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The Google Maps Mystery

Posted on November 16th, 2018

Dave!As I've mentioned here a few times, I love maps. Because of this, Google Maps is a never-ending source of wonder to me. I could wander around the world for weeks and never get bored. There's just so much amazing stuff to see.

So when I dropped by Google Maps tonight so I could grab directions for some guests I have coming, it should come as no surprise that I got distracted and started poking around my home town in satellite view. It was then I saw something quite odd. An irrigation ditch just outside of town (which I was aware of) seemed to disappear into a big hill (something I was not aware of)...

Missing Ditch Map
Image courtesy of Google Maps

If you look in the lower-right there, you'll see that a ditch winds itself around then... poof.

WTF?!?

Where did it go? It looks like it goes in a tunnel. But where does it come out? After a little while scrolling around, I found it...

Missing Ditch Map
Image courtesy of Google Maps

This raises all kinds of questions. Because this is a good-sized hill that it travels through...

Missing Ditch Map
Image courtesy of Google Maps

When I traced the path of the tunnel in map view (not a straight line, as I had thought) and measured its distance... the tunnel ended up being a mile long!

Missing Ditch Map
Image courtesy of Google Maps

   
Things like this are fascinating to me.

Is it, in fact, a tunnel? If it is, then when was it built? Who built it? How did they build it? How is it maintained? If leaves and garbage and stuff blocks it, how do they unblock it? And how in the heck can something like this exist without me knowing about it? What other wacky stuff is waiting to be discovered around my home town?

There's only one way to find out...

UPDATE: I found an abbreviated history of the Greater Wenatchee Irrigation District on their website. No mention of the tunnels though. And so... I will continue to investigate.

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The Seventh Continent

Posted on December 18th, 2017

Dave!And so I updated my Travel Map last night.

I've now step foot on all seven continents, which is pretty cool bragging rights...


Dave's Travel Map

   
I've also come one step closer to finishing off my travel bucket list. Two down. Eight to go...

  1. Africa. Who doesn't want to experience an African safari? Who doesn't want to see elephants, gorillas, lions, rhinos, giraffes, and the dozens of other amazing creatures that can be found there? This is another one of those trips that requires a massive stack of cash to do right.
  2. Antarctica. The reason I haven't been to Antarctica yet is solely a matter of money. I don't just want to float by on a cruise ship... I want an actual expedition, and that costs an absurd amount of bank. I'm hopeful I can get it figured out one day soon, because I don't know how much longer I'll remain healthy enough for such an adventure.
  3. India. It seems insane that one of the destinations I most want to visit on earth is still on my to-do list. I think the problem is one of time and logistics. There are simply so many places in the country I want to visit that I can't decide on an itinerary that would fit in a two-week period. I'll get it sorted eventually, I suppose, but every time I've tried in the past I get mired down with the fact that I need five weeks to do what I want to do, and no way to take that much time off.
  4. New Zealand When I visited Australia two years ago, I drew a line through Sydney and created a trip north (including Fiji), and a trip south (including New Zealand). I ended up going north because the southern trip would take a week longer and an additional $1600... both of which I didn't have. But that southern itinerary is still there. I still want to do it. I just need the money and the time. Again.
  5. Peru & Galápagos Islands. Machu Picchu is a bucket-list item that I've been dreaming of for decades. The Galápagos Islands is also on my list, and seems like an easy pairing for one trip.
  6. Jordan & Israel. There are many reasons I want to visit Jordan but, naturally, seeing Petra before I die is probably the biggest. And since it would be insane to go all that way and not visit Israel, another place I've longed to see, this is a dream trip.
  7. Brazil. Visiting Rio de Janeiro, Fernando de Noronha, The Amazon Rainforest, Ouro Preto, and dozens of other places in Brazil is kind of a no-brainer. But I want to see Iguazu Falls. Badly. It's just such an amazing spectacle on movies and television that I cannot fathom how amazing it would be to see in person.
  8. Moscow & St. Petersburg. This is a pretty simple trip to plan... just call up a company who does river cruises (like Viking) and sail from Moscow to St. Petersburg while enjoying all the amazing stuff in-between. Easy! At least it's easy if you've got lots and lots of money.
  9. Norwegian Fjords. A cruise along the coast of Norway through all the beautiful little fishing towns and jaw-dropping scenery seems like one of the most relaxing vacations ever. And I blame my obsession with experiencing it on Disney's Epcot. They show a movie after you go on the "Maelstrom" ride in "Norway" that shows just how amazing such a trip would be, and I've been dreaming of it ever since.
  10. Nepal. Always wanted to go. Still want to go. Need to find a way to go. Have never put enough time into figuring out how to go. Really must go.

I used to be pretty obsessed with making it to everyplace on this list. Now? Not so much. Sure, I'd still like to visit all of them... but I'm not going to feel a failure at life if I don't make every destination. Except India. I really, really want to make it to India before I die.

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Maps And The Stories They Tell

Posted on November 23rd, 2017

Dave!As I've probably mentioned at least a dozen times on my blog, I love maps. I used to buy maps of places I never intended on going just to look at them. I would buy guidebooks for the same reason. Maps allow you to travel without ever leaving your home.

Then online maps came along with technologies like "Google Street View" and everything changed. Suddenly maps were a hundred times more useful for armchair travelers because you could actually drop yourself into a map and look around...

Google Maps Street View

Google Maps Street View

Talk about an armchair traveler's dream come true!

I mean, yes, there's nothing like visiting Paris, wandering the city streets, and seeing the Eiffel Tower in person... but, if that's out of reach for whatever reason, isn't this the coolest possible alternative? You can go most anywhere in the world this way!

Yes, even Antarctica...

Google Maps Street View

Google Maps Street View

Google Maps Street View

Having access to satellite imagery is also very cool.

While driving around Acadia and Mount Dessert Island, I was driving Route 204 when all of a sudden it jags way out, then resumes course...

Google Maps Street View

Wonder what THAT'S all about? Somebody didn't want to sell their farm? Well, thanks to Google Satellite View, it looks like somebody didn't want to sell their store...

Google Maps Satellite View

And Google Maps isn't resting on their laurels... oh no... they're always adding cool new features. As I was leaving the US "Eastern Most Point" at West Quoddy Head Light, I noticed that Google noted I parked there. I'm guessing so if I walk away, I can find my car if I forgot where I parked it?

Google Maps Parking Spot

It was miles and miles before It dropped off, so I guess it's good if you're hiking or something...

Google Maps Parking Spot

Or wanting to vandalize a McDonalds and not wanting to forget where your getaway car is parked...

McVandals!

McVandals!

   
I'd imagine that the advent of VR (Virtual Reality) is going to be a huge game changer in map technology. At least I hope it will. Being able to more "literally" drop into a map would be an incredible thing.

Not incredible enough to stop be from traveling.

Probably.

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Two Different Colors On The Map

Posted on November 21st, 2017

Dave!That was one busy weekend.

The main road through Acadia National Park is "Park Loop Road"... which is one-way for a big chunk. This can make planning a travel itinerary tricky because there's no backtracking if you miss a turn or blow past an exit.

Fortunately Google Maps makes it easy to enter a bunch of stops then rearrange them until you have a simple plan instead of having to take multiple loops around the island trying to see everything. With the exception of not finding "Boulder Beach" the first time around, Acadia was relatively painless to navigate.

And now, because I am definitely returning one day, I'm going to post my maps so I can remember how I saw what I saw...

FRIDAY...
Portland to Bar Harbor to Bass Harbor Sunset...

Acadia Friday map

SATURDAY...
Bar Harbor to Sand Beach to Jordan Pond to Bubble Mountains...

Acadia Friday map

SUNDAY...
Bar Harbor to West Quoddy Head Light...

Acadia Friday map

MONDAY...
Bar Harbor to Cadillac Mountain Sunrise to Schooner Head to Thunder Hole to Boulder Beach to Somesville to Portland...

Acadia Friday map

   
And that's that.

Interesting to note... when I line up all the maps and multiply them all together, you can see how I hit most every major road in the park... with the exception of Route 102 up the West Coast and a couple chunks of Route 3 in spots. Not sure what I missed, but it might be worth finding out for next time...

Acadia Friday map

Thanks, Google Maps!

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A Map of Places

Posted on May 10th, 2017

Dave!I updated my travel map while on the phone this morning.

The thing was getting way too complicated for me to manage manually, so I switched to Google My Maps a while back. What a cool piece of tech that is. Makes it so easy to keep track of the places I've flown into, stayed at, or been. Granted, it's undoubtedly not 100% complete because I've forgotten a lot of places... but it's close enough.

In all honesty I don't know whether I should be amazed that I managed to get to this much of the world... or horrified that there's so many places I've yet to visit...

Dave's Travel Map

If you want to play with the interactive version to see how nice Google My Maps is... just head to my Map Page. Or sign into your Google account and make a map of your own!

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Geography

Posted on November 11th, 2013

Dave!Happy Veterans' Day, everybody! And thanks to all who have served (or continue to serve).

For as long as I can remember, I've loved maps. And every once in a while I get a reminder of why that is.

This past weekend I had somebody write to me with a Hard Rock Cafe question that led me to the property that used to exist in Queenstown, New Zealand (which, sadly, closed before I could visit). Since the city was unfamiliar to me, I consulted the internet to find out where it was located in relation to the cities I did know. While rummaging around, I saw this...

Beautiful New Zealand Map
Map taken from (where else) Google Maps.

Beautiful, isn't it?

But here's the strange thing... this is not some wacky geographic phenomena that's out in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles away from civilization. This incredible formation is just minutes outside of Christchurch, the biggest city on New Zealand's South Island...

Google Map Christchurch
Map once again taken from Google Maps.

That's pretty nifty.

But not uncommon, really. There's beauty in geography everywhere you look.

Just 300 miles from where I live is this marvelous spectacle across the border in British Columbia...

British Columbia
Fractally goodness courtesy of, you guessed it, Google Maps.

But I don't even have to go that far. Directly to the West of my home you can find some pretty amazing stuff...

Central Washington Map
This was taken from... well, you know...

This is a small part of the vast Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area including the Western half of The Enchantments trail region (named after a group of lakes by the same name). In this photo you can spot...

  • Eightmile Lake
  • Horseshoe Lake
  • Jack Lake
  • Lake Stuart
  • Aasgard Pass
  • Colchuck Lake
  • Coney Lake
  • Shield Lake
  • Earle Lake
  • Mesa Lake
  • Temple Lake
  • Lake Viviane
  • Leprechaun Lake
  • Sprite Lake
  • Enchantment Lakes
  • Inspiration Lake
  • Perfection Lake
  • Isolation Lake
  • Tranquil Lake

I'm not much of an outdoorsman, so I've explored very little of it. What I have seen is pretty spectacular though. I wish I was as into photography then as I am now... I'd probably have some incredible shots of the region. Like this guy...

Colchuck Lake
©2011 by Ethan Welty... check out his awesome Flickr feed!

   
But I guess that's what the internet is for.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to explore this lovely planet a while longer...

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Bullet Sunday 354

Posted on November 10th, 2013

Dave!Stop pondering how many licks it takes to get to the middle of a Chicken McNugget... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Blacklisted. As a James Spader fan, it was a no-brainer to add his latest television effort, The Blacklist to my DVR. But the previews and ads for the show kind of led me to believe that it was a bad Silence of the Lambs rip-off with Spader as a poor man's Hannibal Lecter, so I kept putting it off (there's already a television version of that running). Well, yesterday I finally got around to watching it... and am completely hooked. Yes, there are familiar elements here, but the show itself is so much more...

The Blacklist Poster

But the highlight is Spader, of course. Very few people could pull off this role in a way that's so darkly entertaining yet somehow likable. This... this... is everything the Hannibal television show should have been, but doesn't quite reach. Highest recommendation. If you've been missing it, the iTunes Music Store currently has a Season Pass for the show on sale for $35 so you can start from the beginning (and I recommend you do).

   
• Lion. If you haven't yet read about the lion cub that was rescued by two guys from the Modisa Wildlife Project in Botswana, here you go!

Lion Hug

The TED Talk by the Modisa Wildlife Project's Mikkel Legarth is also worth a look.

   
• Faith. I... do not... have the... words... God exists, and he's working at Taco Bell...

Taco Bell Cinnabon Bites

I'll be trying these bad boys post-haste!

   
• Visits. Most "States I've Visited" maps are a binary "yes or no" type affair. Jeremy Nixon has come up with an alternative that provides a much better picture...

Defocus Visits Map

Red states are those you've barely visited. Orange states you know a little better. Blue states you've spent quite a lot of time in. Green states are those you know extremely well. Cool, huh? You can make your own map over at Jeremy's Defocus Blog.

   
• Dyslexic. I was very lucky that I was diagnosed early and got help when I was young enough to make a difference in my life. I'm also fortunate that my form of dyslexia is mild and I was able to train my brain to cope with it relatively easily. Still, dyslexia is something I have to deal with every day, so I was really happy to see this amazing project on Kickstarter called "I wonder what it's like to be dyslexic" which features a book that attempts to illustrate what it's like to struggle with reading. They've reached their funding goal, but such a beautiful and educational book deserves to be seen by everybody, so here you go!

More information can be found on Kickstarter.

   
• Storm. My thoughts are with everybody in The Philippines after Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the region this past week. The devastation looks horrendous, and they are estimating the dead could top 10,000 people across the country. As I type this, the storm has landed in Vietnam, and is expected to cause heavy rains and flooding in the northern part of the country... including Hanoi, where I was visiting just last month...

NOAA Haiyan Map
Haiyan chart image taken from NOAA.

As if these storms aren't frightening enough, scientists are projecting that things are only going to get worse. Severe storms are going to form more frequently and be stronger than ever before. If science is right, life on this planet is going to have to change quite dramatically over the next century. Whether we like it or not.

   
See you in seven days.

   

Bullet Sunday 344

Posted on August 30th, 2013

Dave!Bullet Sunday on Friday? YOU DRUNK, BLOGOGRAPHY! GO HOME! Except I was too traumatized from nearly getting ran over this past Sunday to blog, so prepare yourself... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Dog! I just gotta get this out of the way before I forget... Chicago Veggie Dog? Awesome. Chicago Veggie Dog in San Francisco? Not so much...

Veggie Chicago Dog in San Francisco

Not that is was bad... but, just like bagels outside of New York, it just wasn't the same. Of course, now I want nothing more than to fly to Chicago and get a real Chicago Veggie Dog, which is a tough craving to get out of your head.

   
• Closure! Usually, the drive from San Francisco to Oakland is a breezy 15 minutes over the Bay Bridge. But since the bridge is under construction over Labor Day weekend, getting from one side of the Bay to the other is a bit more of a challenge. Whether you go north over the Golden Gate then on to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge... or you go south over the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge... you've got an hour drive ahead of you...

SF to OAK

But the good news is that BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is still running. So if you don't mind public transportation, you can park at a station and go by rail. The interesting thing about that is having a lot of people who don't normally ride public transportation riding public transportation. The entertainment value is pretty high, but so is the frustration level. The line to get tickets is long, and people not accustomed to the machines take forever. You have people walking on the wrong train, then then blocking you from entering because they're trying to get turned around and escape after somebody tells them it won't take them where they need to go. It goes on and on. Usually I love BART, but this trip it's been driving me crazy. People need to stay home... or maybe I should have.

And in other news... Google Maps is aware of the Bay Bridge closure, and routes you accordingly. Microsoft Bing Maps, however, is not so smart...

Bing Maps WRONG

But (and here's the kicker) Apple Maps DOES re-route you...

Apple Maps RIGHT

Which begs the question... how bad does your mapping service have to be in order to be considered a worse option than Apple Maps? And, can I just say, both Google and Bing could learn something from Apple here... map labels are so much more useful WHEN THEY ARE LARGE ENOUGH THAT PEOPLE CAN ACTUALLY READ THEM!

   
• Phoneless! This morning I did the unthinkable... I forgot my iPhone in my room because I was late for work and rushing around without my head attached. After my meeting, a co-worker was kind enough to drop by my hotel so I could grab my phone on the way to running some errands. I was incredibly grateful, because not having my iPhone feels like a part of me is missing. As we were speeding away, I noticed that my battery was at 5%, despite the fact that it had been plugged in all night and I just took it off the charger. So before heading back to work I had to drop by my hotel room AGAIN so I could plug it in AGAIN. Which is when I found out the power outlet on the desk was dead. I don't know why the world was conspiring against me having an iPhone today, but I do not like it. You never realize just how dependent you are on something until it's taken away, and today I found out I don't even know how to EXIST without my iPhone. As I told my co-worker, I had forgotten that before mobile tech happened everybody just kind of stumbled around in the dark banging rocks together to communicate. And it sucks.

   
• Cookies! Saying "I had to stop for fortune cookies" is a totes legit reason for being late to a meeting... amiright?

Golden Gate Fortune Cookies

Sorry... but even more important than visiting my tattoo artist when I'm in San Francisco is stopping by Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company when I'm in town. I've been doing it on every trip to the Bay Area for nearly two decades, and it simply cannot be missed.

   
• Sports! Jester and I wandered to The Castro after dinner so we could drop in on a goodbye party for Justin. Like most bars in The Castro, it's a gay bar. Unlike most gay bars in the world, it's a sports bar called Hi Tops (home of cold pitchers and hot catchers!). This is not a big deal for me. I ended up in many a gay-bar when the brother of a girl I dated in Portland would invite us out to go bar-hopping with him and his partner. Except... one visit to the Hi Tops Facebook page told me that I had been fairly sheltered in gay bar world, because I ain't seen nothing like this...

Hi Tops Sports Bar San Francisco

Call me old-fashioned, but I just don't think shots should be served with a side of hairy ass.

Fortunately (unfortunately?), guys in jock straps serving free shots only happens on Thursdays, which meant I got to spend a great evening out sans hairy asses. Seeing homo-erectus-erectus (the Common American Gay) in their native habitat is always fun, and Hi Tops ended up being a really nice place with a terrific crowd of friendly people. That being said, this sports bar was a bit... different... from other sports bars. For one thing, the sports being played on the televisions include golf and women's tennis. For another, the music is awesome. One thing is for sure though, any sports bar I end up at from here on out is going to be pretty boring by comparison.

   
• Quotable! And now, for your reading pleasure, the TOP FIVE QUOTES from my night at a gay sports bar...

  1. ME: "Most guys would be pretty upset if another guy grabbed their ass. I'm just glad to know I have options."
  2. ME: "Could be he's into straight guys, but I'm not even straight-acting."
  3. JESTER: (Pointing to two guys making out) "Well that's something you won't see at a regular sports bar."ME: "You were obviously not in Chicago when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup."
  4. ME: (Looking around at dozens of guys who look like they've stepped out of GQ) "I really need to start dressing better."
  5. ME: "I'd say I'm glad that all these incredibly good-looking guys are out of the hetero dating pool... but none of the hot women they'd end up with would give me the time of day anyway."

And... that's a wrap for a completely misnamed Bullet Sunday.

   

Holes

Posted on August 6th, 2013

Dave!Today I got sidetracked by somebody asking me a travel question. I didn't know the answer off the top of my head, and ended up having to look through old photos to find the answer. This was a serious mistake, because you can't ever just look at one photo... so I ended up wasting an hour of precious time going back through my dozens of travel albums.

It then occurred to me that if you were to erase all the travel I've done from my life, I would be one of the most boring people on earth.

Because, let's face it, outside of travel I don't really do much of anything. Except work.

I don't have any hobbies. I'm not involved in any sports. I don't belong to any clubs or groups. I don't get involved in community activities. I don't have kids.

I can't Limbo.

Hell, even this blog would have never happened if it weren't for my travels. Blogography was started solely as a way to keep my friends and family informed as to where I was traveling!

Oddly enough, I'm perfectly okay with this.

Because there's nothing I'd rather do with my life than fill in as many holes on my travel map as I can before I die...

Dave Travel Map
Map courtesy of TripAdvisor and Bing

   
As you can see, I've got a lot of living yet to do.

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Denver

Posted on August 24th, 2009

Dave!There are plenty of things I could blog about, but the only thing that's in my head right now is how I get to sleep in tomorrow. For the first time in months I have nothing going in the morning. No calls scheduled. No meetings to attend. No places to be. No flights to catch. Nothing. I could sleep in until noon. Heck, I could sleep in until 5:00pm if I wanted to. The whole concept is so bizarre that I can't quite wrap my head around it.

Of course, the odds of me actually sleeping in are small. I'm sure my insomniac nature will take over and I'll be waking up at 4:00am as usual... and I'll be bored as usual... so I'll start getting some work done as usual. Oh well. I suppose just the thought of being able to sleep in if I wanted to is enough.

Anyway...

This morning started out early because I wanted to visit Denver's very own independent book store... The Tattered Cover. There are a couple locations, but I went to the beautiful LoDo store on the 16th Street Mall (years ago I visited the "original" store in Cherry Creek, but it has since moved). Much like Powell's City of Books in Portland, The Tattered Cover is a wonderful experience for people who love books...

Tattered Cover Book Store

I then walked around the corner to visit The Old Map Gallery. As a die-hard map-lover, I had been really looking forward to seeing the shop... but it was closed. And there were no hours posted, so I didn't stick around. For all I know they could be closed Mondays, and I'd be waiting for nothing (the website isn't much help either). This is probably a good thing, because a look in the window shows that I would have been dangerously close to spending entirely too much money there...

Old Map Gallery Window

From there it was time for lunch at the beautiful Hard Rock Cafe Denver...

Hard Rock Denver Outside

Hard Rock Denver Inside

And then back to the hotel so I could catch my ride to the airport. The sky, which had been blue with scattered clouds when I left in the morning, had become dreary and overcast by afternoon...

Capitol Building Grey Sky Afternoon

And by the time I got to the airport we were on weather delay. Fortunately, it was only 30 minutes, which put us into Salt Lake City just 14 minutes late (it's the old "we'll make up time in the air" trick!). Or would have if we didn't end up in a holding pattern for ten minutes once we got there.

Marty and Reba (of Banal Leakage fame) were then nice enough to pick me up at the SLC airport so we could head to the Rio Grande Cafe for Dave Lake City 3! The last time we were there I was doped up on massive pain killers for kidney stones and couldn't really enjoy it, so I was really looking forward to eating there again. It was (as expected) delicious, and it's always great to hang out with Marty and his better half...

Dave Lake City 3 Badge

And tomorrow, Depeche Mode, baby!

   

UPDATE: Annnnnd... I was up at 5:15am. That's a whole 45 minutes I got to sleep in!

   

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