Map Navigation Training, Palo Alto, Thursday 7/16/2009

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Event Update 7/13:

I spent my formative high school years in Palo Alto, and I visited downtown a lot. Making this map has revealed much to me that I didn't already know, especially about getting around. Many of the street blocks have alleys and parking lots disecting them, so there's a lot of wiggly and diagonal routes available. The course will be set so that it rewards you to think, plan careful routes, and go off the beaten path a bit.

It's charming in the downtown and surroundings. In addition to the little park spaces, landscaping in general tends to be verdant and lush. There's a fair amount of retro-avant-garde architecture from the 60's and 70's that I especially noticed while making the map, and overall there's quite a span of building styles and architecture from over the years, going back to the late 1800's. Palo Alto was one of the first towns in the valley to really develop because of nearby Stanford University.

Let's practice those route-choice and planning skills! Dennis Wilkinson has set an interesting "score" course (get them in the best order you can think of) of about 18 checkpoints (still doing a little fine tuning.) To get all of them takes about 8 km of distance as the crow flies. Hardly any climb - it's so flat! We're expecting around 50 minutes for a strong runner to visit each checkpoint. Of course, you can go for as many as you want- if you prefer to go for about 45 minutes and not go too fast, you'd be able to get the 10 or so checkpoints neareast the downtown area. You'll get a paper with a multiple-choice question to answer at each checkpoint.

Although there are no major thoroughfares you must cross to do the course (aside from University Ave., if you count that,) traffic is a serious consideration out there. Avoid reading the map while crossing the street, and always look! Major thoroughfares are the boundaries of the map - Alma St., Embarcadero Rd., and Middlefield Rd. - so if you reach them, don't cross, because you'll go off the map and there are no checkpoints. And this is really just for fun - don't sacrifice your safety for a few extra seconds. You might factor in potential traffic in your route planning, so that you don't go back and forth over a street like University Ave. too much.

Original Announcement:

More route choice action - a score course with checkpoints scattered over downtown Palo Alto and its surrounding neighborhoods will entertain you after work on a Thursday evening. Dennis Wilkinson will be designing and setting the course, and Dennis and Rex will coproduce the new map - a modified topo printed at 1:10000 scale with the "off street" paths and prominent landmarks added. Courses open 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M., cost is $5, and we'll meet, gather, and socialize at the Round Table Pizza in downtown Palo Alto. (263 University Ave.)


From U.S. Highway 101 in Palo Alto, take the University Ave. exit west to downtown Palo Alto. Round Table Pizza is located at 263 University Ave. It's between Bryant and Ramona Streets.

Public Transit:

The Caltrain itself and many VTA and SamTrans buses can take you to the Palo Alto Transit Center. From there, head a few blocks east on University Ave. to Round Table Pizza, 263 University Ave.

Event Contact: Rex, 5 1 0 - 6 8 1 - 6 1 8 1,