2012-04-08 55 37
Near the intersection of Rizhskiy Proyezd (Riga Driveway) and road #5467 (yes, it's really called that). Generally, it's just a little west of Sokolniki Park, and some way east of the VDNKh metro station; basically, very easy to get to, if rather far from the Metro.
January First-of-May, who had only heard of geohashing for several days before the expedition, was a little surprized to learn that the Moscow graticule was still inactive (one of the last eight-digit-population graticules to be so); as such, he decided to claim the Virgin title to that very significant graticule for himself. This hash was only the second since his discovery to fall within city limits (the first being Friday two days ago, which never got much beyond the looking-at-the-map stage).
Actual plans: either take the train on the way to the hashpoint and the tram on the way back, or vice versa (both, unlike the Metro, come within a few hundred meters).
Oh, almost forgot: we own neither a car nor a GPS receiver. So that's two achievements right off the bat. :-)
Okay, so it wasn't much as easy as you'd expect from the planning description. Which is, of course, the same as most geohashes go :-)
First of all, for a city dweller without a car, travelling to a weirdly placed location ten kilometers from his house is quite an accomplishment. Especially if it's awfully far from any convenient metro station. There was a much more convenient tram, though (#11 to be precise), that went from within half a kilometer from our house to within half a kilometer from the hashpoint...
Except that around the halfway point my mother suddenly decided to get out from the tram and wait for its route bus (which is quicker than the tram but doesn't have such a thing as monthly passes, and is about as close to a taxi as you get while still being regular public transport). We did ultimately arrive about fifteen minutes earlier due to that (which was pretty significant though as the sun was , but the horrible trip probably wasn't really worth the huge fare of 60 rubles (about $2).
Either way, we got off at the stop called Ploshchad' akademika Lyul'ki (Площадь академика Люльки, in original Russian) - a very funny name indeed as the "Lyul'ki" part is literally "crib" (so we get something like "Academic Crib Square"). I actually used to study in the very same areas around 1999-2001, probably passing right next to the future hashpoint more than once while going towards the train station; I obviously have no proof of that, though, so can't really claim Deja Vu.
From that stop, it was only a few hundred meters to the actual hashpoint at Rizhskiy Proyezd. We crossed the Boris Galushkin street, followed the Pavel Korchagin street for a bit, and then crossed between the houses to the final street...
Okay, so there we were. Behind us was the mysterious road #5467 (which we ultimately followed fully on the way back but were unable to find any signs for - as much as I wanted to photograph one). And ahead of us was the, er, feature that came up as a beautiful concrete walking path on the (probably summer) images in Google Street View...
...But in the thawing early spring that was April 8, 2012, that "path" was covered with an almost-impassable mix of water and ice. And not of the GeoSquishy kind, either.
Never mind. I'd say that on that day, in our first geohashing expedition, Mother Nature ended up about as close to our bitch as possible in urban conditions.
We just walked over behind the "path" and crossed it only when we were almost opposite the actual hashpoint. ;-)
Oh, about the hashpoint. I was looking all over the Street View picture for hours before this expedition page was even created, all for one single mystery: just what was this weird wooden-looking object the pictures showed to lie about two meters from the actual hashpoint?
We did ultimately resolve that mystery later on, as recounted somewhat further in this report; but at that point, it was just a convenient peculiar landmark to look out for.
So when we saw the object on the other side of the water-and-ice-filled "path", we crossed that feature as well as we could, and finally came to the hashpoint.
On closer examination, the object appeared to be both a little bigger than I expected and concrete (but made and painted with a wood-looking pattern) rather than actually wooden; it also had some kind of metal tube on top (that part was actually visible - if just barely - even in the original Google pictures).
Either way, we took a bunch of photos of the object, me, me and the object, and various other nearby landmarks with either the object, me or both (the mother was the one taking all those photos, so she didn't appear in any). Oh, and also of me at what we approximately guessed had been the hashpoint (with either the object or other landmarks in the background). Even the XKCD marker (which I've written on spot with a pen from my backpack) was ultimately put in the object. That's how ubiquitous it was. :-)
...Fifteen or so minutes later, we were preparing to leave the hashpoint, the mystery of the object still unsolved; and I proposed to go to the four-digit road and take a photo of its sign. And it just so happened, at that moment, that a local woman was passing by. What happened next was probably the best cover story for geohashing that I've ever heard of.
"You see," said my mother, "we're currently photographing interesting things around the city. And I've heard that somewhere near there" (she pointed at the road) "is a road whose name was just a four digit number. Five thousand something." (It was, of course, 5467, but neither of us could remember that so quickly.)
The local said that she'd never heard of that, and was almost going to leave; but then my mother had asked about the object.
And then the local explained...
The object was, if that's possible, even more interesting that it looked. The story went like that: the house on the opposite side of Rizhskiy Proyezd (that is, modern number 11) was built very close to World War II. And like most other Moscow houses built in that period, this one had a bomb shelter in its basement.
That bomb shelter, obviously, had to have a ventilation system. The ventilation system, also obviously, had to go to the surface at some spot. And it was that very spot - the surface hole of the ventilation system of a WWII-era bomb shelter - that this mysterious object was. Not so boring anymore, is it? ;-)
Okay, so at that point we finally left. We went straight to the four-digit road (and didn't find any signs for it) and followed it to Pavel Korchagin street; on that latter one we caught a bus to the Rizhskaya metro station, and just went home on metro.
All in all, an interesting trip; and a little harder than I imagined for a graticule far too easy to still be untaken :-)