Ten Years of 12MC

On November 5, 2017 · 24 Comments

Ten years is a long time to do anything. I knew this day would finally come and I’ve watched it looming on the horizon for the last several months, with decidedly mixed feelings.



Scenes from Within the Twelve Mile Circle

The very first article on Twelve Mile Circle appeared on November 6, 2007. I never suspected this site would last another decade. I’ll bet it probably survived longer than 99% of blogs, a steady stream of articles as the years quickly passed. I watched my older son go from kindergarten to high school during that period, and my younger son from diapers to middle school. Somehow the list of potential topics in the hopper always hovered around a hundred and I never suffered from writer’s block.


That’s a Wrap


Irish Tripoint
Irish Tripoint

Every good thing must come to an end eventually and the tenth anniversary seemed like a nice place to pull the plug. Originally I planned to take this thing out to twelve years so I could say 12MC went "full circle." However, last summer when I repeated an article, it flipped a mental switch within me. I knew I needed to wrap this thing up. The details for this decision don’t really matter. My life is a lot more complicated now than it was ten years ago and it’s become increasingly difficult to find enough time to put the necessary quality into each article. I’ll leave it at that. I probably should have done it sooner.


12MC Won’t Disappear Completely


Center of the Nation
Center of the Nation

Twelve Mile Circle won’t be updated twice a week anymore. I’m going to take a break for awhile and when I’m ready I’ll start publishing again. That may not happen until after the holidays. I’m not sure. Maybe something really interesting will come up before then and I’ll want to share it.

It won’t be the same site, though. Future articles will cover things like my travel adventures and my county counting efforts. They will include periodic updates on my numerous obsessive-compulsive lists (like ferries, lighthouses, breweries, fortresses, and waterfalls). Also, be assured that anytime I personally visit a notable geo-oddity I’ll want to rush to the keyboard to tell everyone about it. Even so, I won’t be posting regularly. Articles will appear on their own schedule, when I feel like it.

What readers won’t see, however, are the types of articles that served as the backbone of this site for all these years. That’s what most people came here to see so I apologize in advance because I’m sure I’ll disappoint a lot of you with the new direction. I’ll always have that back catalog of 1,409 articles in the Complete Index though. Hopefully that will ease the pain a bit.


Keeping in Touch


Jerimoth Hill
Rhode Island Elevation Highpoint

Some of you may still want to follow along. It probably won’t make sense to check the front page looking for new articles. Updates won’t happen that often. I’ll suggest some ways to follow along, though. New articles links will always be posted on the world’s lamest twitter account, TheReal12MC. You can also use an old school News Reader to subscribe to the RSS feed. Or we can part ways amicably with no hard feelings.


A Big Thank You


Four Corners
Four Corners AZ, CO, NM, UT

Twelve Mile Circle was always my own thing. I wrote it specifically as a way to get away from the stress of the outside world while pursuing a few natural curiosities. This never became a popularity contest, of trying to attract the greatest number of eyeballs. It always amazed me that anyone else would ever want to read it at all, much less follow it faithfully. I appreciated all of the thoughtful and respectful comments too. In all of those years I had to block only a single troll from the site.

I’m glad many of you enjoyed the last decade and maybe a few of you will even stick around for what’s to follow. I wish each of you the best and hope your personal pursuit of geo-oddities brings a lifetime of joy.

Five Years of Searching

On March 15, 2015 · 1 Comments

Twelve Mile Circle featured an article with the curious title Search for Search and Other Tales about two years ago. This effort examined a year’s worth of search queries that people entered into the website. To be clear as before, these weren’t random searches from Google or other sources, these were actual words or phrases typed individually into the little search bar on the top-right corner of the 12MC homepage. I was curious to see if conditions had changed in the intervening period. Because it was raining yesterday and because I was bored and didn’t have anything better to do, I reexamined the data for a five year period. I’m nothing if not obsessed.


Cornfield
Cornfield by Daniel_Bauer, on Flickr (cc)

I compiled the results and made them available in a shared spreadsheet. Feel free to see what hidden gems you can uncover in the 1000+ distinct search terms entered by readers, ranging from Time Zone (214 occurrences) to a plethora of single instances ending with Zipper. I did my best to combine entries that were variations on a theme, for example counting Exclave and Exclaves as the same item. I’m sure there were many typos in the list although don’t blame me, blame the people who typed them into the search box originally. I corrected some of the blatantly obvious ones although I didn’t go down the list line-by-line.

Mathematically, at a rough order of magnitude, it came out to about three queries per day. The Top-15 changed a bit using the longer time period, with "Search" bumping down to the second position:

  • 214 Time Zone
  • 196 Search
  • 134 Exclave/s
  • 107 Canada
  • 105 Emanating
  • 103 Cornfield
  • 72 Recede
  • 66 Tombolo/s
  • 60 Cartography
  • 49 County/ies
  • 47 Iowa
  • 32 Ferry/ies
  • 32 Smallest
  • 31 Capital/ol/s
  • 31 Minnesota

Cornfield still surprised me. I couldn’t understand the fascination with cornfields, and I suspected it might have related to cornfield mazes? It didn’t represent a spike or surge either. The term popped-up regularly year-after-year from many different readers, places and sources. OK, I got it. Expect a 12MC article on cornfields.

I noticed a handful of entertaining and sometimes baffling entries as I combed through the data.

  • Toilet. Several people apparently appreciated bathroom humor. I had an article for that: Lowest Public Restroom in North America.
  • 12 Mile Radius Around Yateley: This was an example of a type of query I’ve called "oddly specific" in previous instances. For this query to be effective, not only would 12MC have needed an article on Yateley (a small town in Hampshire, England – map), it would have also needed to discussed a very specific radius around it, like the purpose of 12MC was literally about nothing but drawing twelve mile circles.
  • Difference Between Lettuce and Lattice. Seriously?

An interesting Easter Egg appeared in the query log after I discussed this topic the last time: "Why is he obsessed with what people search?"

I’m afraid I don’t have an answer.


Completely Unrelated

Topics for 12MC drop into my brain from many different places. Still, they don’t generally derive from dreams. I had that happen for the first time a few nights ago. I thought of an absolutely amazing article topic while I was dreaming, and in the dream I actually had the wherewithal to understand that I needed to write it down before I forgot. Half awake, I put pen to paper and went back to sleep.

It was about a map. Maps have become insanely popular on the Intertubes. I can write 12MC for years and gather a handful of faithful readers. Anyone with a collection of pretty maps will gain thousands of readers almost instantaneously. As I recall I was excited about the possibilities during my dream. My enthusiasm waned once I examined my note in the light of day. My brilliant idea? A map of places where people use chopsticks.

Maybe dreams aren’t the best source for article topics.

2015 Travel Plans

On January 28, 2015 · 7 Comments

Twelve Mile Circle has some bold travel plans for 2015 if I do say so myself. I’ll keep it domestic this year unlike 2014 although I might cross the border into Canada briefly during one of the trips. As always, I welcome assistance as I begin my initial planning. Please feel free to offer comments or suggestions if any of my upcoming targets match your vast travel experiences. You all know what I like: weird geography; obscure parks; quirky roadside attractions; unusual boundaries and easy highpoints. The usual stuff. I’ve been able to visit several places suggested by users that I didn’t know about previously (e.g., Capulin Volcano National Monument) and I thoroughly enjoyed them.


Great Allegheny Passage



My travel season will begin with the Great Allegheny Passage. This trail was cobbled together from several abandoned railroad lines formerly operated by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, Union Railroad and the Western Maryland Railway. Now the GAP is a 150 mile (240 kilometre) hiking and biking trail between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cumberland, Maryland. I plan to bike the length of the GAP on a long weekend sometime in mid/late April with a friend, the exact date depending on when the Big Savage Tunnel opens for the season.

The GAP should offer riverside passages, amazing tunnels and bridges, and wonderful scenery. I also hope to stop at Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater as well as the town of Confluence, which was featured on 12MC awhile ago.


Cape Cod


Cape Cod, Massachusetts (NASA, International Space Station Science, 05/08/07)
Cape Cod, Massachusetts (NASA, International Space Station Science, 05/08/07)
by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, on Flickr (cc)

Cape Cod will happen in mid-May. I’ve never been to the cape before so that’s sufficient justification right there. It will also coincide with a significant wedding anniversary so that actually provides the real impetus. With luck, I might also be able to pick up Dukes and/or Nantucket Counties. Those are two difficult pickups and I’d love to add them to my county counting list. I also hope to add to my lighthouse and ferry lists.


Thousand Islands


IMG40D_0811-1
Zavikon Island by Sergio, on Flickr (cc)

This one is less definite than the others. We’re thinking seriously about touring the Thousand Islands region between New York and Ontario, sometime in mid-July. The early plan was to find a spot within a day’s drive of Washington, DC and this seemed like an interesting place that I’d never explored before. This trip could just as easily switch to New York’s Lake Erie coastline or perhaps to one of the Finger Lakes we’ve not seen before, instead. It depends on what we find during our research and what seems most interesting.


Center of the Nation



This trip will follow the path designated by Mainly Marathons, specifically their Center of the Nation Series in September. Previously 12MC covered my adventures during their Dust Bowl series and their Riverboat series, plus two races at their Appalachian series. Once again I will stress that I am not a runner, I am the driver who transports a runner from one location to another. I would never imply or pretend that I had the stamina for something this extreme. However, rumor has it that I might partake in the 5K option each day during the series this time. That way I won’t feel guilty about snacking on all of their goodies at the start/finish line like I’ve been doing at previous races.

This time it’s six races in six states in six days. My driving duties will add an entire raft of new counties in some rather obscure areas of the United States to my lifetime list. The races will be held at,

  • Day 1 (Sept. 14): Baker, Montana
  • Day 2 (Sept. 15): Bowman, North Dakota
  • Day 3 (Sept. 16): Belle Fourche, South Dakota
  • Day 4 (Sept. 17): Sundance, Wyoming
  • Day 5 (Sept. 18): Chadron, Nebraska
  • Day 6 (Sept. 19): Sterling, Colorado

I can’t say enough good things about Mainly Marathons or its participants. It’s a great group of people albeit with one very unusual hobby.

Anyway that’s what I have planned over the next several months. Let me know if there are sights along the way I shouldn’t miss.

Purpose
12 Mile Circle:
An Appreciation of Unusual Places
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