Destination Unknown, the 1,700 Mile Drive, is a long-term project my wife and I started off the idea that we were interested in seeing the official California State Historical Landmarks (CSHLs). Out of sheer necessity this idea evolved into a much larger project based around a photoblog and custom made Google Map.
When we started we did what we would normally do: research. We dug around online and found a few guidebooks on the topic of CSHLs only to find that the only two real sources were both great, but terribly outdated. Not to mention, they were both laid out in different manners. One of them showed the landmarks by general region or area, the other by county. Neither of those are really effective when planning out a road trip.
We also decided early on that we wanted to post pictures or updates on our travels which caused me to start the Tumblr site to document the locations. It took awhile to figure out what I wanted those posts to look like, but I finally decided on a format which shows our pictures and landmark information, either from the plaque if there is one or the official guidebook. You can find that photoblog here: http://destinationunknownca.tumblr.com/
So we have these guidebooks that don’t work well and a small blog setup – next I needed a better way to locate and track the locations we have been to. This led me to do some more research and find a very raw map featuring a vast majority of the landmarks, many other sites such as places of historical interest and national landmarks, which was awesome but it needed a lot of cleaning up to turn it into what I needed. I learned to manipulate Google Maps off of spreadsheets, adjust locations and information, and put it in a form that I could update on the fly with pics, more precise coordinates, and notes. After many hours of work, revamp after revamp, I came up with this map: Destination Unknown – CSHL Map which I believe to be the most accurate and up-to-date database on the topic that is out there and accessible to anyone. After each road trip I also update it, add pics and adjust coordinates, to make this a living, breathing document of our travels.