There were 57,482,609 WordPress blog sites in the world when I checked this evening. The Twelve Mile Circle is merely one.
What is the average lifespan of a blog? I don’t know although I suspect it’s short. Most probably bite the dust in their first month. Those making their way through that first crucial phase tend to go a year or two before slowly petering-out. I can’t for the life of me figure out how the Twelve Mile Circle has marched along on a fairly regular schedule for five entire years.
I first pressed the "publish" button on WordPress on November 6, 2007 and I’ve continued uninterrupted about three times per week ever since. I’ve hit that button now nearly 800 times and loyal readers such as yourselves have commented thoughtfully nearly 3,200 times. That’s about four comments per post. I was lucky to get any comments on the early articles when few besides myself read 12MC so the growing interaction has been greatly appreciated.
I remember thinking that I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this, that it it would take too much personal time or I’d run out of ideas. This wasn’t designed as a stream-of-consciousness site. Every article requires a level of research, some significantly so, and they can’t be drafted quickly. Would I be able to summon the discipline necessarily to produce a steady stream of geo-oddities? Apparently so, although when I began I had serious doubts.
Somehow each of you readers found 12MC randomly, individually by your own devices. Readership has grown slowly and steadily in a fairly linear fashion. I’ve done nothing to publicize it. I’ve never been featured on any of the big aggregator sites that can send visitor counts through the roof. I’m not going to pander and beg for page views with prizes and giveaways. I ignore the basics of Search Engine Optimization techniques. It’s not my thing. I’m interested in a very small niche topic that I like to talk about a lot and it’s as simple as that. I’m grateful that there happens to be a small scattering of people around this vast world who share a similar interest.
It’s hard to say which articles have been my favorites over the last five years. I do understand that my tastes seem to differ from the 12MC audience which seems to prefer little puzzles and geographic challenges. I’m amused by the irony.
Nonetheless, let me take a shot at selecting a personal favorite and an honorable mention for every year of the Twelve Mile Circle. Piles of other favorite articles had to be left on the cutting room floor. That’s a shame although one can always consult the complete index and map. Personal favorites don’t imply "most popular" or "best written." They simply represent articles that stuck with me, sometimes for intangible reasons.
I didn’t start writing until November of 2007 so the candidate pool for the initial year was pretty small. Plus it took awhile for 12MC to get into a rhythm. The earlier articles were shorter and sometimes thrown together too quickly as I struggled with topic selection. Is it too late for a "do over" or a few strategic deletions?
I’m going to go with Lake Okeechobee’s Five Counties for two reasons: five counties actually come together to form an exceedingly rare quintipoint (the only county-level example in the United States); and because the son of the Florida legislator who made the quintipoint happen commented on the article and added vital historical information. Those seem like good enough reasons.
Honorable mention goes to Washington DC Area’s Last Phone Booth. The phone booth no longer exists. This article reminded me that if I’m able to photograph something remarkable I need to do it without delay. I lost my chance here and I’m kicking myself because I could have recorded it easily at any time before the booth disappeared.
I traveled to Wisconsin soon after a major flood. It was during a day-trip to the Wisconsin Dells that I observed for myself that Lake Delton is Gone. Lake Delton is a centerpiece of the Dells so this was a significant and newsworthy event. Several years later I was contacted by representatives of the television show Caught on Camera to see if they could use the video footage I captured that day. I sent it to them and signed all the releases. I’m not a regular viewer of that show so I don’t know if they ever used it though.
Honorable mention goes to Tombolo! simply because I have a tombolo fixation.
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…and Swains Island focused on a tiny chunk of U.S. territory practically in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean. Later I was contacted by a member of the Jennings family — the family that owns Swains Island — who had very nice things to say about the article. Notice the pattern? My favorite articles tended to be those that led to unforeseen outcomes I never would have experienced had I never written 12MC.
Honorable mention goes to Restaurant Split by 3 Counties because of the wonderful absurdity of a restaurant built atop a county tripoint. I want to go there so badly someday.
Seventeen Steps from Middle and the whole "layers of borderlocking" concept came closest to anything going viral on the Twelve Mile Circle, meaning it had a modest, mild success in geo-geek circles. Some of the other geography blogs picked up on the theme and applied it to different geographic areas. Lots of people seemed to like the idea. I enjoyed the colors.
Honorable mention goes to The Impossible 5K because someone figured out that it was possible to hold a race that ended before it started, and then made it happen.
SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.5)
My Little Poni gets the nod because two obscure rivers crossing Interstate 95 in Virginia had stuck in my mind for years, and it turned out the explanation was much more unusual than I ever expected. I’m constantly surprised with the memorable trivia I learn as I pursue topics for 12MC.
Honorable mention goes to County Counter Extraordinaire for Fritz Keppler’s remarkable travel achievements. It was also great to meet Fritz in person a few months later at the American Meridian Happy Hour.
View Extreme Connecticut Geography Tour in a larger map
Time will tell if My Craziest Geo-Oddity Adventure Ever will be able to retain its exalted position. Steve of Connecticut Museum Quest offered me a chance to accompany him on a most extraordinary tour of the Nutmeg State. Barring evidence to the contrary, I believe we have a strong case that we were the first people to ever visit Connecticut’s four cardinal extremes in a single day. We made history that day, albeit exceedingly obscure, but history nonetheless. For that reason I think I would have to label this 12MC article (and the ones that spawned from it) my all-time favorite. It’s going to be hard for any other topic to overtake it although I’m always willing to try.
Honorable mention goes to Semi-Practical Exclaves Galore! because the concept of unidirectional practical exclaves seems ridiculous, which means I like it.
Did I miss any of your personal favorites? Do you have a 12MC story? Did it ever influence your travel plans?
Thank you all for five great years, and hopefully many more.