2009-03-22 -36 145
In a paddock near Violet Town
The hash trip today started with a mixed outlook. The hash I was going for was located in a paddock not far from the Hume Freeway, near Violet Town. This should make it a pretty easy hash, since I was driving past on an equipment run anyway. However, my Hashscot (possibly called Fergus) had been blinded by science, and wouldn't be able to come.
(When the weekend's hashes were checked on Saturday morning (in preparation for a weekend of driving around away from home), possibly Fergus made the mistake of thinking the Sunday hash was the Saturday one, and Monday's was on Sunday. This made it appear that no hashes were going to be within reasonably reachable distance given time constraints. Hence possibly Fergus stayed at home, and was unable to join me once the mistake had been detected.)
Before leaving for that day's trip, I tried to get a screen shot of the Google map showing the hash onto my phone, as I usually do. I was using my sister's Mac to do this, and since it's now been a few years since I've tried to use a mac in anger, I was unable to find a basic graphics program to handle saving the shot. 'Surely there must be one here,' I thought, but after looking for five minutes, I couldn't find anything, so I gave up and drew a mud map instead. I also copied out the co-ordinates of the hash, to put into my GPS later, just to be sure.
The planned (decided while dropping off my Dad, already on the way really) route would take me past the Hash to the trailer pickup point, and well south of it on the outgoing trip. The return journey would be via a more northerly route, and would take me within a few km of the hash point. I entered the coordinates into the GPS while waiting for a coffee, and set it to track the trip, and everything was good to go.
The outward journey was uneventful, easy driving on the country back roads. From Bendigo to Lake Eppalock to drop off my Dad, then out through Heathcote, past the Puckapunyal military area (which actually had some activity visible form the road today), through Seymour, then Yea, and finally north past Mansfield to Lake Nillachootie and my half-way point. Although I did get stuck behind a group of caravans for a while, which can be (and was) a tad annoying, and a little hard to overtake on those roads.
There was one worrying thing though. When I stopped in Yea for another coffee, and a bite to eat (the bakery there was quite good actually, with gourmet meat pies and sausage rolls containing chunks of onions and things), I discovered that the GPS seemed to have had turned itself off for some reason, or gone into some standby mode or something. I figured that it was because it had been sitting in the sun under the windscreen, so I fiddled with it a bit, got it back on, and drove on to Lake Nillachootie.
Once there, I spent some time loading up with a water tank and other gear to be brought back to Bendigo. Not hard, but the day was quite warm by that point, which was noticeable. I also checked the GPS again, and found it was once more off. A little investigation brought to light the fact that it was running on very low on battery power. this surprised me initially, because the batteries were put in only a couple of weeks ago. Then i realised that when using it on the last few hashes, I had been leaving it on for a number of hours at a time while I cycled, and it had been on for a few hours today as well. That explained it. I decided to leave it off for a while, and hope it would last long enough at the hash point for me to verify my location and get some proof.
So began the return journey, including the Hash point. At this stage I was beginning to run out of time. I had to get back to Bendigo in time to catch a train to Melbourne (I would have to wait an extra two hours for the next (and last) train, wouldn't get a lift to the station, and would have arrived home at about midnight if I missed the train I wanted). While there was, in theory, plenty of time to get back, I wouldn't be able to spend an excessive amount of time hashing.
Lake Nillachootie to the Hume Freeway near Benalla, then south-west towards Violet Town went well. As I approached Violet Town, I pulled out my mud map, complete with a copy of the coordinates, and remembered the Google map. I had to turn off the Freeway onto a minor road, about halfway between a tiny town that wouldn't be well signed, and Violet Town. I tried to track the side roads against my mud map, but none of them were named! All the signage I had to go on was the directions indicating which town each road led to. that wouldn't help much, since none of those towns (localities really) were within range of my map.
I guessed that I was at about the right spot, and took a punt at turning off onto one of the side roads, prepared to stop and look at the directory if need be, but lo and behold, the road I pulled off to was the only one with a sign that named it, and it was the right one! I'll claim that as an innate and highly tuned skill at navigating, thank you very much!
Righto, so I had a few km of traveling to do down this road, and I had to keep an eye out for the crossroad I wanted. I was looking for a large paddock with a large group of trees beside the fence-line, at roughly the hash point. there would be a number of buildings (a farmstead or something like that) on the opposite side of the road just beforehand.
I found what I was looking for, went slightly past it to confirm the next crossroad (they were well signed here, as I had expected), then returned to roughly the right location and pulled over.
There were sheep, lots of sheep, enjoying the shade of the trees by the road. Looking around, I figured I was within a couple of hundred meters of the Hash, and could get most of the way through the trees with relative cover. I would probably disturb the sheep a lot though, so I would want to take it calmly rather than running around like a crazy hash-man.
I pulled out the GPS, turned it on, and waited for it to find itself. with it running, I could get a good bearing on the exact spot I was after, and make a quick but calm dash into the open in the paddock.
But hang on... what's this? The GPS says the way point I put in for the Hash is 5km to the south? Has Google lied to me yet again? Have I found the wrong paddock? Did I miss a road on the mud map? What's going on?
The sheep were worried, and all came over to find out what was up (a.k.a. they though I had stopped to feed them, and were noisily insisting that I should do so. Silly sheep). They were swarming, ready to try and break down the fence or something. Hmm, the fence with barbed wire I notice. Well not exactly a surprise, but now I should try and chase down this hash point, before the GPS dies again. Fortunately, I need to go the same direction as the road does.
So back in the car, and down the road I head.
5 km to go. Getting there.
4 km. Still going the right direction. it should be off the road to the right a bit.
3 km. ohh, now the road turned to the right slightly, heading perfect direction.
2 km. maybe I could even get a speed racer or something.
1 km. ...
Oh darn. The GPS died again.
I pulled over, and looked at the GPS. I looked at the paddock just to the right of the road.... The hash is just there. It's less than a kilometer away, just down there, and now I can't locate it. I tried the GPS again. This time it couldn't get a fix before running out of power. This was not a good thing. What to do, what to do?
Wait, I have it! I have the coordinates written down, and I have a country roads directory. I can use that to find out where the hash is using my map-fu! Hmm. OK, so I found the right page in the directory and had a look-see. Well the map does at least have have latitude and longitude marked, but only to the level of minutes. Oh, wait, it's in DD:MM:SS. I have decimal coordinates. well OK, I can convert them over by hand. Ahh, wait, now that I've done that I discover that the map has 16 grid squares per degree of latitude/longitude (the grid squares are per page, and the lat/long markings are less that a page apart). OK, so back to decimal and I can translate the coordinates to Hexadecimal. That should work.
Of course, I realised, this is exactly the sort of thing that maths teachers are talking about when they say that 'One day you'll need to know this' and then proceed to teach you something abstract, like how to quickly and easily convert between numeric bases. If only I'd listened to them! (Although really, I should be able to easily do the hex base conversions in my head for other reasons)
I was about halfway through the conversion when I realised that I didn't have the time to locate the hash his way. Even if I got good coordinates out of it, the map would not be detailed enough to let me triangulate based on the terrain. It was a road-map after all, meant for driving, not locating points in paddocks.
I'd missed it. I'd have to wait until I got home to figure out what went wrong, and how close I got. I took a couple more photos, and with a sigh, got back in the car to head home. As a final wave of optimism rose in me, I decided to get up to full speed in case the hash ended up on the road (which was still heading the right direction). That way I might be able to claim a speed racer hash, if I could figure out where it was.
The wave of optimism broke around me as I worked my way back towards Violet town and the journey home, leaving only a dull sense of wonder and uncertainty. What went wrong? I would have to wait to find out when I got back home to Melbourne, six hours later.
6 hours later.
After getting home I sat down to find out what was going on. I checked the hash-map again, and it was pointing to the same place it always had been. So why did my GPS disagree? and then it dawned one me.
I checked the coordinates I had against those of the hash, and lo and behold... Google had been right. I had been silly, and transcribed a 9 instead of a 4. Even the GPS had tried to help me out by running out of batteries so I wouldn't be able to use it. I'd been within 200m of the hash, and then turned away to follow bad data.
That's what the sheep were trying to tell me.
| mykaDragonBlue earned the Blinded by Science Consolation Prize
The rest of the photo's To come tomorrow.
- It's tomorrow, but it's late, and I'm tired, and don't feel like doing this properly now. Instead you can take a look at all the photo's I took on photobucket.
- (The photos are in vaguely correct order, but photobucket won't let me re-order them easily, or do it based on the filenames)