Friday, October 16, 2009

'Road' Trip

To put this post into context: I was using Google Maps to check the driving distance between our parent's homes and a few US cities in which I am applying for academic positions and - don't ask me why - I happened to ask my favourite website to 'plot a course' from Brisbane to Grimsby Ontario. GoogleMaps gave me the option to either 'walk' or 'drive'. Naturally I chose to drive because I can't walk on water. My proposed trip was determined in a split second:

I will travel 25, 146 km and it will take 'about 55 days and 20 hours'. As always, Google provided a wonderful list of 150 'driving' directions taking me across Australia and then to Japan and Hawaii before a pleasant drive across the American mainland and across the Niagara border to Grimsby. The absolute highlight of the trip will be the kayaking. I'll quote some directions in red.

41. Turn left to stay on Myilly Tce, about 1 min, 0.3 km
42. Kayak across the Pacific Ocean, Entering Japan, about 17 days and 8 hours, 5404 km
43. Turn right, about 5 min, 0.6 km (It's wonderful to get a heads up about the right turn straight out of my kayak in Japan. I don't speak the language so getting local directions might have proven difficult - there are about 60 twists and turns while we cross Japan before reaching the Pacific Ocean again).
105. Kayak across the Pacific Ocean, Entering United States (Hawaii), about 20 days 0 hours, 6243 km (I'm assuming Kate comes with me of course because that's a lot of paddling. - after quick drive through Hawaii, hopefully some dinner and obviously a kayak re-supply - GoogleMaps directs us back to the Pacific.).
119. Kayak across the Pacific Ocean, Entering Washington, 14 days 5 hours
120.Sharp right at N North Lake Way, 1.6 km

I just can't read the phrase: 'kayak across the pacific ocean' enough. I love the whole concept. And I really think that this final kayak trip will be a breeze compared to the first two; assuming that the weather holds up. Plus we're kayaking to and from the USA so maybe we can avoid customs somehow,. Again I appreciate the courtesy of a heads up about the 'sharp right turn' when we hit land in Washington. Sounds like it could be treacherous. And regarding the 'ocean weather' I should mention that Google's directions are '... for planning purposes only... construction projects, traffic, weather or other events may cause conditions to differ from the map results'. Good point G! But assuming the weather is good, we should finish with a wonderful drive across the states. And they even suggest some 'Grimsby Hotel' options on arrival which we obviously wouldn't need.

Okay. To be honest, when I first glanced at these directions I thought the drive-kayak-drive-kayak-drive-kayak-drive combination was a bit ridiculous. My main concern naturally was the obvious absence of a car at the end of first drive-kayak part. I mean, realistically I would need some sort of kayak-car-machine, a paddle-boat-with-wheels, something out of a Bond film. But since Google suggested it - and Google is pretty awesome - I gave them the benefit of the doubt and I typed 'kayak on wheels' into their image search. Wouldn't you know it - Jeep makes just the thing:

I will have fun out there! Thank you. But the skeptic inside of me noticed something suspicious here. With all of the potential ocean-crossing options for intercontinental travellers these days, it seems like an odd coincidence for Google to suggest the drive-kayak-combo and for Jeep to just happen to offer an an appropriate vehicle. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Google and Jeep were secretly owned by by the same person.

In all honesty I really do love both Google (and Jeep ;). And I would love to meet the software people behind my 'proposed ocean crossings' - you can't tell me that they don't enjoy their jobs.

1 comment:

Katie said...

Hilarious! I agree, that whoever came up with this stuff was having lots of fun!