Blogging About Snakes

Yesterday, my first stop of the day was in Kingsville.  Now, if you know me, you know that I’m an early riser and that can pose problems.  While a school visit from me brings my vast knowledge <yeah, right, Doug> and witty conversation <grin>, I’m tough to take during regular school hours.  It’s much less at 6 in the morning.

As I head out, the sun is about to rise and I’m headed towards the east and decide to drive through Harrow and look at the windmills.  I’m in awe at the huge size of these things and they’re that more impressive when clumped together in a farm.  I get my fill of that and then decide to take Heritage Road into Kingsville.  This is one of the great drives that you’ll have in Essex County as it takes you right along the north end of Lake Erie.  You’re just metres from the lake and recent weather has brought out the “Water Over the Road” signs.

To get from Harrow to Heritage Road, there are a number of ways.  I decide to take a fascinating drive.  There’s a road called Snake Lane that takes you part of the way.  It’s a twisty turning road that’s fun to drive and takes you very close to the crops that creep up to the side of the road.

As I’m driving it, I’m reminded that this isn’t the first Snake Lane that I’ve driven on this week.  Earlier, I had driven on a Snake Lane in LaSalle.  It’s another twisty drive with some incredible scenery.  Not only does LaSalle have a Snake Lane, if you look closely, they also have a Short Snake Lane.

As I drove, I wonder how many other Snake Lanes there might be world-wide.  I also wondered why Lombard Street in San Francisco wasn’t named Snake Lane.  After all, it has all the attributes.

It can lead to some interesting conversations about transportation and roads and mathematics!

Just like a real snake, a Snake Lane takes you from beginning to end, a relatively short distance, via a considerably longer route.  Brainstorming with students leads to some interesting discussions about how to determine the distance of that longer route.  It’s Fit Week in Greater Essex County so suggestions like walking it with a pedometer seemed to be natural.  Having just driven that, the odometer on a car would do the trick as well.  That’s all fine and dandy, if we are interested in straightening that snake out.  How about the direct line distance from start to finish?

Google Maps offers an interesting opportunity in terms of measurement.  In the bottom left corner, there is a scale that allows for some easy measuring.  While the Kingsville students might be familiar with the Harrow Snake Lane, they may not be aware that there’s the one in LaSalle.  Or, there are lots to be found by searching.  And, for the ultimate challenge, how about the distances in Lombard Street?  Or how about determining the snakiest of Snake Lanes?  That could be a calculation of the ratio of total distance versus straight line distance of the lane.  Crows versus snakes?

There are certainly some interesting things that rattle out when you blog about snakes.

links for 2010-05-19