I might use Google Maps a little differently than most when planning a road trip. Sure, I use it to create a map of the trip with the locations marked and the route routed. But see, I love maps. I just like to look at maps for hours. They could be maps of anything really, physical maps, political maps, historical maps, you name it. So, in the old days, I would get out the Randy McNally and pour over it, looking for anything that appeared interesting. I would find all the little red squares that showed attractions and such, but I would also look for interesting geographical areas, places that might be off the beaten track. That’s how I found Seligman, Arizona, the birth place of Route 66. I had just located a long stretch of original Route 66 on the map and decided to check that out. And there we happened upon what was possibly the biggest tourist trap in the U.S. It was very cool.
Then I got The Cartographic Satellite Atlas of the World back in the nineties that included satellite photos of each region of the United States. I studied this book extensively. I looked at the landforms and learned that Colorado is mostly desert. I already had an inkling about Colorado from when we went through there in 97 and drove around for hours looking for trees, but the book confirmed it.
And then online mapping was born. Now I can spend even more hours looking at not only maps, but satellite photos of everywhere. Zoomed in and everything.
So, for this trip, I was zoomed and slowly scrolling (cuz that’s how I scroll) through the Everglades.
And I see this road, labeled as Florida State Road 823, Main Park Road, and Ingraham Highway, that comes out of Homestead and winds down into the swamp. And there is just nothing else around. It’s a road that goes through pure swamp for about forty miles and ends of at a campground out in the middle of nowhere. Sure I could use Google Street View (of which I can never remember the name and just call Google Drive By) and see what it’s like through there, but I want to be surprised.
I know what you’re probably thinking now, who wants to drive forty miles through the swamp and end up in a place where no one can hear you scream, but you can also use the zoom and scroll method to find big stretches of white sand beach or find out if your camping plans are going to put you in a desert instead of in the woods.
Then when you find that beautiful white sand beach, you might wonder, is this even a public beach? You can try Googling the area and try to find out if that cool looking piece of land is accessible, but the quick way is to use Geocaching.com. It’s great for finding other things, too. So, that’s for next time…..