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Finding that Perfect Campsite... Again

Between my sophomore and junior year of college, I spent a glorious two nights camping in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was the best campground I have ever been in: perched high in the pines along a scenic lake, shady and quiet, the campsites spread out and private. The air was crisp and clean and cool. It was during the Sturgis time of year in South Dakota, which means that tens of thousands of Harley riders converge on Devil’s Tower or the Badlands to rev their engines, but this campsite was strangely untouched by the influx of bikers. It was far from any city or town, and is an idyllic spot in my memory.

I have always wanted to go back. Always. I haven’t, because I have no idea where it was.

I’m sure I wrote it down somewhere. It was a long time ago, before GPS satellites were available for civilian domestic use, so I would have written something like: “campsite 5 in Custer State Park campground”. Now, I could take coordinates, or find the location on Google maps satellite view and stick a pin in it, but I found a solution that works better for me: what3words. This company out of the United Kingdom has devised a three meter grid system that allows for addressing to anywhere in the world using just three words. With those words, I can pinpoint in a 3 x 3 meter space exactly where I am, and words are easier to remember and communicate than numbers.

Why is this helpful? A three meter grid puts me exactly in the campsite, and I could even explain where to site the trailer or park the car. Not only can I keep track of each place I stay using the name and address of the campground, but I can also track exactly where I was in each campground. I can also lurk around (otherwise known as “dog walking”) and pick out the best campsites for future reference (and the ones to avoid). I plan to collect as much information as possible during my three month trip, and track all the interesting places using this naming system.

I looked around the Black Hills for that campground and found cutlets.headlights.dipped (everything is named by three words), but I don’t think that’s actually the site. Click the link, turn on the satellite view, and zoom in as far as possible; you’ll see the pointer is now directly on a travel trailer site. If only this were my beloved, long-lost Black Hills site, I would be able to find it again.

If only.

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