A bad day for Garmin NUVI

We spent a nice four weeks in Gillette, WY, for the 53rd WBCCI International Rally. The Rally was good, as usual. Meet new friends, greet and spend time with old friends, learn new things, and enjoy varied nightly programs. Jim ascended to President of the WBCCI Amateur Radio Club, we conducted very successful seminars on full-timing, and enjoyed a couple of great local tours to share with you later.

Now we’re on the road again. Gillette sent us off in fine style, a cold soaking rain followed us most of the way to Cody, WY. Gillette’s weather wasn’t much good the entire stay. We had too much wind to unfurl our awnings or flags. So the farewell rain wasn’t a big disappointment.

The past two nights we spent just west of Cody, WY, in a neat little state park along the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. Free firewood in plentiful supply, nice fire rings, and a great view make for a nice campsite. The campground is five miles from Cody so we made two enjoyable trips into town for southwest food and shopping. We like Cody and know our way around pretty well from two stays two years ago.

Trouble started this morning with our Garmin refusing to respond with a reasonable route from Cody to Bozeman. Debbie is expert in establishing via points to force Lucy, our Garmin gps, to take the route we want. Lucy wasn’t having it today.

The most direct route between Cody, WY, and Bozeman, MT, is through Cooke City and the top section of Yellowstone NP. And all the way beyond Cooke City Lucy insisted we just had to backtrack and head NW to I-90 to find our way to Bozeman. Never mind this entails an extra two hours driving over going through Cooke City and Yellowstone!

We rarely fail to get Lucy to see our way. Today we resorted to using the atlas and road signs, until some time into Yellowstone National Park when Lucy decided we could get to Bozeman via Highway 89 through Gardiner, MT. And we did.

Two years ago we had a little difficulty using Lucy to locate the Bozeman US Post Office. This happened in Melbourne, Florida, too. Melbourne seems never to have had a Post Office where Lucy directed us. And in Bozeman, Lucy is unaware of the large Federal Building just off Tracy St, one block off Main St downtown. Two years ago we walked several miles to north of town looking for the Post Office without success.

Today we were getting nowhere with Lucy on the Post Office quest, so pulled over downtown and asked someone. We were within a couple of blocks of the main Post Office and completed our mission with no help from Lucy. Ninety-nine percent of the time Lucy gets our directions right and serves wonderfully. When she isn’t hitting, she is sometimes waaaaay off.

We’re in Bozeman, MT. Today we mailed our solar charge controller to it’s maker for diagnostics, repair, and return to us. We will wash truck and trailer (they’ve never been dirtier, thanks to rain and dirt road on the pass over Big Horn Mtns west of Sheridan, MT), get Deb’s hair done, enjoy a rebloturn to Bozeman United Methodist Church, celebrate Jim’s birthday Monday, and have a visit to Pickle Barrel ice cream shop near the college campus.

Why did we mail our charge controller off? Yesterday morning we realized we no longer were hearing its blocking diodes clicking in and out with the sun’s rising and setting. We checked the current reading and were getting no solar power to the batteries. It was running out all over the floor and onto the ground instead.

Called the manufacturer who told us how to check the charge controller. Connected the solar panel hot lead to the battery hot lead and checked the current reading — 7 amps instead of the zero we had through the controller. So the connections and panels and batteries are all okay, it appears to be the three year-old controller. Manufacturer said, “send it in and he’ll fix and return it.” Cool!

We’ll spend a few days in Bozeman, relaxing and enjoying a nice small town. Then we’re off toward Kalispell, MT, where we’ll hopefully meet our forwarded mail and our refurbished charge controller. We look forward to exploring this part of Montana, between Helena and Great Falls. And we’ll manage this with or without Lucy’s navigational help.

Jim and Debbie
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6 responses to “A bad day for Garmin NUVI

  1. Richard Hunt

    I enjoy the pet names people give their GPS devices. Your “Lucy” is our “JUVI”–a combination of NUVI and Julie. We find she needs a lot of monitoring and likes to play little evil tricks on you–like wanting to send us over a cliff in Cody, WY.
    It was really good to see you two in Gillettee. Have a great Birthday and we’ll “see you down the road.”
    P.S. I got my flashlight back yesterday.

    • Richard, I’m wearing vinyl gloves when I open my birthday present from you and if it’s a flashlight, we’re NOT using it. Reminds me, I want to share your flashlight story with our readers, so stay tuned, I’ll get it posted in the next day or two.

      Great visiting with you and Julie in Gillette.


  2. Jim/Debbie:

    What model Garmin NUVI is Lucy?


    • Ed, It’s a three year-old NUVI 650. We have life-time updates, try to keep them current. It’s no use — she has wrong locations, no businesses of some types, often wrong on Post Offices, and is stubborn as an old mule. We love her anyway, she does help with upcoming (or just missed) turns when she and we can agree upon where (and how) we’re going.


  3. Can you guys help us at all with RV parks to stay in on the way up to Alaska?

    • Hi Sprinters! We really like Bayview State Park just north of Everett/Seattle (near Mt Vernon and Burlington, I think), really nice park with great walking all through the tiny village (not a single store for 10 or 12 miles).

      We also like Larabee State Park near Bellingham, WA, for the beautiful drive to it (only approach from the north, though, on Chuckanut Road) and the very very nice little beach looking out onto Bellingham Bay. A little unfortunate, a train track goes through it. We decided it was worth it anyway for the drive and the beach view.

      Vancouver, B.C., has a very nice little campground just north of the Lions Gate Bridge, Capilano RV Park. Location, location, location. It is situated almost under the Lions Gate Bridge, allows walking access to Stanley Park and to a shopping center and several okay restaurants. Very good driving access to downtown Vancouver and to Grouse Mtn, and Whistler is just up the road.

      In fact, just above Whistler we stayed in a nice quiet Provincial Park, and explored another even closer to Whistler. We stayed in a Provincial Park in Kamloops, B.C., and in Glacier National Park in Illicilleweat Campground, and in Yoho National Park in Kicking Horse Campground, all in B.C. Those last three would likely not be on your way to Alaska, but might work out on the way back.

      I’m also sending your email to caravan friends of ours you might have met at Zion NP, the Colligans. They recently did a WBCCI Alaska Caravan and may have helpful notes on campgrounds north of Whistler.

      Hi to Frank and Carol!

      Very best regards,

      Jim and Debbie

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