Geohashing 8.18.08

xkcd is a brilliantly silly comic, and frequently produces brilliantly silly ideas like this one:

The comic ran a while ago as, well, a joke, but as I discovered recently, people are actually doing it! There’s even a wiki keeping track of everything.

Something about the idea just fascinated me, when I heard of it yesterday– the idea that you’ll be headed to a totally unpredictable place, which could be anything, just for the sake of an adventure. So, naturally, when I saw that today’s hashpoint was nearby, I absolutely had to go.

Here’s the writeup I put on the wiki, slightly edited for style (I can do that because I’m quoting myself), now with pictures.

The first 30 of the expected 35 minute drive were pretty but uneventful. There was a moment of concern, as eloriane’s GPS steered her towards a lake, but there was a bridge (terrifying, as it was one lane, but usable) and the trip proceeded smoothly.

I didn't know we had a lake here!

I didn't know we had a lake here!

Thank goodness there's a bridge.

Thank goodness there's a bridge.

Until suddenly, the road stopped. At a cliff.

You cant see it, but where the road ends, the land basically ends.

You can't see it, but where the road ends, the land basically ends.

Not to be deterred easily, eloriane pulled over at the nearest opportunity (not particularly near, as this very rural area had no curbs) and, carrying her GPS, walked back to the hashpoint. Or attempted to, anyway. Unfortunately, the cliff was still distinctly cliff-y even when approached on foot, and eloriane had foolishly worn sandals.

Its very hard to photograph a steep decline, especially from the top, especially when those branches are the only thing to keep you from falling down.

It's very hard to photograph a steep decline, especially from the top, especially when those branches are the only thing to keep you from falling down.

The GPS said I had to keep going forward a couple hundred feet.

The GPS said I had to keep going forward 70 feet. (It had trouble figuring out which way I was facing, after I left the car, but I promise, that's what it was saying.)

eloriane walked back to her car, hanging her head in defeat.

Except! As she walked back, she spied a path, which probably hadn’t been used in years but which distinctly bore evidence of car traffic.

A way down! Which is probably not tresspassing?

A way down! Which is probably not trespassing?

Saved! She drove back to this spot (nearly missing it, it was so overgrown) and headed down its gentler slope. It had been unused for so long, plants had grown in the middle of the “road” but they appeared to spring back up again even after being driven over, so eloriane believes (hopes) she did no damage to the wildlife.

I never expected myself to be an off-road driver. If I had, maybe I would not have bought a bright blue VW bug. Then again, the bug didnt seem to suffer any lasting harm...

I never expected myself to be an off-road driver. If I had, maybe I would not have bought a bright blue VW bug. Then again, the bug didn't seem to suffer any lasting harm...

The old little road dead-ended among a lot of trees, but eloriane declared it close enough and a valiant effort.

location! The GPS says I'm really really close, at least. (Hopefully close enough?)

Proof 1: location! The GPS says I'm really, really close. (Hopefully close enough?)

me! And the grass to the left of my car is basically where the GPS said the coordinates are.

Proof 2: me, grinning like and idiot! (For proof 3, the date, I'm afraid you'll just have to trust me. I was there today.)

Time to go home. She shifted to reverse, and…was stuck. As she executed her 42-point turn, she contemplated calling the police, her mother, and Randall Munroe for assistance, wondering how she could possibly explain where she was and wincing as her car made unhappy grinding and thumping noises.

All’s well that ends well, however, and the car was eventually turned around enough to make the drive up the steep, muddy hill possible, and eloriane made it home in time for supper.

It turns out that someone else had also gone to the hashpoint today, but I didn’t see her. She doesn’t have an email address on the wiki so I suppose I’ll just have to keep going to hashpoints to try to meet her. In future, I’ll bring a book and hang out longer to increase the odds.

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