A Postcard from Puerto Rico

Photos and a block diagram of NE Puerto Rico

We recently visited Puerto Rico and explored the island’s public parks and forests. Spanish forts in San Juan are wonderfully preserved by the National Park Service and the El Yunque cloud forest is the only tropical rain forest maintained by the National Forest Service. These ares are public treasures and hard to capture by photography alone. You might have seen postcards with extruded maps of mountainous areas and tourist destinations. That’s the quick experiment here, but done just two-dimensionally.

Some downtown Lexington destinations

Sample of custom guide for Lexington destinations

Sample of custom guide for Lexington destinations

Imagine a lot of new people arriving to a downtown hotel and you need to recommend unique destinations for dining. I guess you could give a list that they could yelp, but wouldn’t a paper map add a nice, personal touch?

A small map of interesting places to eat and play

A small map of interesting places to eat and play

We have marveled at the growth of mobile maps that tap in largest collective database ever generated and, unfortunately, the subsequent loss of interest in paper maps. While mobile can help locate you in an unfamiliar city with GPS, the map data can be uninspiring and wildly inaccurate. The problem I suggest is the zoom, since we expect ever complex revelations with increasing zoom levels. We all know it’s a big bummer when you zoom into a blank screen, right? We think a static maps can better stimulate imagination and invite navigation into unfamiliar areas.

This is a small experiment integrating 3D maps, photography, and a few SketchUp models to give a quick sense of place and provide a simple navigation tool to explore the city.

McConnell Springs Trails

3D map

3D map

A perspective view of trails and destinations in Lexington’s McConnell Springs park. This historic location host notable destinations such as the Blue Hole, The Boils, the Old Bur Oak, and the Final Sink. This map will be offered to park after some additions and modification, perhaps adding a more realistic model of the Science Center.

Modeling University of Kentucky’s Campus

Campus pedestrian network

Campus pedestrian network

We’ve been visualizing campus paths with new GIS data provided by UK’s Facilities Information Services. Students have GPS mapped cut-through paths (they lovingly call cow paths) and other students have placed SketchUp models for campus town buildings. This is a preview of some of the data, so stay tuned for a featured analysis.

Outstanding Geography Teacher Award

Outstanding Geography Teacher Award, 2014

Outstanding Geography Teacher Award, 2014

Boyd Shearer was awarded the Outstanding Geography Teacher Award for his GIS courses at the University of Kentucky Department of Geography. The award was presented by the Geography Majors during the department’s annual Semple Day awards presentation on April 25, 2014. He’d just like to say, awesome! and he’ll keep trying his best to make mappers.

New Weather Graphs

Weekly graphs of weather variables

Weekly graphs of weather variables

Weather Underground’s weather stations are an awesome resource. Volunteers with weather stations feed their observations to site’s ‘big brain’ and make it publically available. We inserted weekly weather graphs for two stations near the Great Smokies; one on the west side in Tennessee and the other on the east side in North Carolina. Visit our GRSM weather page and tell us what you think.

Cold Mountain web cam back up

Cold Mountain in May

Cold Mountain in May

After a severe winter, the Cold Mountain webcam is back in operation. As we move into summer, we hope all cams remain healthy so we can collect and archive animated scenes.

What we have now is pure spring delight, so please enjoy.

GEO 309 analysis in Herald-Leader

Article by Jim Warren, Herald-Leader, May 4

Article by Jim Warren, Herald-Leader, May 4

If you ride a bike around Lexington, there are some places where pedaling with extra caution might be wise, a new study suggests.

“Mainly, they’re places where bicycle facilities change, such as where a bike lane abruptly ends. They seem to be the trouble spots,” said Boyd Shearer, a University of Kentucky geographer who led the study of bike-vehicle collisions in Lexington.

GEO 309, Fall 2013 Collision Analysis

GEO 309, Fall 2013 Collision Analysis

Shearer and some of his students recently studied 396 collisions between bikes and other vehicles that occurred on Lexington streets and roads from October 2008 through October 2013. The five-year list included 293 wrecks that caused injuries and three that resulted in fatalities.

After collecting wreck data from police reports, the researchers analyzed the results using a computerized mapping system called GIS that can reveal underlying relationships, patterns and trends.

“I thought it would be an interesting project to do, and that it might help the city,” Shearer said.

A bicyclist himself, Shearer has worked with Lexington planners on other bike-related projects.

He said the new study shows the area around UK had the greatest concentration of bike-versus-car wrecks. That’s not surprising, he said, given the large number of students who ride on campus.

Perhaps more surprising was that 25 percent of the riders involved in collisions during the five-year period weren’t wearing helmets. Another surprise: 21 percent of the accidents were hit-and-runs.

Most notable overall, he said, was that riders often got into trouble in places where bike lanes ended abruptly.

“The bike rider is rolling along in a lane by himself, and that lane suddenly ends,” Shearer said. “You never win against a car if you’re on a bike.”

One such spot, according to Shearer, is near where Winchester Road, East Third Street and Midland Avenue come together. A bike lane along Winchester Road ends at Walton Avenue, and an extra traffic lane for cars opens up between Walton and Midland, he noted.

“Bikers kind of get squeezed,” Shearer said.

He and his students also identified “critical segments” of four streets — mostly near UK — with high numbers of bike-car crashes during 2008-13.

They were: South Limestone north of Virginia Avenue, six wrecks; Euclid Avenue east of Woodland Avenue, five; Winchester Road near East Third Street, four; Rose Street from Euclid to Columbia avenues, four; and Rose from Columbia to Huguelet Drive, three.

Ultimately, Shearer said, he hopes to see Lexington’s bike trails linked together, which would allow riders to bike long distances sheltered from vehicular traffic.

“The Town Branch Trail isn’t connected yet,” he said. “But if it reaches downtown and the Legacy Trail is linked with it, riders could use them in lieu of streets to get in and out of downtown, not just for recreation but for real bike commuting.”

Analysis of all bicycle collisions up to May 5, 2014 with focus on fatalities and injuries.

Analysis of all bicycle collisions up to May 5, 2014 with focus on fatalities and injuries.

Scott Thompson, Lexington’s bike and pedestrian coordinator, said planners were looking at ways to “separate bicyclists from traffic,” whether that’s through more bike lanes or putting small barriers between bike and traffic lanes.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/05/04/3227487/analysis-of-bicycle-accidents.html#storylink=cpy

Winter into Spring, Kentucky 2014

Winter to Spring in Satellite Images, 2014

Winter to Spring in Satellite Images, 2014

After an unusually long and cold winter, Kentucky has finally emerged to full-blown spring weather. These five images show the clearest, cloud-free day for each month from January 1 to May 5. Snow is clearly seen in the first two months and it’s striking how defined the snow lines are, perhaps 20 miles. You could have heavy snow in Lexington, but snow free in Richmond.

In the January image, we can see the hemlock and pine forest in the Red River Gorge and recently mined ares in eastern Kentucky. In the February image, Cave Run Lake appears frozen.

Another interesting observation is the rate pastures and forests leaf out. Kentucky’s pastures became green in early April, while the forests leaf out by the first days of May.

March is my favorite image. The sun is the highest while the vegetation is at the minimum.  Soon, the explosion of photosynthesis will sweeten the earth with life.

No wildfires are seen (maybe one in April image in eastern Kentucky).

Snow, Clouds, and Contrails

sat_images_WinterSnow_and_Contrails_300On the day after Thanksgiving, the eye in the sky from MODIS shows heavy snowfall in southeast Ohio and in the highest Kentucky and West Virginia mountain locations. Contrails fill most of Kentucky’s northern skies.

Kentucky transitions into fall

MODIS images of changing seasons in Kentucky, 2013

MODIS images of changing seasons in Kentucky, 2013


These satellite images are from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on two satellites, Aqua and Terra. MODIS captures 36 electromagnetic wavelength bands to measure atmospheric water vapor, ozone, aerosols, land fire, surface temperature, and many other important variables of global climate. These images are visible light and clearly show the change in deciduous canopy cover within roughly a month of time. Spatial resolutions are between 250 m to 1 km.

The Daily Aesthetic Oral Histories

Online Oral Histories

Online Oral Histories

Between 1996-1998, I completed about 30 hours of oral histories about once-segregated black parks in Kentucky. About six hours are available online at the University of Kentucky Louie B Nunn Center for Oral History. They’re missing my interview with John Will “Scoop” Brown, a Lexington park programmer and raconteur of zoot suits in Douglass Park. More to be available to be sure.

Here’s the oral history index: The Daily Aesthetic: an oral history of a southern city’s black park system, 1916-1956

“This project focuses on African American culture during the time of segregated park systems in Lexington, Kentucky. These interviews, originally conducted by Boyd Shearer, Jr. for a multimedia presentation, contain descriptions of African American park activities, particularly in Douglass Park. Activities ranged from doll shows, to carnivals, to sports programs. This community also celebrated the visual arts, music, and holidays such as the 4th of July and Easter. The focus of this collection is not discrimination experienced by African Americans at this time, but rather how the park provided a place for them to come together and cultivate a sense of identity and community.”

For an audio documentary using some of these interviews, visit: http://www.outragegis.com/trails/2001/08/08/at-leisures-edge/. The documentary can be downloaded or viewed on SoundCloud. A complete audio script is available.

A paper from this research was produced:

index: http://www.uky.edu/Projects/TDA/archive/TableofContentsandAbstract.pdf
main body: http://www.uky.edu/Projects/TDA/archive/TDA.pdf

Boone Trace

Boone Trace from James Boone Gravesite Marker to Fort Boonesboro

We’ve been working for a client developing a Boone Trace map and guide requiring maps at a few different scales. One scale is the “big picture” map and we selected a 3D basemap for this overview, letter-sized map. I spent only a few hours labeling the map, but with a little more work, I think it will look good. The color intensity might need to be reduced, if it’s decided to use the 3D map. It be more appropriate to make a simple line drawing map, in a nod to older map markers and the historic nature of the subject.

Interactive map legend

Interactive map legend

Many more hours were used to develop the driving tour basemap. Bringing in Kentucky state GIS data, the map was developed and labeled with shapefiles in TileMill. The idea is to build a good basemap for the client using online proofing and updating. After the production format and scale are chosen, we’ll create bounding boxes and clip out the print pages. TileMill styling and label placement can easily be transferred to Illustrator and with the goal of quickly designing a final proof.

Works in Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and IE8. You’ll need to run compatibility mode if your browser is IE9 or greater.

The Woodland Art Fair Weekend

Boyd ends a busy Saturday.

Ending a busy Saturday.

What an awesome weekend! We want to sincerely thank all of our friends, new and old, who came by our booth to talk about their adventures and uses of maps. We couldn’t have been happier after a busy day’s work with the excitement folks still have for good ‘ol paper maps. It’s inspiration that fuels our tanks. The weather held, this year’s food and beverage selection was superior, and our neighbors were fantastic. That’s why we say awesome!

One visitor, Emmett, epitomizes our type of person who loves maps and loves to use them. He recently moved to Lexington and committed himself to hiking all the official trails in the Red River Gorge. As he was outfitting his gear at Lexington’s Benchmark outdoor store, he came across one of our publications.

John answers questions from Sunday trekkers.

John at command/control in 2005, our first year at the church.

After a few dozen miles of using our map in the backcountry, he said, “That map was the best $15 I ever spent, hands down.” After he hikes all the trails, he’ll mount and frame his maps. Emmett, we’re gonna hold you to your pledge to send us a photograph of the framed map set.

This was our eight year at the same spot in the Woodland Christian Church fair annex. While we perhaps don’t have the same number of visitors as the Woodland Park grounds, we love our shady corner at the bottom of the hill.

We hope to see you next year and thanks for all your support!

Draft of North Sheltowee Trace Map

Interactive viewer to proof the content of the map.

Interactive viewer to proof the content of the map.

We are sharing our first draft of the Sheltowee Trace North map and we encourage you to proof it and give us feedback. The map covers the ST from the north terminus in Rowan County, Kentucky to DBNF’s Turkey Foot Campground along the banks of the War Fork near McKee, Jackson County.

The print format of this map will be 19″ x 27″ and on two double-sided sheets. The layout format is following: map one is Northern Terminus to Corner Ridge at Mariba; and map two is Corner Ridge to Turkey Foot.

Since the northern half of the ST has more contiguous public land, we went to the big sheet showing larger tracts of area. Trails in the Cave Run Lake and Red River Gorge areas are completely covered; in fact, this map might cover all official trails in the Cumberland Ranger District.

What needs to be done? We still need to add elevation contour labels and Sheltowee Trace mile markers. The south map counts miles from the old southern terminus and is no longer correct. To resolve mile markers on the north map, we’ll start counting from the northern terminus and provide a conversion for north-bound hikers using either the new or old southern terminus. Any suggestions about this mile maker plan?

A few notes about the map viewer. This map viewer is built out of TileMill and should work with most modern browsers, including mobile. As we develop new data about the alignment and distance of the Trace, we can easily update this draft. The images are reduced in resolution and they will appear a little ragged. We’re proofing content, here so please don’t the aesthetics, yet!

NOTE: the interactive works in Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and IE8. You’ll need to run compatibility mode if your browser is IE9 or greater.


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