Thursday, August 25, 2011


Friends, here are the long awaited maps of my travels in Grand Rapids.

This first map is from my map book and is a map of the city boundaries.
Each number represents a page in the map book. Last year, I decided that it was easiest to complete a whole page as a more satisfying indicator of progress, both for you and me. So far, I have completed two pages, with good progress toward two more. There are scattered walks on other pages from my first year and incidental walking. By the end of this summer, I will likely have completed four pages with progress on more. This will total 300 miles of walking, more than half way to the goal of walking the length of every street in Grand Rapids.

To give you an idea of the number of streets on each page, here are the detail maps of my completed pages.

These pages, 26 and 27, represent the majority of the 200 miles of my first two years. These are also possibly the most densely covered pages in the map book, along with page 29.

So, why so old school from a techie? Scans of paper pages from a map book, from a company that no longer produces maps? I have mentioned in previous posts that I find this convenient for the task at hand and here is why. There are lots of mapping programs out there, but I have found none for the kind of walking that I am doing, both in volume and logistically.

In my travels, I often find that I have to back-track, mostly as a result of the Traveling Salesman problem. More specifically, this is a special version of a Hamiltonian Cycle called an Eulerian Circuit, in which I wish to travel the length of every street. Visit the links for the geeky details, or take this less detailed explanation: It is really hard to walk a set of streets in any city and end up back at your car without walking a lot of streets twice. The simplest example is walking down a dead end street - there is only one way back. There are lots of blocks where it is possible to return to my car without repeating streets, but many more where it is not possible. The simple example most people have seen is the envelope puzzle. In this case, the circuit is possible, though may be difficult.

So, I have a paper map and a marker that help me log my walks. I do track miles in Google Maps and record them in a spreadsheet, with the name of each street walked. While many smartphone apps will also log miles, none help to eliminate the extra backtracking from the calculations. None, that I have found, has the ability to record every street walked on one map without difficulty.

I am working on a Google Map with polygons blocked off in KML, to show areas walked, but that is proving more difficult than I had anticipated. If anyone knows of a good solution for my problem, please leave a comment and I will gladly follow up.

More importantly, all of this mapping, walking and logging is for a reason: to raise money for the MS Society. Please follow the Donate link to their safe site and make a donation to this worthy cause. For the suspicious, the donate link can be validated by searching directly on the MS Society's website. I am registered as a virtual rider for the National MS Society · Michigan Chapter TeaMS in the 2011 Virtual Bike MS.

Though making a donation at my site helps me track progress and gives me incentive to continue my walks, any donation to the MS Society is great. If donating money is not an option right now, please consider passing on this website to a friend.


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