Thursday, August 31, 2006

Back in Hotlanta

We made it back to Atlanta last night, with our flight landing close to 11pm.  By the time we got our luggage, picked up a rental car and made our way back to Marietta, it was well past midnight.  The flights were uneventful, though I was still congested enough that takeoff and landing was somewhat painful.

Today we picked up the animals from the kennel.  Too bad we did not think to bring Opal's carrier with us -- she shed quite a bit in the car on the way back, earning us a $25 pet-hair surcharge in spite of my efforts at cleaning it all out with the slicker brush.  Our rental this time was from Dollar -- never again.  Their agents at both ends of the deal were nothing short of surly, and they nickel-and-dime you to death:  they wanted a surcharge to add me as a second driver (we opted just to have Louise drive the car the whole time), and they charge all the on-airport fees even though their counter was off-airport.  And then there was the $25 for the fur, even though the car was in less-than-pristine cleanliness when we got it, including some kind of pinkish-red cosmetic spill between the front seats.

With Ernesto fizzling out and there already being over a dozen technology volunteers in Florida, the Red Cross asked us to stand down for the time being, but remain on standby for a Carolina landfall.  Thus we spent the rest of the day getting Odyssey back in road-worthy and livable trim, and re-establishing dinner plans with our friends in town.  We dropped the car off in Smyrna, and we are at the brand-new Wal-Mart super center on US-41 in Marietta (map).  We had dinner right around the corner at the Marietta Diner.

Tomorrow, while we await further instructions from Washington, I will try to get a couple projects done around the house, to include installing our brand-new Garmin 7200 GPS.  This is a large (7") screen model of the Street Pilot series, meant for trucks, buses, fire apparatus, and RV's.  It's our very first routing GPS (we seldom want to follow machine-suggested routes), but we really liked the large daylight-readable screen, touch-screen operation, and the fact that detailed maps for the entire country as well as 6M+ points-of-interest (POI's) are built-in (no more downloading maps!).

Mostly, we wanted to get a unit with a fresher database.  The map and POI databases on our trusty old GPSMap 176c were so old that we often found ourselves at, for example, a Wal-Mart store that had packed up and moved out three years ago.  Also, fiddling around with the tiny buttons and choosing items with scroll keys is a pain compared to the newer units with touch-screen input that pops up an alpha-numeric keypad when text entry is called for.  Bottom line:  navigation, for us, will not really be any easier with this new unit.  In fact, we will miss some of the features of the trusty 176, such as tide and celestial information that informed us, as the day wore on, exactly when local sunset would occur (we prefer to be parked before dark).  But finding the nearest Wal-Mart, FlyingJ, or Olive Garden will be much easier, and that will probably make it all worthwhile.

I'm going to set up the new unit for side-by-side operation for a while on a temporary base, to make sure we want to switch.  That's because I will need to completely re-do the mounting system, and re-run the permanent power (the 7200 requires 12 volts; the 176c is wired directly to 24) to install the 7200 properly.  And, no, you can't have my 176c -- we're keeping it for use on the motorcycles, where we need something weatherproof (the 7200 isn't even moisture-resistant, whereas the 176c can be immersed directly into water to a depth of around a meter).

When we figure out where we are heading from here, I will post an update.  Stay tuned...

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