Dots, Crushes

Everydot: North Dakota. Earlier this summer, I drove to and from Minnesota. The route passes through North Dakota, of course, and so I had to work on my project of photographing every town in that state. I spent a solid day photographing dots on a diagonal path from Marmarth, North Dakota to Lemmon, South Dakota and North Lemmon, North Dakota. The most challenging dot to photograph was Petrel, North Dakota, which I reached by driving along US 12 in South Dakota, taking a gravel road back into North Dakota, and then walking half mile along a grassy path.

The next day turned out rainy, so I headed in the direction of home. On my eastward trip, I’d really hoped to find some big old brick hotel in some downtown where I could get a cheap room with a bathroom down the hall. I knew such a thing had once existed and figured it might still. I saw a brick hotel in Lewistown, Montana, but I didn’t feel much like quitting for the day when it was only 2pm. In Sand Springs, I saw a billboard for the Northern Hotel in Winnett, 44 miles in the opposite direction. I ended up driving to Miles City, since I new there was a big old hotel there, the Olive Hotel. I went to the counter and was delighted to find that they still had rooms available. I was less delighted when I discovered I’d be staying in the Olive Motel across the street.

On the way back to Seattle, I passed up an old wooden hotel in Scobey and passed by an old brick hotel in Plentywood that I only now discovered existed. Instead, I ended up a hundred miles down the road in a smoking room an icky 1980s hotel. The next night, however, I ended up at the Ryan Hotel in Wallace, Idaho, purely by chance. It was exactly what I was looking for, and was unrenovated except for the added convenience of a toilet and shower in the room (in place of the next room over’s giant closet perhaps?).

Touhey, Washington

Everydot: Douglas County, Washington. This past weekend, I drove across the Cascades into eastern Washington. I exited I-90 at George, Washington and drove northward. I was again on a search for old brick hotels, and this time I vowed to stop and get a room no matter how early in the day. Early in the evening I hit Waterville and came upon the striking Waterville Hotel. I met Dave and Amy, who run the place, and Dave gave me a tour of the place and directions to Alstown. On the way there, I passed a very dry cemetery surrounded by miles of stubbly fields. The next day, I photographed almost every town in Douglas County. I returned to the Waterville where I sat out on the porch, recalled the day’s adventures, and had some wine and cheese (all of which was a nice change from sitting on a smoky motel bed and eating a microwaved sandwich).

Another Secret Crush. Back in April I discovered a 20+ year old Orange Crush bottle inexplicably sitting in a flower box. This weekend, while looking to see if anything remained of Matthiesen, Washington, I found an old garbage dump. Whoever was dumping their garbage there was a fan of orange soda, and in particular, Orange Crush. I had to grab a fairly well-preserved Crush can just because it was such an odd occurrence.

Geodata. On my Douglas County trip, I brought along my old Garmin eTrex Legend handheld GPS unit. I hadn’t done anything with geotagging before, but I figured I’d haul the unit around and see if I could get anything out of it later. Before I left I went to the tracklog menu and saved what was already there, hoping that I might be able to get geodata from past trips where the GPS rode around in my car. A few days after I got back, I decided to pull off the tracklogs. What I ended up with was about 2/3 of my most recent trip timestamped and ready to be synced with my photos, plus the trips I saved (from 2003, as it turns out) sans timestamps. Rather counterintuitively, saving the tracklogs on this unit preserves some data while destroying others.

The timestamped tracklogs got synced perfectly thanks to Since I’d already uploaded the photos to Flickr, I synced those separately, with GPSTagr. This was great, because I ended up with all the photos I took on a map.

Now I wanted to do this for the other 6000+ Everydot photos I’d taken. I figured I’d be able to get geodata for them by connecting the tags I’d put on them with a place name database and adding that via the Flickr API. I downloaded the database from the USGS’s Geographic Names Information Service. For places in Canada, I used Natural Resources Canada’s Geographical Name Search Service. All this was glued together with a Ruby script, and before long, nearly all of my 430 or so Everydots were geotagged.

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