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Articles tagged with: Garmin eTrex Vista HCx

Written By: Gary on August 23, 2008 2 Comments

So my Mom got me an early birthday present, it’s a portable Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS. This has been on my Costa Rica to do list so she asked me what I wanted at just the right time. Obviously, it’s a specific model I picked out for her and it’s been great the little bit of time I’ve played with it this past week. It’s got the color display, the compass (this is an extra) and the memory chip expansion. It’s a whole lot easier to us than I expected it was almost Apple-ish in it’s use, but there are too many buttons (it’d need a touch screen to make it a little more intuitive).

As of right now it’s telling me we’re at 7,284 feet and traveling at 527 miles per hour (we’re somewhere south of Cuba). That’s seems a little low to me (I thought they didn’t let us use electronics until 10,000 or 15,000 feet) but maybe it’s having a hard time tracking out the window of the plane (but that’s not really my area either). I’ll be sure to upload some of the tracking info later superimposed on a map. I’ve always been into maps so it’s a fun gadget for me.

I wanted it for Costa Rica for a few reasons:

  • the signage for the roads are awful and since some of the roads are so bad you don’t want to backtrack unless you have to.
  • When I’m hiking I’d really like to know how far I’ve wandered away from civilization and have a better idea if I’m walking in circles.
  • Maps here aren’t the greatest so maybe one of the Points Of Interest (POI) will help me find something I’ve been missing.This portable unit only has basic highways and major roads (roads like Telegraph and Michigan) for the US, it’s assumed you’re using this for specifics like hiking any you’re going to buy the topographical maps for it, but it does have exit numbers for the highways and food and gas info for those spots. I think you need to purchase the local maps for turn-by-turn directions but I never got a chance to play with that.

    In anticipation for this trip did purchase the detailed maps for Costa Rica. The unit had very limited details before that upgrade, although I think it still would have helped me orient myself quite a bit. I purchased them from www.NavSatCR.com who does about 3 updates a year and then I can purchase future years for a lot less. They actually sell cheaper 10 day and 30 day versions so if it’s just a one time trip you don’t have to invest as much, but those maps actually stop working after that time frame (I purchased the non-expiring ones). From reading around, the folks at NavSatCR seem to be the place for Costa Rican GPS maps.

    I also purchased a mount for handle bars so if I rent an ATV, scooter or bicycle it’ll help with getting around that way too.

    As I’m wrapping up writing this, we just left the air above the Atlantic Ocean and passed into El Salvador…

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