2012-03-06 42 -72
This is in a state forest about 100 yards off a paved (but unplowed) single lane road to the northeast of Quabbin Reservoir. The road seems to serve as only an access point for the forest, and is likely inaccessible by many cars during the winter.
 The Summary
Fail to the tune of about a third of a mile. This was the result of trusting a pair of coordinates typed into the Google Maps iPhone app. What's worse, I only discovered this when I got home from what turned out to be an unexpectedly difficult journey. There I was, alone, celebrating in the dark, in the middle of the woods, a mile and a half from a highway with very little traffic, being absolutely certain that I'd passed over the point. This was wrong.
 The Decision
The adventure started in Brattleboro, VT, where I work. After seeing the location of today's geohash, I decided it was too far out-of-the-way. Eventually I spontaneously changed my mind, despite mapping the directions to it and discovering that it would extend my already hour long commute back to Northampton to a two hour commute. I was leaving work late -- 6:30 -- and had downed a cup of coffee to ensure that I wouldn't fall asleep on the way home.
I changed my mind a few times, and then just decided that I would start driving towards it and re-route myself back towards Northampton if I changed my mind again on the way there. I memorized the simplest route I could see, and took off.
 The Drive
Twice on the way there I stopped because I had the sneaking suspicion that I'd just taken a wrong turn, and I was right both times. As I was approaching the destination, I kept my eye out for places to park. They were few and far between, as this was a 50mph highway going from almost nowhere to almost nowhere else with only a smattering of houses in between -- and much of it had a guard rail. I had the feeling from the moment I looked at the geohash in the morning that the road passing right by would be undrivable. When I finally got a look at it through the passenger window, I couldn't decide.
The road was an immediate dip from the highway, and snowy, but with intermittent dark patches that seemed to indicate dry tracks. The snow looked shallow where I could see it, but keep in mind that by this time it was well beyond dusk, and although the light from the full moon was about as bright as it could be, there was good tree coverage, and my headlights made it hard to see by pointing in the wrong direction and creating glare at the same time. I couldn't turn the car towards the road, for fear that the occasional fast moving cars would come over the hill from the front and introduce me to my internal organs. Instead I drove further up, hoping for a better spot to park.
I got to another road that also went into the forest, and theoretically allowed me to access from the other side by way of yet another road after that. This one was plowed quite well, until, just after passing a McMansion that blighted the deep woods to the point of inviting the earth to open and swallow it out of the need for social justice and aesthetic sincerity, and a sign that said "Road closed November 15 to April 15", the road passed by a gate to the right (a gate that would be the only thing keeping you from driving your car into an unexpected icy lake), and then underneath a small snow bank that marked the end of the plowing, and then continued on its merry way, ambiguously tempting those with low clearance and a cheap car to attempt bursting through the pile of half frozen snow at surprising, yet conservative speeds.
I backed out to a wider part and drove past the mansion again, considering that I would like to graffiti it, but am too noble and law-abiding to enact such a gross act of aggression that is barely even mentionable on respectable wikis such as this.
I then proceeded to repeatedly drive back and forth by the road leading to the geohash, poking a leave-me-alone driveway here or there, and other unplowed roads, and empty, chained off lots with probably not enough snow to keep me stuck and probably not anyone near enough to care, but whose probability of negative outcome became too high for me when trying to avoid both at once. Not able to let go, I finally stopped the car at the nearest road, blocking it completely, and went to take a quick look at The Road of Today's Geohash to see if maybe I actually could drive down it. I almost decided it would be ok, walked back to my car, and found that I could just barely park my car in a place next to the entrance of the nearby road without blocking it. Had I not discovered this less risky solution, I might be on the geohash road now. Perhaps asleep. I could probably wait for the predicted 55 high the next day to make the snow mushy enough to part the way through to the pavement.
 The Walk
I got my phone, and prepared to leave the car again. I opened the door again, got my hat and gloves, and shut the door, and began walking toward the geohash road again. I realized I needed my camera to take a picture of my phone, so I walked back to my car, got my camera, and headed back to the geohash road again. After reaching the road and attempting to read some things posted on a little bulletin board, I set out in the darkness, into the belly of the forest.
It soon occurred to me that there may be bears or wolves. Being very nervous about this and knowing what you "should" do, I would occasionally make an unholy raucous that would disgust any other (extremely unlikely) person going for a moonlit walk, and hopefully would have a similarly repulsive effect on bears and wolves. I also stepped on crackly ice as much as possible.
After what seemed like forever, I took out my phone and saw that I hadn't gone very far at all. I decided to start running. Running was nothing new to me, luckily, as I'd been a runner much of my life, so I was spared falling and breaking my leg on the many refrozen slippery parts, and I was also able to keep this up for as long as I wanted to. After several stops to try to identify sounds that might be a bear or a wolf, and after yelling and clapping and taunting these sounds so that they would hopefully realize they had no idea what was going on and would be better off steering around the noise, I finally approached the sharp looking red pin on the filthy dirty lying Google Maps app.
I suddenly heard a very loud owl. Counter-intuitively, this didn't startle me at all, but it did set me a little more on nerve, because it meant that there really were creatures out here that you don't find in your back yard. Ironically, I do occasionally find a black bear in my apartment complex, but she knows us and we know her and I've never run into her in a dark, isolated forest in the middle of the zarking night. Notwithstanding all that, I was definitely much more afraid of the wolves, but gladly much more ignorant about whether they could be anywhere in the region. All I could do was imagine the confrontation. The beast appears, and now I must suppress my urge to turn and run, and stare it down as though I have some chance of hurting it, and I also have to make wild whooping noises and jump up and down...because that's what you do when you are the badest, most fearsome animal in the forest. Then I imagine charging towards the wolf and sticking my arm right into its mouth and pushing because that is what it would least expect, and I also imagine being Liam Neeson.
I take out my phone one more time, and find that the blue dot is still far away from the red pin, and then that it has updated and is directly on top of the red pin. I then whoop at a noise in the forest, take a picture of the phone, and start getting the expletive out of noun.
 The Part Happening After The Last Part And Including Now
The rest is rather uneventful. I run back out about a mile, get back in my car, drive zombielike in the general direction of my home, and somehow end up here, somewhat disappointed, but ultimately happy and ready for the next one. Tomorrow.
| toddcesere earned the Blinded by Science Consolation Prize