#112, East Wall, Dublin
There are many reasons to keep good notes while globe-trotting for cool numerals, and here is just one. It can be summed up in two cautionary words: satellite imagery.
Technology and I are reluctant bedfellows. I have slowly shed many of my Luddite ways over the years and tried to embrace the technology. Google Maps and its wicked step-sister program, Windows Live Search, have provided me with several fruitful minutes of satellite image browsing as well as valuable years hacked off my life expectancy as I, fuzzy-eyed and hopeful, scan blurry swathes of green, trying to locate the exact coordinates of the tin roof and back garden of the place I once lived in Ranelagh. Or suddenly it becomes vital that I view the old grain terminal in Red Hook from various enticing angles. It's not so much a slippery slope as the ultimate slurry pit. It's deep, it's mucky, and emerging from it with dignity is no easy task.
The trouble began in earnest because I couldn't quite place the street where I found this decaying 112. I knew it was the East Wall section of Dublin and I was fairly sure I could track it down with a simple 2-D map and a bit of legwork. So ensued a black hole of time in which I scoured RTE news clippings (my friend had told the story that there had been a shooting very close by in December on the Shemalier Road), birds-eye views of nearby roads, and my trusty photo archive. I soon realized the fruitlessness of trying to match coils of barbed wire in a photo I'd snapped with a picture taken from, well, outer space.
Undeterred, I found myself ensconced in another time warp. This one, however, caught me off guard. Quite near the section of map where I found the 112 (Church Road, for the record, as far as I can tell), I happened upon a patch of land that seemed utterly logic-defying in its insistence that every road in the vicinity was called by the same name.
Everywhere I looked in this patch of Dublin 3, it was nothing but water, the N1, and Alfie Byrne Road.
Now I realize I could simply have embraced the technology and been content to direct you to the Google map of the area in order to demonstrate the mind-boggling oddness of the arrangement. But Luddite ways die hard, and before my left hand knew what my right was doing, I was tracing over my computer screen, vertically, with a Pilot Precise pen and a sheet of paper from my printer tray, the white glow of pixels beaming beneath my manic hand and Alfie Byrnes flowing like ambrosia from my pen. I think you'll agree I may yet be called to the vocation of cartography. Or maybe I just need to cut down on my coffee intake.
If the author had taken better notes on that cycling excursion, this catastrophe of cartography would never have happened.