2008-08-14 55 -115
I worked from 05:30 to 14:00 today and then got a chance to check the day's geohash. Once again it was along the north shore of Lesser Slave Lake, but this time on land and a little bit closer. A Google Maps directions query yielded a distance of 54.9 km, and the Trans-Canada Trail supposedly runs around the north shore of the lake. This would be possible, if only I had a bicycle.
As far as I know, Robyn is the only one in the area who has ever heard of geohashing, let alone decided to embark on a geohash in the graticule. It's just not an xkcd sort of place. I wish Randall would come back with evidence that people were hitting the webcomic from some place other than this particular Super-8 motel.
Pining for one of the two bicycles, I have back in Vancouver, or even the one I left in Moosonee, suddenly I went insane from not being able to geohash. I was going to buy a $100 Wal-Mart bicycle, and go and find that geohash. Maybe two or three hours each way, depending on the trail condition. I grabbed my GPS, spare batteries, compass, water, food and threw them all in a knapsack. I printed out the map and prepared to leave. Unfortunately at that moment I got a text from work: the second shift was having some problems that I couldn't do anything about, but had to hang about and send 'helpful' texts for a bit. It was after three by the time I got out the door. I had already checked out the Wal-Mart bicycles and determined which one I wanted, but the seat, handlebars and brakes needed adjusting and it took a long time to find sales associates and for them to find tools. I told them when they finally did that they had gone above and beyond, and that I would say their names with praise. So I am: their names are Adel and Bonny. Thank you to both of them.
Next I had to inflate the tires properly, so I took the bike to the Shell and did that. It was now ten to four. Not enough time for six hours cycling and to get into bed by nine. But I would do what I could. Maybe the roads would be good and I would average 25 km/h and it would all work out.
The Trans-Canada trail followed highway 88 for a while then went along a boardwalk through a bird conservation area and onto another paved road. The pavement ended but the gravel road was still good so I thought I might be making good time. There's no computer on the bike, and the GPS sucks batteries like no one's business, so I'll just turn it on when I think I'm getting close. Then the bicycle seat starts to give way. It tips back and won't hold its position. I tightened it in the store, but I on;y had a small wrench so I guess the torque wasn't enough. It's slower riding with one hand holding the seat flat.
The road ends in a trail, but the trail is still okay, then I pass a Caution: Bears in Area and the trail becomes narrower. I still have this incredibly optimistic feeling, even though I know it's not realistic to expect to get to the hash. I decide that a $100 Wal-Mart bicycle would be an excellent defense against a hungry bear. After an hour of riding, I stop and check the GPS. It indicates over 18 nautical miles to go. It's an aviation GPS, hence the nautical miles, and that refers to a straight line distance, which would be across the lake. I have to go up around the outside, of course. That's about 35 km: reasonable to do in an hour on good roads, but I'm probably making 10 km/h here on this trail. I stop and walk when it gets too rough, because I can't hold the seat and both handlebars at once.
I come across a log cabin where two guys with NWT licence plates on their trucks are resealing the logs and borrow a 9/16 socket wrench from them. I manage to get the seat to stay in place, mostly, and continue on. The trail is cleared through the trees and, oddly, has been mowed recently. At six o' clock I check the GPS again. I started at the town of Slave Lake, and I haven't even left the Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park (green area on the map) yet. I 'm less than half way from my origin to the geohash, and I have to admit that I'm not going to make it in time to get home for bed, even if I hitch a ride home. I turn around.
I did see some fine scenery, got some exercise and have a time benchmark for the trip, in case there's another hash out this way.
I'll blame the failure on technology, because it was a technological failure at work that precipitated the bout of text messaging, the tools Adel and Bonny (praise their names) managed to find are technology, and that stupid bicycle seat is primitive technology, too.
The very next day I flew over the geohash point. Twice.