I was delighted to find that Mapquest now has aerial photos paired with the maps they show. I was able to see an aerial photo of the old folks home in which I live. I could see details like cars in the parking lot, and roof top coolers. I could not find my own car, but I noticed that on the day the photo was taken our bus was parked in front of the main door. I could estimate that the photo was taken two years ago since I could see piles of construction materials in our back parking lot an the remodeling was two years ago.
Then my using the arrows on the photo I could "fly" east over the nearby market, and on. I flew over my daughter's house, and on. I flew over the University of California, Merced, (at least the campus as it was under construction two years ago) and on over Lake Yosemite.
I continued flying east over the back roads I have wondered about. As I have driven the back roads of Merced County I have wondered, what's over that hill. I spotted lakes and creeks and streams that I had only known on maps. I could follow the trace of the old Chinese laborer built wall through the back country. Over a hundred years ago labor was cheap and ranchers used Chinese laborers to hand build walls between their ranches using the field stones that lay littering their fields. Those walls are still visible from the air today.
I continued my flight into Mariposa county. I became a little lost, I merely clicked on a map icon, and map lay over my route. From time to time I had to zoom out, equivalent to increasing my aircraft altitude to get my bearings, but when I knew where I was, I was zoom down again so I could see individual building.
I flew on to the tiny town of Hornitos, CA, which, over a century ago was county seat, then a booming mining community. Then I aimed my aircraft up, becoming a space ship and climbed higher so I could see the whole of Merced. Another click and I was high enough to see the whole central valley of California and the Pacific coast. I clicked again I was high enough to see Alaska, Canada, and most of North America.
I decided that was high enough, so I clicked again, the red X in the upper right hand corner of my window, and I was... seated in my chair in front of the computer screen.