I started playing the geocaching game Ingress back in 2015, largely because of its “missions” feature—players can set up collections of waypoints for other players to visit. Since these waypoints tended to be local landmarks, completing Ingress missions was a great way to explore neat parts of unfamiliar cities on my many solo trips.
The way the game is set up, completed missions show up as a 6-column grid of mission icons in each player’s profile. Some players started submitting groups of 6, 12, 18, or some larger multiple-of-6 missions with carefully chosen icons, so if the missions were completed in a particular order, the icons would form a mosaic that showed a larger image.
I started logging my GPS tracks while completing these missions, so that I could create maps (with uMap and Paint.NET) showing off my mosaic completions.
Bakersfield—All American City
Bakersfield, California, United States
This mission took a deceptively long time for me to complete. The first half of the missions all took place downtown, so I was able to park the car, walk around, and complete them quickly.
Then, suddenly, the missions started getting further away, requiring me to drive to them. Even worse, their positions on the map weren’t in a logical order, so I ended up having to drive back and forth across Bakersfield, doubling back multiple times to complete the missions correctly. (I also had to find parking at every new mission, since I don’t use my phone while driving.)
So it took me quite a bit longer to complete this than it initially seemed it would, but I was able to finish it!
Charleston, South Carolina, United States
By United States standards, Charleston is an old city. Once you’re downtown, it’s pretty easy to get anywhere by walking. This made the Charleston Tour mission into a relatively quick two-hour walk.
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Other than a wrong turn that resulted in me accidentally crossing the Ohio River, this was a pretty easy mosaic to complete.
Dayton, Ohio, United States
I live near Dayton, so it’s not exactly an unfamiliar city to me, but I still enjoyed this series of walks around the city.
Kings Park War Memorial
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
This mosaic, for some reason, required completing the same loop twice; the missions in the first half were nearly identical to the missions in the second half.
Orlando, Florida, United States
I completed this mosaic in a single day, which was probably a mistake; I like walking, but twelve miles without a break left my feet a bit sore.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, United States
The 2.16 miles (3.48 km) of Portsmouth was probably the quickest mosaic I completed—only twelve missions within a quite walkable seaside town.
Tour of Tacoma
Tacoma, Washington, United States
This one was difficult to complete. Many mosaic missions simply require visiting the waypoints, but players can also create missions that use other game mechanics—in this case, it required “capturing” the waypoints, which other players can interfere with.
I was completing the last third of this mosaic on the last night of my trip, and one particularly tenacious opposing player started slowing me down. That was fine, it’s a legitimate part of the game, but it also meant that I only just barely managed to finish before I had to head home.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Tulsa is one of my most frequently visited cities, so I was pretty familiar with downtown. However, I’d never really explored the area just south of the highway loop, so I’m glad this mission brought me somewhere new!
UW Cherry Blossoms
Seattle, Washington, United States
I ended up with an extra day in Seattle on one trip, so I took the light rail to its then-new terminus at the University of Washington, and discovered there was a mosaic available.