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Google Maps Spoils the Fun of Getting Totally Lost

Street View now extends far into the Bay Area's wilds and vineyards.

 

Are you ever trucking along in Street View in Google Maps and get the urge to take it off road, just turn that camera car right into the brush and not stop until you reach the hinterlands?

Apparently the people at Google do too, because starting today you can use Street View to traipse off into Glen Canyon Park, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Crown Memorial Beach, and even nature preserves like Kammerer Ranch Preserve. You can also get lost in the rows of some of Napa and Sonoma’s prettiest wineries, including William Hill and Wolf Vineyards, more than 70 altogether.

No, nobody really took the camera car off-roading through the redwoods. Rather, the search engine giant is perfecting a backpack cam they call the Trekker, which straps onto a hardy outdoorsman or outdoorswoman and takes photos in 15 directions simultaneously every two seconds. It weighs 40 pounds, but that’s not much worse than a full load of serious hiking equipment, and it gives the Maps team access to basically any place a reasonably adventurous pedestrian could get to. They’ve even learned a thing or two from past expeditions, like when they took Street View into the Amazon rainforests a few years ago and ended up with frogs photo bombing the lenses. They’re much more careful about that kind of thing now.

Why the big expansion? Even Google feels the call of the wild from time to time, it seems. “It’s summer, people are planning trips, want to scope out a hike ahead of time, or are just getting curious about what’s out there,” says Street View Program Manager Deanna Yick. The other factor is that, increasingly, people want their little corner of the world to be on everyone's screens: It was Park and Rec’s idea to add Glen Canyon to the mix, and Google has been putting out feelers to wineries for a while now to find those ones up for a little Trekker tour.

Which reminds us: Care to invite Street View into your own abode? Go ahead and make the first move by calling them. You never know where they’re going next.

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Email Adam L. Brinklow at tamlinearthly@gmail.com
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