Spring Travel Plans and Google Maps

I am SOOO ready for winter to be over! We’ve had colder-than-normal weather even here in the Deep South, along with rain and even a decent snowfall in January. I am so antsy to get back in the RV and hit the road.

As I mentioned in my last post, we decided to keep our 2004 Toyota Tacoma to use as our “toad”, which we will drive separately from the RV. The only precondition that I had for this arrangement was that we would replace the factory-installed audio system in the truck with a new one that has current technology, including Bluetooth capability. Hubby was agreeable to that (and why wouldn’t he be since he got to keep his beloved Tacoma!), and we got the JVC KW-V230BT system installed this week. It sounds great, and it will make it much more enjoyable to drive the truck while Andy is driving Lizzy.

So now we are planning our spring travels, which will be more-or-less shake-down trips before we move into the RV permanently later this year. And in order to give Lizzy (and ourselves and the kitties) a good shake-down, we need more than just a weekend trip to a local state park.

Fortunately, I have quite a bit of paid time off accrued at my job, so I was able to get approval for a two-week vacation in April. Our plans are to head south toward the Gulf Coast and then go east into the northern part of Florida and possibly southern Georgia. Our goal is to become more comfortable with making up plans as we go, boondocking for as long as possible before paying for hookups, and learning to locate essential services while on the road (dump stations, fresh water, propane, etc.).

However, at this point I’m not really ready to just hop in the vehicles and start driving. I need to have at least some idea of where we’re going and how long it will take to get there, especially since I do need to be back at work on a certain date. So this week I’m teaching myself how to use Google’s “My Maps” to pin interesting locations and then map routes between them.

TripMap

First draft of our route for April 2018

I’ve been playing around with the map today, primarily to learn how to use the application. It’s not exactly intuitive, but I found a few YouTube video tutorials that gave me a pretty good overview of how to use it.

The first step is to mark or “pin” locations where you might want to stop along the way. I’ve been using Campendium.com to research possible free/cheap campsites along this general route. We do plan to limit our travels to the less congested areas of Florida, and we know that we will be competing for camping space with the last of the snowbirds who will still be in the area before they head back north for the summer.

After pinning your locations, then you use the “Directions” function to link these pins in the order you plan to visit them, and Google maps your route for you, providing you with distance and driving time between the pins.

As I said, I’m just starting to put our route together, but I can already see just how much time it takes to plan your travels when you have to consider things like road conditions, hookups, proximity to services and amenities, physical demands of driving, and possible bad weather conditions. I think it will be much simpler when we don’t have to worry about being somewhere on a particular date and we can just plan our route as we go. Ahhh…just a few more months!

We do plan to do a short weekend trip, probably to our local state park, sometime in March so we can shake the cobwebs out. We may try to dry camp on that trip, but it will probably depend on how cold or rainy it is when we go.

So that’s what’s going on with us at the moment. We’re making sure to get all our medical, dental and optical needs taken care of before the summer. Andy just got his first new pair of glasses in about ten years, and not a moment too soon. The lenses in his old ones had gotten so cloudy that he was having trouble seeing well enough to drive. We’ve both cleaned up our eating habits and are at good, healthy weights with no significant health issues that we know of. We plan to do our second garage sale in March, and I’m still in the process of scanning paper photos to my hard drive.

The nomad life is calling, and we’re getting ready to go!

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