2009-09-13 44 -93
In the right-hand lane or shoulder of U.S. Highway 52 southbound between the 80th Street East and Concord Boulevard exits, in Inver Grove Heights Minnesota. This particular geohash is near the junction with Minnesota Trunk Highway 55.
Having just discovered geohashing via xkcd a week earlier, I awaited an easy to reach location.
Early Sunday morning, or late Saturday night depending on how you look at it, I found that the geohash for the day happened to land right on a stretch of highway I'd driven over the evening before, near my house. I figured this would be an easy one to hit, particularly as my first geohash, and I could pick up a speedracer achievement while I was at it.
Considering that the geohash lay (as close as my trusty TomTom would be able to tell me) on the roadway or the shoulder thereof, I figured if it were safe to pull over and snap some photographs with my cell phone camera I'd do so. Google Maps indicated there was another roadway very nearby, so perhaps I could park on that road and walk through the ditch, perhaps onto the shoulder, and grab my pictures that way. Barring that I'd grab a few photographs while on the move.
Mark was thrilled to see this hash point was in the middle of the road. Being a week after his first in a string of consecutive successful expeditions, an easy one on Sunday made it even more important to put in the effort for the Friday and Saturday hash points. But driving over an hour to get there? This would require justification beyond "the internet told me to". Well, he did need to pick up another hydration pack, return one portable kitchen sink and buy a smaller one, and get a few other things. Maybe it could be a shopping expedition. After long expeditions on Friday and Saturday though, Mark thought that maybe it was time to let the consecutive thing go and just hang out around home. Then plans changed. There was a funeral to go to, staying overnight at his parents' house made the most sense, and the hash point was directly on the way. Guess it's time for one more.
Achieving the geohash itself was simplicity, I needed only stay in the right-hand lane of Highway 52, and drive along. Somewhere around 6:30 PM local I achieved my first (undocumented) geohash! Acquiring photographic proof and the like took a few more attempts.
Unlike the evening before, the road was fairly busy during the expedition, enough so that I certainly didn't feel it was safe to pull onto the shoulder for anything but an emergency. The curve, incline, and nearby overpass didn't help any, as drivers were likely to be paying attention to most anything other than my 2007 Hyundai Azera, so that part of the plan was right out. Good thing I'd thought through the other possibilities. As I achieved the geohash on my first pass I made good on the speedracer achievement, though didn't capture any proof thereof; not bad for my very first geohash attempt.
Convinced to capture the moment I scouted the nearby roadways to see if I could park there and walk to the geohash. It turns out there was a fence between the roads, and that a distance that looks quite small on a Google Map satellite view sometimes involves water hazards and deep grass. Plus, there was a police station only a few blocks away and the attendant regular police traffic, so I figured it best not to push my luck. The only option left was to capture the moment on a subsequent pass through the geohash at speed.
As luck would have it my very next pass through the geohash (there was an intervening attempted pass through thwarted by taking a wrong turn onto Minnesota 55), I captured the evidence I needed -- all the digits of precision on the GPS matched the geohash. Yay! However I wasn't able to take a photo of the GPS receiver at the correct moment and simultaneously regulate my speed well enough to get evidence of the speedracer achievement. Obviously another pass was called for. Good thing there were a set of exits a mile apart, making it easy to loop around as many times as needed.
On the next pass I set my cruise control, and again captured the GPS receiver display indicating I was moving at the posted speed limit of 65 MPH, and had just passed through the geohash.
Finally it was time for a few terrain photos and a mugshot. On passes three and four I captured shots out my front windshield, and while looping back for another pass a shot from the northbound lane of U.S. Highway 52 toward the geohash, directly into the sun. The sunset was quite beautiful by this point, however its full glory overwhelmed the poor cell phone camera. On pass five, or maybe six (I'd lost count by this point) I snapped the best mugshot I was likely to get. As I made my final pass by in the opposing northbound lane headed home, I tried for one more shot of the geohash location, but instead managed to catch a remarkably clear picture of the yellow stripe along my own lane.
Unfortunately I didn't find a way to capture the date (must be buried somewhere non-obvious in the GPS receiver), so I guess you'll have to trust me on that one. Considering the date and time of the first edit to this page, it couldn't have been a retro hash, so that establishes a "no later than" date, at least.
Mark drove 119 miles to reach this Geo Hash. Really it wasn't that far away, but after packing the car to head out of town for a few days time was moving on and he had to drive to the furthest away store first and then work back to the other stores right near the hash point.
After an hour of driving up through the farmland, Mark passed within a few hundred feet of the hash point, with his GPS running to scout the location. Having confirmed that the destination was closer to the South-bound lane, he continued on, enjoying the view of planes taking off and landing as he passed the airport, shooting a bunch of ill-aimed photos in the hope that a couple would catch something, and headed into Minneapolis. After a navigational brain-lapse took him through the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota, past all the students wearing maroon, he finally made it to his first destination.
After browsing around for hydration systems, kitchen sinks, and the like until the PA announced "The store will close in five minutes.", Mark made his purchases and began to backtrack. Down through REI for some dry bags and a shirt, and off to the Mall of America to look for sunglasses and whatnot. While leaving the mall, Mark had a great view of an airplane taking off, ascending steeply, so he hung out at the edge of the parking ramp for a while watching the planes, and waiting to see the 747 that was headed to the runway take off. Ten to fifteen planes later, he headed to the hash point.
A couple miles from the hash point, cruise control locked on, and no cars ahead or behind, Mark propped his GPS next to the speedometer and started the video recorder. Pulled off on the next exit and reviewed the video. Got it. 7:40 PM. Everybody who drove in the right southbound lane of highway 52 through that section inadvertently reached the hash point. Destination reached, Mark headed back North to his parents' house.
| Brent earned the Land geohash achievement
| Brent earned the Speed racer achievement
| Mark earned the Speed racer achievement
| Mark achieved level 2 of the Minesweeper Geohash achievement
| Mark earned the Consecutive geohash achievement