Geographical Survey of 12MC

On March 25, 2012 · 11 Comments

The author of the Geographic Travels blog provided a survey of his personal geography in an article a few days ago called Geographical Survey of Catholicgauze. That sounded like a fun idea so I decided to use the same survey questions for a "Geographical Survey of 12MC." Then I decided to add a few more questions and answers. Maybe others can keep the survey going and continue to add to it.

Name Origin

I’m not sure even though I’ve probably researched this more than anyone. My surname is incredibly rare even though one might not realize that because of its mundane pronunciation. I’ve calculated that it’s a one-in-a-million surname (literally) in the United States. Circumstantial evidence seems to point towards a German-speaking area of Switzerland before the surname traveled across the Atlantic where it was "Americanized" to its current form by 1810.

Geographical Region of Where I Grew Up

Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. I’ve traveled widely since then but I live less than four miles from where I was born because of an odd assortment of coincidences. I feel so Fifteenth Century!

Geography of Last Meal Eaten

I can’t even begin to say. I had a grocery store knock-off version of Honey Bunches of Oats with milk before typing this article this morning. Counter-intuitively, in spite of its name the leading ingredient is corn (maize) rather than oats. It was first domesticated in Mesoamerica. All of the vitamins additives originated from whatever laboratory first isolated them I guess. The milk came from a cow in Pennsylvania.

Extremes of Travel

I actually figured this out already for an article on 12MC awhile back called My Travel Box

  • North: Reykjavík, Iceland at 64.15° N followed closely by Denali State Park in Alaska at 62.27° N.
  • South: Sydney, Australia at the airport at 33.97° S
  • East: Cape Byron, NSW, Australia at 153.64° E followed less closely by Kyoto, Japan at 135.76° E
  • West: Koke’e State Park on the island of Kauai, Hawaii at 159.68° W

Then, because the Prime Meridian is so arbitrary and any number of places could have substituted for Greenwich, I recreated the same set of calculations using the old American Meridian.

Top Three Places Recommended for Travel

  • Alaska
  • Iceland
  • Belgium (for beer aficionados)

Three Places I Want to Visit

Unique Personal Way to Count Where I Have Been

I’m a relentless counter but I’m not sure any of them fall into the category of uniquely personal. Maybe Breweries and brewpubs (271 as of today) would be my favorite. But I also count counties (of course), ferries, fortresses, lighthouses and waterfalls that I’ve visited, all to varying degrees.


I thought I’d add my own stamp to the survey by personalizing it with a few other noteworthy items.

Farthest I’ve Gone Out of My Way to Say I’d Been Somewhere

Approximately 500 miles in a single day. This was a round-trip south from Kansas City one fine Saturday many years ago solely so I could say I’d been to Oklahoma and Arkansas. This continues to be my only visit to either of those states. I hope to correct that someday.

My First International Travel

Canada. I was in a marching band in the sixth grade and we rode on buses up to Toronto and stayed for a couple of nights. We didn’t get much of an opportunity to see this sights from what I recall.

First Time on an Airplane

This was sometime early in my elementary school years for a trip to see our relatives in Houston, Texas. I guess I was probably about six or seven. Flights were expensive prior to deregulation and it was a big deal for our middle-class family. I remember that we flew on Continental Airlines because the one thing that impressed me the most was seeing their logo stamped onto a pat of butter when they served us our meals. Of course it was on china with real utensils. How times have changed. Airplanes are now buses and airports are a hassle. When was the last time I actually received anything more than a small bag of pretzels on a flight, much less a meal?

In contrast, my kids have flown several times a year since birth and have frequent flyer cards, but they never got to experience the golden age of flight.

On March 25, 2012 · 11 Comments
Under Miscellaneous | Taged

11 Responses to “Geographical Survey of 12MC”

  1. Peter says:

    Here are my answers to a few of these:

    Surname – Italian (it can also be Spanish or Portuguese).

    Geography of last meal eaten – I had instant oatmeal. Oats are originally from eastern Europe, but almost certainly the ones in my oatmeal are domestic. North Dakota is the leading oat producing state by a wide margin. Oregon, Idaho and Montana follow. I’m going to go with North Dakota because it has such a substantial lead over the others. The oatmeal itself is Stop & Shop house brand. Stop & Shop is headquartered in Landover, Maryland, 38.56N, 76.53W. As is normal with house brands, the company (and location) of manufacture is not disclosed.

    Extremes of travel –
    North: Milton Keynes, England 52.036N, 0.770W.
    South: Key West, Florida 24.33N, 81.47W.
    East: Naples, Italy 40.50N, 14.15E.
    West: Vancouver, British Columbia 49.25N, 123.1W

  2. Peter says:

    Oops, forgot to add one.

    Farthest gone out of my way to say I’ve been somewhere: 300+ miles round trip, San Antonio, Texas to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. My wife and I were on vacation in San Antonio a few years ago when we decided to make a quick trip across the border just to see what Mexico was like. We drove to Laredo, Texas, parked in a lot near the Rio Grande bridge, and walked across into Nuevo Laredo.
    This also set a more dubious record for Shortest International Trip. We had planned to spend the afternoon in Mexico, but after about 20 minutes we decided that we had seen more than enough for several lifetimes and went back. There are many places in Mexico that are really nice to visit. Nuevo Laredo is not among them.

  3. January First-of-May says:

    Surname: fairly certain it’s Polish (weirdly I have no known Polish ancestry, but some of my ancestors were from Poland [they were Jews] so it’s not unlikely).

    Geographical region of where I grew up: Moscow, the capital of Russia. Live there to this day.

    Extremes of travel –
    North: in or near Malinovaya Varakka, Karelia, Russia, 66°18′ N
    South: Eilat, Israel, 29°32′ N
    West: Sofia, Bulgaria, ca. 23°23′ E (can’t tell more exactly – I think I was only four)
    East: Tashkent, Uzbekistan, ca. 69°15′ E (and that time I was only three)

    Farthest gone out of my way to say I’ve been somewhere: well, I don’t quite get any time to go on personal voyages (not having a car helps), so discounting a few side-trips within Moscow (which might’ve been longer but it’s too hard to remember any), probably the trip from Malinovaya Varakka to the White Sea on August 10, 2004: four kilometers (three miles) each way.

    First international travel: either the above-mentioned Tashkent voyage (if so, the first foreign country I visited is technically Kazakhstan as we went by train; that remains the record for shortest international trip) or Israel. Either way likely to be 1995 (if Tashkent, to visit my then-alive great grandmother, if Israel, not quite sure of the exact reason).

    First time on an airplane: whenever was the first time I went to Israel (probably 1995 or ’96).

  4. Thanks! Great to see 12MC and Peter’s as well!

  5. Name origin – Scottish/Finnish/German

    Geographical region of where I grew up – West Kootenay, British Columbia

    Extremes of travel –
    North: Prespatou, British Columbia, 56.9278°N (considering my line of work and where I was based out of for so many years, that’s a shame it’s only that far north)
    South: Irvine, California, 33.6792°S
    West/East: International Date Line, 180° (that one was easy)

    Top three places recommended for travel (how do you possibly narrow this to three?; there could be a hundred)-
    Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, BC; Mojave Desert, CA; Cape Breton Island (just off the top of my head)

    Three places I want to visit –
    Patagonia, Iceland, Yukon (again, how I haven’t made to Yukon at this point is beyond me)

    Unique personal way to count where I’ve been –
    The number of roadside convenience stores/small-town general stores I’ve been to

    Farthest gone out of my way to say I’ve been somewhere:
    400 km (240 mi) round-trip to Mackenzie, British Columbia. Literally a 30-second conversation with an co-worker back in grad school – ‘Hey, you want to ditch the office today and check out Mackenzie?’ ‘Sure.’

    My first international travel –
    Colville, Washington to watch my cousin at a regional swim meet. I’d have been very young here.

    First time on an airplane –
    My grandfather owned a little Cessna for many years, so I was flying in planes back in the womb; fun little trips around the mountains surrounding our village. How times have changed: last time I was in a Cessna was back in 2002 for a 45-minute flight to a family reunion in Grand Forks, BC and every little turn nearly made me lose my lunch.

  6. Snabelabe says:

    I’m very happy, and surprised, that my home country of Belgium ends up in your top 3!

    Here I go:

    Name Origin: Bens, meaning son of Ben. Originates from Geel, Belgium

    Geographical Region of Where I Grew Up: Vosselaar, Belgium. Almost on the border with the Netherlands.

    Geography of Last Meal Eaten: No idea.

    Extremes of Travel:
    Most northern: Vimmerby, Sweden: N57°39.974′, E015°51.393′
    Most southern: Jakarta, Indonesia: S06°10.824′, E106°49.938′
    Most eastern: Jakarta, Indonesia: S06°09.905′, E106°50.508′
    Most western: Managua, Nicaragua: N12°09.61638′, W086°17.68182′

    Top Three Places Recommended for Travel:
    Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua
    Skåne, Sweden

    Three Places I Want to Visit:
    Belem, Brazil

    Unique Personal Way to Count Where I Have Been: Local beers I’ve drunk & more recently geocaches

    Farthest I’ve Gone Out of My Way to Say I’d Been Somewhere: Almost 300km to pass Luxembourg city on my way back to Vosselaar, Belgium from Paris.

    My First International Travel: I’ve grown up 10km from the border with the Netherlands, so probably there. I also went with my parents to Paris at the age of 1.

    First Time on an Airplane: Around the age of 13-14: with my parents on holiday to Barcelona.

    • Belgium holds a special place with me. One of my oldest friends who I’ve known for 25+ years is a Belgian citizen. I’ve visited him and his family probably a half-dozen times over the years. It’s also how I began my appreciation for great beers, and ones from Belgium in particular.

  7. Peter says:

    Geography of last meal eaten: I just had some instant macaroni and cheese. So where’s the nearest petrochemical factory?

  8. Steve_CTMQ says:


    Name Origin: Wood. English as the day is long.

    Geographical Region of Where I Grew Up: North Wilmington, Delaware with a horrific stint in central Florida due to dad’s job transfer. Nice know now that Lakeland is a meth hotbed. Not surprising in the least.

    Geography of Last Meal Eaten: Pepperidge Farm bread from a factory mere miles from my house and workplace. Oranges probably from Chile. Pretzels from PA.

    Extremes of Travel:
    Most northern: Probably Quebec City.
    Most southern: Melbourne, Australia
    Most eastern: Melbourne, Austalia
    Most western: Waimea on Kauai, Hawaii

    Top Three Places Recommended for Travel:
    Provence over to Pyrenees
    Big Island, Hawaii
    Banff over to Vancouver

    Three Places I Want to Visit:
    Belgium – preferably this weekend during the Ronde van Vlaanderen!

    Unique Personal Way to Count Where I Have Been: Through many words and pictures; highpoints, beers; ratio of beautiful women to me.

    Farthest I’ve Gone Out of My Way to Say I’d Been Somewhere: tough one to categorize. A one day RT drive from Orlando to FL’s highpoint (about 840 miles).

    My First International Travel: Tijuana Mexico on family vacation for a few hours when I was around 13 or so. Though maybe we went to Canada while at Niagara Falls when I was younger.

    First Time on an Airplane: Age 6 to that horrid Florida relocation.

  9. KC Jeff says:

    Grew up: Northeast suburbs of Kansas City, MO

    North: Glennallen, Alaska
    South: San Salvador, El Salvador
    East: Deer Lake, Newfoundland, Canada
    West: Unimak Pass, Alaska

    Top 3 recommendations:
    Oaxaca, Mexico
    Round Island, Alaska (Walrus sanctuary)
    Toronto to Vancouver via rail

    Three Places I Want to Visit:

    What I count – Counties. Just picked up #1000 last month; Brown county, Kansas.

    Farthest I’ve Gone Out of My Way to Say I’d Been Somewhere:
    150 mile round trip to Brown county KS. Closest county I had not been to.

    My First International Travel:
    Vancouver, BC. Visiting a friend in Seattle 1984. We made the trip across the border to go to a very cool “new wave” nightclub.

    First Time on an Airplane:
    1975 Monterey, CA to Kansas City, age 12. Rode a free rail pass to California, but no empty seats coming back.

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