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Sunday, March 1, 2009
Have you ever thought about a place you wanted to visit and decided that it was just to much work to plan? I always wanted to visit Yellowstone National Park but never wanted to go through the pain of planning the trip. It was a long way from Southern California: how was I going to have enough vacation time to get there, see all the wonderful things Yellowstone has to offer, and still get back before I'd used up my vacation days?
In the end, I used the Internet for most of the research. I spent almost a month clambering around the Net and finally came up with an itinerary that our family was happy with. My prayer now as that all the information was accurate: after all, the reviews in the campground rating books had to be true, right?--right!
Well, to make a long story short we did have some good campsites. Overall, the trip was very enjoyable--but it could have been much better. Here are some of the highlights:
While getting closer to Yellowstone we noticed there were some low lying clouds. Then we realized--wait!--those weren't clouds. It was smoke! Well, it couldn't be where we were staying. Wait, it was right were we were staying! Upon checking in we asked about the fire, and were told "we are watching it, just be ready to evacuate." Luckily, the wind was in our favor and the fire turned. Despite the shaky start, we did have a great time in Yellowstone--after we figured out what to do and where to go. I wish we figured that out before hand.
Next stop, Grand Tetons. I sure wish we had printed all those driving directions! Got lost but finally made it to the campsite late. We setup and went right to bed for a big day in the beautiful mountains. Surprise, we were awakened by the roar of ATVs. I wish someone had told us this was the campground where the ATV trailheads began!
Decided to go past Salt Lake City and stay at a state run campground right on Lake Utah. The pictures looked really nice and, besides, who wouldn't want to stay on a lake? We got there just before sunset. We met our campground host--he was all of 18, full of tattoos and had been there for a few years. Mmm, we thought, lets just find a spot at the other end down by the lake. Big mistake! I think there was a mosquito convention in town that weekend. There must have been 1,000,000 of those pesky critters. Even if we opened the door for a second we spent the next 10 minutes killing the intruders. I said to my wife, "Lets just go out to dinner and get out of here!" Went out to dinner and then made a mad dash back to the RV, trying to avoid dive-bombing mosquitos!
One of final stops was the beautiful town of St. George--just a one nighter to get back home. Who would of thunk it would be 115 degrees and the spot they gave us would be over on the gravel? We were tired from driving, so we decided to stay. We paid for the spots, walked out the door into the heat, looked at each other and said "What are we thinking?" We went back in, asked for our money back, got in the RV and hoped for the best in Las Vegas.
Eventually we made it home. Even though the trip had its problems it was still all worth it. The chance to give our kids the experience was priceless. Just wished it could be a lot easier.
Months later, while sitting around the campfire on a local outing, my friend John and I were discussing where to go on our next big trip. John told me he'd been thinking that there had to be a better way to plan these trips. With all the technology out there he was surprised that nobody has thought of a better way. John, a computer science grad, was sure we could develop something better. We both agreed. The idea blossomed into a partnership. Our main goal was t0 develop a state-of-the-art trip planner that would make planning a trip easier.
We started on the design of the trip planner. We quickly realized that the trip planner would be ever better with feedback from the people who visit all the wonderful campgrounds and points of interest around the country. We decided to partner the trip planner with a social networking site were the community can post true and accurate reviews of the places they'd visited, share their experiences online, join interest groups and develop lasting friendships with other campers.
That is how Campster http://campster.com/Publish/index.php?lang= came to be. We launched the social network site in July of 2008 and will add the trip planning module in April of 2009. CAMPSTER was founded with one guiding vision: to provide outdoor enthusiasts and RV devotees with the tools to create the best camping experience possible through social networking and technology. CAMPSTER’s free, online forum provides members with unfettered access to authentic reviews of campsites, points-of-interest and equipment, and gives them the opportunity to share