2009-03-17 48 11
In the Paintner Forst, a large forest area west of Viehhausen, about 15km west of Regensburg. First Expedition in the Munich graticule in seven months!
I left home shortly before 18:00 and cycled to Sinzing on a familiar route, and then up the Laber valley on a cycleway which I had last used in July 2006, on the day I visited the 49 12 confluence point and found my first geocache. The good part of this cycleway, a former railway segment, ends in Alling, and from there I cycled up a very steep road into Viehhausen.
Between Viehhausen and the next village, Kohlstadt, Tomcat was waiting for me at a soccer field. Unlike me (with Central European Widi Time unavoidably equaling CET plus at least 10 minutes), he had overestimated the time he would need to get there from Eilsbrunn and had been waiting there for nearly half an hour...
We picked a relatively new and dry track to enter the woods, just as the last light of the day faded. For a while we cycled through the dark forest until the hash was a little less than 300m to the right, and the track turned left. We found a path that was surprisingly dry (compared to the surfaces we had gotten used to during our previous expeditions) but also bumpy and full of loose, slippery sticks, but good enough to push our bikes on it until the hash was only about 25m to the right. It took a while until our GPSes agreed on roughly the same spot, and we spent some time there taking long-exposure pictures and I wrote "xkcd geohashing 48 11 2009-03-17" on a tree with chalk. We also encountered some of the first outdoor insects of this year on that tree, including a couple of small earwigs.
After carefully tracing our way back through the dark forest, we paused at the edge of the forest to look at the night sky, and suddenly noticed a bright dot moving towards the Orion constellation, closely followed by a dimmer dot taking exactly the same path. I recognized what it was... the International Space Station, with Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-119) approaching to dock! I had tried to observe this on several occassions for the past few years, but only managed once before. We were pretty thrilled.
For the ride back, we chose a road that was less steep than where I had come up the hill, but brought us to Alling at the same spot. We considered two other restaurants along the way but, thanks to my reluctance to try out new meals, ended up at our default pizzeria around the corner from my home. After sharing a Speciale Villetta, we split up at around 22:15 and Tomcat cycled back to Eilsbrunn.