2008-09-06 41 -86

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Sat 6 Sep 2008 in South Bend:
41.8999133, -86.1865472

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From Google maps, the coordinates were observed to be in the middle of a field, about 100 yards from the railroad tracks. As Thomson Road runs parallel to the tracks to within a quarter mile of the hash point, it looked easy enough if the crops would not prohibit entry to the field.

As it happens, the field at the hash point, the one North of the tracks, and many other fields in the area are watermelon fields, making access to the hash points without harming crops rather easy.

Benson reached the area at about 16:15, and arrived at the hash point proper about 16:35.


Benson headed North from South Bend, and guided by the voice, ended up cruising North on Thomson road (a little dirt track, as expected). He couldn't help but notice the ominous signs at the crossing; there was a simple one in English: "Caution: High Speed Trains", and one with just two letters, RR. Red Russians? Repulsive Rust-monsters? Suddenly, he realized he knew. Relativistic Raptors. But it could mean anything, he told himself, and carried on, finally pulling off Thomson road and parking in the shade at the side of Northfield (41.89839 -86.18977). After the lengthy process of packing gear and disembarking was complete, he headed North-East along the hedgerow, with an Eee 701, an N800, a tx2000, and various peripherals merrily swinging in a laptop bag, while his trusted lieutenant N800 and Bluetooth GPS receiver continued to crank out a walking beat punctuated by seemingly random times and distances, stated in a peculiarly endearing monotone.

After a hundred feet, when the hedgerow seemed to have narrowed to constant thickness, our intrepid adventurer made to cross it. However, this hash was not to be so easily reached: someone (the raptors?) had strung a rusty iron mesh along the side of the field, with a pair of rusty strands almost as prickly as the surrounding vegetation above the top. After swinging the laptop bag over first, as a check for raptor ambushes, it was the work of but a minute to cross over this obstruction.

Emerging from the other side, the railway was clearly visible. There were no trains in sight, but not being one to take insane risks, Benson walked along the north side, down of the gravel bed, till he came near the perpendicular from the hash point to the railroad. Looking both ways, he saw no trains coming. But of course he wouldn't; "High Speed Trains", the sign had said; if you did see one, it'd be way too late already. But there was no help for it; the hash point was on the far side of the tracks, and there were worse ways to die than to be struck down by a train, piloted by the Relativistic Raptors. A quick scramble up the gravel, over the tracks, and through the brush on the other side left him on the border of another melon patch. It took a moment to realize he'd made it, alive. And it was a melon patch; even the stealthiest raptors couldn't hide in a melon patch, so he'd see them if they came, and at least go down swinging.

He followed the North edge of Hashfield along till he was nearly due North of the hash point, then headed South along some tractor ruts. The voice continued, "11 o'clock... 10 o'clock... ETA 17 seconds... 9 o'clock..." He sharply stepped off the ruts to the East, quickly stepping over three rows of melons. Waiting a second for the GPS to update, he scanned the surrounding woods and hedgerows for raptors. Seeing none, he checked his position, stepped one more row, and stood, to the accuracy of his equipment, on the very hash-point. Arrived!

Quickly drawing his camera from its holster, he snapped off five pictures of the N800 and his wrist-watch. The fifth one finally had little enough glare to be readable, and a Stupid GrinTM spread across his face. Where he'd come, others would follow; even if the raptors got him, the SD card would survive, and the world would know, someday.

He gently removed his tx2000 from his bag, and gently set it there, in the middle of Hashfield, and took another picture. He stood there in the sun, laughing at the burning sun's rays, and listened to the rest of the song the N800 was playing. Then, he packed the laptop back up, and strode over rows back to the ruts. He headed North, to, along, then off the tracks, snapping pictures all the way. It didn't matter now; he'd won, and not even the relativistic raptors could take that away. It was a pity no-one else had made it, and he pondered all the obstacles they must have faced. Some, perhaps, had died along the way; others, no doubt, had turned away, hoping to live to hash another day. Perhaps next week, he'd meet someone. But for now, he'd made it, and that was something to be proud of.

After climbing over the rusty barricade once more, he traveled along Northfield, to his vehicle in the distance. A careful inspection on arrival revealed no evidence of raptor tampering, and he re-embarked, heading back South. Maybe if the Michigan raptors were too science-minded, too concerned with relativity to remain as dangerous as the Indiana raptors; maybe he was just lucky. But he made it back across the tracks, and headed South, down SR 933, and back home.


Benson earned the Virgin Graticule Achievement
by being the first to reach any hashpoint in the (41, -86) graticule, here, on 2008-09-06.