Common Ground |

Common Ground

I got a new toy to play with, and you know how much boys love their toys. Actually it’s a tool.

That’s how I justify being able to buy toys at my age. “Nope, it’s not a toy it’s a tool.”

With that out of the way, the first thing this tool does is tell you not to be stupid.

“Warning: All data is presented for reference only. You assume total responsibility and risk associated with using this device.”

It seems that there are too many people in the world who rely on gadgets to get them out of trouble. Then, if they survive not putting their brain in gear, will turn around and sue the company trying to help them.

Once you get past the warning screen, the hand-held GPS unit attempts to tell you where you are on the earth within three to 33 feet accuracy. It does that through a Global Positioning System, or GPS.

There is no way I can explain how all this stuff works, but for a space-age gadget it truly is simple.

The GPS unit is a receiver that grabs signals from a bunch of satellites flying overhead that the government used our tax dollars to put into space.

Once the GPS unit receives radio signals traveling at the speed of light from at least 4 satellites, then the GPS finds your position on earth.

My own warning to you is don’t use this thing around your kids if they are smarter than you.

While out on the deck trying to figure out how to use this new gadget, one of my daughters comes up and says, “Trying to find yourself again, Dad?”

Though GPS units have been available for a few years, it has taken me that amount of time to decide to buy one for myself even though I have used them at work.

The reason for that is it has taken me over 25 years to master the use of the old reliable paper 7.5′ USGS topographic map. With that much time invested, why spend money on a gadget to confuse me?

Believe me when I tell you that if you don’t have a good working knowledge of “topo” maps, as we call ’em, then don’t waste your money on a GPS.

I am dead serious when I say that.

More times than I care to count during hunting season has a lost hunter with an IQ of 50 who was lost with a capital “L” stumbled into me or one of my hunting buddies.

When you ask them if they have a topo map they look at you like you’re from another planet. The most expensive GPS in the world wouldn’t help a fool like that.

Since there is no way in this column or 10 more that I can tell you all there is to know about topo maps, I’ll save both our time by not trying to do so.

Give me a call and I’ll share what I can.

” Writing from 25 years of experience in federal land management agencies using topo maps, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories with readers every other week. Next week he will finish talking about his new GPS.

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