PIT > SFO, SFO > PEK
On my way to the US, my flight from Seoul left at dusk, and heading east, it was dark within minutes, so failing to get a window seat was not a serious disappointment. I had a good seat booked from San Francisco, but missed my plane while I was sitting at the gate. I re-booked for the next day, but that flight was delayed and again did not leave till dusk. So except for some time over Mongolia, it was not until my return trip that I found a good enough view to use a camera.
Although the east was cloud-covered, the west was clear, most of it covered with a fresh coat of white snow. Irrigation circles, highways, mountains and canyons, erosion and agriculture—all were articulated in perfectly monochromatic light and shadow, the geometric patterns of human activity contrasting with the random and chaotic patterns of nature.
From San Francisco, clouds over the Pacific Ocean toward Alaska, then somewhere near the base of the Aleutian Peninsula, a few holes, showing mountainous terrain if over land, and fractured expanses of ice when over water. The Bearing Sea, the Kamchatsky Peninsula, the Sea of Okhotsk, the geography lesson I missed, unfolding below as the clouds cleared. Landfall at the eastern edge of Russia, where agriculture was sparse and mountains plentiful. Crossing into China the terrain changed again, this time to a much closer fit between human activity and the landscape with fields closely nestled together, following the exact contour of the hillsides. Even here, development has its limits and harsh terrain remains chaotic. Closer to Beijing, development becomes more dense and areas of wilderness become rare. During the last half hour we cross a mountain range, then drop into dense smog.
I'm still working on exact locations for many of these images, which I find by plotting the course between knowns on Google Earth and interpolating the unknowns from the time stamp on the image files. (There's no GPS data for these images. I am a patient person, but—see Communication Systems
below—everyone has their limit, and mine is using Google Earth on a crippled connection.) So, the captions become more vague as the notebook progresses. I'll work more when time and gigas permit, but from what is here you can see the change in the patterns of land use when flying from the US to China. It is easy to resolve the pattern of large mechanical influences on agriculture in the US. When farming becomes dense and labor intensive the traces are not so easy to see. Individual fields are packed together more densely than ice floes in the Sea of Okhotsk.