Fred and Suzi Dow, publishers of the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide website (www.forestcamping.com), have visited every Forest Service national forest and grassland but they don’t see their project as completed. They have set off for another six months of visiting, surveying, and exploring national forests that might have been thought of as completed more than a dozen years ago, according to a news release.
The idea for the website was “hatched” during a return trip from a weekend of camping more than 18 years ago. One reason for re-visiting those early national forests is to take advantage of the advances in evolution of technology. Another is to discover any changes to the campgrounds.
Suzi Dow remembers those early days. “When we started our project in 1994, there were no cell phones, GPS devices, or digital cameras – at least none that were affordable and readily available to the public. Pictures were captured from an analog video camcorder, converted to digital with a device called Snappy, and uploaded (very, very slowly) to forestcamping.com. Dial-up was the standard back then and getting access from the road was a huge challenge. Besides ‘begging’ merchants such as Radio Shack to use a telephone line to upload/download, we used an acoustic coupler in telephone booths. I held the (very expensive) laptop while Fred attached the coupler to the telephone receiver and keyed whatever on the laptop, all at 1200 to 2400 baud. To say things have changed would be a gross understatement.”
“Our mission,” says Fred Dow, “is to provide the public with a consolidated, complete and comprehensive guide to national forest and grassland developed campgrounds. In the last 18 years, we’ve driven over 300,000 miles, made hundreds of friends, developed a following online, and are ardent supporters of national forests and grasslands. The fact that we’ve accomplished so much means a great deal to us. We hope people will follow our trek and celebrate with us online.”
In addition to managing and developing the forestcamping.com, the Dows also self-published Ebook CD, and download versions of the U.S. National Forest Campground Guides organized by geographic region, which can be purchased online at forestcamping.com.
People can follow the Dow’s travels via Facebook, Twitter, the forestcamping.com online forums, “Camping with Suzi” blog, and a monthly “National Forest Wanderings” newsletter.”