Team: En Dash!
> Date, Points, TeamPoints, Dashpoint, Country, State, Lat, Lon
2006-05-01, 3, 3, GD59-AJOZ, USA, California, 34.1537, -118.8258
Location: Thousand Oaks
Closest approach: 50 feet
Local Time - Midnight, PDT
Elevation: call it 1800 feet, give or take a hundred, above mean sea level
Straight-line distance from home - 13.30 miles, at 109� magnetic
Total traveling distance: 33.7 miles
Total trip time: 48 minutes
DP title: geo-politics is a peculiar thing
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For our dashing colleagues who are not familar with the internal geo-politics of the United States, a short lesson...
All but two of the 50 States are divided into Counties; Louisiana and Alaska are the exception. The former has Parishes and the latter has Administrative Units, but they serve the same basic function. In the majority of cases, the boundary lines between counties have very little to do with topography. In the MidWest, they are most-often laid down along Section lines, which are the results of surveying during the period between the Civil War and the First World War, to satisfy the terms of The Homestead Act of 1862. Occasionally, things such as rivers will bend county lines away from strict N-S and E-W lines, but most of the Counties in States such as Texas, Nebraska and North Dakota are rectangular, and have no more to do with the shape of the land than latitude and longitude lines on an ocean have anything to do with currents and wave formation.
Along the Atlantic Seaboard, county boundaries are much more likely to follow rivers, ridge lines, etc. They are older, mostly-smaller States, which tended to follow the British system: haphazard in development, but generally following a "native logic" born of practical usage, and formalized by the government because that's what governments do. It can't be taxed if it isn't part of that particular governmental agency. Out West, where mountains and deserts are the norm, County boundaries tend to be of two types: lines that follow natural forms, if awkwardly, and not always the lines you might expect; and straight lines which are artificially drawn with almost no concern for, or even knowledge of, the land along which they lie. They don't even follow Section lines much of the time. If one looks at Southern California, for example, none of the County boundaries fit the topography, with but one exception; the boundary between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties follows the Santa Maria River, or at least the course of that stream when the live was drawn over 100 years ago. All other County boundaries (and most State Boundaries, for that matter), were laid out by politicians who had little concern for the actual shape of the land across which those lines would cut. They run straight from one mountain top to another mountain top 50 miles away, or from a particular bend in a river to an arbitrary point 100s of miles away in a bizarre direction that has no relationship to anything, or just along a latitude or longitude line chosen seemingly at random, all of the above with no concern for future planning or land use.
All of this is by way of an introduction to the mildly-curious local geo-politics of this particular dashpoint. It lies inside the city limits of Thousand Oaks, about a half-mile from the City of Westlake Village. Thousand Oaks is in Ventura County; Westlake Village is in Los Angeles County. And smack dab athwart this line is Westlake, a man-made lake that sits at the bottom of the roughly-bowl-shaped Russell Valley. About a half-century ago, some bright real estate developer decided that this area would be perfect for a planned development, with a real lake as the centerpiece. In fact, it has worked out fairly well, as such things go. But the area is divided between two governmental agencies, and this includes the lake itself. It took a large amount of dickering and negotiating to get both Counties to sign off on it. The City of Westlake Village incorporated 20 year later; Thousand Oaks added the area on the VC side of the line at around the same time. Thus, an area that was designed and built as a master-planned community is split by an accident of political wrangling more than 100 years old, when the citizens of Santa Barbara got tired of having to make a three-day trip to the village of Los Angeles to handle much of their dealings with the government. They petitioned to have their own County, and succeeded; the dividing line was chosen arbitrarily along a line which was least disruptive of the few residents in the area at the time. Years later, the same needs of the citizens of Ventura and Oxnard caused the eastern part of Santa Barbara County to go its own way. The result of this and other such deals is the political splitting of areas that are united by nature's laws. Robert Heinlein once wrote (in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress") that the least important thing about a person is where he or she lives, but you'd never know it.
Thus, in the early years of the 21st Century, a humble dashpoint is found in the City of Thousand Oaks, but almost every resident within this valley will say that they live "in Westlake", which is the cover-all for everything within a couple of miles of the actual body of water that gives the area its name. The DP is inside the Plaza Office Center, at 960 Townsgate Road, in the Sylvan Learning Center of Westlake. Across the parking lot, to the south, is a Gelson's Market. This entire shopping area is the Westlake Center, but it's in Thousand Oaks. Such are the peculiarities of human activity.
On the day that this month's DPs were posted, I had an errand to run in T.O., so I did a "dry run" and took a couple of photos. I knew that this would make a good midnight dash, and planned to take a night shot, but I also wanted a daytime photo to go with it. If you look at the Google satellite shot, the pointer is just about where I triangulated the thing to be. There's a walkway along the northern side of the building; I zeroed-out the latitude there, and zeroed the longitude while in the parking lot. The closest I could get at that time was 27 feet away; today, I didn't even get out of the car, which explains why I was a little farther away at my closest. With a two-week vacation coming up, it was nice of the llamas to give me such an easy one; the rest of the month won't give me much opportunity for dashing, and there don't appear to be any easy ones along our travel route.
Wherever you went, there you were; considering that we can't afford to live within five miles of Westlake, I don't much care *what* the people who live there call it.