Friday, November 14, 2014 is back in action!!!!

I have been working on to get it back up and running.  It has been a while and I need to work out a few bugs.  John and I have been working with the programs to fix the broken links in the Trip Planner. So stayed tuned and i will let you know when everything is back up and running Click Here!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Two Year Adventure

One of the great things about Rv camping is traveling the country and meeting all the terrific people who share my passion for the outdoor lifestyle. Over the years, I've met many people who take their passion for RV camping to an entirely new level: they sell their house, pack their RV and set off to see the country. I've been lucky enough to talk with some of these adventurous souls and hear their story. Here is one such story, from Dee in Phoenix, AZ, who, along with her husband and two young sons, made the dream of RV living a reality for two years.

In her own words:

In 2002, our family embarked on a dream. For years, my husband had talked about giving up his job and traveling the country in our RV. I loved the idea—taking a break from “reality” seemed like a wonderful idea. But I always thought that was something we’d do when we retired—not when our boys were still in preschool! 
But my husband was thrilled with the idea of going when the kids were young. To be honest, though I liked the idea, I didn't want to give up all we had built together.  We were living in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, and had a lovely home in a new neighborhood. I had developed a group very close friends on our street. There were other children for our sons to play with. It was the type of neighborhood I'd always dreamed of living in. Phil, my husband, loved our home and neighborhood, too, but felt that it was the right time for us to have the adventure of a lifetime. He'd just completed his advanced degree, we had plenty of money saved, and he wanted to see the country with our sons before we got too settled.  After much thought, discussion, and planning, we sold the house and left on our adventure. 
When we left my younger son was only 18 months old! I was unsure about the logistics of traveling with a baby still in diapers, but Phil was extremely creative in that regard. We jury-rigged a playpen/crib and made sure both our boys (the oldest was 4) had all the toys, games and resources they would need for those long stretches of driving. Phil and I made sure we, too, had what we needed to keep ourselves occupied. We spent much of our time in the beginning planning the next leg of our trip. Despite knowing that we had all the time we needed, I was still in the habit of trying to rush through to the next thing. Over time, this changed and I learned to take life more slowly and fully enjoy the experience. 
The trip was wonderful! We traveled across the country, stopping where we wanted, spending as much time as we could before moving on to the next place. I prepared history lessons for our older son, who, even though we was young, developed a fascination for the monuments of our coutry similiar to the ones other boys have for dinosaurs! Over the next two years, my husband and I met people just like ourselves who, like us, had opted out of the rat race for a while to enjoy truly living. 
We saw SO MUCH, and honestly, I learned so much. Going to Philadelphia and seeing the Liberty Bell, hearing about Ben Franklin –everything I learned in school started to come back! One of the best parts was sharing the experience with my sons. My oldest boy was full of questions. His eyes lit up when I told him the story of Ben Franklin discovering the power of electricity--with a key tied to a kite string in a rain storm! (I did warn him not to try the same thing himself--'cause one look in his eyes and I knew that's what he was thinking!)
We did one loop in the South, which was hot but awesome! I ALMOST got my fill of antebellum mansions and BBQ. Visiting some of the old mansions took me right back in time to the set of "Gone with the Wind." The people in the South were gracious and friendly.
We looped around a second time in the RV. We went thru the midwest, Chicago, Ohio, Pennsylvania, meeting people and seeing things we never expected to. We traveled east and "did" NYC (awesome), and Washington DC. One of the most incredible, special parts of the trip was our time in Virginia. My Aunt Toni, with whom I'd always been close, had been diagnosed with cancer in her 40s. My husband, sons and I were able to spend a month with her before she passed away. Very special time for all four of us. I will be forever grateful that we were able to spend such quality time with her. 
It was the trip of a lifetime! We homeschooled my oldest son for kindergarten while we were on the road. After two years, my husband and I were ready to rejoin the “real world” after a wonderful adventure. We landed here in Arizona, because we loved it so much.
Our two-year road trip was the highlight of our family’s life! We made memories that will last our whole lives through, and created a special bond in traveling that I know will sustain us through the years ahead. We can’t wait for our next adventure!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Trip Planner Update #2

The Trip Planner is coming along very nicely. We have had some obsticles to overcome with the developers and have been working hard to stick to our original design. I am getting very excited about the release. Our tenetive release date for us to beta test is 4-29-2009, that is if we can stay on schedule. John and I will spend a few weeks testing and working out all the bugs and hope to have it ready before the camping season of 2009 - It is working just like we envisioned!!!! No more planning headaches - just start thinking about all the places you have always wanted to go an we will do the rest.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Trip Planner Updates

The Development of the automated trip planner is coming along nicely - Stay tuned and I will update this blog with the challenges that we are facing. Going to be the coolest tool on the internet for RVers

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Camping Communty w/ Trip Planner

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?

I had bought my first RV seven years prior and had taken many trips--all within a day's drive from Southern California. I had never ventured any farther than this. I was now on my fourth RV, a 35' toy hauler that we used often. I decided it was time to venture farther and see more of what our wonderful country had to offer.

I decided to start planning that trip to Yellowstone at last. I wanted to make sure our family took the trip before any of my six kids were too old to want to go with their parents! First, I made sure that my RV was up to snuff with all the paraphernalia that would make such a long trip comfortable for myself and seven other family members. After buying an electric tongue jack for the trailer (didn't want to crank that tongue 100 times by hand), putting air bags on the tow vehicle, and purchasing way more items than anyone could possibly need on one trip, I began my research and planning.

Where to stay? How far to drive in one day? What to see when we get to each place? How long to stay in each location? Where to start? Where to end? How to research each destination? The questions were endless! I didn't have any friends who had been to Yellowstone in an RV--or had been at all. I didn't know where to find information I could trust.

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, the trip started out pretty good. Our first stop was a place we had stayed before so it was bound to be what we expected. I had not been there in many years but knew it was first come first serve. We figured if we got there in the middle of the week we would have no problem -- False. We did get a site but had no hookups so we had to dry camp for two nights. I got tired of telling my kids to turn off every light in the trailer. Oh, and no campfires this week due to fires in the area. We had to roast marshmallows on the gas grill - YUK . And that was just the first two days of a long trip!

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 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