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Old 11-28-2022, 07:50 PM   #1
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It was an odd but interesting thought I got while preplaning a possible trip in 2023. I am a fully data driven retired engineer so actually seems like a semi normal thing to do if could be useful. Geeky to be sure


The need for us/me is that we travel differently than probably most any couple do. We don't mind long days of driving, but like to spend several days minimum in places we like, so quite different than the stay a day or at most two days touring people that we hear a lot about. Because the navigator does not read maps or put things into the GPS, it can be tedious to do like most folks do by entering stuff in the GPS on the fly or having the navigator reading the map in real time. We also like to take routes that we choose, not what the GPS spits out by itself. All of this makes it necessary to preplan the full day's driving ahead of time and have it the GPS before we start out. It is done on Garmin Basecamp and works pretty well once you learn how to make it all work right.


When we go into unfamiliar and often popular areas, we find we really need to have reservations a whole lot more than we used to which can really mangle any thoughts of lots of flexibility on timing along the way. Finding a way to better predict just how much time we will need between reserved spots would help us a lot. We now just kind of rely on past experience to guess at when to make the reserved spots.


I am in a slack period between projects and holidays, so I started detailing the route we would like to take and try to find a more user friendly way to organize the Basecamp data to make it more obvious and easy to use and modify as needed along the way. Sections of this trip are pretty complex because of the need of many extra guide points along the way to make the GPS follow the route we want to take down the entire Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway, Smoky Mountain Parkway and into Smoky Mountain National park to the campground. Without the shaping points it would continuously be trying to force us off the parkways to major highways.


To help set times along the way so reservations could be made I decided to do a few simple calculations that are basically deeper into the "mile per day average" we usually do.


3253 mile trip (plus local miles while staying places) over 28 days. 116 miles per day average.


Three days of 600,550,550 miles so 1700 miles in 3 days. This makes the trip really 1553 miles in 25 days or 62 miles per day, which is barely over 1/2 of total trip average.


Three more days of 300,282,277 miles so another 859 miles on days mostly used driving with some time to sit out and cook something on the gas grille or walk around the campground. Take those miles and days off and get 694 miles in 22 days. That's only 32 miles per day.


We are planning to be stationary for a minimum of 9 days total so we are now at 694 in 13 days for the non long driving or stationary days. That moves up up to again to 53 miles per day average on the leisurely day drives along the areas we want to do stuff on. Hiking, site seeing, attractions, etc. That is under two hours out of the day of actual driving and rest is having fun in areas we like. This is above and beyond the stationary days in places with similar things to do. As it turns out that works out well and gives us just the time we need to that kind of a leisurely pace as we go the length of the parkways over 12 days.


Really all this confirms is that we guessed right in our initial layout, but it also gives us confidence in making all the reservations 6 months ahead of time when windows to reserve open up.


By doing all day drives about 1/5 of the time it turns a 100+ mile a day average trip into under half for the actual other driving days. And still have 1/3 of the time sitting still or doing stuff near the campground.


Preplanning like we need to do is tedious but worth it for us, especially with the GPS use and eliminating it freelancing to dumb routes we don't want. With the necessity to use far in advance reservations these days, that have been discussed a lot on here, now the whole timing thing also gets more complicated.


It would be nice just to choose a route and go, knowing we would be able to find a place in the nicer parks with a few days notice, but those days appear to be long gone now and we just have do what we need to do make the best of it.



The analytics took maybe 10 minutes to do once the routes and estimated timeframes were done, so probably well worth it to me to confirm it will be a comfortable and fun trip for us. I actually thought we would have less meandering time available before running the numbers so happy to know. 6 month windows for reservations will open up in March for the times we are going so still a bit of ways away, though.


Certainly not something many would be interested in doing, except for us number crunching geeks, I think.
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Old 11-29-2022, 02:26 PM   #2
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I was just saying to my wife, the best experiences we've had on the road were the ones that were spontaneous and completely unplanned.
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Old 11-29-2022, 02:54 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by N147JK View Post
I was just saying to my wife, the best experiences we've had on the road were the ones that were spontaneous and completely unplanned.

Can't argue with that as that would apply to us also, but our limitations and the limitations of the reservations systems make that much harder to do for us these days.



What I did with the numbers was to confirm that we had the 12+ days to explore in areas we liked to do the not planned things. It is a shame that a lot of overplanning, at least for us, is required to get some of the freedom from plans that were achievable a decade ago without any effort, but things have changed. We really didn't want to spend the time going out there in less than state park overnights and long drives just to get there, so we will schedule two night stays in nice state parks along the way, but they have to be reserved quite far ahead.



The first time we took this route in 2014 we had no reservations ahead of time and still got in to a Smoky Mountain National park campground by calling two days before we got there. That was the only time we even called ahead on that trip. Now there are 3 different state parks and one private that we need to reserve way ahead just to get from Minnesota to the start of the Skyline drive to start the most fun part.


We will do the 1100 miles home in two days with a stay in whatever area we get to the first day. We have a list of campgrounds around there and they are not in popular areas and in fringe season so we won't reserve anything.
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Old 11-29-2022, 05:49 PM   #4
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We tend to focus on trip key targets, reserve and stay flexible in routes in and out. Very often we just pick a direction and go, no reservation.

In 2014 we visited family in California, decided to go back north via Yosemite, got lucky and stay in Lower Pines campgrounds for one week, we were so lucky due to the storm which just passed driving people away.

In our, a few days long, local trips in NW and North California we donít make reservations, usually travel during weekdays skipping on weekends.
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Old 12-01-2022, 03:48 PM   #5
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Starting from Oklahoma, we know we've got a two-day drive to any area we want to be. We have specific boondocking spots a day's drive in each direction. After that, we wing it for as long as 4 months at a time. Since we are serious hikers, trail heads are frequent nesting spots. State parks are a rarity, private parks never.
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