, these gatherings often have exhibitors with "free" samples! Not to mention new gadgets and equipment.

There are many of these events this summer – read on to see a substantial list.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Map Update: Great Basin ATV-SUV Trails, South

I'm basking in the light of some help with trail verification here on the Offroading Home blog.

Michael Davidson, who usually rides in southern Nevada near Las Vegas has been following several of the Great Basin ATV-SUV trails and sending in his GPS tracks to verify the trails that I had to hand-draw from the Mitchell book.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Great Basin ATV-SUV Trails, Southern]

The tracks are almost spot-on, with the exception of a couple of areas where he took an alternate route around a rock or some such.

Monday, July 19, 2010

GPS Maps 105: Northing, Easting and Mercators Oh My

[This post is part five in a multi-part series about understanding the GPS system and its coordinate grid.]

Believe it or not both of these maps at the top of the post are REAL projections of the world map. I would hate to have to use them to ride offroad on my ATV but real projections none the less – just not the kind we're going to talk about today. In dutiful compliance with readers who have so far chided me for "ignoring" the UTM Coordinate system, this post is all about it.

However, I must confess that I sort of feel like a "lamb going to the slaughter" because I don't promise that after we are through you will understand it any better than you do now. I know that I don't think I do, and I've been studying the stuff almost non-stop for five months.

If you thought the last post about spheroids and datums was tough – hang on, this may be a bumpy ride! You almost need to forget everything we've talked about so far (except that the earth is not round) because it's all different as we will soon see. And the bass-ackward differences couldn't be anything except deliberate.

Your best bet during this discussion would be to keep reminding yourself that this UTM stuff was invented back when most of our worlds were what we could display on one map – and did not need to be concerned about the 'big picture.'

Just keep your mind focused that you are trying to merely solve the problem of looking at YOUR journey in YOUR corner of the world, draw it on a paper making it "look like" the ground that YOU were on, be able to easily visualize and calculate YOUR distances and YOU don't even know that there are "THEMS"… much less that there is an Australia.

Friday, July 16, 2010

GEO-tography: Offroad Backlit

It's becoming a bit of a regular feature but photos gleaned from those published on the internet of places we've been, or want to be, draw no small amount of email.

Perhaps we just like to get ideas to help our own photography.

At any rate, this set of photos follow the "back-lit" theme and remind us that the sun doesn't always have to be over our shoulders and shining in our subjects squinty-eyed faces.

Once in awhile we can let it "back-light" our subject, even though we may need to use something white to reflect a little onto it's front.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More On Faulty Google Earth Update 5.2

Version 5.2 does NOT correctly create zipped files (at least if they have network links in them) and there is no record of this bug on the users forum yet. The last time it took nearly 9 months to fix, so don't hold your breath.

If you have already "updated" to the 5.2 version you can easily roll back to the version 5.1 at: Google Earth Advanced Download. You will need to un-install 5.2 before you do this.

In addition I have now restored the correct Nevada and Arizona USGS waypoint files.

New Google Earth Version - BAD!

I'm sorry to report that Google Earth has done it again!

DO NOT UPGRADE to the new 5.2 version - until they have resolved some issues. I recently reported on the new update to Google Earth which has a couple of "eye candy" improvements, but appeared to be stable. It is not!

Shortly after the release of the last post about the new Arizona USGS files a reader reported that the files didn't work like they should. Together we researched the issue and found that the latest GE update IS FAULTY.

Therefore, for the time being, both of the previous mentioned posts have been withdrawn until I can report this to Google Earth and have a solution.

For those of you who want to know - the problem as we have found it so far is thus:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

USGS Map Waypoints: Arizona

I have it on good authority that Arizona "felt left out" of what is turning out to be a major life's work for me in these western states USGS waypoint files.

Five hours of work, 43,752 waypoints (including those beginning outside the state) and Fifteen counties later… we have mappage.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Arizona USGS Waypoints]

I never realized that Arizona 7th graders had it so easy in their history class when it came time to memorize the counties in the state – only fifteen. And the file size is only a tenth of California's.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

GPS Maps 104: Satellites, Spheres and Datums

[This post is part four in a multi-part series about understanding the GPS system and its coordinate grid.]

I don't know about you but had I been around in the time of the early navigators and been stuck with doing the job, I'd have been just like most of them: staying up at night trying to find a "happy accident" (like the star Polaris just happening to be squatting permanently above the north pole) in order to make the figuring out of Longitude at least bearable.

They couldn't do it. And knowing what we know now I'm sure I would have wasted my time too – with Hubble we now know that there isn't any such "short-cut". Wind up or battery driven watches seem to be the only answer for Longitude.

However, just cause God didn't give us no Geo-synchronous celestial landmark doesn't mean that we can't… or shouldn't… or haven't made up for the seeming… "oversight."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

USGS Map Waypoints: Montana

I bet no one saw this coming: I completed the file with all the USGS Waypoints for Montana. Neither did I.

Why did I do Montana before Arizona or Colorado, Offroading Homes usual group of states with offroad maps? One reason – I haven't heard anything from readers in either of those states for a long time and I had a brand new trail submission from Montana.

Besides, lest we all forget, this is the state with Yellowstone! They even have a county named: Lewis and Clark!

So 54 hand-coded, mind-numbing counties and 65,249 waypoints later – "we've got mappage!"   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Montana USGS Features]

Thursday, July 1, 2010

GPS Maps 103: Coordinate Commandoes - Lewis and Clark

[This post is part three in a multi-part series about understanding the GPS system and its coordinate grid.]

By now you realize that there are many ways to represent geographical data, even for the same location; and most likely you have found a favorite method based upon what works for you.

Decimal Degrees: 36.9956433, -112.0059717
Decimal Minutes: N36° 59.7386, W112° 0.3583
Deg-Min-Sec: N36° 59' 44.316", W112° 0' 21.498"
And what works for you pretty much depends on how you go about navigating in the field and the ratio of paper to electronics you have in your life. The more paper – the more you fumble with degrees, minutes and seconds.

Also, after reading the previous posts, you should be able to recognize that every one of these coordinates point to the identical place – The Wave in southern Utah and Arizona. But, I can tell you, I had a mighty easier time obtaining these numbers than those intrepid souls who attempted it a hundred, fifty or even thirty years ago!