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.”

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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.

Week 8, Round 3: Dry Yet Tropical

First Impressions: The road (which I can’t see yet and which, because of the late hour, I’m hoping is paved and not dirt) is abutting a mixture of dry and green plants. There are some spiny palm tree looking things and possibly scrubby cactus. I can’t quite tell. Somewhere south of most of North America, I’ll guess. Possibly even…dun dun dun…South America.

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Looking around: Whew! That road is paved. I have had some pretty trying times out where the road was a dirt road. I know I’m just surfing this thing from my desk, but my brain still manages to insert all the bumps and the hot glare feelings I have from dusty back roads. The foliage is rather too thick to let me see any structures, so I’m heading east, up a gentle hill.

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Okay, I’m gonna say…Africa somewhere? Or maybe they have actually gotten the Google car out to some tropical islands? I dunno. The grass hut makes me think Africa, although there’s always Hawaii. I’m sure Africa doesn’t have a monopoly on huts. Or maybe there are huts in South America? I haven’t seen a lot there, but I’m not ruling it out.

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My first sign. Sadly, it is blurry from one angle and obscured by foliage from another. Boo.

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Okay we are probably in South America. By the Casa Del Molino! Helpful! I don’t recognise any of those symbols. Still…is the Spanish enough to go on? After all, there’s been an awful lot of colonialism all over the world.

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Passed an odd little grove of what seem to be replanted palms?

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This road is getting LESS paved. And dusty. Much more of this and I may head back to the start. Gotta head closer to signs.

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Another little town?

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Nope, same town, I got turned around. Dang it. I hate it when that happens. BOO.

I admit it, I have no idea where I am.

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I feel like I jinxed myself with that remark about the road. That’ll larn ya.

The houses are further and further apart, and no signs or infrastructure seem evident to me, although maybe I don’t know what I should be looking for. If this goes on too much longer, I may head back to the south. I’m trying to console myself with the idea that the Google car probably had an idea about WHERE they wanted to go so surely there must be something out there. But here’s a sample of my last twenty screens or so.

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And I think I got turned around again. Might be a sign. Let’s head back to the start.

Heading west from start: My first human! On a bike. Clearly there is something within biking distance!

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Human two! And his goats!

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Human 3! On a wheeled conveyance. Again, one gets the idea that where ever we are, the nearest destination is bicycle-range away and far enough that you don’t wanna walk.

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Somebody’s homestead.

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The first car:

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Another cute little town. Laundry drying outside in the trees beyond.

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This isn’t the first house I’ve seen with the black metal structure resting on tall cinderblocks or stones. Been wondering if it’s rainwater collection or a smoker device for meats.

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An intersection! No street signs yet.

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Trying to pick the road most likely to join up to another road. The widest road with markings…

Those heraldic markings made a reappearance. I think this is a school (escolar) in the Central Sector?

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The children seem to be studying Literario, Humoristico, and Historico.

It seems like we are in Mexico.

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Trying to map any of this to info from the map although I don’t know if it’ll help much yet. I think the name is El Naranjal e Insurgentes (The Orange Insurgents??) and that Jose Morelos must be the mayor and the population is about 484…I think??? Are they showing the taxes or the income on this sign? What are those bottom numbers for?

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Okay, I think I hit a much larger highway! Finally! And I see a green road sign in the distance! Whee!

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The towns of Kankabchen and Cafetal lie yonder. Maybe I should head the other way for a little and see if there’s any signs indicate was lies the other way.

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Apparently Jose Maria Morelos which I had assumed was the mayor of the last town…is actually another town. Whoops.

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I wonder if that means it’s a larger town? If it was on the name of another town’s sign?

And there seems to be a Morelos State in Mexico.

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After tracing the edges of Morelos I zoomed in once more and fortunately found the Unidad habitacional Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon. Sadly, I don’t see any of my other towns on the map yet. 😦

I venture into to Jose Maria Morelos hoping to find some street names so I can figure which side of town to scooch back out of to figure out my origin.

Apparently the outskirts have the intersection of Calle Margarita and Calle Benito Juarez. Benito appears to be a popular guy though, since zooming in and out, I already found three or four Benito Juarez’s.

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I’m super pooped and can’t find any of my streets, so I’ve sorta decided that this section outside of Jose Morelos is Naranjal and I’m looking for the bit that’s sorta squiggly and next to it. It’s as good as guess as any.

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And holy cow! I SO DID NOT have the right spot. Although I did have the right country but that’s no comfort. Apparently a country can have TWO cities or towns names Jose Maria Morelos. Let that be a lesson to triangulate as best you can.

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It’s an honest defeat, mind you, but this is the worst I’ve done since starting the blog, I think.

Let’s find out a bit more about the confusing nomenclature of Mexico’s Jose Maria Morelos: He is one of Mexico’s national heroes so like Martin Luther King in the States, he has a lot of stuff named after him. He pretty much seems to have led their War of Independence. Eventually he was captured though and executed. I wonder what he would think of all his many namesakes. BTW, this Jose Maria Morelos was in the state of Quintana Roo, which is a pretty cool name for a state honestly.

Week 8, Round 5: A Sigh of Relief

First Impressions: After a week that included a confusingly named town in Mexico and a Russian town that had few signs that I could make out, I admit to being all excited by the prospect of North America! This looks like it could be anywhere in the US heartland or the breadbasket provinces of Canada.  Wide green lawns, scattering of trees over what seems to be flat terrain. I’ll randomly go for Ohio.

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Looking around: My goodness, are we on a reservation? The sign has a reference to Tyen Mohawk Terr. I’m not sure if this means we are on a reservation or just in a place that recalls the local tribes. Finally, the word “territory” combined with the shape of the sign, the lack of chamfering or white borders, the general proportions, make me think this isn’t a US sign. Are we in Canada?

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Well, the 80 seems to indicate we are in Canada. That’s gotta be 80 km, which while speedyish, isn’t the zippity fast speeds of 80mph.

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We seem to be by a historic site. Christ Church, HM Mohawk Chapel.

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Definitely Canada. On the 49. Between Picton and Belleville. Belleville seems to say Quebec to me.

And near the 2, leaving Desoronto.

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Nailed the province down to Ontario:

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And Belleville as it turns out is on the eastern end of Lake Ontario. I’ve actually probably driven by it, although I may not recall doing so.

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And there’s Desoronto, the 2, the 49, all of it. Now just to figure out how close we were. Oh, right, there’s the South Church Lane. 🙂

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I daresay that’s close enough. Let’s give it a shot.

5.4 meter. Thank you, Geoguessr gods for making my final round this week an easy one.

I retire from the field for the week…or actually until Friday night. 🙂

Week 8, Round 4: Globus Interruptus

Sometimes, like this week, I don’t get my Geoguessr rounds done in time to release the challenges before they need to start going live. It’s one thing to say you’re going to make a regular blog, but sometimes, even when scheduling in advance, things happen. In this case, I needed sleep, and my schedule hasn’t aligned for nearly four days. But here, we are, finishing the last two rounds (we hope) for this week.

First Impressions. I’ve decided I’m in South Africa. Land has the rolling hills I associate with my forays there, but perhaps a bit to the north and inland? No markings on the road–it seems to be gravel. There seems to be a forest or a town or a forest AND a town in the distance. Things are green, but not too green. The dryness suggested could be late summer, rather than the exigencies of clime. Who knows.

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Looking around: Honestly, this reminds me of Mulgore, pre-Cataclysm. I half expect to see some centaur herds go running around. This could also be eastern Wyoming or western Nebraska. Or somewhere in Kansas. No real clues. There is a line of telephone poles or some kind of power line off to the southeast. I’m not close enough to see if there’s any local design that seems distinct.

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Heading east: My first guess seems more probable than all the states I just named. I just don’t think this looks like a North American car. I envy all you car nerds who can sniff out which country we are in simply by car shape.

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400 meters to a railway crossing! You know, it would be handy if I could measure how far the Google camera sees down a road. Then I could click-count my way to approximate distances. Hrm.

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I think two clicks (where the reticle is about three little hand cursors across) is about 400m. Hrm.

Here, have a flock of seagulls. No, not the 80s band.

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Huh. It looks like we’re somewhere that uses Cyrillic, but the sign is too blurry to make out.

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There seems to be a mixture of barns and shops and houses. We are in the Nebraska of Russia, I think.

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ИСКЕ СИБАЙ ???

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Might be on the map later?

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Some kind of power plant?

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I know we’re in Russia but the buildings in the distance look like your average roadside motel as seen on my trips across the US. (I’ve done the 80 twice, and the 40 one and a half times.)

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Yay! I see a blue sign in the distance! (The Russians seem to prefer blue signs.) I hope. Cross your fingers.

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Huh. Not sure what this means either. I was hoping for road signs and numbers. Maybe this is like a caution sign of some kind. There’s an exclamation mark which seems odd.

Woot, now this is more like it. There’s an aeroport and quite a few place names.

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And Baimak Baimak? Well, we have Walla Walla.

And a much distant town called IRA? Except…it’s probably an abbreviation? Like NYC?

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I think this is the point where having carefully drawn out these letters I don’t know very well, I try to check the map against their transliterations.

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BOOM!

Another town name. МАГНИТОГОРСК

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And this one is on the map!

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It lies to the north apparently. So we’re looking for a town 90km south with an aeroport. Very well.

Oh, and there’s a town south that has the same letters as the first sign I saw. Sibay or СИБАЙ. Sweet.

Well, we started on the outside of the town and heading northeast to get there. Let’s head back and see if we can figure it out more precisely.

I think I’m approximately in the right area, after digging around at all the little hamlets and villages. We’ll see.

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Ah, just a little off. My second choice for the area was more correct.

Ah well. Still decent, considering I don’t speak the language.

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About Sibay: Sibay has the deepest open dip copper-zinc mine in Russia. That makes me feel slightly akin to it because I grew up a few miles from the Bingham Copper Mine, a large open pit mine in Utah. Our mine is nearly twice as wide across though. Sorry, Sibay.

Week 8, Round 2: Ninety Percent Certain This Is In Europe

First Impressions: Cute little cottages snuggled up next to the road. Must be Europe. Also, there’s a bike. Have we been to the Netherlands yet? I’ve never been to the Netherlands but I hear they are great bike riders. I suppose that’s true for a lot of Europe though. And I can’t see any posts, so can’t tell if this is Poland.

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Looking around: Oooooo, I think we’re in Germany. The free something-something-city/town of Bremen even. Is that likely? I thought Bremen was a huge city. But we could be on the outskirts.

There’s a Grimm fairy tale about the talking animals of Bremen, I think. Oh, wait, the Brementown Musicians. My brain is ticking at me. I know a donkey was involved.

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Further looking around: There seems to be a handy sign or three. I should examine them, as they will no doubt prove useful for figuring out the exact location.

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We are at the corner of Am Holze (on the wood?) and the Timmersloher Landstrasse. Yonder lies the Rathaus, the Klosterkirche and the Spielplatz. (Playground.)

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So it looks like we are looking for the Hansestadt part of Bremen. And it’s near a wood? And something Lilienthal. Well I see a Lilienthal on the map.

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Well, it sure seems like we’re on the border of Lilienthal and Bremen.

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Zooming in on the section between the two towns, I see an Am Holze!!!!

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And I think I have it.

2015-05-03_01h02_16

2.2m! Whee!

So….about those Brementown Musicians: Basically the fairy tale goes that there was a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster who all outlived their usefulness and decided to make their way to the free town of Bremen to become MUSICIANS. That’s right, apparently Brementown was like the New York City of Fairy Tale Land. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.  Ironically, they never actually get there but instead end up breaking up a band of robbers and then living off the wealth of the robbers in some kind of proto-typical but much more egalitarian version of Animal Farm.

Despite the fact that they never get to Bremen, there’s still a statue to them. Yup. A statue for fictional animals that never lived in the city. You do you, Bremen!