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Map out road trip on computer

New software offers plenty of handy travel information

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AAA MAP 'N' GO VERSION 7.0 (mapping computer software); DeLorme Mapping, 2001; $29.95 for the United States; minimum requirements include: Microsoft Windows 95a or higher and Windows 98/Me/2000, PC with Intel Pentium 150 or higher processor, 16 MB RAM, 30 MB of hard-disk space, 256 color monitor and CD Rom drive.

For the convenience of planning automobile travel in the United States — especially to places you've never been — you can't beat this new DeLorme computer mapping guide.

Like many computer programs, it always ends up being trickier than expected to install, but once it's in, this new program offers lots of handy travel information.

Once it's installed, all you do is type in your starting point and your ending point and the program does the rest. Many Utah cities are listed in the directory, and while the program shows you only a basic map of roads, it's the extras that are the biggest draws. It will list your entire trip mileage and travel time and all turnoffs you need to take. It maps the shortest route to where you want to go.

With some maneuvering, it is possible to get more close-up maps on the screen, but I'll still rely on paper maps for the road trip itself. This program is designed for advance planning, and deep down it does offer a lot.

For example, by clicking on some of the feature listings, you'll find a mile-by-mile guide of all the attractions you'll pass. Click on each feature and you're given phone numbers, costs and other details.

And there's more. The program also lists all the restaurants, motels, stores and gas stations along your route. Click on each hotel, restaurant or store, and there's added detail.

There are also ways to search the program for motels by budget or by AAA status. Campgrounds and RV parks nationwide are also included. The program is also GPS compatible and even has radio stations listed across the United States

Even though most of this information is likely to be found on the Internet, this package has condensed it and made it readily accessible.

There are a few drawbacks though, the first being this program will be out of date in a year or two. And it would have been nice to have more extensive maps outside major urban areas. On the bright side, it takes up 1/30th the space of the DeLorme Topo USA program that came out last spring.


E-mail: lynn@desnews.com