2009-03-28 49 -122
Google Maps showed the point to be just east of Maple Ridge, at the very edge of Kanaka Creek Park, a long narrow park protecting the riparian zone around Kanaka Creek, a tributary of the Fraser River. Google satellite views showed buildings very near the geohash site, suggesting that it would be fairly easy to get close to the geohash and to walk in. Not bad for the Surrey graticule, which usually puts us in inaccessible mountains.
Robyn and Wade spent the night in Coquitlam, after having attended another geohash the day before. They emerged from their hotel room at the crack of noon knowing they had four hours to travel 23 kilometres to the edge of a park. "And it's a city park," explained Robyn, "Not like Banff National Park. There won't be any mountain climbing or bushwhacking." So they had a leisurely brunch at Cactus Club and then made their way slowly through Maple Ridge, looking for en route adventure.
En Route Exploration
To ensure that they didn't arrive at the geohash too early, Robyn suggested that they get off Lougheed Highway and take the main street of Maple Ridge instead. Wade agreed, announcing that he was done with Lougheed Highway, but then traffic blocked his getting in the correct turn lane, so he had to stay on Lougheed Highway a little longer before arriving in downtown Maple Ridge.
We found a comic book and action figure store with a proprietor straight out of the Simpsons. Almost terrifyingly so. Robyn chatted with him briefly about the relative quality and price of vintage and newly manufactured original series Star Trek phasers and communicators, and then had to leave the store in order to giggle about his thorough resemblance to Comic Book Guy. We concluded that he must know, and we expected that he was proud to have a Simpson's character that was so recognizably he. We also found an organic food store (potato chips, chocolate covered almonds, chocolate bars and candied ginger are good for you when purchased from organic food stores you know. We stocked up. Finally, Robyn bought a pair of spring/fall bicycle gloves, having lost one of hers on a bus during a previous geohash.
As we returned to the car we saw a woman dressed in a Statue of Liberty costume, waving at traffic. So of course we waved back. What else do you do when someone wearing a silly costume waves to you? Well, as became evident when she broke down in abject gratitude for our basic acknowledgment of her humanity, a lot of people look away, scowl or make rude gestures. Sure, she was paid to advertise a tax preparation firm, but hey, a person wearing a costume on a city street will always get a wave from me. I got my picture taken with her.
Finding Kanaka Creek Park
The scenic route through Maple Ridge required a left turn from 232nd onto Kanaka Creek Way, to get to the geohash. It looked very simple on the map, where 232nd curved uninterrupted into Kanaka Creek Way, requiring a force of will, or at least steering, to not end up on the latter. But when we arrived at the intersection, left turns were prohibited and we were forced to make a right turn onto the Lougheed Highway. As Wade turned left at the next highway exit, Robyn quickly consulted the map and assured Wade that he could drive straight through from this road, and would not have to return to Lougheed Highway. Wade was pleased. He was done with Lougheed Highway.
We just needed to turn left on Stanley Lane and we'd be back on Kanaka. Except the lane wasn't there, and a lot of streets not on Robyn's map were there, reminding Robyn she had a ten year old map. Wade had to turn around and go back onto the Lougheed Highway in order to get to the geohash. Robyn apologized for making him re-enter the highway, but Wade said that was okay, he could go west on the Lougheed, but he was done with going east on the Lougheed Highway.
In Kanaka Creek Park
Despite all the turning around, we still had forty-five minutes remaining in which to reach the geohash when we parked 1.6 km from it, by one of the entrances to Kanaka Creek Park. The park turned out to be exactly as Robyn had expected, a paved multi-use path winding through a strip of land with suburban houses on the left and a slow muddy river on the right. We wandered happily along the path, stopping to admire a fish fence (a biologists' fish-counting device) 900 metres from the geohash. And there the path along the river ended.
We went up into a subdivision where we managed to get 630 m from the geohash, but further progress was blocked by brambles and barbed wire. We retraced our steps and looked for a path on the other side of the creek. There was one, but it diminished from a clear path to a bramble-choked track and then ended at a swamp. There was a sturdy beaver dam across the water, however, and Robyn crossed on that. After a hundred more metres, a couple more slippery, beaver-felled trees, and some stoic comments from Wade about how this wasn't supposed to involve bushwhacking, Robyn realized that 750 m was too large a Stupidity Distance for this geohash, and that there was a better way. Robyn and Wade returned to the car to plan another approach.
We found a road that came within 150 m of the geohash. There were private houses along it, but at the nearest approach to the point there was an unfenced, unmown field that Robyn declared to be an access point to the park. We walked across it as it sloped down towards the creek and then met a steep, bramble-choked ravine. With a stupidity distance of 69 metres, Robyn continued through the brambles to the geohash, while Wade stood guard just within the coveted 70 m circle. That's what he said. Robyn fought back the brambles and arrived at the geohash. GPS precision was poor because of trees on the slope. For some reason Robyn found herself to be still clutching the outdated map. She could hear people with a dog further into the ravine, but they did not climb the bank, so Robyn assumes she was the only one there, albeit a little late.
Our Triumphant Return
Robyn realized on reaching the car that she had somehow lost the map, but the way home was clear. She directed Wade to go straight back down 112th to get onto Lougheed Highway west. Wade was done with going east on Lougheed Highway, but was willing to go west. Robyn looked for another map, found one and carefully folded it to show the correct area. Then she looked up and discovered that we were on the Lougheed Highway going in a direction that looked suspiciously like east. That is, the river to the south was on the right and the mountains to the north were on the left. Wade admitted that he might just be going east, so took the turnoff for the Albion ferry, to cross the river over to Fort Langley.
While waiting in the car for the ferry to arrive we played Artifaxx, a variation using the Chrononauts card deck, but not requiring so much space as to be unplayable in a car. Robyn won, collecting all three versions of the Mona Lisa before Wade could get three particular rare books for the library. Then we loaded onto the ferry (one of the workers called out "Great T-Rex!") and sailed across the river. We were done with the Lougheed Highway.
At Fort Langley we went by a winery we liked and picked up a case of fruit wine before finally driving home.
All round geohashing success!