From the Kenosha News on 9-25-05

     See your back yard from space with Google maps

      My son showed me the Google maps web resource saying "You can see our back yard from space!" Point your browser to maps.google.com. Click the Satellite button. Then type your address into the search box at the top of screen following the examples on the right side of the screen. Click on the Search button. What results is a satellite image of your address (or pretty close.) If you zoom in as much as possible, you may be able to tell if your car is in your driveway or on the street!

     Once you locate your address, you can zoom in or out, pan up, down, left, and right (north, south, west, and east.) Note that these are not LIVE satellite images. They were captured over time during times when there was no cloud cover. Some areas have a much finer image than others. Kenosha is fortunate to be in an area that allows you to zoom in very closely. Areas farther west in Kenosha County and all of Milwaukee were captured in a lower resolution, so you can't zoom in as far in those areas. In San Francisco, you can actually see the waves on the bay!

     Some of the places that I looked up on the satellite imagery include the Luxor in Las Vegas, Alcatraz, our favorite campsite at Chain O Lakes State Park, various neighborhoods in Paris, France, and campgrounds in Lake Powell, Arizona and Gallup, New Mexico. In some places, I think you could use this service to pick out the best campsites!

     In addition to the satellite images, you can click on the Maps button and get street and road maps that are better labeled and more detailed than those on Mapquest. They even include which streets are one way. The Hybrid map button shows the satellite images with streets labeled on them.

     You can get street directions with Google maps by typing the origination and destination in the Search box. Enter it in the format of "5500 75 th St, Kenosha WI to Gallup NM" It will show you a map that I consider to be better than that of Mapquest plus give you directions with a total mileage and estimated driving time. You can click on the Start address or End address links to see an enlargement of that specific area. You can even switch to the Satellite view at any time. You can also click on the Reverse Directions link to get the same route in reverse.

     I did a few comparison routes with Google and Mapquest, and I find they sometimes give identical routes and sometimes very different routes. On identical routes, Google estimates longer drive times; I have no idea why! Google appeared to respond slightly faster than Mapquest, and there's less clicking on the Back button since you can put a new route in the search box.

     Finally, Google maps now has a link to satellite images of New Orleans taken August 31, 2005. You can see the flooding and the damage to the roof of the Superdome.

     By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 9-25-05