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Monday, April 2, 2012

More on Google Earth

The last two weeks we have explored the many useful applications of Google Earth. There is one more very useful feature I feel compelled to share. These are the pictures posted by other Google Earth users which show up as blue squares on your screen. They show scenic areas, forgotten locations and other places of interest. Sometimes they even depict boondocking campsites! Many of these areas are right where I plan to boondock providing me with more to see and do.

Example #1

If the blue squares aren’t already showing up on your screen, you will need to activate them by going to the lower left margin and finding “Layers”. Under layers you will find “Photos” (see example # 1), by clicking on the photos box, a check mark should appear in the box. You have now activated the photos allowing you to view the places mentioned above. When you find a grouping of blue squares on your screen, take note, they are screaming, “Pay attention, many others have found this unique place on earth worth sharing, maybe you should check it out too”!

Head of Rocks and a Gaggle of Blue Squares

For example, if you zoom in on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, you will see hundreds of blue squares as expected, but what about Head of Rocks along Hwy 12 in Utah? Never heard of it you say? Neither had I until I was cruising along Hwy 12 on Google Earth from my desk in Seattle when I stumbled across a gaggle of blue squares (see photo above) located at N 37 44.989  W 111 27.186 . Clicking on one of them and then another quickly had me noting the area as a “must do” along our route. Note: when you find an area like this to explore, be sure to capture the coordinates of any pull outs large enough for your RV. You will then know there is a suitable RV pull off and you have the coordinates entered into your navigational system to get you there. I recently used this method to stop and view a waterfall along Hwy 140 where guidebooks cautioned the lack of safe pull outs. Google Earth blue squares identified the waterfall, while zooming in allowed me to find a wide shoulder on an inside corner where our 50 ft of combined rig could and did safely park.

While I primarily use blue squares to discover scenic, hidden and relatively unknown places to visit, I occasionally come across pictures of boondocking campsites. Examples of which I have posted below. Some dispersed campsites can be more tent friendly than RV, so I follow the road from the campsite back to the nearest paved road via Google Earth to determine if it is somewhere I want to travel with the RV or not.

Final note: Since the pictures are posted by users and some users are geographically challenged, they may be posted where they don’t belong. Examples: I have found pictures of Zion National Park posted in Grand Escalante, slot canyons posted in the flat desert, mining ruins posted where there are none, etc.

Be sure and check out the blue squares when planning your next boondocking outing!

N 35 19.019  W 115 32.833
N 32 53.279  W 114 50.334

N 38 43.205  W 109 47.823

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