VFYW: Zombies And Haunted Hippie Trees
... and the mystery of an orange figure, for contest #395. Happy Halloween!
(For the View From Your Window contest, the results below exceed the content limit for Substack’s email service, so to ensure that you see the full results, click the headline above.)
From the winner of last week’s contest:
Wow, thanks for the pleasant surprise this morning. I’ll take the two free years of Dish. It has been nice to read how my guesses each week have contributed to the weekly VFYW report. I’m working on the next one right now …
Another followup on last week:
It was very enjoyable reading all the Courmayeur guesses. It’s a bit eerie how, if you post a photo from your hotel room, so many people can track down exactly where you are, including matching the scuff marks on the wood of your balcony … brilliant work there on the part of the Tucson super-sleuth!
The Alaskan globetrotter remembers one of his trots:
One of the things I most love about the View contest is how it can simultaneously humble and deepen your understanding of a place. In my answer last week, I made an off-hand comment about the stinky tunnel between Courmayeur and Chamonix, remembering a direct experience from 1977 where I was downwind of the tunnel’s fumes at the start of a hike. In the contest reveal, another contributor mentioned the far more consequential fact about that tunnel: the catastrophic 1999 tunnel fire that took 39 lives, an event I recall having read about at the time but which did not bubble into my consciousness until the reveal reminded me.
This led me down the internet wormhole in search of the story, particularly chasing down my vague recollection that some tunnel official on a motorcycle managed to save several potential victims but eventually perished himself. As it turns out, that story was more fiction than fact, and the journalist who helped spread it described the more complicated story (and made his apologies) in a follow-up article years later. It’s another example of the power of direct experience on memory, and the way tidy narratives can rule the day (something Andrew noted in the most recent column). The truth is always more complex — or even completely different.
On to this week’s view, a sleuth writes:
I first looked at this photo on Saturday morning and thought, “That’s pretty — and I have no chance to figure it out.” I’m on holiday in Southern California to officiate my Kiwi nephew and his beautiful American bride’s wedding later that day, so I may have to sit this one out. I don’t want to risk forgetting my lines.
Looking at it again on Monday with fresh eyes, though, I dug in. (The wedding was beautiful, BTW.) Being from the PNW, at first glance this view looks like it could be local. Water. Green trees. Boats. The traffic signage definitely looks American.
On closer inspection, though, the hills aren’t tall and steep enough to be the PNW. So maybe it’s New England? The only thing is, the boats are all on the smaller side. In a saltwater harbor, you may see boats like this, and you’d also expect to see larger, ocean-worthy boats.
So, maybe it’s a lake. But the rock barrier in front of the marina indicates a place that gets pretty big waves, so it leaves us thinking of a pretty big lake. So that narrows it down a little.
He eventually settled on the right place. So did our super-sleuth in San Francisco, but here’s the beginning of his entry:
This week’s view took me back to a July visit earlier this year to Canandaigua, NY. Here’s the view from my hotel there:
So, we are likely looking for a northern lake with a relatively well-off town — those are nice boats in the marina — which has a square/rectangular waterfront park adjacent to a marina.
From a previous winner in Alexandria:
I’m super shaky on this one, but it looks like the Finger Lakes region of upstate NY: the lakeside promenade, the low hills and pretty lake with sailboats, and the crappy roads that look patched up after years of freezing and thawing. I’m gonna guess Geneva, NY, but I’m not super confident, since it could be any of those towns on the many lakes there — or in other states — that look similar.
Green, a little hilly, a harbor with boats and rocks, a mix of conifer and deciduous trees, shamefully decrepit roads and sidewalks … none of that rules out the Midwest, but I’m going with Maine.
And another state:
Quantico, Virginia? I know that’s not right, but I’m out of time fruitlessly going up and down the inlets of the mid-Atlantic. It’s probably a colder spot given the hydrant snow marker, but I convinced myself the waterway runs east and west.
Another sleuth zooms above the waterway:
Holy crap, for the first time I actually have a reasonable level of confidence in the precise window, but I suspect a lot of people will get it too. You left us some good clues.
It was also an easy contest for our super-sleuth in Bethlum:
You pitched a softball this week and I thank you. My immediate impression: wow, it looks a bit like Hawaii, seacoast and sailboats, hills in the distance … and then I realized it was a bit too green and there were evergreens in the foreground. Oops. Not saltwater at all.
As always, Google is a friend, and this is a picturesque spot that others have also visited. Ergo, similar pictures online, from the rooftop bar I think. I suspect many of us will find the view this week. The question will be, was this photo taken from the rooftop or from a hotel room, because the windows actually open upward. I’m guessing the rooftop bar. I won’t wade into the controversy about the window specs for the view (looking at you contest #393, in San Antonio), because I think any semi-stationary spot which is identifiable is fair game.
She went on to the name the right hotel. So did the next sleuth, but here’s how he started:
The weather-beaten concrete road, road signs, Ford F-150 truck and low-lying hills suggest the northeastern US or eastern Canada. My first thought was the Finger Lakes region, but I couldn’t find a matching marina and jetty on quick glance. The body of water looked too narrow for the Great Lakes (especially to this outsider from the PNW).
Chini reveals the body of water from on high:
He adds, “Our last-chance clue for this one arrives in crossword style: ‘How Danny Devito crosses a river (8 letters).’” Our super-champ Giuseppe names the right region:
Sometimes all you need to solve our contest is just a lot of patience. Consider this week’s view, for example: it doesn’t take deep geographical knowledge to figure out that we are somewhere in North America, and that that water is a bit too still to be a sea. At the same time, there aren’t a lot of features you can google: there is just a marina. So all you have to do is sift through a few hundred photos of marinas around the Great Lakes. It could be boring, maybe, but patience is a virtue, isn’t it?
A previous winner in Arlington focuses on the smaller clues:
At first glance, I had nothing to go on. I thought that “Do Not Enter” sign had a very strange look to it, almost like the letters were too far spaced apart than normal. I thought maybe it might be Canada, since they do their sign formats slightly different. But “Do Not Enter” signs in Canada actually look completely different than ours in the USA.
I also noticed the very short and strangely colored fire hydrant near the road, but it’s hard to search for information about that online. There appears to be a pole sticking up from the hydrant, as well as the green box next to it. I think these are meant to stick out from the snow to alert snow plows about their presence. But honestly, I might just be making that up.
Not according to the super-sleuth in Yarrow Point:
Three small clues in the VFYW photo this week led me to the Great Lakes pretty quickly. The first was the state of the road. It’s in bad shape — a hallmark of the parts of the northern US that get heavy snow. This was further cemented by the fire hydrant and electrical box:
They each have locator sticks so they can be more easily found when the snow is deep.
The Alaskan globetrotter names the right lake:
I knew we were at a large North American lake and figured I could find the distinctive marina breakwater if I gave it enough time. But while I started with the lake I knew best (Champlain, where I went to college), it didn’t take long to move on to a bigger lake that was also at the top of my mind: Lake Michigan, where my son is going to high school.
Just a few days before, he had sent me a View From His Window — he knows about my interest in these things— from a piano practice room at Interlochen, about 15 miles away from our View:
This is a shameless plug for the town’s camp and school, which dates back to 1928, when it birthed the National High School Orchestra — an attempt to bring some of the country’s best high school musicians to play together each summer. Calling its primary band the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, Interlochen today puts on a diverse program of classical, jazz, and popular concerts and theatre productions by its high school performers, while also bringing in several national acts (e.g. Bruce Hornsby, Trey Anastasio, Bonnie Raitt, Greensky Bluegrass, and the Temptations).
Last summer, I encouraged my son to see Elvis Costello and the Imposters in the 3,000-seat pavilion by the lake. I thought it would be great opportunity to catch one of my favorite veteran rockers, who occasionally sings jazz, country, and standards — and perhaps find some common musical ground. He said, “Thanks, but no thanks — I like music that is 100 to 400 years older.” There is no accounting for kids’ tastes these days.
Another previous winner is also on the right track: “The view immediately screamed Upper Midwest to me — which, despite the definition of ‘Midwest’ being much in dispute, means Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan to me (I lived in Minnesota for seven years).”
Our super-sleuth in Ann Arbor names the right state and city:
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