Saturday, September 12, 2009

Halfway to France (and Back)

Last month, I told you about biking halfway to Mexico. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of biking halfway to France. I borrowed a bike from Lausanne's free bike rental program and headed along the lake to Vevey, about 10-12 miles away. It looks like if I had continued around the circumference of the lake, another 10-12 miles would have put me in France. I suppose biking all the way around the lake would make a good vacation, but since all I had was a free day after four days of conferences, this trip was a nice diversion.

For a more detailed analysis of my route, you can check out my Everytrail post. Here's what I had to say about the ride there:
I should have taken the Metro to the Ouchy station near the lakefront, but I let the guy talk me into riding my bike. Of course, I couldn't understand his directions in broken English and ended up riding all over the place before getting out of town.

Once I got out of town, however, the ride was great. There is a main road near the lake, which has bike lanes most of the way, but occasionally there were detours. At one point, I rode through a medieval town center, and at another point, the route rose through the terraced vineyards that hug the coast. I could have reached out and grabbed the grapes. (I didn't.)

When I got to Vevey, I visited the tourist information center, ditched the bike, and headed out. The woman in the information center claimed that there was nowhere to lock my bike, but that I didn't need to. She also sent me to a mall when I asked about souvenirs, so I'm not sure of the quality of her advice. I locked the bike to a sign, which seemed to work. I had lunch at a Thai restaurant, bought some postcards and visited Charlie Chaplin's grave. All in all, a successful visit.

On the ride back, I tried to minimize my detours, not entirely successfully. I had an idea of leaving my bike at Ouchy, then returning for it via Metro after rush hour was over. I really wish I had done that; I meandered all over town trying to find a good route back to Roule Lausanne. Eventually, I did and left tired after my longest bike ride yet.

I should note that both the tourist information center and Chaplin's graves are waymarks, which allowed me to find them more easily. I now have the "grave of a famous person" category. While that doesn't help me with waymarking bingo, it does bring me up to 251 waymarks.

Also, the Lavaux vineyard terraces are a World Heritage Site, which makes them the 46th that I have visited, and the 2nd for 2009.

Finally, here is a link to a Picasa album I made up with some selected pictures from my trip. Now it's off to change my remaining Swiss Francs into British Pounds and find the gate for my plane...


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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Biking Santa Barbara


I rented a bike when I was in Santa Barbara for a conference earlier this month. I got in over 80 miles of biking in 4 days, so it was more than I'm used to doing. One day I did 27.9 miles, a personal best (and an exhausting one). The weather was cool, the terrain was flat, and the bike paths were well marked -- all conducive to lots of riding. Two of the days I just rode around near campus on breaks from the conference. Two of the days, on the other hand, I had free afternoons and challenged myself to ride from campus to downtown Santa Barbara.

Both times I did some waymarking...I made it up to 250 categories (from 202 in February). I thought the bike would be great for waymarking, but there were so many waymarks close together, the bike was a nuisance. (Or the waymarks were.)

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Waymarking Sunday Drive

Last weekend, when I dropped Cheetah off at the kennel, I took Route 2 back, since I was headed towards Laurel. I noticed a number of historical markers along the road. So today, after I picked her up, we went north on Route 2 and found 5 markers (I also found one on Route 4, before I picked her up). Surprisingly, none of these is among the 259 historical markers already waymarked, so I'll have to write these up later. That'll bring me up to 8 posted in this category, only two short of my 10 in "You Are Here" signs. I'm not quite sure why these are my favorite two categories.




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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Waymarking Category Hunt

Last August, I mentioned "Waymarking Bingo", the goal of getting 20 categories in a row in my "waymarking grid". At the time, I had 4 in a row, now I have...6. You can see them diagonally above from F22 to J27. For what it's worth, they are "Doorways of the World", "Burger King Restaurants", "Municipal Flags", "Newsstands/Newsagencies", "Art Deco - Art Noveau" and "Tennis Facilities."

Overall, I have 202 of 874, for a 23.1% hit rate. This seems like I'm not making any progress, but I see from last August's post that I was at 73 of 752, or 9.7%. Also, I'm missing 672 categories as opposed to August's 679, so I'm even making slight progress on that metric.

Since I'm not going anywhere this month (haven't even left Maryland), I'm trying to post some categories within walking distance of our house. I've done synagogues, Presbyterian churches, Baptist churches, Presbyterian churches and Lutheran churches. These are all easy to find nearby, and I can put them on my "ignore" list when I'm done, since I don't feel the need to see more of these when traveling. (I also found a couple of Civil War memorials last weekend near the farm where I was buying beef.)


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Help Me Identify This Language

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About a week ago, before we left for Arizona, I went out to waymark a nearby peace pole. When I got home, I was unable to do so, because the category requires a list of the languages on the pole, and I didn't have it.

Today I went back and took some pictures. When I got home, I was able to identify 11 out of the 12 languages on the pole, but one stumps me. If you look at the picture above, on the left, you'll see Arabic, Dutch and one I can't identify. (On the right is Gaelic, Russian and Animal Paw Prints.)

I am appealing to anyone reading this to help me figure out what language this is. It seems to borrow its alphabet from Greek and Hebrew -- possibly others.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Case of the Purloined Photograph

About a month ago, I was in Laurel, and I decided to do a little waymarking. One of the sites I visited was Laurel Tavern Donuts, which falls into the category "Independent Doughnut Shops."

Here you can see me behind the store with my bounty of donut holes held aloft in triumph.

Last week, I read a Washington Post blog item about Laurel Tavern Donuts' inclusion in a "Zippy the Pinhead" comic strip. I thought about posting an image of the comic strip to the waymark page, but I decided that it would be a potential copyright violation to do so. I figured, however, that "fair use" would allow me to clip out part of the strip for illustrative purposes.

After posting the above clip, I looked at both the waymark page (linked above) and the Washington Post blog page (also linked above). If you look carefully, you notice something. The pictures of Laurel Tavern Donuts are...identical. Down to the reflection in the glass door. (I would post the image here, but the irony of doing so in a post about copyright violations would be overwhelming. I'll resume violating copyrights in a future post.) I e-mailed the creator of the photo to ask if the Post had gotten his permission. They hadn't.

He's been trying to get in touch with someone at the Post to check on this. He hasn't heard back.

I think in the loosey-goosey world of blogging, lifting the picture would probably be considered OK (if perhaps of questionable legality) if the Post had credited the picture. But taking the picture and reposting it without permission...the Post should do better than that.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Waymarking Santa Barbara

Last year, I spent my free afternoon at this conference in Santa Barbara geocaching. This year, it was time for some waymarking. I was particularly interested in increasing my category count. Yesterday, I told you I was at 73; now it's 95. Here is an assortment of pictures from an afternoon of waymarking. Some are interesting; some are mundane -- like the waymarking categories. Annoyingly, some require me to put my GPS receiver in the picture in order to get credit. Enjoy.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

Waymarking Bingo

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I've been doing more waymarking than geocaching lately. I have a couple of main motivations for this -- one, if I'm in an urban/suburban area, waymarking doesn't require me to dig around suspiciously. Two, if I have a choice of areas, I lean towards the area without ticks.

A secondary motivation, however, is waymarking bingo. For each category of waymarks (e.g., pyramids, sushi restaurants, "you are here" signs) that I log, I get an icon on my user page. Above, you can see rows 19-37 of my user page (the current page is here). As of this morning, I have 73 out of a possible 752 categories.

Some waymarkers have introduced the concept of "waymarking bingo", which they defined as 20 icons in a row, column or diagonal. Very few waymarkers have achieved this. I feel like I've been doing a lot of waymarking, and the best I have done is 4 in a row (row 33). It'll probably be a long time before I get a bingo. You might think row 33 is my most promising row, since I already have 4 in a row. But row 33 contains such tricky categories as Abandoned Air Force Radar Sites, Martello Towers and Holy Wells. There are 13 existing waymarks worldwide in the first category, 14 in the second, and 29 in the third. I don't expect to be in the neighborhood of them any time soon.

I can always wait for someone to create a more convenient waymark in one of these categories or even - gasp - do the research and create one myself. For categories like KFC and 7-11, that's easy...and then I get to put them on my "ignore" list, since I'm not really interested in seeing more than one. For the above categories, that could be a little trickier.

Truthfully, I'm more interested right now in filling out the grid as much as possible than in getting "bingo". It's interesting to hunt down the rarer icons. When I was at LAX last night, I noticed I was near an example of Googie architecture. Since there aren't any examples near home, I decided to find that one. It turned out to be the most expensive waymark find yet, but that's a tale for another post...

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Peace Pole

We're out here in California. I don't have anything exciting to report, so I thought I'd share pictures of us at a peace pole. Just another random thing I wouldn't have found had it not been for waymarking.


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Monday, December 17, 2007

Mileage Run

Well, I've packed my bags for a trip to nowhere. Or Las Vegas, depending on your perspective. Recently, I calculated my total "Elite Qualifying Miles" on United Airlines, and I discovered that I was going to end up with 96,972 at the end of the year. (For reasons documented a year ago, that's more miles than I actually am flying.) What to do?

One option, through the bizarre calculus of frequent flier programs, was to spent 40,000 "earned" miles to get 4,000 EQM and put myself over the top. But 40,000 miles is a lot. It's more than enough for a flight to the Caribbean or Hawaii, and almost enough for a flight to Europe or South America.

So a $198 fare to Vegas -- that gets me more than 4,000 EQM and 8,000 "earned" miles. And I can fly there during the day and come back on the redeye. Only eight-and-a-half hours on the ground in Vegas. I could have had a quicker turnaround, but if my outgoing flight was late, I could miss my return flight!

So what to do with my eight-and-a-half hours in Las Vegas? Well, by the time I get out of the airport, catch a cab, and account for enough time to get back early enough to make my return flight, conservatively, I'm down to five-and-a-half hours. I identified three priorities:

  • Enjoy a buffet.
  • Do some geocaching and waymarking.
  • Play the nickel video poker machines at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Hmm, even with the monorail to zip me from location to location, that seemed a little tight. So when I did on-line check-in today, I decided to standby for the early morning flight. That'll add 4.5 hours to the whole deal, and if I wake up tomorrow morning too tired to drive to the airport, I can go on-line and cancel the standby.

I said my bags are packed, but really it's just a backpack. I have a book, some spare clothing in case I get stuck, and various electronic goodies. I've transferred about fourteen-and-a-half hours of video to my iPod -- in retrospect that seems like overkill. I bought a battery backup for the iPod that allows me to use AA batteries. I have my phone for Internet access (I may annoy subscribers to this blog with frequent updates) and my camera and GPS for geocaching/waymarking. I have Lonely Planet Las Vegas Encounter and a printout of Wikitravel Las Vegas which I'll pit against each other for usefulness.

Wish me luck!

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Geocaching and Waymarking

Last weekend, Christina and I headed out on our first ever geocaching expedition. Geocaching is an activity which involves using a GPS receiver to search for hidden containers ("caches") of items which have been placed by other geocachers. Typically, people will take one small trinket and leave another.

The cache we were looking for ("Maryland Marathon") was not the simplest type of cache. It involved visiting 6 sites across the University of Maryland campus to find clues. These clues allowed us to find the coordinates of the actual cache.

In addition to the normal swag we exchanged (we took a little carved box and left Pez dispensers), we took something called a "travel bug". A travel bug is an object whose travels you can track on the web. (As says, "Live vicariously through inanimate objects.") This particular item was a plastic eagle known as Northern Harrier that started out in January in Bowie. It has the goal of visiting state and national parks.

When we got back, I did a little bit more research and read up about the related activity of waymarking. Waymarking is like geocaching without the cache. In other words, the goal is to visit particular coordinates that already contain items of interest. For example, in pursuit of the Maryland Marathon cache, we visited the statue of Testudo, the University of Maryland's mascot. As it turns out, this has been waymarked. So I logged our visit.

On Friday, I continued with this pursuit. At lunch, I went to a car wash that, as it turned out, was near the birthplace of Johns Hopkins. The rules for logging a visit to a Maryland Historical Marker waymark require taking a picture of you or your GPS receiver with the marker, which was a little bit tricky since I was by myself. Later that day, on my way to Paul's, I visited the Patriotic Wheaton cache in a nearby park. In geocaching argot, I TNLNSL.

Today, I decided to kill several birds with one stone. First I went to the Clara Barton House historical marker. Then, because I actually like visiting things, I took a tour of the house itself. I bailed halfway through the tour when it seemed to be more about showing kids how life in the olden days was than about Clara Barton. Then, Northern Harrier and I visited Glen Echo Park, a national park. With that part of his mission satisfied, I drove to near the Jason Turns 30! cache, where I dropped off Northern Harrier.

I say "near" the cache, because most of these caches aren't readily car accessible. In this particular case, after parking, I walked down a paved trail that paralleled the road. Then I cut off the paved trail onto an unpaved on through the woods. My GPS receiver still indicated that the cache was 100 or so feet off the trail. Unfortunately, all I saw in that direction was a steep drop. Fortunately, many of the cache listings have clues that you can easily decode. Unfortunately, this clue told me that the cache was in a tree trunk at the bottom of a steep hill. So I clambered down, found the cache and hiked back up. The nice thing about this activity is that you always have a record of where your car is. (Don't forget the spare batteries.)

So as of now, my geocaching and waymarking stats each show 3 visited. Here are links that will update as I visit more.

Profile for pseudoprime

I'm hoping to talk Christina into another expedition. It's more fun when you have someone to share it with. And the pictures turn out better!

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