2009-07-07 49 -122
July 7 was Elbie's birthday, and she duly got that Birthday Geohash ribbon.
Somebody's back yard outside Langley. Transit accessible!
- Wade: I've decided to decide once the location is known. Committed to not miss by oversight, but still reserve the right to bail if the time or location doesn't work for me.
- Robyn: No longer in the Yukon, and bought a new computer
This is long, but it took me seven hours to get there, so it was long.
While I went to the geohash chat this morning to see what Elbie was planning, Wade went straight to the page where Elbie had already chosen her birthday geohash. He looked up directions to the geohash in Google maps and announced that it was forty-six minutes by car, two hours by transit, or eight hours twenty-three minutes on foot.
"Hmm, I said. I suppose I could walk. I'd have to leave at noon."
"You'd have to leave at 23 minutes before noon. Although you can probably walk faster than that."
I didn't really intend to walk to the geohash. Wade was going by motorbike, so he could pick me up and I could go with him. And he said the walking route was forty kilometres and over the Port Mann bridge, which forbids pedestrians. So it would be longer by the Patullo. I could take transit there and get a ride back on the bike. I hung around home until after noon, surfed the internet, had a shower, then looked at the Google directions myself. For me it came up as 40.8 km following the 1A over the Patullo bridge. I divided that by my 6.5 km/h walking speed and got 6h 20 min. Add in five minutes an hour for traffic lights, detours and rest breaks and that's just shy of seven hours. It was one p.m. I could still do it.
So I programmed the coordinates in my GPS, threw my camera, waterbottle and a bunch of snacks in my bag, and set off at ten after one. Oops, I forgot T-Rex. I set off again, with T-Rex at quarter after one.
My plan was to take a picture every hour. The end of the first hour had me in Burnaby, under the Skytrain, where I tried to take my picture with a flock of pigeons, but the camera decided that it wanted its battery changed, and I hadn't put the spare battery in the bag.
The next thing I thought to photograph was a police-escorted motorcade. A dozen police motorcycles with sirens and flashing lights blocked all the sidestreet traffic and cleared the main street. Then a long motorcade of black vehicles came by, flanked by more motorcycles and followed by a police car. My first though was "Where am I, Kyrgystan?" Canadian VIPs aren't commonly give a police escort. We expect our Prime Minister to stop at traffic lights like everyone else. So then I though, "Who the heck is this?" I stared at the motorcade. I didn't see any vehicle with passengers: as far as I could see they only had the driver. One had a window open. I looked at the cars. They were all black, except for one that was navy. But they weren't limos. They were mostly unmarked police cars, but some were pretty ratty looking. There was a van there that looked like the A-Team's ride.
A woman at a newspaper box asked me if I knew what that was all about. I told her I suspected that it there was no VIP, that it was just a practice motorcade, in preparation for the upcoming winter Olympic Games. She thought that was an excellent theory, and then showed me a headline about a police hunt for a rapist. There was a police artist drawing of the wanted man. I started to say, "well they'd hardly be hunting for him with a squad of motorcycles" when she indicated a picture of a man with bees all over his face and said that was him. "Uh, I think that's about a bee exhibit at Science World," I suggested. She insisted that it was him. A different photo of the same bee exhibit was on the front page of another newspaper.
"See there he is again. The police are printing every photograph they have of him."
I lean in and read the caption on the bee photo. It is about the new exhibit at Science World. I try to explain this, but she insists it's the same guy. "He's changed his beard, but it's the same." Ookay. She hasn't noticed that the beard is made of bees. I wish I'd come up with a more interesting story for her about the motorcade. The motorcade comes back again about an hour later and now that I've thought about it, it's really obvious that the cars are not carrying VIPs. But if she believed that the bee guy was the rapist, I could have told her authoritatively that it was Michael Jackson.
After two hours, I see a sign about construction on the Patullo Bridge. I realize that I didn't check for temporary sidewalk closures. I looked up which bridges always banned pedestrians, but not if there was a temporary problem. I remember something about a shuttle van for bicycles during construction. Ah well, if I can't walk across it, it will invalidate my walk geohash attempt, so I will hop on Skytrain and take the bus to Langley.
But the sidewalk is clear and by the end of hour three of the walk I am on my way up the King George highway on the other side. I reach the halfway point in central Surrey at the 3h30 mark. My moving average is 6.8 km/h, above my target of 6.5 km/h, but my overall average is 6.2 km/h. There have been more traffic lights and little detours around construction and areas where pedestrians were not allowed than I expected. But from here, highway 1A runs almost straight to the geohash.
It has been raining the whole time, really lightly: what we call drizzle in Vancouver. Even after five hours of this I don't qualify for the drowned rat geohash. It's about 18 degrees out and my body heat evaporates the moisture from my clothing at about the same rate it accumulates. My nose needs drying from time to time. And yeah, my feet are getting sore, as are the muscles in the front of my legs that throw them forward. I jog for a bit to use different muscles, but unfortunately that uses the same feet, so I can't keep it up for long.
After almost seven hours of walking, I'm about twenty minutes from the geohash. I'm starting to slow down a bit, with my average moving speed dropping to 6.5 and the overall average at 6.1. A cyclist comes up behind me. It's Elbie! She recognized T-Rex sticking out of my backpack, and hence me.
It was an incredibly rainy day at UBC, and an incredibly rainy bike ride for me to Commercial SkyTrain Station. I left campus around 17:00, and en route, suddenly remembered that bikes aren't permitted on the SkyTrain during rush hour. Not remembering what times were officially "rush hour," and having unlimited local calling for my birthday, I proceeded to start systematically phoning people in my contacts list, asking them if they knew, or if they were near a computer (to it look up on the Translink website).
Eventually it was determined that 18:00 was the cutoff time, which worked out for me -- I didn't have much of a wait at the station. As I'd mentioned, it was sopping wet in Vancouver -- I was completely drenched, and wound up leaving a puddle in the elevator to the SkyTrain terminus, a puddle at the waiting area, and then a puddle on the SkyTrain itself.
I got into King George Station around 18:25, and waited around to see if yangman would show. After two SkyTrains had come and gone, I decided he wasn't coming, and then headed off on Fraser Highway. It was still raining in Surrey, but not as much as in Vancouver. By the time I'd gotten to Langley, the rain had quieted significantly, and Jadzia and I were now covered in mud from biking on the shoulder.
As I was passing through Langley, I noticed T-Rex bobbing mid-air on the sidewalk, moving in the same direction as I was. After a double-take, I recognised Robyn too.
We walked together down Old Yale Road (at least the third instance of Old Yale Road we had passed on the way). Highway 1A was built mainly on what used to be Yale Road, so in the places where it took a different route, Old Yale Road trickles out at the edges. Having Elbie there picked up Robyn's spirits and hence pace, so Elbie pedalled and Robyn walked at 6.7 km/h, past the "solar biomass plant" (see talk page question and answer) and right on 214A Street. The house behind which the geohash was located looked pretty unoccupied. No cars--but they could be in the garage--and no lights.
We tried the front door anyway. Doorbell, and knocked in case the doorbell didn't work. No reply. We didn't really expect one. The front porch didn't look really used. Around here, and I'm sure this isn't the only place where this happens, some people don't use the front door at all, but do everything through the back door. There was a concrete path going around the side of the house to the back, and no fences, so we followed it to a back patio, where the geohash was. The back door did not look like the sort you accept visitors at, so we took a couple of pictures and then Elbie thought she saw a television on. We went back to the front door to try again there, but still no reply.
We were standing in the driveway getting ready to leave when someone did come out of the house, but he was furious and was in no state to learn about geohashing. He told us to leave, so we did, while he hurled what he apparently thought was an insult at us. Apparently we can pass as lesbians in Langley.
I got home a few minutes before 7:00, but then spent 20 minutes printing out the directions and ambassador stuff, as well as finding my and (some of) Robyn's raingear.
Google thought it would take 46 minutes to drive there, so when I left at 7:20, I was already late. There was a crash on the Alex Fraser bridge, which didn't help much. I managed to miss the exit from 91-S to 10-W, so I ended up heading North on 99. I spent about 20 minutes trying to find my way back on track.
I arrived at the hash point at around 8:30. I didn't have a GPS or map with me, and the Google directions only mention the street the house is on (don't ask why). I was starting to wonder exactly how I'd the find the specific house, when I saw the huge greenhouse which was seen to be next to the house (the subtle BC-style grow-op). After that, I recognized the two slightly wet (and apparently potentially lesbian) people on the corner, so I knew I was at the right place.
| Elbie earned the Birthday Geohash Achievement
| Robyn earned the Walk geohash Achievement
| Wade earned the No trespassing consolation prize
| Elbie earned the Drowned Rat Geohash Achievement
 Robyn's Tracklog
Viewable on Everytrail.com.
The few peaks in speed you see on the outbound journey are spots where I jogged for a while.
 Excuses from people who thought about it but didn't come
- Wenslayer: If you end up going to the Victoria graticule, give me a shout!
- yangman: Sure, why not. Will be recovering from camping trip, and happens to coincide with rest week in workout routine again.
- Xore: Same deal as Wade. Depends on when and where.
- Rhonda: Likewise. Unfortunately, work.
- Fbfree: Unfortunately, I have another birthday to attend to. Happy B-Day Elbie and Mom. I may be able to make it at the last minute, but unlikely.
- SueB: I've got other plans for tonight, but I'll be with you in spirit.