Tag: google maps

Google Maps – My God, It’s Full of Stars

Google Maps – My God, It’s Full of Stars

Over the years I’ve been asked many times how I “find” stuff to visit while I’m out riding. It is a mix of serendipity and old-fashioned administrative work. The former I can’t help with other than to say keep your eyes open to the world. The latter? Use what you already have at your fingertips.

When I read about a place that interests me or if I see a photo of something I like – I will Google it for more information. Once I find the basic area or an actual address, I’ll then look it up on Google Maps, checking the street view when possible. That’s when I’ll favorite or star it on Google Maps for safe keeping.

If you’re signed in to a Google account, the stars on your map will be available to you, across devices.

When you open the Google Maps app on your phone, it geolocates you by default. If you’ve starred a place in your current vicinity then navigating to it becomes easy peasy. Just click the star and get directions.

I find these mapped favorites tremendously helpful if I’m passing through an area I’m not familiar with. I might’ve read about something two years ago and long since forgotten the particulars about it. One glance at the map and the little star gives me a clue that some point of interest is nearby and maybe I ought to go and see what it is.

Having that personalized bank of stars just floating out there on the map means there is always something to see.

How to Save Favorite Places on Google Maps

One feature that I like is that you can change the icon for your starred favorites. For example – maybe you don’t want to remove the star from the map but you want to note that you ‘ve already been there. You can change the star to something else to indicated that you’ve visited it.

Last year I bought a Lifeproof case and an X Grip for my phone, making it accessible on my handlebars. This made using Google Maps even easier. I can pull over, see what’s nearby and get directions piped into my helmet via my Sena headset. Isn’t technology amazing?

Photo Rally Bonus Hunting – Links, Books, Google Maps

Photo Rally Bonus Hunting – Links, Books, Google Maps

With photo bonus rallies being in the forefront of my riding-mind lately, I thought I would offer up some of the resources that I use to find interesting locations to ride to and places to see.

Blogs, Websites & Books

There are so many corners of the internet that can help to fuel your desire to get out and explore. The following books, blogs and websites  are just some of the ones I find helpful in searching for places to visit.

Blogs & Websites Books

I have also found that searching sites like Flickr, Pinterest, ADVRider also offer some good inspiration for thing to research and visit.

If you have a location in mind that you’d like to visit, chamber of commerce, city or town websites often prove to be good places to look for historical landmarks.

You can also try Googling for interesting KML files and maps. For example – say you’re interested in Old Long Island Burial Grounds. Perhaps someone has already done the work for you and was kind enough to share it with the world.

Sure, nothing beats good old fashioned riding by the seat of your pants, serendipity and exploring – but these links might help you get on the road to something you hadn’t thought of before.

Google Maps

If you’re anything at all like me, you spend an awful lot of time sitting at a desk each week. During these (seemingly endless) hours, my mind wanders to thoughts of places that I’d like to ride to.

And… just as soon as the ideas enter my mind, it seems they’re on the way out again. So, I’ve taken to marking these spots onto a custom Google Map. I then export the placemarks and put the waypoints into my GPS.

Creating Custom Google Maps

Google offers the following video on creating your own maps:

After you’ve created your custom map, you can go back and add, delete and edit entries at any time. Just select your maps from ‘My Places’ on the left hand side of your GMaps screen.

I created a map for the E2E Rally that I keep adding placemarks to so I don’t forget where I want to go. Eventually.

Example Google Map with Placemarks

Just something to keep in mind when using Google Maps – if you just enter a word or phrase like saaaay – “post office” into the search field, it will pop up a ton of locations that you can then click and Save to Map.

search for locations

That makes finding specific things and saving them to your map a snap.

example save to map

GPSVisualizer – Convert KML to GPX

[edit] WOOHOO! The 4/1/13 Basecamp update provides KML support!

Google Maps allows you to export your custom map points out to a KML file. Since I cannot use a KML file in Garmin’s BaseCamp to ultimately load into my Zumo 665, I need to convert the KML file to a GPX file.

For that I use the great GPSVisualizer website.

On the surface it might sound like a lot of work, but it takes about 3 minutes to get your Google Maps KML, convert it to GPX and load it into BaseCamp.

Garmin BaseCamp

When I have a GPX file, I then drop it into Garmin’s BaseCamp. From there I can load the waypoints into my Zumo and have the ability to create routes.

I organize my waypoints into collections in BaseCamp by rally name or maybe by type so that I can easily find them on the GPS when I’m on the go.

Odds and Ends

After I’ve visited a location, I sometimes remove it from my Zumo ‘favorites’ just to cut down on the clutter or if I think it is a place I might not ever feel the need to navigate to again.

If I’m just floating around, going nowhere in particular – I let the ‘favorites’ screen on the Zumo stay visible. A quick glance will let me know how close I am to the nearest waypoints I’ve saved.

Good luck and happy exploring!

If you have any other recommendations or tips please leave a comment!

 

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