So Saturday I got a comment on one of my recent blog posts. It seemed to be completely unconnected to the post itself. Since I'd had a comment spammer I had to clean up within the last few days, my immediate thought was, oh no, not again... It said:
http://dustsettler.wordpress.comThinking to myself, I don't want any Viagra, I clicked on the link with fear. But I had no need of fear, it was a good thing:
Not much on it yet, but it's a start :) See page for explanation.
For some time, we had toyed with the idea of randomly choosing a trip destination by throwing a dart at a dartboard. However, our lack of a dartboard (or darts) had stopped us from doing so, until recently. As we sat in our friends’ house in Florida over the Christmas break, I decided to google “random vacation generator”. That search led me to a forum where people were discussing precisely that idea. One person added that he had created a “Spot Tool”, and had in fact taken a number of trips using this method already. (See the link to the left)I remain saddened that various factors have continued to push my own next random vacation to Chacchoben, Quintana Roo, Mexico into the far future. But it seems someone else is taking up the mantle! So thank you to BrightViolet... and I'll be watching for your updates!
Sam Minter’s tool seems to allow for setting parameters, but as we could not figure out how to do this, we just gave it a shot. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you’re aware, the world consists of a loooot of water. A few failed hits later, we hit a location. A tiny island in the middle of nowhere, that was apparently U.S. territory, but uninhabited by anyone but birds. Okay, obviously not a possibility!
This made us realize that we needed to set some limits for each trip, and then we should keep trying until we found a location that met our parameters. Since we were looking at a spring break trip, with only 9 days off, and of course limited resources, we decided on the following:
Perfect: The first three locations that met our criteria were all within range of each other, and allowed us to plan out a perfect trip for 9 days. This trip will go as follows:
We will leave in March of 2009, so check back for updates!
lol yeah, I probably should've added some more info. Thanks for checking out the site. We should leave around March 12th or so I think, we have 9 days off around that time.
Any chance you could help me figure out how to set parameters to that map, like for example create a "box" around a certain region that represents the distance we're willing/able to travel for that trip?
You have now unleashed a monster... Sammy boy, you have a link to that story NPR did on your random vacactions?
Of course, I can help with that. I'll try a quick explanation here, if you need more info, feel free to email me directly at email@example.com
There are six boxes...
The first two are the latitude and longitude of the place you want to use as your starting point. The defaults here are my house in Bellevue, Washington, USA, but you can change it to whatever you want. The format is degrees and minutes, but decimal minutes. This is one of several common formats. (The others being degrees minutes and seconds, or just decimal degrees.) Negative numbers are West and South, Positive are East and North. Most GPS units have an easy way to show your current latitude and longitude, but if you don't have one you can find your latitude and longitude on any number of maps, and Wikipedia entries for cities often include the latitude and longitude of the city. So, for instance, you mentioned home for you was Bloomington, Indiana. Wikipedia gives the coordinates as 39.162147,-86.529045. Those are decimal degrees though. To get minutes you multiply the decimal part by 60. So, for instance... .162147*60=9.72882. .529045*60=31.7427. So, to put this in my tool, which uses DDD.MMmmm format... you get 39.0972882 latitude, -86.317427 longitude. If you put those in the tool, then every point it find will be in relation to the center of Bloomington, Indiana.
The second two are the range of bearings that are acceptable to you. That is, what directions are you OK going from where you start. The default is 0 to 360 degrees... in other words, any direction is OK. 0 is due north, 90 is east, 180 is south, 270 is west. So, for instance, if you put 45 and 135 you would only get points that are between northeast and southeast of you. You could also go negative, so for instance -45 to 45 would give you everything from northwest to northeast.
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The last two are how far away from the starting point you want to be in miles... The defaults here are 0 miles to 12450.729 miles.... 12450.729 miles is the half-circumference of the earth... assuming a sphere, which this tool does, even though that isn't quite true... so this default basically lets you go anywhere from not leaving the starting point at all, to going all the way to the point immediately opposite to you on the planet... as far away as you can go without a spaceship. An example here, if you didn't want to go any further away than 500 miles from your starting point, but you wanted to go at least 50 miles from home, because closer wouldn't be any fun, you'd put in 50 and 500 as your limits.
My defaults give you the whole planet. But using the above it is pretty easy to do something like say you only want spots less than 500 miles away, or only points roughly to the east of you, or whatever...
Hope that helps!