Travel With RJ

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A few years ago, my wife bought me a Garmin V, and I have used that on many trips. It has usually been usefull, but there have been times when I wanted to throw it out the window. Like when it would decide for no particular reason that I was off-toure and start recalculating the route causing me to miss a turn and have to backtrack.
On Black Friday (the day after thansgiving) I saw many ads for GPS units. GPS’s have come a long way. These new ones have color touch screens, and have street level maps for the USA built into them. With my older Garmin V, I had to load maps from a CD to the GPS for a region that I would be travelling to. So if I was going to Las Vegas, I would load in several big chunks of southern Nevada, and some of eastern California just in case I decided to go or a long drive. But these new GPS’s have all the maps built in.
But I already had shopping plans for Black Friday, so no new GPS. But a bunch of GPS’s were on sale the day after Christmas. This time I decided I was going to get one. I looked at several models including Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom. I have owned Garmin, and Magellan GPS’s before. But TomTom was a newcomer. I was a little leery. I read reviews of the Magellan unit that was on sale, but it had gotten poor reviews. It sounded like it had been rushed to market, and wasn’t wuite ready. The TomTom One on the otherhand had gotten pretty good reviews. And at $150 it seemed like a great price. Much cheaper than waht my older Garmin V cost.
Circuit City was one of the places that had the TomTom One on sale. On the morning of the sale, I went to their website, and they show one being available for pickup at my local store. Cool! I ordered it. I didn’t plan to pick it up till after work. But a short time later, I got a voice message from someone at Circuit City saying they didn’t have any, and that I could get a refund. I didn’t want a refund, I wanted the GPS I had bought. At lunch time, I stopped at Radio Shack to see if they had any of the TomTom GPS units left. But they were out. Not a surprisre at this point. I was pissed at Circuit City, and was going to insist that honor my purchase. I did afterall have a confirmation that they were hold one for me. I didn’t like the idea that they were going to refund the $150 I paid for the TomTom GPS this week, and then want to charge $250 for the same GPS next week! I stewed about this all day, getting pretty ticked off at Circuit City.
After work I stopped into Circuit City with my paperwork. I was pissed, but was planning on trying to be nice, but insistant, and talk my way up to the regional manager if I had to.
I didn’t mention anything about the phone call. I just presented my paperwork, and acted as if I hadn’t gotten a call. I was going to make THEM explain how they were out to me. But after the guy rung in my car, and I signed and everything he went into the back to retrieve the GPS. I was expecting him to come back and say sorry, there was a mistake. But the guy cam back with a box. They had the TomTom One GPS. I am guessing some other person may not get theirs. Or maybe someone goofed and they just hadn’t found the GPS before. Or maybe a shipment came in. Whatever. I got my TomTom!
I have played with it some. It is different than my Garmin V. Better in most ways. Though there are a few things that my Garmin did better. But I still need to play with the TomTom One a lot more before actually using it for travel. After I really get a chance to try it out, I will write a review.

Having watched Cash And Treasures on the Travel Channel, both my wife and I have wanted to try some of those trips. In March, we are driving down to Virginia where I am going to be running a marathon. But I noticed that North Carolina was the next state down. And I was pretty sure that one of the Cash And Treasures shows had taken place in NC. I search and sure enough, they had been hunting emeralds in Hiddenite, NC. That was less than a 6 hour drive away. Hmmm. And the emerald hunting looked like fun. And coincidently, the Cash And Treasures episode with the emerald hunting was just on during a New Years marathon of the show. So I talked to my wife, and she is all excited. Well, me too. We are planning on taking a couple day drive down to the marathon when I am hopefully going to qualify for the Boston Marathon by running a 3:30 race. We will staying over night there, and then Monday drive down towards Hiddenite. We will stay overnight there, and then on Tuesday actually do the emerald hunting. My legs should be feeling a little bit better by Tuesday. I am sure they will still be a little sore though. If we have fun the first day, maybe we will stay and do a second day before driving back up north.
There was another place down in Georgia with amethyst hunting, but my wife seemed to be happy with just doing the emeralds. And on the show, they seemed to be finding more than just emeralds. Some of the other stones listed on the places website are aquamarine, sapphire, garnet, topaz, amethyst, citrine, rutile, tourmaline and hiddenite.
I am planning on getting the combo permit which will allow us to do digging, creeking and sluicing. I am a strong guy, so the digging wont be that hard. But then the creeking could be fun too.

I finally got around to booking a hotel in Virginia Beach, VA. I have been procrastinating, but decided I better do it before the hotels are all filled. I am running the Shamrock Marathon in March and wanted something near the starting line of the race. The Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront is 2 blocks from the starting line, but when I looked, it was full. But I used the address for the Hilton to search at Orbitz. I was able to search by address, and it would show me the closest hotels first.
The closest was a Knights Inn, followed by a Travelodge, which was followed by a Ramada. The Knights Inn and the Travelodge were only .2 miles and both 2 star hotels. The Ramada was listed as a 3 star hotel, and .3 miles away. The Ramada didn’t cost that much more than tke Knights Inn. But when I started reading the reviews of the Ramada, it was trashed. Everyone who reviewed it in the last year or more gave it a one out of five. Not good. The cheapest of the three was the Travelodge, but it also had some poor reviews. The Knights Inn had the best reviews of the three, but still a few negative ones.
I brought the seacrh up on my laptop computer, and found some new possiblities showed up that for some reason hadn’t appeared during my first search. Also the price for the Knights Inn had gotten cheaper. Cool! I examined the new listings, but the Knights Inn still seemed to be the best deal. Out of curiousity, I went to Knights Inn’s site and looked up the prices there. I was able to book the same room there for two nights and save $20 over the price at Orbitz.

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