09-Oct-1999 -- I managed to talk Liz out of doing
more housework and taking a drive into the country with me. It was an
easy argument, so about fifteen minutes later I put some film in the
camera and got some fresh batteries for my GPS receiver and we were on
Even though my car has a navigation system, I didn't have an exact
the point. So we stopped at the supermarket to buy the Thomas' Guide.
The guide I had was not only aging, but didn't cover Snohomish County.
From my hometown (Redmond, Washington), we drove north on WA-202 and
connected with WA-9 in Woodinville. WA-9 goes straight up, past the west
side of Lake Stevens.
Based on Liz' reading of the map, we'd connect to US-2 and circle
around to find South Machias Road, which would take us toward the
general vicinity of the confluence. Unfortunately, there was no exit
ramp and we ended up back in
It was pretty easy to circle around through the town, though. We
followed the map in the guidance system and the guide and found our way.
Maple Avenue turns into Machias Road right at the start of the
Trail, and parallels the
Where Machias road goes under US-2, there's a snappy facility for the
area's model airplane club. It's complete with a fieldhouse and a paved
runway! Just after the bridge, there's also a huge fieldhouse with a
boldly painted "Snohomish County Sherrif's Posse". It was worth a good
laugh, though I'd figure that the group would have some real
I noticed around this point that the latitude and longitude display
on my car had stopped updating, even though the car's position on the
displayed map was refreshing correctly. That made it a little difficult
to feel confident in our navigation, as it's hard to read my hand-held
GPS receiver in the car. The car provides more than enough shielding to
prevent tracking more than a couple satellites.
Soon enough, we found the Machias Cutoff, and that led us to the
OK Mill Road. These country roads were just a joy, though there was
plenty of slow traffic to prevent me from truly enjoying my car.
At a wide spot on OK Mill Road, we stopped and read the handheld GPS.
After a few minutes, we were finally getting a stable reading, but began
second-guessing the map we had obtained from the
Maps-on-Us site. Liz confused me a
little by insisting that the spot might be a little further north, on
Utley Road. But I finally decided it would be worth at least checking
the original point we picked.
We hooked around onto Price road, and within a couple hundred yards
found the sign for 2nd Street NE. I parked the car and crossed
Price Road again to take Photo #2. That picture is looking across Price
Road at the sign for 2nd Street and the private 171st Avenue NE.
You can see my Porsche parked in the bushes on 2nd, and Liz is following
the GPS through the gate on 171st Avenue.
I was amused to find a Proposed Land Use Action sign on the gate to
171st Avenue. Apparently, one of the property owners is disputing the
boundary line of their property. Maybe the surveyors were confused by
the nice, round numbers in the area! I popped Picture #3 showing the
sign announcing the action.
About 200 feet along 171st Avenue, the hand-held started stabilizing
around 122 west and 48 North. We were really close! The status screen
of the unit told us that the tall trees in the area were causing lots of
problems with a good reading. After a few minutes of trial and error,
and a few more minutes of triangluation, we figured that the exact
convergence lies behind an impenetrable wall of blackberry bushes. In
Photo #1, Liz is showing-off the GPS at our best reading. The exact
convergence is over her left shoulder, probably about 35 feet into the
The underexposed clearing towards the left edge of Photo #1 looks
back towards the location where I took Picture #2. We're not very far
down 171st Avenue. The gravel-covered lane ends in a private residence.
I hope we didn't disturb the residents; I didn't notice any signs
(though, now that I look at the pictures, I see that 171st Avenue is
marked as a private road!) and don't think we caused any concern. I was
dreading the chance we might meet someone and have to explain our
incredibly arbitrary, but really amusing, quest.
Before heading back to the car, I snapped a picture of our handheld
showing 122 degrees, 0.007 minutes west, and 48 degrees, 0.009 minutes
north. That's Picture #4.
Back at the car, I fired up the engine and let the navigation system
reinitialize. (Somehow, that technique never occured to me back when I
first noticed the system's failure to update.) In Picture #5, you can
see the display. The car only found one satellite, but figures it's
exactly at 48 degrees north and only one second west of our target! The
car doesn't show a position because we're off the digitzed CD-ROM map.
And that's it! We drove home and had a late lunch. We're thrilled to
have the first point in Washington State, and look forward to logging at
least a few more.