Week Nine, Round 4: The Forest At The Top of the World

First Impressions: Russia or Scandinavia. There are blue road signs in the distance. The multitude of trees reminds me of Scandinavia but the road reminds me of Russia.

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Looking around: Behind us was either clear cut or suffered in a forest fire, which I feel are North American ailments. (Not unheard of elsewhere, but this is how my brain associates things.) And the road markings seem to indicate right-lane drivers. Until I get a gander at those road signs, not a lot will be conclusive.

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Heading north: I don’t actually like heading North. Particularly if I think I’m Russia, Scandinavia, or Canada. It feels counter-intuitive to head AWAY from signs of settlements. But I started in this direction because it seems downhill too. And it was the direction of the first visible signs. Which turned out to read P. This is not enough to indicate anything yet again. (I’d like to say it indicated English, but the Russians have a Cyrillic letter which matches the P-shape.) Also the dotted line on the edge is different than MOST North American edges which are solid.

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Definitely ruling out North America. The shape of this van and the elongated license plate scream European to me.

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And the first structure we see turns out to be a red house with white trim. Very very Scandinavian.

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We are outside Vormtrask.

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The road appears to be their 365.

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Sometimes, very occasionally, I’ve seen Swedish folks hang flags outside their houses, but mostly Scandinavian folks don’t seem to. IF this were the States, somebody would have stuck a flag SOMEWHERE on that lawn indicated their USianosity.

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I hope those are reindeer. Alas, the Google car doesn’t seem to have a better close up.

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Loving how this beam of light splits through the trees.

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Holy COW! Are we near Norsjo? Because a few months back my husband and I made a bet that we’d plan a trip next year to somewhere I picked on GeoGuessr and the first place it sent me was Norjso. I’m going to crack up if it’s the same Norjso.

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I think it has to be the same Norsjo because I remember Lycksele! Wow, this is kinda awesome, although unfair for folks following along who don’t know about the Norjso thing. 🙂

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So now I need to find the 365 nestled somewhere between Norjso and Lycksele and nearby Vormstrask. Okie dokie. I have most of the info, but I do need to nail down a few more things to properly triangulate where we are. Are we closer to Lycksele or closer to Norjso?

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When tracking down Nordsjo I ended up in Skelleftea before sorting out where I was. 🙂

Looks like Lidtrask is 7 KM away. *notes that*

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And Forshom, Amberg, and Granliden all lie down this track. Okay, that should help me nail it down further. Checking map.

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No sign of those three spots, but while trailing back, I found Vormtrask! And then I traced my way from Vormtrask back to what I think is the approximate starting position and just to double-check I went looking for the 363 junction with Umea and Rucksele.

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Been up and down this track twice and found two spots it could be. Gonna pick one.

And 16.9 M! Whew!

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As it turns out our plans to hit Norjso were formulated just before this blog started, I think. It’s the birthplace of Swedish writer Torgny Lindgren. Norsjoalso plays a part in the Stieg Larsson novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This information, as usual, via Wikipedia.

I’m kinda pleased at the synchronicity of it. 🙂

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Week Nine, Round 5: Bushlands

First Impression: We are in a scrubby plane that isn’t quite desert, is lush in a very particular way, but seems to invite comparisons with the old West. What kind of ecosystem is that? Maybe it is still desert, just not sand-dunesy desert. I feel like we are in Australia, South Africa, or maybe the central part of South America.

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Looking around: More of the same. I’m trying to decide if I want to go south, and crest the inviting low rise in the road or head north. If we are in Australia, heading north seems like a bad idea most of the time.The light and road seem crisper than backcountry Australia usually gets so I’m tending more towards South Africa or South America.

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This sign reads GREAT SOUTHERN and something something Plunkett Plantation. Doesn’t sound Afrikaans, doesn’t look like the USian South. Does Plunkett Plantation sound Australian?

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Next up Bluff Creek RD. I’m DEFINITELY inclined towards Australia. Reads like their street signs I’ve seen in previous rounds.

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And suddenly, we veer into OLD GOOGLE CAMERA TERRITORY. BOO! At least I can read the A55 sign that shows which road we are on.

I’m going to head just a little further south to see if the camera ever clears up, but if it doesn’t, then I’m heading back northish.

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Actually the camera keeps jiggling back and forth between old and new. Guess we’ll stick it out for now. Cars driving on the left, btw.

I think this is a sign for Watchnicup Downs?

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Cheynes Beach Tree Farm and Integrated Tree Cropping.

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And Jerramungup, a name which pretty much guarantees Australia, is about 130 kilometers behind us, while Albany and Wellstead neatly bracket us by 50 kilometers. Along with the road name, I wonder if I have enough to open the map.

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Turns out that THAT is indeed ENOUGH to find our approximate location on the map. Albany, as it turns out, is big enough that when I skirted the bottom side of Australia off the coast, it popped up, and from there, it was easy to find Wellstead, Cheynes, and the distinctive Jerramungup.

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I scooched back along the highway and found Bluff Creek Road. Now I just need to figure out how close Bluff Creek is to my start.

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I head northish and find Drawbin road. It’s a fair way past the same distance that it took me to get to Bluff Cliff, so I decide I must be about 1/3 of the way to Bluff Cliff and 2/3rds of the way to Drawbin.

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And here we go!

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109 meters, which isn’t bad, considering I’m estimating on a straight stretch of Australia highway. And it’s enough to give me 5000 points, which means I think I have my first perfect score since starting this blog! YAY!

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Cheyne’s Beach, it turns out, has been the site of a shark attack that killed a 17 year old boy who was spear fishing. It does look really pretty though, so if you visit, just be cautious. There’s dolphins and whales to be see there too.

And the place that I thought was Watchinicup was actually Waychincup National Park.

Well, that’s it for this week! Whee!

Week Nine, Round 3: Tropicalish Suburbia

First impressions: I have a really good view of what looks like a eucalyptus tree. It takes up a large chunk of the screen, preventing me from examining the tidy yard I see glimpses of. There’s a hydrangea (or what seems like hydrangea) bush to the right, a palm tree in the distance, a neat little fence, immaculately cropped grass, and a tiny veggie garden growing tomatoes. We could be in Sandy Eggo (my pet name for San Diego) or we could be in suburban Australia? Gosh, it’s hard to say so far.

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Looking around: More cute little fenced in yards and more palm trees. The landscape beyond this patch of town seems to be rolling hills. Nothing that indicates ocean is far or near. In fact, everything looks relatively flattish. A man is mowing the lawn near the street, which I find odd, since in the US, anything that close to the street and outside a fence is considered city property or part of the easement and ergo, the city takes care of it.

Also the street signs are blue.

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Looking East: I finally notice what I should have noticed in the prior shots. The signs and the road stripes are for left-lane driving. Australia? New Zealand? Definitely English speaking, as the Ford and Union St convergence attests to.

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Heading west: I decide to head west on the theory that the green swath at the end of the road might be a park? In any case, it breaks up the neat little suburban plane somewhat.

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This assumption proved to be wrong, but Forsyth Street dumped me onto a much more trafficked road with an abundance of road signs to show that I’m definitely somewhere that uses kilometers. I didn’t have much doubt at this point.

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There’s a river called the Waideka River. I’m hopeful we’re in New Zealand. I keep getting put in Australia. Which I believe I mentioned. But I would like to go to New Zealand sometime and I’ve never been in GeoGuessr. Although, you know, I don’t even know if they got the Google Car there yet.

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We are on the number 2 highway outside of Whakatane. I think that sounds New Zealandy. And the cute little swirly thing looks New Zealandy too. *crossing fingers*

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IT’S OFFICIAL! WE’RE IN NEW ZEALAND!!!!! OMG!!!

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We are near somewhere called Opotiki and the town we just left is Gisborne, I think. (We were headed towards Whakatane, but when I looked behind, I saw this.)

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Oh, and look, there’s Gisborne on the coast!

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However, I don’t see any Opotiki outside of Gisborne and when I check Whakatane, it turns out it was actually where we were. Silly me.

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And look, there’s the junction of Union and Ford streets with Forsyth wrapping round.

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6.6 meters from the correct location. Woot.

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Here’s some tidbits about the history of Opotiki: “The British invasion of the Waikato resulted in the Whakatohea tribe lending their support to anti-British forces. In 1864 a war party was sent to assist the related Ngaiterangi tribe, who had defeated the British at Gate Pā, but while making their way along the coast the war party was attacked by combined British and Te Arawa forces. The paramount chief of the Whakatohea, Te Aporotanga, was taken prisoner and then executed by the wife of an Arawa chief who had been killed in the battle. While this action was compatible with ancient Māori custom, the fighting had hitherto been conducted according to Christianized rules of engagement, and this was accordingly taken as a sign that the British were no longer to be considered as a civilized enemy.

So in accordance with Māori custom, utu (revenge) was taken by killing the missionary Karl Völkner, who had been recruited as an agent by the British Governor, Sir George Grey, and who had been transmitting secret reports. The so-called “Volkner incident” resulted in the invasion of Opotiki by British forces in 1865. Within a few years the Opotiki district had been settled by military settlers, and the Maori tribes had been confined to villages with little land attached. A desultory guerilla war followed, led by Whakatohea chief Hira te Popo and Tuhoe chief Eru Tamaikowha, but they eventually surrendered and were given amnesty.”

Week Nine, Round Two: Grainy Gritty Red, White, and Blue

First Impression: Back-country North America. Or Australia. I ALWAYS think it’s Australia when it’s this grainy gritty, but quite a lot of the US backcountry is ALSO lacking the hi-def camera that the second pass got. And right now between the red building, the white barn (hiding a school bus?) and the blue sky, combined with the fact that it is VERY NEARLY July 4th here, I’m going to gamble and say we’re in the US.

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Looking around. My god, it’s desolate on the southern side of the camera. And FLAT. Very Australian. And very possibly Texan.

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That sure does look like a US road sign. Highway 83. Whee.

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North is super desolate too. Wow. Are we in a Dakotas state?

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I was hoping this smear on the Northern Horizon would offer some kind of clue as to where this road was headed. I always remind myself that the Google Car has to be able to GET here and usually has SOMEWHERE to go.

But this just turned out to be a farm.

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It’s SO flat up here, I’m thinking thoughts about the curvature of the earth and wondering if the Flat Earthers realise the inherent flatness of the plains ACTUALLY reveals the curvature, because if everything was flat, eventually you’d see the mountains bounding the flatness. But you don’t. Ergo, there must be a very slight curve relative to you so that things look flat but bend away in the distance.

It’s very frustrating, since I’ve passed two markers for tiny settlements off in the distance, but none of the signs are that legible. I suppose this one miiiiight read UZER?

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All I know is that I’m on the 83 North somewhere in the US and that I’ve passed two towns so tiny they only had signs on the road with arrows and nothing saying X miles away. Think I’ll head back to the start and see if I can figure out where I am with the only road I saw besides this one.

Which I do, and circle back through the tiny town only to discover that STILL the road signs are unreadable. I find myself at the corner of School and Main and think that I must’ve been paralleling that on Highway 83–just now seeing it from the other side.

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Now I’m prowling through the teeny tiny town trying to a) find its name and b) find the state.

Every sign is illegible in this camera.

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A legible sign! But not a particularly useful one?

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Another sign, even more generic.

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I also found Bencker’s Welding Shop. Aaaaaand not much else. Basically I prowled this tiny town and never found its name because all the signs are too blurry. Boo. I miss the better camera.

It’s so flat I keep wondering if we’re in the states below Saskatchewan. Montana and the Dakotas. Either would fit, me thinks, although I associate the Dakotas more with Badlands.

Another legible and largely useless sign. The Frontier Motel with Restaurant and Pool.

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Passing a man on slow-moving equipment. Another sign that this was the first pass camera–his face isn’t blurred out algorithmically. It hardly NEEDS to be, since like the signs, he’s a collection of barely recognisable pixels. I wonder if he knows he’s in Google Maps. It occurs to me that if I were, I don’t know either.

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Argh. This near legibility is frustrating me. Selsen City? Steuben City? Seusen City?

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And it crosses with the 48 or 43 state highway?

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The first still scarcely legible sign with town names and whatnot. It looks like Oberlin and Norton are 20 and 44 miles off respectively and something that looks like Bessner? is closer. But this is our first sign with numbers. Hurrah!

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A junction? This could be promising. Or futile.

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Futile.

A minor variation has been introduced to the landscape.

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And now the largest town I’ve seen yet on this round.

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I think we’re in Jennings! They want you to Czech them out! Seems suspiciously like a thing you’d see in the Dakotas or Wisconsin.

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I looked at the map in North Dakota just to see, and there IS a highway 83 up there. None of the names matched though, and I couldn’t see a 383 or a 123 either. So I’m tracing it down just a ways.

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And kept tracing through South Dakota and Nebraska and right on into Kansas where I found this cluster of towns that matched the names! Oberlin and Norton and Selden (and Dresden, which I thought I might have also seen) and Jennings and Clayton.

So, when I found the town that I thought was Seusen or something like that, it was Selden and the town we started by must be the town before that. That would be Rexford? There’s a high school specifically called out on the map and it’s close to the 83.

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And they do come together on the somewhat generic crossing of Main and School. Okay. We’ll call it.

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Booyeah! I feel pretty awesome about that DESPITE spending most of my time squinting at unreadable signs. We eventually got ENOUGH info to figure it out.

The sad thing is….if I had kept following the 83 a few more miles in the desolate direction, I would have eventually run into the 70 and probably had a clearer camera. Ah well.

About Rexford, Kansas: It has a population of 231/232 depending on which year you are checking for. The gender makeup of the city is 50-50. Which is WEIRD because all the rest of the census numbers are expressed as decimal percentages. Like the fact that 7.1% are single woman households and 3.6 are single man households. But exactly 50% on the gender? This must’ve come from the year when there was 232 people in Rexford because otherwise we’d have 50.2% on one of the genders.

AFTER HIATUS: WEEK NINE – Round 1: Plains, Trains, and Euro-Mobiles.

First Impressions: I’m going guess that we’re in Poland or one of the little formerly Russian countries. Wait til I get closer to that lightpole. That’ll tell me if I’m in Poland. Meanwhile, I see a blocky orange van and another one just like it in the distance. The cars I can see do seem rather European to my brain.

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I decide to zoom in on the seal on the side and I find what appears to be Cyrillic lettering. I can’t read it very well at all but I know it’s not English.

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Looking Around: To the west, there’s a junction with the road that our matching van is on. To the south a road stretching away. The scenery seems to be rural but not isolated. Like the outskirts of a largish town, but not a city suburb. There seem to be people waiting for a bus. There’s also a largish sign. I might go take a look at that and then double back round to the junction. South briefly, and then northwest..

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I was mistaken. What I thought might be a sign, proved to be a fence. Humiliating. 🙂 Back to the junction.

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There is some kind of market or store on the corner, complete with the requisite Coke ad garnishing the door. There’s something weird about how Coke permeates much of the world. By now, you could pretty much go anywhere in the world and know a market by the Coke iconography.

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Just beyond the convenience store is the road sign I thought I saw elsewhere. Only this time it is a sign. To the east, lies УФА (which Hubsand pronounced as Uffa over my shoulder) and to the south ТЮЛЬГАН. (I’m spelling these using charmap so pardon any missteps.)

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And it looks like we were just leaving the town of Novomur-something something, or НОВОМУРАПТАОЛО, while entering the outskirts of СТАРЫЙ МУРАПТАЛ. (That does make me wonder if we are in a former Russian republic since my brain seems to be reading that as Sztari Mura-something.)

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And there’s this sign. Is this the river? I think it is. ЮШАТЫР Й Р ЮШАТЫРЬ

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And another sign….

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Right now I’m mostly hoping to find a road sign that indicates highway. The farmlands through here seem to indicate a lot of ruralosity. 🙂 I could easily mistake them for the Central Plains states, were it not for the road signs and cars.

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A nice picturesque train rumbling through the countryside!

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I’m not seeing anything that looks like a highway sign, so I’m gonna duck into my map and see if I can find Uffa. It had the largest number so must be a decent sized city to show up on signs that many kilometers away.

And yep, there’s Ufa.

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So we have the approximate region: Somewhere to the left/west/southish of Ufa. Gotta narrow it down though.

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Well, I found Tyulgan (ТЮЛЬГАН) on the map and Muraptalovo too! South of Ufa!

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And tracing my way from Tyulgan to the junction to Ufa, I think I find my spot. There’s even a gas station a little ways north.

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36.6 meters!

Pretty good!

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About Ufa: It was build as a fortress under Ivan the Terrible’s reign in the 1500s. It was seiged by Coassacks and Bashkir. And it is the center of the Uga Governorate, and was the seat of Soviet Ukrainean government during WWII. More about Ufa here.