Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Mountain, a Reservoir and a Giant Arrow

Sometimes I have really good ideas.  Sometimes those really good ideas turn out to be more hardcore than I planned.  (Robyn would probably say it's more often than sometimes.)

This past weekend, I wanted to implement one of my fantastic ideas.  You see, there are these giant arrows all over the country.  They were built by an ancient civilization called the United States Government.  This ancient civilization had planes flying across the continent, and these planes didn't have GPS devices.  (I know, we're talking about a primitive culture.)  So they built giant arrows along the flight route so that planes could see them from the sky, and know they were on track.  (Click here for more info about these arrows.)

Most of the arrows are gone.  The areas have been developed, or they've been torn down for other reasons.  But there are some that remain.  They are overgrown with weeds and falling apart, but they're still there.  I found one on Google Maps and decided I wanted to go stand on it.

I didn't even tell Robyn what we were doing.  I just told her that I wanted to cross something off my bucket list, and we headed out into the wilderness.

I came armed with Google Maps.  I had looked at a satellite photo and I thought it looked like we could just drive along a dirt road and get there pretty easily.  Looking at the satellite images now, it seems obvious that the arrow is on the top of a mountain.  But, that just didn't occur to me before getting there.

We started along the dirt road only to discover very quickly that it went up a pretty steep mountain.  There was no way we were driving to it.

I told Robyn  I just wanted to run to the top and see if I could see it on the other side.  She was not interested, so she waited in the car.

It didn't even occur to me that what I was proposing was running up a mountain and that that would have been impossible a year ago.  But I did it.  I ran straight up.

I figured I'd get to the top and be able to look down on a gradual decline down into a valley where I would find the arrow.  That's not what I found.  I stood on the edge of a cliff looking down on Quail Creek Reservoir.  It was a serendipitous discovery because it was beautiful.

 I still thought the arrow was on the other side of the mountain because I figured I hadn't walked far enough to be there.  So I decided to walk along the edge of the cliff and see if I could look down on it.  And, if so, we'd find that other road near the reservoir and get to it that way.

I walked along the cliff for about 10 minutes with no luck.  That's when it occurred to me to pull out Google Maps, since I had the GPS coordinates of the arrow.  I pulled out my phone and it showed me that I was about 100 feet from the arrow.  It turns out that even a giant cement slab is not visible from very far away when there are rocks and bushes and weeds all around.  My good friend Google lead me there, and I found the giant arrow.
This was my first view of the arrow.  It slopes up the hill so you can't really tell it's an arrow from the bottom.

This is the very tip of it pointing at my feet.

The head of the arrow pointing at me.

It wouldn't be complete without a selfie.

Technically, my bucket list said, "Stand on a giant arrow." So I had to get a selfie doing just that.
There are a few important things we can learn from this story.  Most importantly, pay attention to details like whether there is a mountain in your way when planning an adventure.  But almost equally as important:  When you find there's a mountain in your way, don't let that stop you.


  1. This is awesome. Btw, when we were in Utah visiting my fam we went to the chocolate exhibit because you guys showed us

  2. This is a super fun bucket list idea! Now I have a real need to go find some old air mail arrows too.

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  4. I often use google earth to find what I *think* will be a cool place to be a photo shoot. Often times I am right and it is exactly what I imagined from looking at aerial imagery. Other times I get there and it is not at all what I thought it would be. Am overhead view is usually not a very good indication of what something will look like in real life.

  5. Which route was this arrow on?

    Since you were on your way to Set. George, it doesn't seen to match up with the New York/San Francisco map.

    1. I'm not sure what route it was. All I know is that it's a great big arrow. :)


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