The Winthrop Expedition

September 12, 1998

Dear Readers,

In order to satisfy a deep-seated desire (some say compulsion ;o) to see the locations I wrote about in my Gravity Music stories, I went to the actual places (as close as possible), GPS receiver and camera in hand. Here are some of the pictures I took, and some of my observations.

When I wrote the stories, I used what maps I had available and my trusty copy of Street Atlas USA (Ver. 3.0 DeLorme Software). I guessed a lot as to what the actual terrain looked like and, as writers do, added whatever literary license was necessary to make things work. All-in-all, I don't think I did too badly, though you be the judge!

Here is a picture of the Small Park Howard stopped at on his way to the rendezvous point. This is also the first GPS location given in the story. The park is just a small strip of grass with picnic tables, wedged between a truck stop and a dance-hall, called for obvious reasons, "The Red Barn". To tell the truth, the park was a figment of my imagination. Imagine my surprise to find a real park not 30 meters from the coordinates given!

Proceeding up the road mentioned in the story, I came to the first turn, about two kilometers from the park. The pavement ended here. On the map I used, this road was un-named, but had a US Forest Service number. Surprise number two! According to the road-sign, the branching road that Howard would have taken is named "Rendezvous Road"! Spooky! The contrast on the picture is not very good, but if you get your nose right up to your monitor, you can read it.

I proceeded up the road to the coordinates given for Howard's fateful meeting and with considerable disappointment found a grassy hill-side where there should have been forest. Driving another 2 kilometers up the road the terrain changed to look exactly (well almost) as described in the story. Here's a picture of where Howard met Aarrl. The main difference between reality and fiction is botanical. I had imagined a typical temperate Douglas Fir forest, but the trees at the meeting location were pine.

Ok, out of the car and into the woods! The going got a bit steep, but after a few kilometers, winding around the side of Lewis Butte, I came across another Forest Service road verging on a steep-sided Valley. This would be the Landing Zone for the Sennal shuttle and the spot on which Howard forged the Portal. It was not too hard to imagine this scene blanketed in winter snow and illuminated by a near-full moon.

Soon, I'll be revising " Don't Go Into the Woods Today" to reflect some of my observations. Also, I have a lot more pictures I took along the way. If you're interested, e-mail me and I'll post a few more.

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