Monday, June 28, 2010

GEO-tography: Imaginary Friends

Ya know… I've been occasionally posting series of photographs which highlight the Offroad. And while at first they were just a collection of photographs that I liked to look at, once I posted them I realized from emails how many others enjoyed them as well.

All of them have as a common denominator… well… geology. But the ones that catch my eye either, as Ansel Adams said, just were because the photographer was "standing in the right place," or they are particularly well shot OR they are unusual in some way.

I noticed that I was accumulating a few of one type, such that it would nearly make a post – so here they are. The technique of capturing excitement and action in still photographs is called "sequence photography."

Friday, June 25, 2010

USGS Map Waypoints: California

Ok call me obsessive-compulsive. Tell me something that I don't know. And there may be a bit of some autism thrown in for good measure.

I've already released two massive Google Earth files containing the MASSIVE USGS "Features File" database for Utah and Nevada. If I thought that they were an effort – this one was (these one's were) mind-bending!

It must be something like wanting to chomp down on your dog's chew toy when you were trying to cut your own wisdom teeth – the pain of chomping your your gum somehow is perversely satisfying and feels like it "should be," if for no other reason than just to get it over with!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GPS Maps 102: Coordinate Systems and Conversions

[This post is part two in a multi-part series about understanding the GPS system and its coordinate grid.]

Ok, you should remember from the last time we spoke that there are "Parallels of Longitude" drawn east-west [equator] and "Meridians of Latitude" drawn north-south [Greenwich Prime Meridian] and where any of them cross into each other is where you are! [or want to be]

But, the main thing is, that those coordinates are radial angles expressed in degrees or fractions thereof and have nothing to do with actual distances – except probably tangentially (speaking linguistically not geometrically).

Additionally, thousands of years of "trial and error" efforts have left us with several, sometimes very confusing, alternate methods of recording locations and often the need to convert from one old system to the other.

Conversion Between Systems

It may be cumbersome, but it is not impossible for a rider to convert from the Decimal system into the Sexagesimal system [of or relating to or reckoning in sixtieths]; or, as commonly called the DMS (Degrees/Minutes/Seconds) system – again, they are NOT the same.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Offroaders Awake - Endure (Embrace) The Politics

The single most destructive thing a responsible offroader can do is to sit back and do nothing!!!

Seniors are especially vulnerable to the militancy and deceitfulness of the environmental groups who seem (this election year) to have governmental "backdoor passes" due to the likes of Obama, Harry Reid of Nevada and Susan Holecheck of Mesquite.

Those of us who feel like we've "paid our dues," and now are entitled to let the "kids" do all the heavy lifting while we go out and do all the unfinished exploring of our world that we deferred until the kids were raised – we've got a rude awakening!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

USGS Map Waypoints: Nevada

I mentioned that I had created a USGS Features Master File for Clark County Nevada, as I had done for Utah and I recieved several requests for other counties as well. So here it is: The entire state of Nevada!   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Nevada USGS Features]

All of us have our favorite riding areas and once we have ridden all the way there we just hate to find that we had missed something. Especially if we later find that our track went within yards of something interesting.

I hear that all the time from riders who have taken a ride then afterwards found our Master Maps containing all the extra waypoints for items of local interest. A trip is all the more enjoyable when you know about all the things you are seeing.

The Cathedral Gorge for example, just up old US93. Well worth a day's journey up from Las Vegas. That's a place I'd have never known about except that I saw it on the "Features File" that I had open when I was looking at a trail which had been submitted.

While I have been wandering around the web I have found that there are a few other sites who have now stumbled upon these USGS Feature files which are created with taxpayers money and available free of charge from the USGS…

Sunday, June 13, 2010

New Submitted Trail: Hamburger Rock Loop, Near Moab Utah

Believe it or not, even with all the trails already described in the Moab Trails Master file we've had another submitted which looks like it's completely new and in a seriously scenic area.

Hamburger Rock Loop was part of an off road vacation taken by Dennis Spanogle and his group in April, 2010. It is also labeled BLM "Trail 25" and runs around the red dirt of Moab, in southern Utah.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Hamburger Rock Loop]

There are camping areas all around although it is labeled a "fee area" and are available "first-come-first-served."

Additional trails join the area loop, for example "trail 26" which is shown as a "difficult" black diamond…

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

GPS Maps 101: The Numbers

[This post is part one of a multiple part series about understanding and using GPS coordinates in offroad travel: Latitude, Longitude and coordinate display conventions.]

One of the most universally known, but nearly always the least understood, object is — the circle.

All at the same time it is so elemental that the youngest of children can recognize it, turn around it and tell you that wheels, balls and clocks are all circles; but, so sophisticated that it nearly takes a PhD in mathematics to understand and use it.

It takes a bit more sophistication, but not much, to know that you can divide it into segments, either equal or not; and, that when the segments are uniform they "look right," like spokes of a wheel and numbers on a clock, when they aren't, they don't.

Ask any middle-school child to do a "one-eighty" and see if they understand or a skate-boarder if they can do a "three-sixty." There will not be a moments hesitation.

Very little after first grade do we learn that the big hand is half-way between one and two when it's "one thirty." But talk about "degrees" and you had better be referring to wearing a coat or eyes will roll and corneas will glaze over.

Why are there 360 degrees in a circle? …

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Great Basin SUV Trails: Southern Nevada

Well it's done. There are some great SUV ATV offroad trails in the new map; but, I have to say that it's completion was pretty much through obsessive-compulsive cussedness. It wasn't an excessive amount of fun.

If I'm not riding, then going through others' rides and coding them for all to see — I like; sweating through and correcting errors, clarifying directions and filling in omissions – not so much!

I've spent the past month or so gleaning location information for trails from a book that I've had on the shelf for some time: "Great Basin SUV Trails, Vol 1 Southern Nevada."

I have to say that finding some errors and feeling that I needed to verify every waypoint…

Friday, June 4, 2010

GEO-tography: The West

While researching for ATV-SUV map posts, I often run across landscape photographs which are so striking that they cause me to stop and look. I often don't have a place for them in an article but save them away to pull out and look at while trying to think of a next place to ride.

Once in awhile, not often enough, the photographer will have either geocoded or described the location of the image and I can look it up in Google Earth. That makes it even more enjoyable.

On the scale of what we normally enjoy to look at in photographs, items roughly rank: people we know and where we live right before where we've been and what we like to do.

In the manner of my previous "lichen" post I thought I'd dust off a few of my favorite "where we live, where we've been and what we like to do" images and see what you think. All are in the western U.S. and if you click on the author link you can see the full entry on the authors web site.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

SUV ATV Trails Near Boulder City

Entering all the waypoints and hand-drawing all the trails in the book "Great Basin SUV Trails, Vol 1 Southern Nevada seems to be never ending."

I mentioned that I purchased the book because it looked like it had trails which could be ridden by ATVs as well as the SUVs that author Roger Mitchell talks about.

Additionally, it is one of the only books about the Great Basin's geology and history…