Tag Archives: Google Earth

Mapping Blue Highways

Similar to the previous post about Slowly Down the Ganges, I am mapping the places from another book: Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. Reading these travel tales excites me -- I want to know where the authors went almost as much as why they went and what they did there. I want to see the places they saw. I want to follow the roads they followed. Perhaps I should see if there is a local chapter of Geographaholics Anonymous.

Blue Highways is, so far, doubly exciting because I've spent a great deal of time traveling the roads of the US. The blue highways he refers to are the smaller roads on the map, not the freeways, not the interstates; in other words, as a native of the great nowhere, my kinds of roads. I'm only 20-some pages into Blue Highways and I'm getting the itch. If Least Heat Moon could do it, imagine...

Anyway. The places and backroads in Blue Highways are remarkable. Sometimes Least Heat Moon mentions them in passing, sometimes he stops and visits. Each encounter with the locals has had a welcome ring of empathy. I am mapping Least Heat Moon's excursion as it happens -- as it happens on the page, at least.

Here is the map I have created so far with places from Blue Highways.

If you are a Google Earth user, here is the same map as a network link file that you can follow as I update it: Blue_Highways.kmz.

Mapping down the Ganges

Last week at the Pollard Memorial Library I picked up Slowly Down the Ganges by Eric Newby. Usually I pick up books based on recommendation from friends or from Goodreads. This one I just happened to pick up because it was in the travel section of the library where I had gone to pick up Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. The section of Indian travel books at the library is anemic however, which is a pity. Traveling in India is its own adventure.

Having been to India and having always had an interest in geography, I have been mapping the places that Newby visits in the book. This is difficult for the first half of the book because the Ganga travels through rural India. Not all of the village names he mentions are easy to find, whether due to his transliteration of the names or the lack of labeled villages in contemporary online maps.

Here is the map I have created so far with places from Slowly Down the Ganges.

Each of the labeled places represents a passage in the book. If you would like to add something to or correct something on the map, please leave a comment; I doubt it is entirely correct. So far, two-thirds of the way through, I have really enjoyed the book. I'll post my review of it on Goodreads, so look me up there if you want to see my review.

This makes me want to return to India again. I will, however, stick to the roads and rails. I am not much of a river rat.

Tropical Storm Edouard

First, the National Hurricane Center is tracking Tropical Storm Edouard at nhc.noaa.gov.

In my spare time -- since SAIC is contracted to NASA, and NASA called off work at Johnson Space Center after noon today and all day tomorrow -- I did a crude conversion of the Tropical Storm Edouard 3-day forecast from the nhc.noaa.gov site to Google Earth.

You should really check it out as a larger map.

Do you use Google Earth? Here's a Network Link .kmz file for the storm track: Tropical Storm Edouard.kmz. (Network File means that if you save it to your My Places, it will update as I update the info for it.)

I was curious how close the center of the storm was going to pass to my apartment. My apartment is the star on the map. As of 20:00 on 4 August, the storm track is predicted to pass about 7 km northeast of me (+/- all of the inaccuracies, so ~10km). We'll see what happens...

Results of the Great Moonbuggy Race

Courtesy NASA:

The 15th Great Moonbuggy Race was held in Huntsville, Alabama on 4 to 5 April 2008. High school and university students were challenged to develop human-powered rovers that race around a simulated lunar course.

The two winning teams were:

Great Moonbuggy Race web site: http://moonbuggy.msfc.nasa.gov

Where are the teams from? Of the 46 teams, most were from the US, but students from Puerto Rico, Canada, India, and Germany also traveled to Alabama to compete. The locations of each team -- high schools in red, colleges in blue -- are shown in the map below. (You can download the .kmz file here.) View on a map.

Sneak Preview: Map of 2005 Mojave trip

Slowly over the last two years, I have been writing a book about the time I spent driving to, living in, and leaving Mojave, California in Spring 2005. The prospective title for this project has always been Mojave Road in the Sky, inspired by this photo I snapped in Death Valley National Park.

Quite a few of my memories from this time period are still quite fresh. Every week a few frames of the trip will slip into my consciousness: while driving I'll think of the road from Van Horn to Guadalupe Mountains National Park; while running I'll think of the hike to Lost Palms Oasis; while doing nothing at all I'll think of the vast green sea of North Dakota.

One trick I've always had up my sleeve is my ability to learn things by associating them with a location. I'm not sure what this is called -- it's sort of like photographic memory, I think. Maybe not. You tell me. I used to clean up in my aerodynamics courses in university because I could remember flow characteristics and equations by remembering where these things were located on the textbook page. Translate that to a larger scale, and I remember roads traveled, music heard, people met by placing these things on a mental map of an area. It's not a wildly useful skill; perhaps this will also give you some insight into why I don't own a TV because this feed of memories and places is often playing in the theater of my mind.

Anyway. I'm getting away from the point.

Slowly, I've been transforming memories from this 2005 trip into placemarks in Google Earth. This has opened up a flood of forgotten memories. Sure, most are useless ones -- I remember the name of the gas station where I stopped outside of dark and sinister Phoenix (Toor's Chevron) -- but it has been very useful in pulling thoughts and memories and insights from forgotten, unconnected dots.

If you like, you can have a look at the map as I'm creating it. It's a mess now -- but it's a work-in-progress.

Illinois to California

View Larger Map

California to Illinois

View Larger Map

The original .kmz files are stored on my wiki:

Also note that if you go to the links above, you can download a network link file for each -- download that to your My Places in Google Earth and it will be automatically updated whenever I update the source files on the wiki. It's magic.

There's not a lot of context associated with these points on the map; why should you care that I stopped at Brake Masters in Las Vegas? I don't feel pressured to move quickly yet since I have only 8 subscribers to this blog, according to Feedburner. Eventually I'll include pictures (if you're impatient see flickr.com/photos/kittell) and other notes from this trip.

My secret, narcissistic hope is that someone -- be it a stranger or, more likely, Mom -- might see something they like or don't like, and tell me about it. Interaction would be a wonderful motivator. I'm planning one more update to these maps before the end of March. If you've actually played with the maps above, is there anything in particular you would like to see updated? Anything you would like to see augmented with photos or notes?

Rose Bowl preparation

Here's the blahblahblah: Joe and I and others were going to watch Illinois play in Orlando at the Capital One Bowl since it was (1) on the same side of the country as us and (2) it seemed more likely that we would qualify for the Capital One Bowl than the prestigious Rose Bowl in Pasadena. If Illinois qualified for the Rose Bowl... too far, too expensive, etc. In fact, with good luck and good wins, Illinois did qualify for the Rose Bowl -- first time since 1984. So we thought again and too far/expensive was thrown out of the window. New Years in southern California with former university friends and roommates sounds good to me.

Look for me in the crowd. Ha.

The cool thing about this is that I was also able to get two tickets for my parents. They get to see the Rose Bowl and the Rose Parade (I suspect I'll still be sleeping during the parade) on 1 January, and then I'm going to take them on a shotgun tour of the Mojave on 2 January: over the San Gabriel Mountains; through Mojave, California City ("home"), and Trona; into Death Valley; and back to Las Vegas for their early morning 3 January flight home. I thought it would be cool to show them our playground from spring 2005.

If you would like to see more about the trip, I am putting notes together on my personal wiki and have created a map in Google Earth, which you can see below.

View Larger Map

I will be doing my part to pollute as I drive in a huge loop across the desert, but I tell myself that every trip I take to the desert -- my last was a side trip during a business excursion to Vandenberg Air Force Base -- is research for a book that I am sometimes writing (usually not) about our spring in Mojave. It's hard to believe that was nearly three years ago.

Tell el-Amarna

I have a fascination with maps that is probably better classified as an obsession...

Doing a little bit of searching in Google Earth -- the finest "drug" I know -- I found the location of Tell el-Amarna, which I learned about in this article in LiveScience: Ancient Egyptian City Spotted From Space. Here is Tell el-Amarna -- at least, as shown in the satellite image in the article -- in Google Maps.

Paris trip via Google Earth

[All of the links are Google Earth placemarks—that's what the .kmz file extensions are]

Starting at the Gare Centrale in Strasbourg at 12:19am, we arrived at the Gare de l'Est in Paris at roughly 7am. During the day, Dave and I traveled to:

[hopefully coming soon: a tour of the path we took around the city]

We only had ten hours in Paris, so we got around as much as we could. And no, it wasn't a romantic trip; Dave's fiancé might have something to say about that...

Where in the world is ISU?

Check it out, Google Earth placemark: International Space University, Illkirch-Graffenstaden, France

i.e., where the "party" is from 8am to 8pm every day...

Also, our home: Foyer l'Etudiant Catholique, Strasbourg, France. Yes, it's called FEC—the Irish kids here love that name...

Update: Here is the path that I take every day from FEC to ISU. Go to Tools > Play Tour (or ctrl + alt + P) and you can take a tour. It's not that impressive of a tour; this is the first time that I have created a path in the upgrade of Google Earth Plus that I just purchased yesterday.

That is, I just updated from a relatively benign drug to something much more serious.