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  1. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by CalOldBlue View Post
    Thanks; great input! A couple thoughts/input for those looking at this thread...

    We're not doing the balloon fiesta this trip, but you are right, traffic is a mess getting into the site in the morning (everybody wants to watch the 'Dawn Patrol' light up and launch, see picture above) and hotels book up early. When we did it six years ago we booked well in advance, and managed to snare some 'club' tickets (very very very hard to get) that let you enter a separate parking lot using a different route in, and private bathrooms (real, not portapotties: selling point for Mrs OldBlue). Well worth the price (of course, other's mileage may vary).

    Yeah, I've been tracking the moon issue using Photopills; I'm hoping that shots in MV will work as the moon is close to full, but comes up an hour after sunset in the East, and the Galactic Center will be on the Western Horizon. We'll see how that works, but I'm hoping the moonlight will light up the cliffs a bit without washing out the stars too much... at least as long as I'm shooting away from it. (Disclaimer; while I've been doing photography for 5-6 decades, I've never lived somewhere where astro-photography was an option so this will be a first for me.)

    Giving you a glimpse of my planning insanity, here is one page of the 31-tab Excel spreadsheet I'm using to plan various aspects of this trip. Every trip the spreadsheet gets more detailed. This is a screenshot of the SunAndMoon tab.

    Attachment 5027
    Sounds like you are well prepared and have a very impressive spreadsheet. While I do a spread sheet and I will mention a new moon meteor shower, free National Park entrance days, spring break, etc., they all get mention in my MISC column. My other columns are Date, Day of the week, Location, Campground, Reservation Made or Not (mostly because for National Parks and State Parks you have to wait until the window of reservations opens), Ideas of things to do, Miles, Total Miles and Misc. On our recent trip to visit Yosemite National Park, knew better than to go into Yosemite on Saturday, April 17th because it was a free day. We heard from another camper it was a ZOO!

    Utahtea

  2. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    811

    Default Great minds think alike

    Sounds like you are capturing the same stuff I am. Here's how I get to 31 tabs:

    One tab for each 'transit day'; broken into legs (e.g. Lake Havasu to Oatman, Oatman to Hackberry, Hackberry to Seligman...) with miles and times and 'dwell time' (expected time spent at the stop at the end of the leg). I have 11 of these. Each leg is summed at the bottom for total miles/time/stops for that day. (See 'overview' tab below).

    One tab for each multi-day stop; things to do/see, restaurant options, etc. (For one-night stops this info is typically squished into the transit tab for that stop). There are 6 of these (Flagstaff, Gallup, Tucumcari, Santa Fe, Monument Valley, Death Valley). Tucumcari due to the short stay and the plethora of shots I want to take. Don't have one for Santa Monica as we'll just wing it.

    Calendar tab. Looks like a page from a monthly calendar... overview of where you are on any given day.

    Reservation tab (hotel, car, airline, other things reserved ahead of time; includes budget info).

    Overview tab (driven automatically from miles/time/dwell information in the individual transit day tabs; as I change these it auto-populates the Overview tab... which is where the information in my original posts was derived).

    "Climate" tab (likely weather for each location for that time of year). Useful when it gets time to finalize the 'Packing list' tab.

    Sun/Moon tab. Already discussed.

    "Gottados" (things I need to do before we leave; e.g. pay bills).

    Packing list.

    House sitter instructions (to make sure our boys don't forget to water the plants).

    Contact information.

    Sometimes there'll be a tab for local loops at a multi-day stop or complex drives in a transit day; e.g. if we're going to make a loop out of Santa Fe there'll be a 'transit-day-like' tab. I have one of these to break down the timing through Petrified Forest... lots of places we COULD stop, need to budget our time. This tab drives the details for one row of the Flagstaff to Gallup tab, which then feeds the Overview tab. (Yeah, I used to be in IT and have a decent comfort level with Excel basics.)

    Other one-off tabs for a particular road trip as needed. This one has a 'Gas' tab so I don't forget to gas up prior to a long drive through nowhere on the way to somewhere. Lots of emptiness between Santa Fe and Bluff, and Barstow and Needles.

    CLEARLY over-planning, but I want to make sure we have a place to stay, are not rushed yet can see the critical things we want to see, and arrive before dark. I used to do things like pull into a foreign city and expect to score a room at the local tourist office, until my then-wife and I arrived in Koblenz after the tourist office closed and I had to wander the streets looking for a 'Zimmer Frei' sign. Never again (fortunately I had four years of high school German to fall back on).

    My most insane tab ever was a 15-minute by 15-minute view of how we could be spending our 4 days in Dublin. Did we follow it to the letter? No way; but at least we could review how we were doing against our 'must sees' and adjust as needed.

    I got to this level of planning due to over-packing things into one too many vacations and being spoken to harshly by Mrs. OldBlue. So rather than being a Sherman's-march-to-the-sea (how Mrs. OB to this day refers to our honeymoon in England 18 years ago), I have a better understanding of what is feasible, and what is abusive. We adjust on the fly... this plan is just 'indicative'.

    I don't recommend this level of detail unless you really enjoy this level of planning (I do), and understand that it is a tradeoff of spontaneity for certainty: it probably works best the older and less flexible you are. Think of it as a packaged tour where you have designed the package, and then become the tour guide that executes it.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    653

    Default

    I'm the sort that never plots out the details, and I almost never make reservations. That way, every day is a surprise, and that's half the fun. To each his own, I say, and Happy Trails!

    Rick
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-30-2021 at 06:22 PM. Reason: Good neighbor rules!

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by CalOldBlue View Post
    Sounds like you are capturing the same stuff I am. Here's how I get to 31 tabs:

    One tab for each 'transit day'; broken into legs (e.g. Lake Havasu to Oatman, Oatman to Hackberry, Hackberry to Seligman...) with miles and times and 'dwell time' (expected time spent at the stop at the end of the leg). I have 11 of these. Each leg is summed at the bottom for total miles/time/stops for that day. (See 'overview' tab below).

    One tab for each multi-day stop; things to do/see, restaurant options, etc. (For one-night stops this info is typically squished into the transit tab for that stop). There are 6 of these (Flagstaff, Gallup, Tucumcari, Santa Fe, Monument Valley, Death Valley). Tucumcari due to the short stay and the plethora of shots I want to take. Don't have one for Santa Monica as we'll just wing it.

    Calendar tab. Looks like a page from a monthly calendar... overview of where you are on any given day.

    Reservation tab (hotel, car, airline, other things reserved ahead of time; includes budget info).

    Overview tab (driven automatically from miles/time/dwell information in the individual transit day tabs; as I change these it auto-populates the Overview tab... which is where the information in my original posts was derived).

    "Climate" tab (likely weather for each location for that time of year). Useful when it gets time to finalize the 'Packing list' tab.

    Sun/Moon tab. Already discussed.

    "Gottados" (things I need to do before we leave; e.g. pay bills).

    Packing list.

    House sitter instructions (to make sure our boys don't forget to water the plants).

    Contact information.

    Sometimes there'll be a tab for local loops at a multi-day stop or complex drives in a transit day; e.g. if we're going to make a loop out of Santa Fe there'll be a 'transit-day-like' tab. I have one of these to break down the timing through Petrified Forest... lots of places we COULD stop, need to budget our time. This tab drives the details for one row of the Flagstaff to Gallup tab, which then feeds the Overview tab. (Yeah, I used to be in IT and have a decent comfort level with Excel basics.)

    Other one-off tabs for a particular road trip as needed. This one has a 'Gas' tab so I don't forget to gas up prior to a long drive through nowhere on the way to somewhere. Lots of emptiness between Santa Fe and Bluff, and Barstow and Needles.

    CLEARLY over-planning, but I want to make sure we have a place to stay, are not rushed yet can see the critical things we want to see, and arrive before dark. I used to do things like pull into a foreign city and expect to score a room at the local tourist office, until my then-wife and I arrived in Koblenz after the tourist office closed and I had to wander the streets looking for a 'Zimmer Frei' sign. Never again (fortunately I had four years of high school German to fall back on).

    My most insane tab ever was a 15-minute by 15-minute view of how we could be spending our 4 days in Dublin. Did we follow it to the letter? No way; but at least we could review how we were doing against our 'must sees' and adjust as needed.

    I got to this level of planning due to over-packing things into one too many vacations and being spoken to harshly by Mrs. OldBlue. So rather than being a Sherman's-march-to-the-sea (how Mrs. OB to this day refers to our honeymoon in England 18 years ago), I have a better understanding of what is feasible, and what is abusive. We adjust on the fly... this plan is just 'indicative'.

    I don't recommend this level of detail unless you really enjoy this level of planning (I do), and understand that it is a tradeoff of spontaneity for certainty: it probably works best the older and less flexible you are. Think of it as a packaged tour where you have designed the package, and then become the tour guide that executes it.
    Thirty-One Tabs! That is impressive! I might steal a tab or two! I do the Calendar for cruises and post it on the wall of our cabin. Makes it so easy to see what's coming. I always leave room for things we want to add. Otherwise I take my calendar in the RV. I'm a visual person! ;) I don't have a tab for reservations, but they are listed on the spread sheet and I do print them out and keep them in my binder.

    I will now try to impress you with what use to be our Camping Checklist. In 1986 when my son was only 10 years old he wrote a check list program for our Commodore 128 computer. It had three lines in the header that I could customize, it sorted everything either by "Items" or "Location in the RV" and I would print it out both ways (no laptops or cell phones back then!) and that first year there were 228 items listed and the last time I used it there were just over 400 items! When we changed to a PC computer my son updated the program for me. I used this program for the 10 years we had our travel trailer and the 13 years we had our first motorhome. We pretty much keep the motorhome stocked now and we've been doing this for SO long and SO often, we remember what needs to be added besides the clothes and food.

    Now that we are retired and have all the time we want, we're not as scheduled as we use to be in the days when we didn't have much in the way of vacation days. Now I even add a rainy day to pretty much each location we plan to stop and sometimes two if we're going to be someplace for longer than a week!

    We use to not even make reservations but that's not an option if we want to stay in National Parks, State Parks, popular places or if we go with another couple. For our upcoming fall trip we have reservations for the first month because we're going with another couple and to popular destinations. We will be parting and for the travel days to our next destination, we won't be making reservations, but for the State Park and National Parks after that we do.

    Utahtea

  5. #15
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    811

    Default Guilty as charged

    Well, maybe I made it sound a little worse than it was in some ways, and a little better than it was in others.

    Here's a fuller view of (the first part of) the Dublin trip 15-minute timing... the timing includes more than just Dublin, and the 15 minutes is just the level of detail so I could get things lined up into a graphical day-by-day format.

    The yellow boxes are time-definite reservations (tours, concerts, etc.) that we had to hit... so the rest of the what went on that particular day had to fit around them.

    Re: unlocking/relocking doors... does that count the number of times we have to go back because we forgot something? :).

    Good story about the Commodore: I was too busy keeping mainframes running to have gotten involved in that kind of fun... until the late 1980s when I changed jobs and found a Macintosh SE on my desk.


    Untitled.jpg

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    653

    Default

    That's actually pretty cool. In truth, I admire anybody who's that well organized, and I love spreadsheets. At that, I must sincerely apologize if my original unedited post offended anyone; 'twas naught but a lame attempt at humor.

    Rick

    I have a post in my blog about a morning I spent in Grand Teton, a few years back. It demonstrates a complete lack of planning, and why that can be such great fun!

    Here's a link: Buffalo Sunrise

    Rick
    Last edited by Rick Quinn; 05-01-2021 at 08:19 AM. Reason: Added link

  7. #17
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,652

    Default

    I, too, have gone to using a spreadsheet for our longer trips. On it, I include: the date, starting point, ending point, # of expected miles, overnight lodging w/confirmation #, approx cost of lodging, whether or not it has a pool/hot tub, and "other information". I love the idea of including a column for time zone changes. I had always put that in "other information", but a separate column makes sense. Sometimes I will include a column for places we are going to take a break along the way, such as stopping at Lee's Ferry on the trip between Flagstaff and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, etc.

    I love to plan, too. Even back "before computers", I would type them up (on a real typewriter) once we got the plans set.

    Reservations... Early on, when tent camping, we only had reservations for national parks (and only a few offered reservations back then!). For commercial RV parks, it really depended - when we headed for AK (20 years ago), we'd know each day where we wanted to go, but would call the day before to make reservations. We'd been warned ahead of time not to use that plan for Anchorage, so those we had early on. When we sold the RV and went the motel-route, often times we would use a coupon from one of those booklets. Fortunately for us, we get in early enough in the day to use those, and it only backfired on us a couple of times. Once we discovered online reservations for motels, we went to those, finding that it wasn't all that much more expensive to do it that way.

    The planning has gotten easier with the advent of the Internet, that's for sure. I can get mileages a lot easier, using waypoints if we are taking an unusual route to get someplace. When planning our recent speed-run, for instance, I was able to quickly figure out where we needed to stay each night by playing with Google Maps (ignoring their preposterous "drive times" of course). Then finding a hotel was easy, as was making a reservation and seeing what places might be around for dinner. (With COVID-19, though, it was difficult to ascertain which places were actually open for dining. In one place, both Google and TripAdvisor listed a place as "closed", but the hotel assured us that it was open -- and it was.)


    Donna

  8. #18
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    811

    Default

    Rick: No offense was taken, so no apology is needed... but thanks!

    I do lament the constrained spontaneity of an uber-planning approach, and in spite of the level of detail I get to a lot changes 'on the ground'. In reviewing the Ireland trip plan, while the locations all stayed the same, what we did bore only a passing resemblance to the original plan (other than the pre-reserved events in Dublin).

    Donna:

    All great points.

    The last time I seriously free-lanced a vacation was when I decided to take my (newly-orphaned) teenagers on a grand tour of Europe around the turn of the century.

    We lived out of backpacks, travelled by train, and aside from a few specific reservations I would generally call ahead before moving on to the next location (never ever willing to risk another "Koblenz").

    It worked well, up until late in the trip my daughter saw the room we got in Salzburg, then collapsed on the bed in tears. The room was actually OK, but just basic and I'd been running them ragged (as I tended to do).

    I let her call her friend back in California to rant. That was an expensive phone call, but she recovered well and LOVED Salzburg.

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