Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Google Maps developers enjoy extremely long walks through several beaches

It's quite possible that not a lot people reading this post have ever heard of MacDiarmid, Ontario, considering it's so small that I can't even find a population for it. I did find the population of Greenstone, Ontario, the township which encompasses MacDairmid and seven other communities. Greenstone's population is a solid 4,906 people. MacDiarmid is probably among the smaller half being one of four that don't have their own Wikipedia entry. I imagine that this puts their population right around the readership of my blog.

That being said, it's not entirely out of the question that there are MacDiarmid residents reading my blog. Actually it's entirely possible that as soon as this post goes up I will be the first Google search result for MacDiarmid. Especially if I say MacDiarmid enough. Now that I've convinced myself that I'm not totally wasting my time, I'd like to give some navigational advice, if I may, to the people of MacDiarmid.

If you're planning on taking a trip from MacDiarmid to Shebandowan, Ontario, it's a nice, three-hour drive down the Trans Canadian Highway, hugging the shore of scenic Lake Superior. A quick Google Maps look up will provide you with a handy, eight-turn route, and if you leave right after work, you'll be there in time for super.

MacDiarmid has a reputation for being a vacation destination for lovers of the great outdoors. It's likely you may be interesting in planning your Shebandowan trip as a hike or a bike ride. If so it'll probably be pretty tempting to click that new, convenient, little drop down to use Google Map's new walking directions feature. But if you live in MacDiarmid I highly recommend you get a second opinion first. Unless of course you're interested in heading down through the U.S. to circumnavigate the Great Lakes.

The entire walking trip from MacDiarmid to Shebandowan takes a brisk 25 days and 16 hours assuming you don't take any naps or stop for food. It covers 3,203km which is almost 14 times the distance that you'd travel in a car. On your way, you will pass though three U.S. states, take two ferry rides, and visit such major cities as Detroit and Milwaukee. Not to mention two border crossings. Don't forget to bring your passport!

Naively, one would guess that the walking directions from one place to another would be at most as long as the driving directions due to one-way streets and highways that wind around dense areas; this is a bit of city bias speaking. In some cases like these, however, there are un-walkable highways that are the only remotely direct route between two places. Though if you ask me, I'd prefer a little more rough hike through the woods to a 25 day hike with no rest. Maybe Google Maps developers are more adventurous than I am. Maybe they just get more vacation time.

There are definitely pairs of locations that Google considers unable to be connected via walking. I wonder what other kinds trips are possible to walk but have a similarly dramatic factor increase in walking distance. Can anyone find any that are bigger?


Char said...

If you tell your map to drive but "avoid highways", it looks pretty weird too but you still end up taking Hwy 11 for parts of it, because there's really no other roads.

Isn't walking to a city 144 miles away (driving distance) kind of a long trip anyway?


Mike Machenry said...

Hm, it is a little far. But it's a two-day bike ride. Plenty of people hike more than 144 miles in a backpacking trip. The Appalachian Trail is 2,175 miles.


Mike Machenry said...

If it's any better,
the trip can be reduced to 64.4 miles by car and still make a walk around the Great Lakes. This requires picking specific roads and spots on the maps rather than towns. It also requires you use Thunder Bay, which is closer by car, but doesn't add the extra walk out west to avoid walking on Highway 11/17.

Ben said...

You can actually push it even further, Mike, by making one of your endpoints literally an Unknown Road.

Ben said...

More fun with this: the backroads just don't connect