Google may be a huge evil empire of doom, but their maps are invaluable. OpenStreetMap is great as an open source mapping tool, but right now, for being able to see a place you want to visit, Google Earth + Google Maps can’t be beat.
And here is proof of this. This is Lake Inawashiro, a big lake in the middle of central Japan, northwest of Tokyo. I was putzing around on the maps, looking for a place to stay on the night of May 11th in the Koriyama area. Turns out the train takes 90 minutes to get to the lake, and then it’s a 5-mile walk along the lakeshore to the campground near Oyamazumi Shrine.
So yea, that’s where you’re likely to find me that night. Of course, it’s a Saturday so it may be booked with campers. I’m not sure how that works over there, what with 6-day work weeks and 6-day school weeks. Once I translate the name of the campground (I think it’s a very creative “Beach Road” – 浜路 hamaji – or something like that), then I’ll if I can find out the necessaries.
But oh my god. What a view. From the beach, I think; the campground may be a field off the road, inland a bit, a way for some rural landowner to make money when not many other options exist. I’m cool with that. I can walk to the beach. And a lot of the road over is right along the water. (From what I can see on Google Earth, the campground may be the only section along the road not on the water. Oh well.)
I’m taking lots of screenshots of Earth and maps, not just for planning purposes but to compare with my own photos and videos when I return. I want to improve my skills at planning for future travels. Not to script entire journeys but to take away unnecessary anxiety in situ. I have had many vacations in life, but I have had severe anxiety almost all my years.
Also, I can help add to the user-supplied database that is OpenStreetMap and I can add walking routes to Komoot and other walking/biking mapping apps. Last year, sitting at my desk, using various tools, I was able to correct a map of a rural road in Japan that will help cyclists avoid a dangerous stretch of highway. That was cool.
Plus, it’s fun as hell to sit at my desk with an ice storm shutting down this city and to get an idea of where I am likely to be in just a few months. And someday I might be able to cycle there and take a lap around the lake.
And this is just one place of the many I’m planning to see in May. I’m looking forward to planning for those as well.