2010-07-03 47 -122
Joannac is in the next country over. How can we not go and see her?
On a hill near Monroe, WA.
Robyn, Wade and thepiguy are going to drive south and try to get there while hoping Joannac finds us. Failing that, we'll call her cellphone.
3 ... 2 ... 1 ... go!
Oh π, where should we pick you up?
 Wade & Robyn & Π
Wade and Robyn set off from home. Their spontaneous adventure generating turn-by-turn driving GPS gave 'directions' to thepiguy's house. For example, it told them to exit right onto highway 91 East, an exit that forks into highways 91 and 99, then as soon as the vehicle was established on highway 91 the GPS issued an instruction to "keep right on highway 99". GPS humour, we suppose.
Eventually we turned right on STEE-VESS-TON Highway (as the GPS called it) and thus found thepiguy's house and thepiguy. Robyn explained that we'd need gas as soon as we crossed the border (gas is much cheaper in the US). Ensemble we approached the border, but before we got there, we got to the line-up. Two hours worth of line up. A quick U-turn and twenty minutes of driving (probably fifteen had we not followed the GPS), with Robyn asking every two minutes how far to the gas station, we were at a different border crossing. "This is the border crossing where they are always mean to us!" we realized. Perhaps everyone else realized that too, because there was hardly anyone else there. We got in a line that had about three cars ahead of us, and a US border guy walked across the pavement waving his arms and yelling something about a fifty thousand dollar sign. There were more lanes open, all indicated by the expensive sign, than lines. People were happy to be only third in line and weren't seeking out the even shorter empty lines.
We stayed in our line, handed over our passports, and explained that we were going to Munroe to meet a friend who was visiting from Australia. The border guy was not at all mean. He teased Robyn for not flying to Monroe, and wanted to know what we were bringing south, forcing us to admit that we weren't bringing a present for Joanna. We're so sorry. It's true. We didn't.
We found a gas station only about 500 metres from where the GPS said it would be, and 695 kilometres from the previous fill. ("I've never gone seven hundred kilometres on one tank before!") Then we called Joannac with an ETA and she said it would take her three hours to get to Monroe from Seattle. That seemed a little weird, it being just on the outskirts, but we figured maybe traffic was bad, and the roads didn't run in that direction, and she'd probably overestimated. She'd get there not long after we would. We were in Monroe before we knew it, or at least before pi, who was stuck in the back seat, knew it, and started looking for the rendezvous restaurant, using the address on highway 2 provided by Wade's faithful GPS. Needless to say it wasn't there, but we quickly found it a couple of blocks away on Main Street, at the address given by Google.
Joannac and Jercos arrived before we'd finished eating, at which point we discovered something we should have known during the planning stage, about how J&J were traveling.
 Joannac & Jercos
Hooray! How could anyone turn down a chance to meet the crazy Vancouver geohashers? They had offered to drive down to Portland, but Seattle was much closer (and lined up with a weekend).
After not hearing much more than "hey joanna, we're coming to visit", Friday night brought me a cascade of panicked "Where are you - can we still visit?" emails. I told the Vancouverites to pick a place, and I'll be there.
Saturday morning brought a "there's a great restaurant in Monroe". Uh... where's Monroe? Fire up Google maps. Put in the address of the restaurant. Put in the address of the hostel. Look at map. Hrm, that's 35 miles away.
Luckily, the US has decent public transport, which meant we could get to Monroe from downtown Seattle in just 2 bus trips. And so, having scribbled down transit directions, we headed off to the bus stop. 2 and a bit hours later, we walked into the restaurant at Monroe. Robyn was distracted and didn't notice me waving madly at her. But all was soon resolved and we sat down to some yummy food.
 All Together
We ate a bit more, paid with a few slabs of boring monochrome American money, and set off for the geohash. (Joannac: "Are we going geohashing? You guys really are the most addicted.") Or at least a geohash. Robyn was convinced that the geohash was on top of a hill next to a gravel pit while thepiguy was certain it was at a luxury home. To resolve this discrepancy we needed WiFi. Can you picture us driving around waving internet-enabled devices and calling out "I've got a linksys!"? That's good, because I don't think we took a picture of the activity. We were not successful, so used the following logic.
We knew we couldn't get to the coordinates thepiguy brought, because they led to the middle of a gigantic private home, of the sort that is probably protected by gates, moats, guard dogs, and mercenaries. The coordinates Robyn had brought were on top of a hill near a gravel pit: probably inaccessible, but possibly obtainable. And they were closer.
The first approach brought us to the gates of the gravel pit, with signs that while they didn't explicitly say "Keep Out, No Geohashing" suggested that we were not welcome, so we tried the second route. That took us up a small road and then to a narrow gravel road that we chose to walk up. Partway up we met a van coming down, and we all went to the right side of the road, except for Joannac, who is from a country where they drive on the wrong side of the road. As the van went by, the driver looked at us, but didn't say anything. It stopped for a while a bit further down the road, then continued. Ominous.
We rounded the next corner of the road and found some very familiar signs. KEEP OUT. NO TRESPASSING. Also something about a Labrador crossing. Sigh. And there was a camo-painted ATV coming down the road. Busy road. I think Joannac may have gone the right way this time. The ATV rider said something of an introductory nature to us, and we told him that we had seen the signs and were just turning around now. Looks like white van woman called in the troops. What was up there? We took a few pictures and headed back down.
The Vancouver graticule attempted to kidnap Joannac and Jercos, but they had cleverly not brought their passports on the expedition. Joannac wondered why we had brought passports to Monroe, so we explained that Vancouver is in a different country. Eventually we allowed them to escape on a 510 bus back to Seattle, and headed north ourselves.
 Now What?
Having gone to all that trouble to cross a border, we wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity, so we consulted Wade's GPS (no, we don't learn) for more adventure ideas. And there it was a Christmas Tree and Kangaroo Farm. Really. If one Australian is good, how could we not go and meet some more? Unfortunately, we arrived there to find a closed gate. Apparently you need an advance appointment to meet a kangaroo.
We rounded out the day by driving by a "coffee pot building," (also listed in the GPS) and practicing saying "coffee pot building" the way the GPS did. Finally, we took pi home, and tried to demonstrate the GPS pronunciation of STEE-VESS-TON Highway, but the GPS started saying it properly. Oh NOW it gets it right. It leads me to wonder whether it knew where the Vietnamese restaurant was all along.
We felt pretty badly at having caused Joannac and Jercos to take a long bus ride for a very questionable geohash, but they seemed to think our cross-border drive made the meeting equitable, and we were all happy to have further connected the geohashing graph.
 Where Were We, Anyway?
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On American TV they aren't allowed to say "blow job" on the air, but they can show footage of a bullfighter getting gored in the throat such that the bull's horn protrudes from his mouth.
 Lament from an actual Seattle geohasher
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