Friday, 10 September 2010

Google Fly

Today I went all over the world on Google Maps. As usual, it started with an innocuous email about the "Largest Emerald In North America Found on Carolina Farm."
First I went to Hiddenite, North Carolina to see the place where they found this extremely large, clear emerald that they have named the "Carolina Emperor."
It is "an emerald so large it's being compared with the crown jewels of Russian empress Catherine the Great" and to think it "was pulled from a pit near corn rows at a North Carolina farm." But this is not unusual for the area because "big, uncut crystals and even notable gem-quality emeralds have come from the community 50 miles northwest of Charlotte called Hiddenite." This, I had to see. Although, just what I expected to see, I don't know. Truly, I only went on Google Maps because I know someone in West Virginia, near Charlotte, West Virginia, and I just wanted to see how close to that place was this fabulous new find.

Of course, when on Google maps, one place leads to another and before I knew it, I was in Calgary, then Venice, Italy, then the Strait of Gibraltar (my husband's suggestion).

Strait of Gibraltar, Snagged from Google Maps

It was while standing on the highway on the hill at the Strait of Gibraltar, with the cows there with me, the grasslands rolling away on my right to the sheep in the valley and the palms trees all in a row along the edge of the road that I lamented the fact that I could only see a small glimpse of the water over there - where the road does not go and where I can see the tip of the continent of Africa - that I thought to myself I wish I could fly up in the air right now and look down at the Strait of Gibraltar. Google Fly. I know Google Earth has a similar thing, but it is not as wonderful as being able to lift off from the ground, eh? They could take the photos from airplanes and let you fly around tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Vatican, the pyramids and, yes, Hiddenite, North Carolina. (I have since discovered that there is a much better vantage point for seeing the Strait of Gibraltar down the road, but this is where I had my brilliant idea.)
So, then I went to Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada and tried to look at the lake - again the road only goes up to the hotel and you see all the people gawking at the Google Earth camera. (There should be a Facebook group just for those people who have been photographed by the Google Earth camera. Once I Google Earthed to New York City and I saw a guy scratching his head with one hand while holding the leash to his dog with the other hand and his little Jack Russell Terrier is peeing on a fire hydrant. Could have been a Norman Rockwell painting. I noticed that even the face of the dog was blurred out. This led to a conversation with my daughter that evening whence I suggested that she might find a job at Google as a face blurrer - imagine how much work that is!)
Port Alice, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Next I went up to Port Alice, Vancouver Island and it was while on my way to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, that I remembered about the Continental Divide. So cool. So I tried to Google it, but all I got was a sign, which is what we saw when we were in Banff, Alberta and we drove by just such a sign that said "Continental Divide" or something and my husband said "Get a picture!" So I am shooting out the window at what looked like a flat place, high up in the mountains, where the water can't decide which way it will flow down the mountain, and it pools and eddies here and there, starting a bit of a river for a while, going a distance and then pooling again, until it finally goes down off one side or the other of the mountain. .

They could have a contest with boats to see which side your boat ends up taking, because whichever side the water goes down determines where it will end up - in the Atlantic, the Pacific or the Arctic Ocean. Figuring this out just now has been a giant epiphany for me because I never really understood it before. They should have Google Earth in front of every geography student, instead of a blackboard. My husband says they should also have "Google Boats" and my daughter says "Google Cruise!" then my youngest daughter say "Google Space!"  Ah, the future will be grand, I expect.

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