Continuing Efforts

Well, it’s been a while since my last update, so I thought that I would post about what has been going on in the last little while.

I’ve been working steadily, and consistently on preparations for, what amounts to, a huge change in lifestyle.  As with all changes of this magnitude, there are certain unknowns, and those unknowns can cause one to hesitate.  However, life has made hesitation on this matter a non-issue.

So, most of my time, of late, has been spent on collecting and organising data to be used in what I will call my Navigation Maps.  It was a much bigger project than I had anticipated.  There are so many different types of mapping software available, and also, there are just as many types of file systems, some being proprietary.  Even map coordinates can be shown in many different formats, and it seems that everyone just chooses, somewhat randomly, which one to use.

I have nearly every type of mapping software available, but the one I like to use most often is MicroSoft Streets & Trips.  To me, it seems like the most intuitive, and I feel that it is the easiest to use for the average person.  It does have some limitations, but so do all the other mapping softwares, so it just came down to, which limitations could I live with the most.

I could have spent ages learning more about softwares like Delorme and Garmin, but, you have to pick and choose where to concentrate your efforts, and since Streets & Trips came so easy to me, that’s the direction I took.  The good old ‘path of least resistance’.

Therefore, all the files in my database will be formatted to MicroSoft Streets & Trips files.  Once you have Streets & Trips installed on your computer, then it’s just a matter of simply double clicking on any file in the database, and that will bring up the map, with all the locations you requested on it.   No messing around with coordinates, and their many formats, or, importing data into the mapping software.  It’s a very simple process, and it works, so it suits me just fine.

Now, there are, already, many downloadable files on the internet with locations which have been formatted to the Streets & Trips file system, and they were easy to include in my database, but there were even more downloadable files that needed to either be reformatted, or, in some cases, completely rebuilt.  By that, I mean, I had to actually find each and every location, and manually change it to the Streets & Trips format.  I did thousands of these types of locations, mostly in Canada. I also had to convert files from one format to another, in order to make them readable to Streets & Trips.

The easiest file format to use with Streets & Trips is the .gpx format, because you can directly upload those files into a Streets and Trips map.  Other file types, like .csv, can also be uploaded, but there are other steps to take, in order to load them onto the map.  Once the files are loaded onto the map, then it’s just a matter of saving that particular map to a folder, in Streets & Trips format.

I have put together a huge database of locations in Canada and the US.  Of course, one of the major areas I focused on was free camping, or free overnight parking.  The overnight areas will be used when I’m on the way to a particular destination, and I just need to spend one night, before I continue on my way.  The free camping areas will be for longer stays, and there are different rules about how long you can stay at each location, depending on where it is.  Some are 14 days, some are 21 days, and some have no limit at all.  Also, if you reach your stay limit, then usually they only require you to move a short distance to another site, where you can, again, stay for another full length time limit.

Being the financially shallow individual that I am, I wanted to find as many absolutely free sites as possible, but there are also pay sites included in the database, which are usually low-cost, at somewhere around the $10. per night range. This seems quite reasonable, but if you stayed in one of those for a longer period, you would soon find that it adds up pretty fast, so they are better suited for short stays.

Here in Ontario, it costs between $30 and $40. for one night at most provincial parks.  Heck, for that kind of money, you could stay at a luxury resort, in some countries.  But, don’t get the idea that the government is driving people away from camping.  Those parks are booked full before the camping season even opens, and Ontario is sorely lacking in accessible public lands to camp on, so free camping is not much of an option.  It looks like the government has a real cash cow there, and they know it.

Anyway, we must deal with ‘what is’, so, there’s no sense in fighting the system.  We just need to be resourceful and find ways around it.  Like water flowing down a river.  When it comes to a rock, it doesn’t stop, and try to push the rock out-of-the-way, it simply flows around it, without a complaint.  Life is very much like a river.  If you try to fight it, and swim against the current, you’re in for a rough ride.  But, if you allow it to flow, and just let it take you wherever it will, then you can enjoy a peaceful, stress free life.

I have almost finished my Navigation Maps project, at least as far as I can go right now.  I’m sure I will be making additions to it regularly, once I hit the road, or if another source presents itself.  Of course, all locations included in those maps are subject to change,  and I will attempt to make any updates as I become aware of them.  It will be an ongoing process that has no end.

Right at this moment, I’m not sure how I will make this file downloadable, but I will be looking into that possibility as I go along.

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