So this completes my first, full bore all day run through counties without interruption.  My MarlinBastrop trip was cut short because I ended up having to come back into Austin much earlier than planned and GatesvilleBrownwood ended super early because, well, you know.  And now that it’s accomplished, lessons have been learned.

1. Paper Maps

In our connected age, you expect to be able to pull up almost any information at any moment on the supercomputers we all keep in our pockets.  When you get in the middle of nowhere, that is not the case.  This is not news to me because I’ve run into it before, but in the actual middle of nowhere, not in an actual town of import.  Some of these county seats are smaller than my high school was (Paint Rock, I’m looking at you).  I’m thinking I need to either start printing out maps for my routes, or maybe get a good map or something similar.  I’m sure there’s more than a few of you thinking “DeLorme?,” and that’s a vacillating maybe.  I hadn’t intended to do Delorme, but at this point, maybe?

2. Lists, lists, lists

This should probably be together with maps because they share the same root cause, but with a lack connectivity comes a lack of ability to load caches.  As much as I like the list function, I need to use it more before these trips to make lists for entire counties before setting out.  That will save me a whole lot of pain when I’ve got no cell service in Remote Crazy County, Texas. 

3. Time management

This is the biggest one of all.  I used drive time estimates acquired from GMaps and budgeted 30 minutes per town with the thinking that some towns would be less and some time could be made up on the road.  Points 1 and 2 put a bit of a hitch in that proverbial giddyup, costing me time in places where preparedness was lacking.  But more than a bit of it was out of my control.  You might not expect to find traffic issues on these back county roads, but when they’re there, they’re a big deal.  On two occasions I found myself waiting patiently in caravans of cars for a truck to lead us through because the road was down to one lane for both directions of traffic.  Even more importantly, I didn’t take into account the shortened days of winter.  In the summer, I could start at a 630AM sunrise and theoretically go on until sunset at 830ish.  Now a 700AM start gives me until 530ish and/or less time until the end of the year.  Being used to all that sunlight, I didn’t think to factor in the hours lost because of winter.  Ten counties with that lost time may have been a touch much.  To be honest though, it’s nice to wear a sweater caching in 60 degree weather, than longing for death on the side of a road at 102, knowing tomorrow will be hotter…

Lastly, I’m considering changing my phone service provider.  I’ve been with RunFast for a great many years now and, for the most part, they’re been alright except for a few technical and customer service issues over a long, long period of time.  They’ve even put up with occasional issues from me over the years.  But out in the sticks, especially in the Western counties, they failed me badly.  I’ve started thinking that it may be time to change to a more robust network like Phone & Graph of USia…

But those are issues for another trip.  Home is nice, but more caching trips and ideas are already percolating in my brain… 

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