A ‘Breaking Bad’ tour through Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque is a modest, warm town in the American Southwest, almost halfway between Texas and Arizona on Route 40 and the commercial center of New Mexico. It’s a great spot for tourists looking to escape from the winter blues, and it’s also where the popular series “Breaking Bad” is filmed.

Now entering its fifth season, “Breaking Bad” is shot in a variety of venues across the city, most of which are easy to find with some creative Googling. Flickr user waldruggie hosts the best series of images and locations, filling a gallery with more than 150 pictures. Most pictures have locations and discussion attached to them, so taking advantage of a long layover in the city last weekend, the staff at Gadling Labs built a dandy MapQuest guide and followed the bread crumbs throughout the city. Surprisingly, most of the venues are centered around two hotspots only fifteen minutes apart and it’s even possible to visit the “homes” of Walter White and Jessie. Click through the gallery below to see a few hotspots or check out waldruggie’s gallery to build your own customized “Breaking Bad” tour.

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App review: MapQuest for Android with turn-by-turn spoken navigation directions

mapquest android navigation

Yesterday, MapQuest unveiled their Android mapping application. This new app offers something fantastic – navigation with spoken turn by turn directions. I took it for a spin and can safely say that this is the new best free navigation package for Android.

Everything you expect from a decent GPS package is in this app – spoken directions and street names, traffic information, points of interest and voice recognition. Even though they are by no means the first Android map app with turn by turn directions, the MapQuest interface is by far the easiest to use. Maps are also very clean and crisp, making use of data from map leader Navteq.

Navigation results can be provided for driving or walking, but not for public transit or bikes like in Google Maps. The quick link bar at the bottom of the map can instantly display any of the categories on your map, and you can minimize the bar by clicking its down arrow.

Maps load and scroll very fast, and even on a sluggish data connection, I rarely had any blank map tiles. In addition to this, map tiles can be locally cached.

The new MapQuest for Android can be found in the Android market at this link. You can also scan the QR code in the video after the jump – probably one of the first ever QR codes completely made out of Lego!

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[Full disclosure: AOL is the parent company of both MapQuest and Gadling]

Are fold-out maps obsolete? Not if you want to understand your destination

Is the age of opening up a map to figure out where you are a thing of the past? According to a recent post on Bad Latitude, they’re one of ten travel items that are now obsolete.

There’s no doubt that technology such as Google Maps and GPS have advantages over traditional maps, but a good, old-fashioned fold-out map will always be an important part of a real traveler’s kit. Here’s why.

As I’m planning my trip to Ethiopia I’ve been studying a 1:2500000 scale map from Cartographia that measures 65×85 cm, or 26×33 inches. Try getting that field of view from a computer screen or mobile phone! Seeing the country as a whole with all its details in one view gives you a better perspective. You begin to notice things.

For example, why does Ethiopia have that big spike for an eastern border? My map shows a string of oases all the way up to the eastern point of the frontier with Somalia, drawn in blue like a series of water droplets on the tan and pale green backdrop of desert and scrub land. A network of caravan routes crisscrosses the space between them. That’s why Ethiopia holds onto a region with a majority Somali population. The caravan routes are of no interest to someone in a car, so you won’t find them on the GPS. My fold-out map also shows the habitats of important wildlife and even the shipping lanes in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Fold-out maps give you a deeper understanding of the country and are things of beauty. They also have the advantage that they still work if the power goes out or if you lose the signal, a common occurrence in some of the places I go, and they’re far less likely to get stolen.

There’s no doubt that GPS, Mapquest, and Google Maps are efficient ways to get you from Point A to Point B, but real travel isn’t about getting from Point A to Point B.

And that’s a fact no amount of technology will ever change.

Turn-lane help from state to state

Map Quest can be handy when figuring out how to get from one place to another. I’ve used it to get from Ohio to Montana through Minnesota, for example. Sometimes though, like if you’re going to an out of the way place you’d better look at a conventional map. The folks who run the Hope Springs Institute in near Pebbles, OH have told me not to rely on the Map Quest map to find them and so has somebody who lives west of Dayton, OH in a place that doesn’t have a post office box.

Map Quest also doesn’t cover all the road navigating possibilities. The New York Times recently had a nifty article that runs through the possibilities. Consider the “jughandle turn” in New Jersey or the “Michigan left.” And there are the low water crossings in Texas and Kentucky and the frontage roads. Texas has them, and from experience, I can tell you that so does New Mexico.

Ohio has turn lanes that run down the center of busy roads. They basically allow you to pull into the middle of lanes going either way so you can make your turn without stopping the flow of traffic–nerve-wracking for people hailing from elsewhere.

The jughandle is basically the same concept as the center lanes in Ohio but, instead of putting you in the center of a road where traffic careens by on either side, it’s a road that goes off the right side of the road then loops around to the left. The Michigan left is a turn lane that basically allows you to make a U-turn.

The New York Times article included a University of Maryland website, Unconventional Arterial Intersection Design, that explains the various regional turns. It includes an animated feature. Pretty cool.

MapQuest’s Gas Price Finder

Gas FinderI used to use MapQuest to plan my routes. Then, I switched to Google Maps, because I felt it was more intuitive. However, I may have to switch back, now that MapQuest — part of the AOL family, along with Gadling — has launched a feature allowing travelers to view gas stations’ current gas prices on a map. With information on fuel prices at more than 100,000 stations around the country, MapQuest Gas Price Finder allows users to search for gas by grade or by stations offering diesel or alternative fuels. Prices are updated seven times a day. In the future, the information will be accessible on cell phones via MapQuest Mobile with a link to directions.

For my zip code, I learned that fuel prices ranged from $2.18 to $2.51, and the gas station I usually stop at had fuel for $2.20. I guess I’m doing all right: the highest prices in the nation are currently $3.41. But who’s only paying $1.58?!