New England: Reviews of Travel Books and Maps
The purpose of this page is to reveal to you the resources that we have used both prior to and during our trip to New England. We have reviewed such resources so we can convey to you which ones we thought were most useful as well as those we didn't find useful. Hopefully, this may better direct your information gathering efforts for your own trip...
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REVIEWS OF TRAVEL RESOURCES (BOOKS, MAPS, WEBSITES)
New England Waterfalls: A Guide to More Than 400 Cascades and Waterfalls (The Countrymen Press) [Overall Rating: 4.5/5]
This was pretty much the one-stop resource for identifying which waterfalls we were targeting in the New England area when we went there in October 2013. It was by far the most comprehensive and complete resource on the market, and they even had a website that pretty much had quite a few of the chapters in print. The only thing that the website was missing was the directions, which was revealed in the book.
What we liked about this guide was not only its thoroughness and complete survey of the waterfalls in the New England area, but they also took the trouble to make it easier for the casual visitor or fan to absorb the information with their summaries, boom boxes (containing ratings, difficulties, waterfall type and height, jurisdiction, etc.), and some limited photos. The book was completely in black and white so there was a conscious decision to provide as much information as possible at the expense of color to save on printing costs.
The book was divided up into the states comprising New England, then in each of the states, they provided waterfall write-ups in alphabetical order so they could be easily found (even if there wasn't a formal index though Appendix F in the back of the book listing all the waterfalls and page numbers for it were equally as effective).
So we pretty much did all of our waterfalling research starting with this book (which we had to wait for since it was momentarily out-of-print at the time we were trying to buy it), then supplement any other holes or soliciting second opinions from the web. The ratings really helped us pin down the waterfalls we were going to target on limited time on our trip, though we had to re-calibrate our expectations since we knew there weren't many jaw-dropping waterfalls on a world scale. But those lowered expectations merely meant we were pleasantly surprised when we found divine sights like Bash Bish Falls or Arethusa Falls, for example. We acknowledged that the authors tried to convince us that size doesn't matter, and to some extent, that may be true. But at least we knew where they were coming from with their ratings, and so we made mental notes accordingly in our research.
The bottom line was that this was a very good resource, and we would highly recommend it for anyone wishing to go waterfalling in the New England area. If we're fortunate to go back (especially to Maine), we wouldn't hesitate to go right back to this resource.
Garmin MapSource Topo! US 24k Northeast Map [Overall Rating: 5/5]
After having been used to the dysfunctional interface of the National Geographic Topo! CD-ROMs, I was relieved to find out that there was a Garmin Mapsource product for the Northeastern US (that also included New York as well as New England). It didn't take long before I realized just what I was missing from those older maps that we had bought. Not only did it contain a similar level of detail (though I'm not sure if it had all the place names that the NatGeo Topos had or if they were just as many but in different places), but it also had that full functionality of trip logging and planning that I came to appreciate about the MapSource softwares that the NatGeo products had seriously lacked.
I was especially impressed to see the level of detail that included default waypoints for some places we were targeting like the Flume as well as Arethusa Falls, Bash Bish Falls, and more. Just the fact that there even existed waypoints of some pretty off-the-beaten path places as well as places that required walking meant that if I searched for them, I'd find them. That was a bit of a roll of the dice with the NatGeo software.
So even in an age of GoogleMaps where there might be plenty of disjointed waypoints and tracks from random bloggers, hiking clubs, business, and general info providers, this map is still necessary to get the rest of the USGS info that otherwise wouldn't find its way onto Google. And for that reason alone, that makes this product very valuable. I know that little by little, these map products are being phased out, but I really hope that they stick around for a little while longer so I can buy up the other regions of the USA (or other countries for that matter) before such info is lost for good.
I know from seeing Amazon reviews that quite a few people have trouble with getting the product installed or used, but I can't say I've had terrible difficulty in getting up and running with each MapSource product I have. Perhaps what's more annoying is having to enter serial numbers or license info and connecting with their server (or hooking up a Garmin GPS product as part of the install process), where I fear one day I might get stuck having to re-install it only to find out that I can't communicate with their server anymore (thereby rendering the product useless even though I bought it).
I noticed on the US 24k Northeast product, even though it had a sticker with the serial number on it, I didn't recall ever being prompted at the install. So perhaps that already did away with this? I don't know. But nonetheless, until the product is rendered useless, I still contend this is the most useful map product out there and only lags behind GoogleMaps in that the place name search capability may not be as extensive, flexible, nor up-to-date since GoogleMaps is constantly being added to as time goes on...
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