Geohashing and Wind Turbines

Champaign's May 31 geohashing coordinates fell between the runways at Willard Airport, so I could not have made it without breaking several trespassing laws. Fortunately, I was also driving to Chicago for a concert, so I could take the back roads past Aurora, Illinois' graticule instead. The coordinates fell in a remote region of farms about an hour and 45 minutes directly north of Champaign.

The drive was sublime. The sky was clear, and the fields were just beginning to turn green. I had the windows and sunroof open the entire time.

Near Gibson City I saw dozens of wind turbines spinning on the horizon. I turned and drove to get a closer look. They were further away than I had expected; I drove at least five miles before meeting the first.

My car sitting on the access road beneath a wind turbine

As I got closer, more and more turbines appeared over the treetops.

Many wind turbines. I count about 80. Wind turbines in a field A wind turbine towering over a farm

I had no idea that such a large wind farm existed so close to Champaign. According to Horizon Wind Energy, the Twin Groves Wind Farm, of which I saw only a part, covers 22,000 acres and produces 396 megawatts with 240 turbines. The American Wind Energy Association says that Twin Groves produces about half of Illinois' wind power.

After driving among the windmills like an ant among giant flowers, I resumed the trip north to the geohashing coordinates. The precise point fell in a cornfield near Campus, Illinois, population 145. To reach the field, I drove down a poorly-marked but well-maintained gravel road.

The gravel road leading to the geohashing coordinates The field containing the geohashing coordinates My GPS showing my arrival at the geohashing coordinates

I was not surprised that no other XKCD readers were there since I arrived about 30 minutes late and the coordinates were so far away from everything. I did not hike into the field this time.

A pickup truck passed as I was getting back into my car. The driver rolled down his window and asked if anything was wrong. I thought about how I could explain geohashing but instead told him I just stopped to take some pictures.

From there, I slowly made it back to the main roads and arrived in Chicago in time for the concert.


TheSquire Says:

You sure that’s downtown Campus? It’s been a while since I’ve driven through in the daylight, but I’m 99.95% sure that’s actually downtown Chatsworth, which is the town south of Campus.

Brett Says:

Good catch, TheSquire! Thanks! The picture I posted was indeed of Chatsworth. My memory got confused by the map in the GPS picture. I have removed the picture from the text and corrected the picture caption in the gallery.

Tatiana Says:

Hey, I noticed from the wiki you have these neat pink flags for the geohash! Where do you get flags like them? They’re a fantastic idea.

Btw I hope you come to the next Chicago meetup, on the 21st!

Brett Says:

I’m glad you like the idea, Tatiana. They are the small plastic-and-metal flags that utility workers use to mark power and gas lines. I got them from the local hardware store for about $1.50 for a pack of 10. I wrote the coordinates, date, and geohashing URL with a normal permanent marker.

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