2008-08-26 55 -114
Today's Slave Lake location is in the namesake Lesser Slave Lake, about 1500 metres from the nearest point of land, which is itself about 10 km down the road from where I am staying.
I am working in the morning, but free afterwards. I am a good swimmer. I can't bring my GPS and camera swimming, but my compass can come swimming with me. I have examined the various points of land and know what bearings to take on which to prove I am at the geohash. It will take me about 40 minutes to swim 1.5 km at a pace I can sustain safely. Maybe longer to get back. I also bought a disposable camera and will put it in several layers of ziploc bags to take lousy pictures during the feat.
Today was cold. I needed a sweatshirt just for biking around town. And it was windy, with windsocks stretched straight out and trees bending. Probably too cold and windy for safely swimming 3km alone. But I remembered the existence of a simple vehicle that can travel through time and over water. After working all morning on a ground-based job that involved scissors and duct tape and going to Canadian Tire three times, I went to lunch around one o' clock with my co-worker. Sitting in Tim Horton's, I was explaining to him that I was going to rent a kayak, but then my phone rang. I had to work in the afternoon, too. Maybe, just maybe the kayak place would still be open in the evening.
Just in case I got a chance to go near them, I programmed the geohash coordinates into the GPS. That's XKu in the picture, the XK short for xkcd and the u a designation the GPS put on to show that it was a user-defined and not an official aviation waypoint. That first picture is taken on the ground, at the airport. You can see that the geohash location is very close by. What you can't see, but I could see sitting on the tarmac, is that the wind required me to take off from runway 28, on a heading of 280, or within six degrees of the track leading directly to the geohash. No one minds if you are six degrees off of straight while climbing out. I had been so busy looking at the headings from points of land, I had neglected to notice that the geohash was pretty much straight off the runway.
Three miles is covered in two minutes of travel at my groundspeed, climbing against the wind. The first minute is too busy and too safety-critical to mess with cameras and the like. I ready the camera, line up on the runway, and apply take-off power. My post-takeoff critical tasks are complete in time to get a shot of the GPS 1.45 nm back. At about 45 seconds back, the GPS goes into a silly mode where instead of displaying track or position information the whole screen is taken up with a "seconds to XK" countdown. I saw it go to 2 seconds, and clicked the camera, but with the noise of the airplane and my need to look out the window, I didn't realize that it didn't take that shot.
As luck would have it, I needed to circle in the area for several minutes, so I got a chance to take some pictures without having my nose up, obscuring the geohash.
I did go down to the shore after the flight, and the kayak place was still open, but the wind was whipping up big waves, and from the location of the kayak rental place it would have been three hours paddling, so I had to settle for just the air hash, not the double-header.
My user page looks funny now with three hashes in a row in the same graticule. That's a first for me.