Ocala National Forest is Broken… sort of


STATE MAPPING IS BROKEN….

What does that mean, Broken?

All I wanted to do was to write down the coordinates of all the Ocala National Forest campgrounds so we could spend a day checking them all out and recreation.gov tells me their mapping system is broken.

Evidently the rest of the country works just fine (in their website — that was not meant as a socio-political assessment of US society) — it’s just the Ocala National Forest part of the website that seem to be kaput!  I can look up anything I want in Oregon, or Wisconsin, or Texas…. Just not right here. GRRRRRRRR…

Those of you who have been using recreation.gov for any length of time know that a year or so ago the Webmasters did a major re-conceptualization of their site.  Their idea wasn’t all that bad but ever since they rolled out the new version I have found the site much harder to use than it had been; in part because you are stuck with a four pane view with no flexibility in the size of the panes and no ‘good’ way of zooming in.

4 column layout
Layout of the recreation.gov page

It is what it is, and most of the time it has worked reasonably well.

I don’t know about you but I find that most of the time my Rand McNally GPS has the correct coordinates for points of interest — like campgrounds.  Oh, there have been a couple times it has failed me.  Once in Elkhart Indiana it had a RV store 1/2 a mile down the road from where it belonged.  Frequently I have found that the place I’m going to is on the opposite side of the street from where the GPS thinks it to be.  Those are occasional instances and a person can live with them.

I find it interesting though when a government site goes down — knowing that most of the time it’s not government personnel doing the site design and maintenance.  I think about the stories relating to Obamacare about the exorbitant fees private coding companies charged you and me — the taxpayers who are paying for all these government fiascos — to write the websites that didn’t work very well when Obamacare was first rolled out.  And we spent a bunch of money trying to re-code the air traffic control system too.  Another fiasco.  By comparison recreation.gov is small potatoes.

Ocala Map
Ocala National Forest. The Large icons represent reservable facilities, the smaller ones represent walk-up facilities. Not all meet any criteria at all — they are simply campsites of whatever sort.
Ocala Camping
The list of campground camping from the Ocala NF website — this does not include info about dispersed camping.

I find it interesting that if I search for web reservable campsites that the website doesn’t necessarily give me all the available options.  Sometimes it seems to censor my choices based on the initial zoom setting that the website has chosen — so even if there are more campgrounds and sites available I don’t see them until I change (usually zooming IN) the zoom feature.  This I know because campgrounds that I have already been to, and like, will often not show up even though they have available sites.  I don’t get why they do that but I am happy to use my personal knowledge of a region to enhance my own experience, even if the website isn’t offering to do it for me.

We’re trying to get to know this forest.  (We’re actually a fairly decent drive away from the forest, but it’s one of our goals while we’re here) There are numerous campgrounds, and  dispersed camping opportunities available.

I’m sure that over time we’ll suss it out; we just have to realize that Uncle Sam isn’t always going to help us find his little secret places.  🙂

Instead, I think we’ll find some alternative plan for the day.

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

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