2009-04-10 31 34
Today's hash point fell in the middle of a path in Lechi Forest, across highway 424 from the village of Kfar Bin Nun.
What with both of us on Passover vacation and the hashpoint in an easily accessible, public forest, in an easily identifiable spot, we figured this would be an easy spontaneous geohash. Of course, nothing is *that* simple, right?
Well, almost that simple, anyway. We were lucky: your naturally occuring complications all took place in the planning phase. First, our printer wasn't working so we couldn't print out the Google satellite maps. Then the PDF I made of the maps came out, for some odd reason, blank when I brought it to a printing store. Without time to go back to the store again, I ended up having to draw the paths of the forest myself from what appeared on the Google Map, and hope for the best when trying to find the hash point.
The other complication was that my brother-in-law, who had expressed interest in coming with us on the trip with no connection to geohashing, canceled at the last minute. Oh well.
 Expedition (Yerushalmi)
Starting out from Jerusalem in our trusty Elphaba (a Mazda 2), my wife and I put on the Israeli geohashers' theme song as we traveled along route 1, then continued listening to the disk as we turned onto southbound route 3 and then westbound route 424. We parked in the middle of Lechi Forest, which is named after the pre-Israel paramilitary group of the same name. We saw a lot of monuments with names of fallen members of the group (pictures were of course taken, to be uploaded later) and there were actually quite a few people in the picnic areas of the forest. But we weren't interested in the picnic areas, no sirree.
It's a good thing I'm a lot better at understanding maps than drawing them. We walked past the picnic areas that were right next to the parking area and started taking paths through the forest. There were some incredible views of fields, and of the Judean hills, and we could see a big stretch of Route 1 (the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem artery, which is parallel to route 424) laid out before us. We also got to see Ma'agar Ayalon, which is apparently a natural reservoir (there were all sorts of strange and random pumping equipment that we saw on our way, including a bridge to nowhere that stopped in the middle of the reservoir). The reservoir was, of course, almost entirely dry, because we're in the middle of a drought here in Israel.
We made it to the hashpoint without any problems, no getting lost or anything. On the way, though, we passed close by to what is marked on my map as a "city" but wasn't named on Google Maps or anything. It was odd that it didn't have a name, but I had assumed it was an extension of Kfar Bin Nun, the village across the highway -- but we could see from the path (what we couldn't see from Google Maps) that there was a barbed-wire fence around it. We suspected it's a military base, but didn't feel like getting close enough to find out.
We stopped at the hashpoint, easily identifiable because it was at an intersection, to eat matzo sandwiches, potato chips, and unleavened cookies (hooray Passover!). Somehow, that point had the strongest natural breeze of anywhere along the path, it was pretty amazing. We then decided to continue along the path past the hashpoint, partly to make sure we hadn't stopped at the wrong intersection, and partly because we wanted to see just how close it got to route 424. We then discovered at the end of the path that it actually *does* connect to 424, despite what the satellite photos would have us believe, and that the entrance was marked as a path for 4x4s (rather than people). Which explains why nobody else had been on that path at all besides us.
On the way back to the car we took a bit of a detour to see an additional path and an additional monument. Then, on the drive home, we slowed down in front of the city-like area that we suspected was a military base to see what it was. Turns out it was a military base -- sort of. Soldiers' housing, anyway. Which explains why Google Maps didn't name it.
But then came the surprise of the geohash. I had been regretting on the way back not doing some contortionist tricks to get a Circus Geohash (because I wasn't going to get a second Drag-Along), and thought I'd have to be satisfied with a gratuitous ribbon. But then, as we made the left turn from route 424 onto route 3, we got pulled over by the police! I thought at first it was because I didn't have my headlights on (I can never remember during which seasons of the year and hours of the day you have to keep them on during intercity driving, and usually keep them on all the time regardless; this time I forgot). But it turns out it was just a routine making-sure-your-car's-not-stolen stop. My first one ever, and davka during a geohash! They asked for license and registration, wrote something down, and let us head on home. A very satisfying end to the expedition indeed.
 Photo gallery
| Yerushalmi and his wife earned the No Batteries Geohash Achievement
| Yerushalmi and his wife earned the Land geohash achievement
| Yerushalmi and his wife earned the Police Geohash Achievement
| Yerushalmi and his wife earned the Unleavened Geohash achievement