Wednesday, February 1, 2012

More complicated than it should be

Compulsive tapping at the computer required at 8:00 am this morning.

Every year, Sarah's Mountain View Mom Mafia organizes several local group camping trips. We usually catch a couple of them -- especially the one the last weekend of summer before school starts.  It can be a lot of fun.  The kids more or less form a feral pack and run around in the woods; adults only intervene if they do something extra-foolish like all trooping off into the woods in the dark for an off-trail night-time puma hunt.

Of course, this works best if we all have sites close together, and given that we are near a large urban area, summer weekends at nearby campgrounds are always full.   Online reservations open on the first of the month at 8:00 am, six months ahead of time.  That means that if one wants to go camping in August, one had to do it this morning(!) to be assured of getting the correct spot.

Various members of the group are uber-organized, so the process is highly honed.  Here's how it goes:

1.  Six and a half months ahead of time, someone decides on a campground, usually with a tent-only loop (no noisy RV's!), and sends an email with the proposed loop and dates to the group.

2.  People decide on target sites that they will try to reserve, so that we aren't all directly competing with each other in step 5.

3.  A Google Doc is set up with all nearby sites and who wants what.

4.  Reminders get sent out

5.  We all compulsively log in at 10 minutes to 8, fill in the reservation form, and stare at the computer with glazed eyes until it is exactly 8:00, and click "Reserve Site". (Keep in mind that for those of us in Sunnyvale, this is right when we also need to take kids to school.)

6.  Wait for the overloaded server to respond, with caffeine from morning coffee coursing through veins.  Watch the pretty blue lines blink across the screen, hoping it doesn't mess up...

7.  By 8:10 the spreadsheet is all filled up with everyone's confirmations of sites.  Also filled with gratuitous comments about how annoying Step 6 was.

8.  Closer to the actual weekend, emails again fly to organize one big joint meal, and the same spreadsheet is used to coordinate who brings what.

What happened to the good old days when you could just roll up to the campground and pretty much always get a site?

It's only going to get worse if/when all of the slated park closures due to the woeful state of the California budget start to kick in.

On the bright side, since I took this task, Chad and Nimue got a little extra bonding time this morning, as he had to take her to school.  They had to drive (gasp!) , as she had a large foam core model of Mission Santa Ines that she made to go with her mission report that she didn't want damaged.

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