TechNomadia visits the RTR & a Review of Their Smartphone App: US Public Lands

I love the desert! It can't help but put on a light show.

I love the desert! It can’t help but put on a light show.

This year we’ve had the great good fortune to have several other bloggers drop by. The amazing Glenn Morrissette of “To Simplify” dropped in for a few days and my old friend Randy Vinning of “Mobile Codgers” also was here for awhile and lead a Question and Answer session. Check out Glenn’s blog at http://www.tosimplify.net/ and Randy’s at  http://mobilecodgers.blogspot.com/.

Glenn Morrissette of "To Simplify".

Glenn Morrissette of “To Simplify“.

Randy Vinning is the one who told me about Dr. Rubio. In many ways Randy has been a mentor to me and he is someone I wish I could be more like.

Randy Vinning is the one who told me about Dr. Rubio. In many ways Randy has been a mentor to me and he is someone I wish I could be more like.

Then we had the great good fortune that Chris Dunphy & Cherie Ve Ard who are the creators of the outstanding blog “Technomadia” very kindly agreed to come out and do a meet and greet and a Q&A session. I’ve long been an admirer of their blog but meeting them in person was a real joy!

rtr3-techno-close

Not only were they super nice, but we threw some pretty tough questions at them and they answered each of them like it was child’s-play. Every new thing I have to learn is giant mountain for me to climb so I really admire people who can whiz through technical stuff like they can.  Check out their blog here: http://www.technomadia.com/

When word got out that they would be coming by everyone was excited so we had between 50-60 people there to meet them, ask questions and gain from their knowledge. It probably would have been more but it was also the first day of the Big Tent RV Show so many of our folks were there.

rtr3-tecno-group

We had a big crowd out to meet and ask questions of the renowned experts on everything technical pertaining to the mobile life.

But they aren’t just “super geeks” they’re also “super nomads“! They’ve been living on the road for 9 years and are currently in a vintage bus that they converted into their mobile castle, so they are experts in everything technology and everything nomadic–that makes them very special! I give their blog my highest recommendation!! Check it out here:  http://www.technomadia.com/

rtr3-me-tech-use

Chris, Cherie and yours truly.

 

Review Of Their App, US Public Lands

Chris and Cherie created what I think is the very best Smartphone App ever made for boondockers called US Public Lands.  If you have ever wanted to know where to camp on Public Land, you need to go and buy this App right now! Once I’ve decided on an area where I want to camp, it’s the very first and best tool that I have to find a campsite.

This is Chris and Cherie's outstanding Smartphone App for finding Public Land.

This is Chris and Cherie’s outstanding Smartphone App for finding Public Land on my Samsung Note 3.

The reason it’s so powerful and useful is that they’ve combined an overlay of all US Public Land (like National Forest and BLM land) over a Google map and then made it so you could switch to that same area looking at a Google Earth Satellite view. In either view you can turn the overlay on or off depending on if you need it right then or not.  Let me give you an example of how you could use it:

Let’s say you are coming to my camp in Ehrenberg and you need to find my camp and look for other areas on BLM land. After you start the App you would enter “Ehrenberg, AZ” in the search bar and get the Google map of it. In the screen shot below, notice the Gold overlay, that’s the marking for BLM Land so now you know exactly where it is and you can zoom in even closer for more detail.

Here is the map view using Google Maps. Notice the big block of gold, it marks that land as being owned by the  BLM. I know I can camp anywhere in the gold area.

Here is the map view using Google Maps. Notice the big block of gold, it marks that land as being owned by the BLM. I know I can camp anywhere in the gold area.

But just the map won’t help you find a camp site so you switch to the Google Satellite view and you can zoom in very tight and pick a campsite right in a group of trees and look at the quality of the roads. Because I find the colored overlay of Public Land a distraction I usually switch it off  in Satellite view to study the lay of the land. But with a tap of a button I can toggle it on or off.

Here I've switched to the Satellite view and turned off the Land Ownership overlay for a clearer view, but I can easily turn it back on. Being Google Earth, I can zoom in very tight and see exactly where I am going.

Here I’ve switched to the Satellite view and turned off the Land Ownership overlay for a clearer view, but I can easily turn it back on. Being Google Earth, I can zoom in very tight and see exactly where I’m going.

But, here’s the best thing of all! If your Smartphone has GPS you can turn it on and have a Real-Time pin-marker of your exact location on the map. So if I’m looking for a camp on National Forest or BLM land as I drive along I can actually watch the pin marking my location move along the road and as soon as I enter BLM land I can see it enter the gold BLM overlay. Since I know I’m on BLM land, I cab pull over and switch to Satellite view and start looking for little roads I can turn down to find a camp. Rather than drive down every road I can preview them on my Satellite view. Best of all, I can keep checking the overlay and know if I’m leaving Public Land and entering private or state land.

I think It’s a tremendously useful tool and every boondocker should have it! You can get it on Google Play and I assume at the Apple store.

Here, I've zoomed in on the road leading back to my camp and you can see some of the RVs along the road. You can see the spiderweb of small roads leading off the main road and even trees you might want to camp around. I've also pulled down the menu and you can see I have the overlay turned off and in Satellite view. I can switch back with just a tap.

Here, I’ve zoomed in on the road leading back to my camp and you can see some of the RVs along the road. You can also see the spiderweb of small roads leading off the main road and even trees you might want to camp around. I’ve also pulled down the menu and you can see I have the overlay turned off and I’m in Satellite view. I can switch back with just a tap. This takes much of the guesswork out of finding a campsite and is worth it’s weight in gold!

Bob
About

I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

Posted in Boondocking, Tribe
25 comments on “TechNomadia visits the RTR & a Review of Their Smartphone App: US Public Lands
  1. Calvin R says:

    Thanks for the app review, Bob! Now that I understand better what it does, I might get that for my tablet.

  2. Maura says:

    Some amazing stuff there, thanks for explaining it (some of us non techno geeks need it). I too follow their blog and love it.

    Happy Trails

    Maura

  3. Wow.. what a surprise and joy to find this post Bob! It was as much a pleasure to meet you and the RTR crew.

    And thank you so much for the US Public Lands review.. we’re blown away!

    Just one caveat I would add.. our source maps are from the US National Atlas (public domain). However, they only claim accuracy to 640 acres… so we wouldn’t recommend entirely trusting the maps to keep you off private land. Use your senses for that and/or double confirm with other sources. There are some private inholdings on public lands that simply won’t show up on maps at this resolution. As soon as the National Atlas releases higher res maps, we’ll update the app too.
    Cherie @Technomadia recently posted…You Light Up My Life (5 Favorite RVing Lighting Solutions)My Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Thanks for that clarification Cherie. But I think that caveat applies to nearly all maps, mostly because most of them are so old. I have DeLormes Topo software and regularly find errors in it.

      Actually there is an error on your map here at Ehrenberg. According to the BLM maps there is State in-holdings for an OHV area right where we are and your App doesn’t show it. Oddly enough, there is a standard brown fiberglass marker at the beginning of my road and it has both the BLM logo on it and a state OHV sticker on it. I’m not sure they know who owns it!! That may be why there is no enforcement here, nobody owns it! Oh well, it works out well for us.

      I think your maps are as good as any I’ve seen except the actual BLM or NF maps and they are expensive and difficult to get and use.
      You’re app is still the first tool I reach for along with my Benchmark or Delorme Atlas.

      Thanks for stopping by and the great App!
      Bob

  4. gary green says:

    nice app !!!!

  5. John Dough says:

    Randy is a fascinating guy. I think everybody wants to be like him. Very knowledgeable individual, the guy’s probably a genius. Good heroes.

    Bob, you’re also in his league as an independent thinker. What you accomplish here is of high worth and value.

    I got the US Public Lands app.
    Question; Why are some of the BLM lands in a checkerboard pattern?

  6. Dan says:

    Wow thats a cool app, just got it and am checking it out. won’t be hitting road until next January, so this old man has plenty of time to learn to use it, actually seems very easy to use, even for the technologically challenged!

  7. jonthebru says:

    Don’t sell yourself short Bob, you are definitely part of the Nomadic Superstar set! Between Technomadia.com and cheaprvliving.com the amount of information is amazing. Add to that wheelingit.us and loveyourRV.com and that is almost all a person may need to get a good grip on the topic.

  8. Icimani says:

    I too have been following Chris and Cherie, Randy, Glen and Your blog along with several others. I wish I were there to meet you all, but was not to be this year. I have that app also but haven’t had a chance put it to use yet,
    it looks like it will be very useful. I’ve learned so much from all of you it will be nice to thank y’all in person someday. Currently living small on the right coast, but my location independence is not too far away.
    Le mita pila, Wakan tanan kici un.

  9. Douglas says:

    A very good tool to have. I usually keep up on the information on what is blm, nf, state land, etc around the phoenix area. One resource online that could help is the county assessors website. Some have gis maps for who owns what or if it is government land. For maricopa county the link is http://maps.mcassessor.maricopa.gov/. I know that right of of az sr 74 near quintero road going south, there is privately owned land (looks like a holding company owns it, so it doesn’t look like anyone really cares). Then going south after that its state trust land.
    Douglas recently posted…Ammunition and electronicsMy Profile

  10. This app has been sitting on my phone for a while (a few months?) but I haven’t needed it yet. I guess that means I need to go to some totally different places. But, wait, I pledged to myself to not wander as much this year.
    Al Christensen recently posted…So, where the hell is Fortuna Pond?My Profile

    • Douglas says:

      Even when not traveling, i like to look at different places to see if they are state land, blm, national forest or whatever they happen to be. This gives me an idea where I can and cannot set up camp. Arizona state trust land requires a permit to even be on, no matter where it is. Even if it’s in the middle of a city. The state has even up enforcement in some areas. In others they put up more signs. I like being as informed as possible.
      Douglas recently posted…Ammunition and electronicsMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Al, a lot of it is there is so much public land in the Southwest you don’t have to look very hard. In the long run I think you’ll be glad you’ve got it.
      Bob

  11. CAE says:

    Nice app. It’s occurred to me that anything that can be an overlay to google earth is valuable just because google earth is darn high resolution !!
    I sail a lot and charts are very important. Being able to access google earth in conjunction with my charts pretty much covers all the bases for me.

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