2009-06-13 48 -123
William Head Institution (a jail!). Geohash looks like it's inside the grounds, so we'll see if we can either weasel our way in, or at least get as close as we can.
Here's an aerial photo [globalairphotos.com] of William Head.
Getting there by bike:
- From highway 1, take the exit for the 1A (Old Island Highway).
- Old Island Highway becomes Sooke Road.
- Take a left on Metchosin Road.
- Metchosin Road turns into William Head Road.
- Looks like you end up at WHI, looking pretty much at this.
- Convince guards to escort you to the coordinates!
I woke, and took my time getting ready. I usually leave for my Saturday rides just before 8am, but since I was planning to meet the rest of my family for a birthday party up in Bear Mountain, I decided to leave a little later so I could end up at the birthday party just before it started.
I followed my directions above, enjoying the beautiful day. There was a slight breeze which manifested as a slight headwind, but all-in-all, it was a very pleasant ride. William Head Road was especially picturesque, with views of the ocean and lots of fields. I caught a few glimpses of William Head from the road -- what a beautiful piece of land (too bad it's a jail!). The road got more hilly, and the last couple of kilometres were really up-and-down.
I pulled into the William Head Institution parking lot, rode right up to the nearest parking spot, and dismounted right in front of the entrance. Although I couldn't see into the windows, I'm sure there were folks keenly interested as to what I was doing as well as the folks in the guard towers. Aware that I was probably being watched, I pulled out my printed-out map of a satellite view of the area with the coordinate, as well as my GPS unit. I checked the map and the GPS unit, noting that I was a mere 340 metres away from the Geohash.
Well let's give this a try. I walked into the entrance, and three correctional officers greeted me at the "reception". I didn't quite know where to begin, so I asked, "are any of you aware of the X-K-C-D webcomic?". A resounding set of no's. I then explained that I was participating in a randomly-generated adventure where the coordinate for this day happened to be within what appeared to be the grounds of William Head Institute. I showed them the peeron map print-out, and the GPS display, which showed 330 metres to the coordinate. A couple of them smiled, but I was told in no certain terms that I wasn't getting in.
I asked if I could be escorted. "No". How about I give the GPS unit to one of you guys and you locate the coordinate? "No". Sensing my pleasant smile and winning personality weren't going to convince them, I asked if I could walk along the fence to get as close I could. I was warned that would not be a good idea, for the folks in the guard towers would likely frown on such behavior. Okay, so how about I take a picture of ... "What? No no no, there's no taking pictures here -- we'll confiscate your camera if you take a picture of this facility!" Yikes. Let me rephrase that: where's the closest location where I could safely take a picture? I was told I could take a picture of the sign at the entrance before the parking lot. <Sigh>, oh well. I thanked them for their time and bid them good day.
I jumped back on my bike and rode back to the parking lot entrance and took a couple of pictures. I snapped the one of the entrance, as well as my GPS unit to record an official proximity of 407m (unofficially it was 330m at the entrance). Argh, I should have snapped one of myself as well. Oh well, I start back up the road and grind out the steeps.
Realizing I didn't get a shot of the Geohash area itself, I planned to stop at a spot where I saw it coming in. As I kept looking for a view, I noticed there a few good spots to get a really nice shot, but would entail walking about 5-10 metres from the road. Unfortunately, there were "No Tresspassing by order of MND" signs all along the road at this point (MND = Minister of National Defense?), and didn't want to overstep my bounds. I eventually found the closest peek-a-boo view of William Head and snapped a picture through the trees.
As I continued my way out, I passed by Weir's Beach RV Resort and saw that one could access the beach. I pulled in and rode up, taking a seat at one of the few benches perched overlooking the beach and the ocean. I could see most of William Head, so I took a picture and noted the coordinates (1.4km from the Geohash). It was really quite beautiful, so I decided to have a break, eat a snack and take in the view. I snapped a couple more pictures and then continued on.
As I was biking back along William Head Road, I noticed a familiar car ahead about to turn left towards me. It was the local Google Street View car! I quickly stopped my bike, grabbed my camera and snapped a few pics as it drove by, waving the whole time. I'll have to see if I make it onto the street view of that area once it becomes available.
I rode the rest of my journey to my destination without further event, 50km all told.
All-in-all, I'm pleased with my first Geohash attempt, despite being thwarted. Looking back, I should have asked the correctional officers if I could have taken my picture with them (likely denied, but you never know until you ask), and I should have taken my own picture. I also need to leave mark behind, like with chalk or put up a note.
I also consider myself quite lucky to have run into the Google Maps Street View car!
| Wenslayer earned the Police Geohash Achievement
|Wenslayer earned the No trespassing consolation prize|