Here is a must-have bit of software: Keyhole.
Google bought the company on October 27 and offers a free trial download. With Keyhole, you can zip around the earth with 3D terrain and the best mapping I've ever seen. Just enter your own street address and zoom in on your backyard. You may even catch yourself mowing the lawn! Enter a different address across the country or world and watch Keyhole lift off to a higher alititude and pan over and then down to the new location.
Some areas of the planet have better resolution than others. For a fun time, go to a highway you are familiar with, zoom down to about 100 feet above the ground, tilt the map so you are looking forward down the road, and then hold down the forward arrow key. You wil be zipping along like a pilot watching the traffic go by beneath you. Also, don't miss going over to Rome and look for the Coliseum. Zoom down and check out the tourists.