Doing Things in 2007 vs 2014

So let’s back up just a second to back in San Diego before we set out.  That’s where we researched and booked our camping spot through the US National Park Service‘s website.  The design was a bit different back then.  It was much more direct and to the point…

The image on the left is what the nps.gov website was like back then.  It took a single click to get to the grand canyon.  The image on the right is the nps.gov website now.  It takes 4 clicks and a scroll to get to the grand canyon.

I also took a stab at reserving the site online as we did have to reserve a camping spot for the Grand Canyon.  We booked for a week and picked a nice spot we figured would give us the most privacy as well as ease of finding.  Just in case we get there at night, we wanted to be able to find our spot without too much of a hassle.

Google maps with satellite fly-by 3D you say?  Well yes and no.  While google maps was available, most people were using something else called MapQuest.

Maps in 2007

Oh yes, they had a hold on all mapping back then.  You either used MapQuest directly or the website you were on embedded an iframe or something of that nature to put in an always too tiny map window.

Mapquest Window 2007

The interface was click and wait, click and wait, click and wait, click and wait…. nothing close to the click and drag smoothness of today.

Maps with directions on a smart phone, the app store and android play, GPS on your phone, all of that were pipe dreams at this point.  Asa and I had our nice large format spiral bound US Map.  It gave us enough about how to get to the main roads, but no further details.

So we did what everyone did at that time: pick out somewhere close to some good landmarks.  Maybe there’s a sharp bend, the first left and third stop, or it’s the southern most campsite?  That’s what you did because MapQuest wasn’t very reliable.

Getting Turned Around

Getting to the canyon has you driving along a 2 lane highway that slowly goes from desert to pine forest as you drive down the highway along the southern rim towards the entrance.  This would normally be no problem with a GPS device, but GPS map gadgets back in 2007 were rich toys that didn’t really work that well.

Nowadays, we can have a reasonable expectation that maps will work.  As a fallback, you can at least switch to satellite maps to let you at least take a look at the area.  Not so in 2007!  Back then, if you missed your exit and weren’t sure if you missed an exit, you keep driving for about 30 minutes.  If it doesn’t look like you’re getting closer, you turn around or ask directions.

Bring in Supplies or Buy At General Store

One thing that we didn’t have much experience with was on deciding when to buy our perishable camping supplies.  Should we buy them at the last grocer before entering the park, or should we buy them there at a general store?  Is there even a general store?  If there isn’t one in the park, can we leave the park and re-enter later?  Stuff like that.

Our experience says that prices go up as you get closer to a national park.  So let’s find the nearest grocery store close to a community large enough to support it, and pack our coolers with layers of dry ice and water ice.  That should last us the entire week!

So, we stopped at a Safeway and bought a couple pounds of dry ice.  I stopped a second to wonder if it was a good idea to have the inside of our cramped wagon slowly filling up with CO2, but eh, I guess we’ll find out if it gets to it.

Got most of our things at the store.  Found the general store on a quick bike ride through the trails.  As I remember it, the prices in the store weren’t too far off from the prices outside the park, so good thing to know.

Back in 2007, there were no user reviews, Yelp isn’t what it is today, and so doing anything with regards to a store was a crap shoot.  You had to guess whether you thought it would be better to do something here or to wait until we get there.

Now in 2014, you can just look it up in a few minutes.  I don’t know about you guys, but that sort of change in how we all accomplish BASIC tasks in the short timeframe of 7 years is astounding.  Before the internet, there was a lot of guessing and a lot of uncertainty.

With the advent of ubiquitous internet, and a website on every topic in the world, it’s a lot more your fault if you choose poorly.

So, with all our things ready, we proceeded to the park entrance on the south rim.