A Landing a Day

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Gallatin, Missouri

Posted by graywacke on October 19, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2127; A Landing A Day blog post number 555.

Dan:  Wow.  Four USers in a row (and 5/6).  Of course, a new record low Score, thanks to this landing in . . . MO; 47/48 (Watch out!  Approaching PSer-land); 6/10; 2; 146.6.

Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My local landing map shows many small towns, including my titular Gallatin:

 landing 2

Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot:

 GE 1

I’m only about 250 yards from I-35!  Let’s see what Street View looks like:


Doh!  (Of course, spoken in Homer Simpson’s voice).  This entire stretch of I-35 is recessed such that I can’t see my landing.  I decided to feature the big tower that you can see on the GE shot above.  My landing is just behind the tower.

Here’s Phase 1 of my watershed analysis.  You can see that I landed in the Lazy Creek watershed, which flows on to the Grindstone Creek:

 landing 3

Which flows to the Grand River:

landing 4

The Grand flows to the Missouri (385th hit), on, of course to the MM (833rd hit):

 landing 5

Of course, I checked out Winston, the town closest to my landing.  No hook.  I checked out Altamont, Weatherby, Maysville, Kidder and Jameson.  No hook.  That leaves Gallatin, and that leaves (of all things) the Mormons.  From Wiki:

Gallatin (pop 1800) was founded in 1837 and named for Albert Gallatin, America’s longest-serving Secretary of the Treasury (1801–1814).

The Gallatin Election Day Battle took place in 6 August 1838, when about 200 people attempted to forcibly prevent Mormons from voting in the newly created county’s first election. The skirmish is often cited as the opening event of the 1838 Mormon War.

Gallatin is important in the Mormon religion for another reason: nearby is a place known to Mormons as Adam-ondi-Ahman, believed by Mormons to be the site where Adam and Eve lived after being expelled from the Garden of Eden.

You’ll have to trust me here.  I don’t seek out Mormon story lines.  I seek out interesting hooks that I can feature in my blog posts.  But I’ll tell you – it seems like over and over again, it’s a Mormon story that catches my interest. 

Anyway, I recalled featuring the Mormon War in a previous post, and it turned out to be a December 2009 post on Independence Missouri.  Sufficeth it to say that the Joseph Smith-led Mormons settled in Missouri, but were booted out after the 1838 Mormon War.  They headed back east across the Mississippi and settled in Nauvoo, Illinois (featured in my May 2013 “West Point, Illinois” post).  Joseph Smith was killed in Illinois.  Brigham Young took over the reigns of leadership (in spite of a splinter group led by James Strang, featured in my August 2014 Charlevoix Michigan post), and led the crew out west to Salt Lake City.

Enough of that.  But how about Adam-ondi-Ahman, believed by Mormons to be the site where Adam and Eve lived after being expelled from the Garden of Eden?

Here’s a GE shot showing the location:

GE a o a

Here’s what MormonWiki has to say:

Adam-ondi-Ahman, a settlement in Daviess County, Missouri, received its unusual name from the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1838 when Latter-day Saints were moving into the area. In May 1838 Joseph Smith led surveyors to a horseshoe bend of the Grand River, seventy miles north of present-day Kansas City, and proclaimed a new community, which he named Adam-ondi-Ahman because, said he, “it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the Prophet.” Orson Pratt interpreted the name to mean “Valley of God, where Adam dwelt.”

Smith’s revelations indicated several things about the area:

(1) the Garden of Eden was located in Jackson County, Missouri, and after Adam was expelled from the garden, he went north to Adam-ondi-Ahman;

(2) three years before Adam’s death, he gathered the righteous of his posterity to Adam-ondi-Ahman and bestowed upon them his last blessing;

(3) this site would be the location of a future meeting of the Lord with Adam and the Saints, as spoken of by the prophet Daniel.

While Joseph Smith and his militia were in Adam-ondi-Ahman during October, the Church members assembled to witness the dedication of the public square by Brigham Young. At this time, Joseph Smith pointed out a location where Adam had once built an altar. In May the Prophet had identified this same site as one that had also been used by early American Indians.

After the October plundering and burnings by the mobs and retaliatory actions by the Latter-day Saints, who were intent on defending themselves, the state militia forced them to surrender their arms on November 7, 1838, and gave them ten days to move to Far West [ a Mormon town about 20 miles south of Adam-ondi-Ahman].

Adam-ondi-Ahman was abandoned and fell into the hands of non-Mormon settlers.

Now, I avoid personal religious musings on this blog, but I’m a science guy, and science tells us with great certainty that Homo Sapiens originated in Africa.  So, traditional Christians have their myth, and the Mormons have theirs . . .

Also –  I just saw the Off-Broadway (Philadelphia) version of “The Book of Mormon,” which certainly casts the religion in an . . uh . . . interesting light.

Here’s a picture of the specific site where Adam had once built an altar (from Wiki):


And this, from Wiki:

Today, 3000 acres of Adam-ondi-Ahman is owned and maintained as a historic site by the LDS Church and remains largely undeveloped farmland.

Here’s a GE shot:

 GE a o a (2)

All of the Panoramio photos (the little dots) are associated with Adam-ondi-Ahman (likely taken by Mormons).  I think that pretty much the whole area east and north of the river in the above photo is owned by the LDS Church.

I found a couple of pretty shots by Peter Clegg.  First this, out along the road:

 pano peter clegg 2

And then this:

 pano peter clegg

I’ll close with this shot of the Grand River just north of Adam-ondi-Ahman (by LatinGal):

 pano latin gal of the river north of aoa

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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Santa Fe Baldy, New Mexico

Posted by graywacke on October 14, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2126; A Landing A Day blog post number 554.

Dan:  A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that three USers in a row would result in a new record low Score.  Well, it happened!  And I landed in the same USer twice in a row, thanks to today’s landing in . . . NM; 76/86; 5/10; 1; 147.2

Two NMs in a row is my 53rd double, the 5th for NM.  Surprisingly, I had four NM doubles by landing 572 (November 2004).  And then, it took 1,554 landings to get one more NM double.  Strange the way the Landing God works, eh?

Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My local landing map shows my landing’s proximity to Cowles (more about Cowles later) and some other small towns in the greater Santa Fe area (I landed about 15 miles from Santa Fe):

 landing 2

You can tell from the post title that I must have landed near something called “Santa Fe Baldy.”  Well, it’s a mountain, and here it is:

landing 6

More about Santa Fe Baldy and Lake Katherine in a bit.   My streams-only map shows that I landed right in a stream, with the peculiar name of Rito Oscuro (more about the peculiar name later).  The Rito Oscuro flows to Panchuela Creek, on to the Pecos River (14th hit):

 landing 3

You can see that I landed just east of the watershed divided between the Rio Grande and the Pecos.  Stepping back a little, you can see that the Rio Grande and the Pecos pretty much split up Central New Mexico between them.  And yes, the Pecos runs down through Texas and ends up in the Rio Grande (41st hit).

 landing 4

So, what about Rito Oscuro?  In Spanish, Rito means rite or ritual, and oscuro means dark, gloomy or sinister.  All righty then.  We have a dark ritual going on here.  I can’t imagine why a stream would be named that. 

It turns out that rito oscuro means exactly the same thing in Italian, and you can collect (and trade!) Rito Oscuro cards, and maybe play some strange game.  Here’s a sampling:

 rito oscuro


And an English version . . .

 english version dark ritual


Here’s a Google Earth (GE) shot, looking east right down the Rito Oscuro:

 GE 1

Zooming back just a little (and looking north), you can see the dramatic ridge line which divides the Rio Grande watershed (to the left) from the Pecos River watershed (to the right).

 GE 2 ridge

The mountain in the middle distance is known as Santa Fe Baldy (el. 12,632).  It marks the southern end of high peaks (>12,000 feet) that are part of the Rocky Mountains.  Here’s a GE view from near the top of Santa Fe Baldy, looking down the Rito Oscuro valley:

 GE 3 view down cirque towards landing

Notice how it looks like an amphitheater?  We geologists call this landform a cirque, which was carved out by a mountain glacier.  The glacier tends to dig out an area at the base of the steep slope, which often ends up with a lake (known as a tarn, which you can see in the above picture).  Here’s a better shot of the cirque, looking up the valley:

 GE 3 view up to cirque

Checking back to my landing map – see the road that dead ends just north of Cowles?  I figured, no way – it probably just peters out to a dirt road.  So I took a close look on GE.  Here it is:

 GE 2 deadend

Son of a gun, the road winds up the valley and does just end – although as a series of campgrounds.  GE Street View takes us there:

 GE SV deadend

Anyway, back to Santa Fe Baldy and the cirque at the head of the Rito Oscuro valley.  It turns out that there’s another cirque (and another tarn), just south:

 GE 4 lake katherine

The lake – er, I mean tarn –  you can see is Lake Katherine, and there’s an interesting story on how the lake got its name.  I found this in a Discover Magazine blog by George Johnson:

As I read Ray Monk’s new biography of Robert Oppenheimer, which I reviewed for the forthcoming issue of the New York Times Book Review, the parts that affected me most deeply were about northern New Mexico. I’d long known the story of Oppenheimer and Los Alamos, the secret atomic city he presided over in the Jemez Mountains. But it was on the opposite side of the Rio Grande Valley, in the Sangre de Cristo range [right where I landed] that he fell in love with the wild beauty of this land. He was 18 years old.

He had grown up in luxury on the Gold Coast of Manhattan’s Upper Westside. Holidays were spent at a mansion on Long Island and sailing on the family yacht. The boy’s life changed when, before he left for Harvard, his parents arranged for him to spend the summer of 1922 in New Mexico.

His stay began in Albuquerque, where he met Katherine Chaves, the daughter of one of the most prominent of New Mexico’s old families. She was 28 at the time.  The Chaveses had a guest ranch, Los Pinos, in the Sangre de Cristos, near the headwaters of the Pecos River and the village of Cowles.

Oppenheimer learned to ride a horse there, and on a trip high among the tall pines and aspens, he came upon a jewel of a lake he named Lake Katherine.  It is one of my favorite spots on Earth.

Seems amazing (and unlikely) that an 18-year old kid names a lake after love interest, and it sticks.  I’d have to guess that Katherine’s family (being prominent and all) embraced the name.

Anyway, my very last post (White Sands NM) was very near Alamogorda NM, which is very near where the first atomic bomb was exploded.  I almost used that hook as a reason to feature Robert Oppenheimer, but decided to feature White Sands instead.  Well, with this landing, I had no doubt that now was the time to feature Mr. Oppenheimer.

Obviously, I knew that he is known as the “Father of the Atomic Bomb,” and that he was in charge of the Manhattan project.  But with a little research, I discovered that he was quite fascinating guy – not just a nuts and bolts scientist/engineer type of guy.

From PBS.org:

Robert Oppenheimer’s name has become almost synonymous with the atomic bomb, and also with the dilemma facing scientists when the interests of the nation and their own conscience collide.

His early education was at the Ethical Culture School in New York. He took math and science classes, but also enthusiastically studied Greek, Latin, French, and German. He had a feel for languages and often learned one quickly just to read something in its original language. He learned Dutch in six weeks in order to give a technical talk in the Netherlands. He also maintained an interest in classics and eastern philosophy throughout his life.

He was always an intense person, tall, thin, contemplative, and probing. He obtained his PhD from Harvard in 1925 and studied at Cambridge University under Ernest Rutherford. In 1929 he returned to the United States and positions at Berkeley and Cal Tech. He was an extraordinary teacher and an excellent theoretician. His analyses predicted many later finds, such as the neutron, positron, meson, and neutron stars.

Absorbed in his studies and the theoretical world of physics, he was often somewhat distracted from the “real world.” But the rise of fascism in the 1930s caught his attention, and he took a strong stand against it. By 1939, Niels Bohr brought news to the U.S. that Germans had split the atom.

The implication that the Nazis could develop extremely powerful weapons prompted President Roosevelt to establish the Manhattan Project in 1941. In June 1942, Robert Oppenheimer was appointed its director. Preliminary research was being done at Columbia University, the University of Chicago, and in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, but Oppenheimer set up a new research station at Los Alamos, New Mexico. There he brought the best minds in physics to work on the problem of creating an atomic bomb. In the end he was managing more than three thousand people, as well as tackling theoretical and mechanical problems that arose.

On July 16, 1945, Oppenheimer witnessed the first explosion of an atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert.  He was said to exclaim:  “It worked!” and “The world will not be the same.”

Within a month, two atomic bombs were dropped on Japanese cities. Japan surrendered on August 10, 1945.

After the war, Oppenheimer chaired the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. He opposed developing an even more powerful hydrogen bomb. When President Truman finally approved it, Oppenheimer did not argue, but his initial reluctance and the political climate turned against him.

In 1953, at the height of U.S. anticommunist feeling, Oppenheimer was accused of having communist sympathies, and his security clearance was taken away. He had, in fact, had friends who were communists, mostly people involved in the antifascist movement of the thirties.

This loss of security clearance ended Oppenheimer’s influence on science policy. He held the academic post of director of the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton, and in the last years of his life, he thought and wrote much about the problems of intellectual ethics and morality. He died of throat cancer in 1967.

Wiki has more to say about his leftist leanings:

When he joined the Manhattan Project in 1942, Oppenheimer wrote on his personal security questionnaire that he had been “a member of just about every Communist Front organization on the West Coast”.

Years later he claimed that he did not remember saying this, that it was not true, and that if he had said anything along those lines, it was “a half-jocular overstatement”.

He was a subscriber to the People’s World, a Communist Party magazine.  From 1937 to 1942, Oppenheimer was a member at Berkeley of what he called a “discussion group”, which was later identified by fellow members, Haakon Chevalier and Gordon Griffiths, as a “closed” (secret) unit of the Communist Party for Berkeley faculty.

Throughout the development of the atomic bomb, Oppenheimer was under investigation by both the FBI and the Manhattan Project’s internal security arm for his past left-wing associations.  Brigadier General Leslie R. Groves, Jr., the military director of the Manhattan Project, thought Oppenheimer was too important to the project to be ousted over this suspicious behavior. On July 20, 1943, he wrote to the Manhattan Engineer District:

In accordance with my verbal directions of July 15, it is desired that clearance be issued to Julius Robert Oppenheimer without delay irrespective of the information which you have concerning Mr Oppenheimer. He is absolutely essential to the project.

Wow.  Very interesting stuff, eh?

Here’s a PBS YouTube clip:



And another (with perhaps his most famous quote, which I’ve included below:


“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty; and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ I suppose we all thought that one way or another.”

It seems appropriate to include some pictures of Lake Katherine.  Here’s one from MyLifeOutdoors.com:


And another, from Santa Fe.org:

 Lake-Katehrine santa fe.org

I’ll close, not with a picture, but another Robert Oppenheimer quote.  This is an answer to a student at Rochester University who asked if the bomb exploded at Alamogorda was the first:

Well — yes.  In modern times, of course.

Just give it a little thought  . . .

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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White Sands, New Mexico

Posted by graywacke on October 9, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2125; A Landing A Day blog post number 553.

Dan:  In my last post, I mentioned that three USers in a row would result in a new record low Score.  Well, this post makes it two USers in a row, thanks to . . . NM; 75/86; 4/10; 11; 147.7 (the record low Score is 147.4).  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My local landing map shows the proximity to Valmont and Alamogordo, neither of which, you’ll notice, are my titular town:

 landing 2

I can actually do my watershed analysis very quickly.  Notice Lake Lucero in the above map?   More-or-less, my drainage heads to Lake Lucero.  Trust me on this: if the water makes it there, it ain’t got nowhere to go (besides evaporating or infiltrating down). 

Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot:

 GE 1

Not much to see, eh?  Let’s back out a little:

 GE 2

Still not much to see, except that there’s a road about a mile east of my landing.  And yes, there’s Street View coverage, so here’s a Street View shot looking west to my landing:


I zoomed back a little on GE, and saw a huge white patch northwest of my landing.  (OK, because of the post title, we all know what this is.  But bear with me, and follow the discovery sequence I did):

 GE 3

What the heck is that?  And then, I turned on the Panoramio photo locations.  Here’s what I saw:

 GE 4 - panoramio locations

So, whatever the big white spot is, plenty o’ folks take pictures of it.  Of course, “it” is White Sands National Monument.  To give you a feel for the place, let me show you a couple of these Panoramio pictures.  First this one, by Ceastes:

 pano 1  ceastes

And then this, by Alex Petrov:

pano 2  alex petrov

 So we have a huge patch of white sand. Big deal.  Or is it really a big deal?  If I were you, I’d ask a geologist.  Oh!  I’m a geologist!  And I am, in fact, the very person you would ask.  And here’s my answer:  Yes, it is a big deal!

This is an example of exactly why I’m a geologist.  I want to know:  Why is there a huge patch of white sand in south central New Mexico?  Not only that, but also consider the fact that this is the biggest similarly-white patch of sand IN THE WORLD!   Excuse me, but that demands an explanation.   It turns out that the White Sands are the result of a very particular sequence of geologic events.

We’ll start with the Permian period, about 250 million years ago.  Way the heck back then, what is now western North America (including New Mexico) was covered by a warm, tropical sea.  The rocks that surrounded this sea were rich in calcium carbonate (i.e., limestone), and rich in sulfate as well.  No big deal, except:

There was a global fall in sea level, and the inland sea started to dry up.  As the sea dried up, calcium sulfate (Gypsum) precipitated out, and was deposited all over the former sea floor.  OK.  Now we got lots and lots of gypsum.  But the story’s just beginning.

When the gypsum deposition was going on, the whole area was near sea level.  It sure as heck ain’t near sea level now.  What happened?  More-or-less 70 million years ago, some of those big-ass tectonic plates started smashin’ into each other, with the end result that the whole area was uplifted.  Not just a little, but more than a mile.  Remember that all of this gypsum also got lifted up a mile.

It turns out that the white sands wouldn’t be there without the Tularosa Basin (more about that later), which is the hydraulically-closed basin (i.e., a low area surrounded by high ground) that is present today.  (Note that Lake Lucero mentioned above is the low point of the Tularosa Basin.)  So how’d we end up with the Tularosa Basin? 

Beginning about 30 million years ago, the area beneath New Mexico and Nevada began to get torn apart by those same tectonic forces mentioned above.  But this time, we don’t have the collision of plates, we have the pulling apart of plates, caused by a massive upwelling of magma under the region.  This upwelling is stretching the whole region, causing large-scale tension cracks (faults) to develop.  Along these fault, huge chunks of real estate began to sink along the faults, causing many basins like the Tularosa. 

So now, we have this enclosed basin, with lots of gypsum rock in the surrounding mountains.  Is this the reason for the white sands?  Not quite.  We now have to move to much more recent time to put it all together . . .

To finish up the story, I’m going to cut and paste some information from the National Park Service website (which I used as a general source for my previous discussions).  Anyway, here’s what they have to say about the end of the story:

The wet climate during last ice age (approximately 24,000 to 12,000 years ago) played a major role in the formation of White Sands. In the late Pleistocene Epoch, the Tularosa Basin (and much of the U.S. southwest) received substantially more rain than it does today. Cooler and wetter conditions enabled a small glacier to form on the north slope of 12,000 ft. Sierra Blanca, and much of the Tularosa Basin was filled with an enormous lake called Otero. Heavy rainfall flushed large quantities of soluble gypsum from the San Andres and Sacramento Mountains down to the Lake Otero. The lake became saturated with dissolved gypsum.

As the ice age came to an end, the climate of the Tularosa Basin became increasingly more arid. Lake Otero slowly dried up, leaving behind enormous crystal deposits of the mineral Selenite (i.e., gypsum).   Following the evaporation of this enormous lake, large stretches of the Tularosa Basin must have been as littered with selenite crystals as Lake Lucero is today.

The forces of nature— freezing and thawing, wetting and drying—eventually break down the crystals into sand-size particles light enough to be moved by the wind.

So there you have it.  A 250-million year old story that results in a huge deposit of gypsum that gets blown around by the wind, forming dunes.  Aren’t you glad you asked?

Time for some more White Sands panoramio shots.  From Harley Photo:

pano 3 harley photo

From Ron Marlo:

 pano 4 ron marlo

From Vadim Balakin:

 pano 5 vadim balakin

I’ll return to my landing spot, and close with this Pano shot taken about a mile south, by Amanda O’Bryan:

 pano 5 amanda o'bryan one mile south


That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Clarksville, Texas

Posted by graywacke on October 4, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2124; A Landing A Day blog post number 552.

 Dan:  Two out of three – I’ll take it, thanks to this USer landing . . . TX; 157/186; 3/10; 10; 148.3.  Hey, if I get two more USers in a row, it’ll be a new record low Score.  We’ll see . . .

Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My local landing map shows that I landed close to some small, hookless towns, but not all that far from Clarksville (I’m about 20 miles east):

 landing 2

I actually landed in closer proximity to DeKalb, but wouldn’t you know, I featured DeKalb when I landed close by (landing 2002, April 2013):

landing 4

Remember DeKalb?  I featured Dan Blocker (Hoss Cartwright from “Bonanza”) as well as Ricky Nelson, who was killed in a plane crash near DeKalb.  I just reread the post.  Of course, it’s great.  You, too can enjoy it once again – just type “DeKalb” in the search box . . .

Anyway, I landed in the watershed of Young Creek; on to Anderson Creek; on to the Sulphur River (2nd hit); to the Red (57th hit); to the Atchafalya (64th hit).  The Atchafalaya was tied with the Nelson for 9th place on my river hits list.  Thanks to today’s land, the Atchafalaya now stands alone in 9th place.  The Atchafalaya has a long way to go to catch #8 on my list, the Snake River,  with 75 hits.

Here’s a streams-only map.  (You’ll have to take my word for it that the Sulphur discharges into the Red.):

 landing 3

My Google Earth shot shows that I landed behind some outbuildings (out in a pasture?) that appear to be part of a farmette: 

 GE 1

Oops.  I’m in Texas.  Ain’t no way they call it a “farmette” in Texas . . .

Anyway, you can see that GE Street View coverage is available for the little road that runs along the farm.  Here’s the shot:

 GE SV, side road

Amazing that there’s Street View coverage on such a tiny road.  Check this out – here’s a shot of the road itself (where I took the above shot):

 GE SV, side road (2)

If Google drives their GoogleCam here, they’ll drive it anywhere & everywhere!

So, let’s head on over to Clarksville.  Let me start by saying that I desperately hoped that Clarksville was of “Last Train to Clarksville” fame.  ‘Twas not to be.  The famous Monkees’ tune (written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart) was inspired by Clarksdale AZ (a town Bobby Hart knew), and the name changed to Clarksville because it sounded better. 

Staying with the Monkees for now, I came upon a piece in Cracked.com by Adam Tod Brown entitled “5 Upbeat Songs You Didn’t Realize Are Depressing (Part 2).”  One of the featured songs is, of course, “Last Train to Clarksville.” 

Adam says that the Monkees were professionally light-weight pop stars, and had no choice but to be anything besides upbeat.  Here’s a quote:

They basically got to become one of the biggest bands in the world by looking the part and letting people like Neil Diamond write their songs.

You can’t really blame them for any of this, of course. They were a band built around a television show. This stuff was completely out of their hands. And they didn’t look like they were particularly sad about anything that was happening around them. Why, just check out the video for “Last Train to Clarksville” for proof of that:

Here are the lyrics:

Take the last train to Clarksville,
And I’ll meet you at the station.
You can be there by four thirty,
‘Cause I made your reservation.
Don’t be slow, oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!

‘Cause I’m leavin’ in the morning
And I must see you again
We’ll have one more night together
‘Til the morning brings my train.
And I must go, oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home.

Take the last train to Clarksville.
I’ll be waiting at the station.
We’ll have time for coffee flavored kisses
And a bit of conversation.
Oh… Oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!

Take the last train to Clarksville,
Now I must hang up the phone.
I can’t hear you in this noisy
Railroad station all alone.
I’m feelin’ low. Oh, no, no, no!
Oh, no, no, no!
And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home.

Back to Cracked.com:

The problem with being a band built for television is that you have to tread carefully when it comes to delivering any sort of message. . . for the Monkees, the joyful antics of the “Last Train to Clarksville” video are hiding something pretty damn dark. Like Vietnam War dark. “Last Train to Clarksville” is actually a song written in protest of the war in Vietnam. It tells the story of a man who’s taking a train to an Army base in the morning and wants to see the love of his life one last time. You know, in case you ever wondered why, in a song so seemingly filled with happiness, this line pops up:

“And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home.”

Vietnam is never specifically mentioned in “Last Train to Clarksville,” but Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, the duo who wrote the song, have a pretty solid excuse for that, saying in an interview, “We couldn’t be too direct with the Monkees. We couldn’t really make a protest song out of it — we kind of snuck it in.”

It’s exactly that kind of subversiveness that gets you applauded in a Cracked article, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Here’s hoping the rest of the songwriting world follows your lead.

Click HERE for the whole Cracked.com article (there’s some pretty funny stuff here).

Notice how I was totally sidetracked (so to speak) by the Monkees, even though Clarksville TX has nothing to do with “Last Train to Clarksville.”  Hey – I was 16 when the song was released, and I really liked it.  I hung around with some kids who were too cool to like the Monkees (only the Beatles and Stones would do for them), but I was a cultural light-weight.  But I was cool enough to disdain the TV show . . .

So, finally getting around to the real Clarksville TX (pop 3,800) – I found that for such a small town, they have quite the list of famous favorite sons.

I’ll start with Tommie Smith, since amazingly enough I featured him in my most recent post (Doland SD)!  That post features Hubert Humphrey, but also features events that occurred in 1968.  An event that I mentioned was the black-gloved raising of fists on the medal podium by two U.S. sprinters during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.  The winner of that event (the 200 meters, in a world record time) was none other thanTommie Smith.  John Carlos finished third.  Here’s the iconic photo:


From Wiki:

The 1968 Olympics Black Power salute was an act of protest by the African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. As they turned to face their flags and hear The Star-Spangled Banner, they each raised a black-gloved fist and kept them raised until the anthem had finished. Smith, Carlos and Australian silver medalist Peter Norman all wore human rights badges on their jackets. In his autobiography, Silent Gesture, Tommie Smith stated that the gesture was not a “Black Power” salute, but a “human rights salute”. The event is regarded as one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympic Games.

Smith and Carlos were largely ostracized by the U.S. sporting establishment and they were subject to criticism. Time magazine showed the five-ring Olympic logo with the words, “Angrier, Nastier, Uglier”, instead of “Faster, Higher, Stronger”.  Back home, they were subject to abuse and they and their families received death threats.

Smith continued in athletics, playing in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals before becoming an assistant professor of physical education at Oberlin College. In 1995, he helped coach the U.S. team at the World Indoor Championships at Barcelona. In 1999 he was awarded the California Black Sportsman of the Millennium Award. He is now a public speaker.

Carlos’ career followed a similar path. He tied the 100 yard dash world record the following year. He later played in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles until a knee injury prematurely ended his career.  In 1982, Carlos was employed by the Organizing Committee for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles to promote the games and act as liaison with the city’s black community. In 1985, he became a track and field coach at Palm Springs High School.   As of 2012, Carlos works as a counselor at the school.

Smith and Carlos received an Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2008 ESPY Awards honoring their action.

Norman, who was sympathetic to his competitors’ protest, was reprimanded by his country’s Olympic authorities and ostracized by the Australian media.  He was not picked for the 1972 Summer Olympics, despite having qualified 13 times over.  Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at Norman’s funeral in 2006.

Time heals all wounds, eh?  It also helps that Smith & Carlos went on to lead productive lives.

Next in line on the Favorite Son list is Euell Gibbons.  He was an early (and very public) proponent of eating wild natural foods.  He became quite the celebrity, with appearances on The Tonight Show and Sonny & Cher.  He was also a spokesman for Grape Nuts Cereal, and made many commercials.  Here’s one:


Also from Clarksville was Office J.D. Tippit, the police officer killed by Lee Harvey Oswald during the brief time he was on the run after JFK’s assassination.  From Wiki:

On November 22, 1963, Tippit was fatally shot on a Dallas street approximately 45 minutes after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. According to five federal government investigations, Tippit was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was initially arrested as a suspect in Tippit’s murder but later became a suspect in the shooting of President Kennedy. Oswald was charged with both crimes shortly after his arrest. Before Oswald could be tried for either crime, he was shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby on November 24, 1963.

On the evening of the assassination, both Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and the new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, called Tippit’s widow to express their sympathies.  Jacqueline Kennedy wrote a letter expressing sorrow for the bond they shared. The plight of Tippit’s family also moved much of the nation and a total of $647,579 (worth $4,988,470 today) was donated to them following the assassination. One of the largest individual gifts was the $25,000 (worth $192,582 today) that Abraham Zapruder donated after selling his film of the assassination.

A funeral service for J.D. Tippit was held on November 25th, the same day as those of both President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald.

An historical marker was placed at the scene of his murder in 2012:


And finally, also from Clarksville is a novelist John Williams.  He is best known for his novel Stoner.  I was vaguely aware of the author and the novel, but am now determined to read it.  The book (originally published in 1965) was re-released in 2003 and has since become an international bestseller. 

Here’s what Wiki has to say:

In a 2007 review of the recently reissued work, Morris Dickstein wrote that Stoner is “a perfect novel, so well told and beautifully written, so deeply moving that it takes your breath away.”  A 2013 BBC article reported that it was named Waterstones Book of the Year and also said that Tom Hanks called it “one of the most fascinating things that you’ve ever come across” and noted that The New Yorker had called it “the greatest American novel you’ve never heard of.”

Steve Almond praised Stoner in The New York Times Magazine, writing, “I had never encountered a work so ruthless in its devotion to human truths and so tender in its execution.”

John_Edward_Williams  wiki

Other reviews I read are equally effusive.  Unfortunately, Mr. Williams isn’t around to enjoy the resurgence.  He died in 1994.

Update:  I wrote the draft of this post about a week ago, and have since read Stoner.  I might not be as effusive with my priase, but I really enjoyed the book, and recommend it.  I liked it enough that I’m now reading another of his books, “Butcher’s Crossing,”  novel about buffalo hunters in Kansas and Colorado in the 1870s.  I’m really enjoying this (even more than Stoner).  He has another book “Augustus,” (yes, about Caesar Augustus)  which I’m sure will make my list.  The three books are incredibly different from one another.

Back to my original draft . . .

I couldn’t find any GE Panoramio shots up to ALAD standards, so I’ll just close with some back-in-the-day shots (old time post-cards), courtesy of TxGenWeb.org:

First, a picture of “Watermelon Row.”  “Get your watermelons here, get your watermelons . . .”

 back in the day 2 - watermelon

And then, this shot of a Long Staple Cotton wagon (Long Staple Cotton was a business mainstay in the town):


I’ll close with this chaotic downtown marketplace shot from 1910:

 back in the day 1


That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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Doland, South Dakota

Posted by graywacke on September 29, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2123; A Landing A Day blog post number 551.

Dan:  Back to the dark side (now 7 of the last 9), thanks to this OSer . . . SD; 58/53; 3/10; 9; 148.8.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My local landing map shows my titular town (and the fact that I landed in the Timber Creek watershed):

 landing 2

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows (of course), an agricultural setting:

 GE 1


Expanding a streams-only map, you can see that I landed in the James River watershed (19th hit); on to the Missouri (384th hit); on to the MM (832nd hit).

 landing 3a

Moving along to Doland (pop 180).  It has quite the famous son – Hubert Horatio Humphrey.  Consider this:

  • He served as a U.S. Senator from Minnesota from 1949 to 1965 and 1971 to 1978.
  • He was Vice President of the United States from 1965 to 1969 (under Lyndon Johnson).
  • He was the 1968 Democratic Party’s candidate for President, losing narrowly to Republican Richard Nixon.
  • His father ran a pharmacy in Doland from 1915 to 1929, and served as the town’s mayor for several years.

I remember him well, especially as candidate for President in 1968.

Boomer alert!  Mention 1968 and the memories start flowing.  In my life, it was that uniquely memorable year when high school is finished and college begins, but man – what a crazy year.  In today’s world (which is certainly crazy enough), it’s hard to convey just how crazy it was back then.  I’ll get to the 1968 election and Hubert Humphrey in a bit, but let me start with some bare facts about what went on in 1968:

  • The Vietnam War was in full bloom. The Tet offensive (the largest Communist campaign of the entire war) was launched in January.
  • One week after the Tet Offensive was launched, the North Koreans captured the USS Pueblo, a Naval intelligence ship and held 83 Americans as spies for 11 months. Interesting fact:  the North Koreans are still in possession of the ship. 
  • In March, US Troops massacred 347 civilians in Viet Nam (the My Lai massacre).
  • In April, Martin Luther King was assassinated.
  • Also in April, Columbia University students took over the Administration Building and closed down the University.
  • In June, Robert Kennedy was assassinated (and I graduated from High School).
  • In August, Czechoslovakia was invaded by Russia, crushing the “Prague Spring” liberalization movement, led by Alexander Dubcek.
  • Also in August, the Democractic Convention in Chicago (where Humphrey was nominated) was disrupted by massive protests.
  • In October, the famous black-fisted salute was performed on the medal podium at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
  • Three Apollo missions (6, 7 & 8) were launched during 1968, culminating in a manned lunar orbiting mission in December.

I was visiting a website that contained “Images of 1968.”  The images are very powerful, and for the most part disturbing, except for this memorable, uplifting photo from Apollo 8:


But then again, the spring of ’70 was even crazier.  Not to worry, I’ll probably have to land near Kent, Ohio to head off in that direction.  Anyway, getting back to Hubert Humphrey & the 1968 election.  I’ll start with a screen shot from Wiki:

 wiki candidate gallery

How about Eugene McCarthy?  From Wiki:

Running as an anti-war candidate in the New Hampshire primary, McCarthy hoped to pressure the Democrats into publicly opposing the Vietnam War. Since New Hampshire was the first presidential primary of 1968, McCarthy poured most of his limited resources into the state. He was boosted by thousands of young college students who shaved their beards and cut their hair to be “Clean for Gene”. These students organized get-out-the-vote drives, rang doorbells, distributed McCarthy buttons and leaflets, and worked hard in New Hampshire for McCarthy. On March 12, McCarthy won 42 percent of the primary vote to Johnson’s 49 percent, a shockingly strong showing against an incumbent president.

And then,

On March 31, 1968, following the New Hampshire primary and Kennedy’s entry into the election, the president announced to the nation in a televised speech that he was suspending all bombing of North Vietnam in favor of peace talks. Johnson concluded his speech and startled the nation by announcing “With America’s sons in the fields far away, with America’s future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office—the presidency of your country. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”

Oh my.  Continuing . . .

After Johnson’s withdrawal, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey announced his candidacy. Kennedy was successful in four state primaries (Indiana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and California) and McCarthy won six (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Jersey, and Illinois).  Humphrey did not actively campaign in these states.

The political landscape was different back then.  The delegates were not lock-step with the results of the primary voting like they are now.  Humphrey was biding his time, but he still put out this campaign poster:

humphrey campaign poster

Back to Wiki:

California was the next key contest.  Kennedy campaigned in the ghettos and barrios of the state’s larger cities, where he was mobbed by enthusiastic supporters. Kennedy and McCarthy engaged in a television debate a few days before the primary; it was generally considered a draw. On June 4, Kennedy narrowly defeated McCarthy in California, 46%–42%.

However, McCarthy refused to withdraw from the race and made it clear that he would contest Kennedy in the upcoming New York primary, where McCarthy had much support from anti-war activists in New York City.

The New York primary quickly became a moot point, however, for in the early morning of June 5, Kennedy was shot shortly after midnight; he died twenty-six hours later. Kennedy had just given his victory speech in a crowded ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Obviously, Robert Kennedy’s death drastically altered the dynamics of the race. Although Humphrey appeared the prohibitive favorite [in spite of his lack of primary victories] for the nomination, thanks to his support from the traditional power blocs of the party, he was an unpopular choice with many of the anti-war elements within the party, who identified him with Johnson’s controversial position on the Vietnam War.

However, Kennedy’s delegates failed to unite behind a single candidate who could have prevented Humphrey from getting the nomination. Some of Kennedy’s support went to McCarthy, but many of Kennedy’s delegates, remembering their bitter primary battles with McCarthy, refused to vote for him. Instead, these delegates rallied around the late-starting candidacy of Senator George McGovern of South Dakota, a Kennedy supporter in the spring primaries who had presidential ambitions himself. This division of the anti-war votes at the Democratic Convention made it easier for Humphrey to gather the delegates he needed to win the nomination.

Note:  You can really see that this was when the infamous cigar-smoke-filled-back-rooms made a difference in who was nominated.  Humphrey never had near as many popular votes as Kennedy or McCarthy.  Oh, well . . .

When the 1968 Democratic National Convention opened in Chicago, thousands of young activists from around the nation gathered in the city to protest the Vietnam War. On the evening of August 28, in a clash which was covered on live television, Americans were shocked to see Chicago police brutally beating anti-war protesters in the streets of Chicago in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel. While the protesters chanted “The whole world’s watching,” the police used clubs and tear gas to beat back or arrest the protesters, leaving many of them bloody and dazed.

Oh man.  I remember the scene and the chant . . .

Anyway, Richard Nixon was the Republican candidate, and George Wallace joined the fray.  George was a serious candidate:

The American Independent Party nominated former Alabama Governor George Wallace – whose pro-segregation policies had been rejected by the mainstream of the Democratic Party – as the party’s candidate for president. The impact of the Wallace campaign was substantial, winning the electoral votes of several states in the Deep South. Wallace was the most popular 1968 presidential candidate among young men.  Wallace also proved to be popular among blue-collar workers in the North and Midwest, and he took many votes which might have gone to Humphrey.

Politics have changed a little, eh?

But at the end of the day, here’s the vote:

Nixon:        31,783,783

Humphrey:  31,271,839

Wallace:   9,901,118

The Electoral College tally:

Nixon:  301

Humphey:  191

Wallace:  46

I would call Nixon an OSer and both Humphrey & Wallace, USers . . .

By the way, I think that the Electoral College is an abomination!

One last word about Humphrey.  He returned to the Senate in 1970, where he remained until his death (of bladder cancer).  After his diagnosis with the terminal disease (while in the final weeks of his life), he called on Richard Nixon to personally invite him to his funeral. 

Enough already.  Back to my landing location!  Take a look at this GE shot.  You can see that I was lucky enough to land near a cluster of Panoramio photos (just three miles away):

 GE 2 - pano shots

Except for the more isolated photo to the southeast, we have pictures of the Mayer Farm (taken by an excellent photographer, Devan Mayer).  I’ll start with her shot of Timber Creek:

 pano devan mayer stream

What’s a farm without a big red barn?

 pano devan mayer barn

Here’s another of the business end of the farm:

 pano devan mayer farm

Devan wandered across the road (to the southeast, as mentioned earlier) to take this shot of an old abandoned house:

 pano devan mayer old house

It turns out that the same old house caught the eye of another photographer, Bennett2904:

 pano bennett2904

Notice how the angle of each photo is the same, and the sun is behind the house in both shots.  But what incredibly different photos!

I’ll come back to Devan with this sunset shot from the Mayer farm:

 pano devan mayer sunset

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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New Castle, Indiana

Posted by graywacke on September 22, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2122; A Landing A Day blog post number 550.

Dan:  After six for seven in the wrong direction (i.e., OSers), I broke out with this USer . . . IN; 22/25; 4/10; 8; 148.5.

Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My local landing map shows why I had no indecision about my titular town:

 landing 2

Here’s the first part of my watershed analysis:

 landing 3

I landed in the watershed of the Flatrock River (1st hit ever!); on to the East Fork of the White River (5th hit, making it the 155th river on my list of 5 or more hits).

Here’s the second part of my watershed analysis:

 landing 3a

From the E Fk of the White, on to the White (9th hit); to the Wabash (23rd hit); to the Ohio (131 hits); and finally, inevitably, to the Mighty Mississip (831 hits).

 Even though I landed close to New Castle, you wouldn’t know it from this close-in Google Earth shot:

 GE 1

Zooming back a little, here’s the entire town:

 GE 2

By the way, my new feature (the Google Earth trip from my last landing) is bothering me.  For some reason, my screen capture software makes the trip so jerky as to be annoying.  So, until further notice, these trips will be suspended . . .

Moving right along to New Castle.  It’s quite the substantial town, with a population approaching 20,000.  I’m having a little trouble finding a good hook, but three Wiki items caught my eye.  First, it turns out that New Castle is home to the “largest high school gymnasium in the world.”  Hey.  If Wiki says it’s so, it must be so.  Here’s a picture:


It seats just a little below 10,000 people.  Wow.  Half of the town population would fit!

Then, there’s a young baseball prospect from New Castle with a name that absolutely grabs your attention:  Trey Ball.

He’s only 20 years old, and is currently a pitcher for the Red Sox Class A Minor league franchise in Greenville NC.  If Trey makes “The Show,” we’ll all no doubt remember we first learned about him on A Landing A Day.  One can only imagine the fun that Major League announcers will have with his name. 

And then, I see where New Castle is the hometown of one Robert Indiana.  Now, I’ve never heard of Robert Indiana, but (speaking of catchy names) he certainly has a catchy name, eh?  So why does Wiki even mention him?  Well, his claim to fame is the iconic rendition of the word “LOVE.”  Here’s the 1975 postage stamp version:

 wiki love stamp

Anyway, Mr. Indiana (sounds like a body-building champion, eh?) was born “Robert Clark.”  In 1958 (at the age of 30), he changed his last name to Indiana paying homage to his home state (I guess).  Makes me think of John Denver.  He was born Henry John Deutschendorf, but changed his name to John Denver (after the capital of his favorite state) early in his career.

Of course, there are numerous “Love” statues around the world (the first one was placed in Indianapolis in 1970).  I’m familiar with this one in Philadelphia (put up as part of the Bicentennial celebration of 1976):

 Love park philly wiki

According to Wiki, there are 17 of the statues in the U.S., two in Canada, seven in Europe and 11 in Asia.  A couple aren’t in English.  Here’s an Italian “Amor” statue:

 italian amor

And this, digitally-enhanced version (color-added) of a Love statue in Israel (in Hebrew):

 israel hebrew

Moving right along –  I stumbled on one additional item of local interest.  Here’s a Panoramio shot by AlanCrab of a statue in front of the Ice House Tavern in New Castle:

 pano AlanCrab Giant Blue Man

It is what it is.  (Not my favorite expression.  I’ll try not to use it again.)

I’ll close with this Panaoramio shot of a barn (by Sebass 10) about 7 miles SE of my landing:

 pano sebass 10 (Thomas) barn 7 mi se

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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Hazen, Nevada

Posted by graywacke on September 17, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2121; A Landing A Day blog post number 549.

Dan:  I’m staying out west and staying with the OSers (in fact, 6 of my last 7 landings have been OSers), thanks to this landing in . . . NV; 83/77; 4/10; 7; 149.0.

Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

And my local landing map:

 landing 2

Fasten your seatbelts and let’s go via Google Earth from Swan Lake MT (my last landing) to this one:


Here’s a ground-level GE shot looking general east past my landing.  Pretty cool, eh?

 GE 2

Zooming back a little, you can see I landed on a double-humped hill:

GE - island

This is one of the landings (like Drummond Island MI), where a quick elevation trace on Google Earth (GE) shows my drainage pathway.  It goes in a fairly straight line between my landing and a local low point about two miles away:

 GE - drainage

OK, so if it was a huge rain and the local low filled up, I suppose I could extend the drainage analysis, but I’m in the Nevada desert and we all know any rain ain’t goin’ nowhere.

So, I checked out Fernley.  Not much in the way of a hook.  But let me tell you, this is a thriving community.  Just like I did 12 posts ago for Lonerock and Hardman, Oregon, I’ll present a population trend analysis.  By the way – before I do Fernley, let me remind you that Lonerock and Hardman peaked at less than 200 folks back in 1920 and have been going downhill ever since.  But check out Fernley:

 Fernley pop

OK, so an Amazon.com distribution center just announced it was relocating from Fernley to nearby Reno (about 30 miles away), but obviously, Fernley has more going for it than just Amazon . . .

So, I looked at Wadsworth. Wiki tells me that Joe Conforte was the owner of the first legal brothel in the United States (the Mustang Ranch in 1967).  But the Mustang Ranch was not in Wadsworth.  Back in 1957 or so, he opened the Triangle River Ranch in Wadsworth, with some questionable (read illegal) activities going on.  In 1959, Conforte served 22 months in jail after attempting to blackmail Washoe County District Attorney Bill Raggio, who summarily had the ranch burned down.

Now wait a second.  This scoundrel . . . er – I mean entrepreneur . . . is arrested and convicted of blackmailing a DA (and operating an illegal brothel).  And then, a mere 8 years later, the State of Nevada decides that he’s the right guy to open the first legal brothel.  Yea, right . . .

OK, moving right along.  How about Hazen?  Well, I had to use Hazen as my titular town, because . . . 

It's happening in Hazen

So let’s see.  Well, Hazen is the site of the last lynching in Nevada (a gentlemen named Red Wood in 1905), but that’s no hook. 

OK, there’s a Hazen site on the National Register of Historic Places.  Here’s a Wiki picture of the Hazen Store:

 800px-HazenStore2 wiki

Part of it was built in 1904, then moved to its current location in 1944, when the rest of the structure was built.  According to Wiki, it’s on the Register “as an illustration of a commercial property on the Reno Highway.”  Yea but – so’s the Dunkin’ Donuts in Fernley . . .

So it turns out that there’s no hook at all.  But there are some cool back-in-the-day pictures.  First this old Lincoln Highway road sign (taken on Route 50 about halfway between Fernley & Hazen):

 hazen motorcities.org lincoln highway sign

And this 1911 shot of the Palace Hotel.  Quite the place . . .


With a very nice lobby!


Here’s a shot of the Recreation Inn Café & Bar.  I wonder what sort of recreation goes on at the inn?

 hazen - old time

And this shot (most prevalent on the web) of “Saloons and Disreputable Places of Hazen, 1905”:

 hazen- Saloons_and_disreputable_places_of_Hazen_(Nev.)_June_24,_1905.-_By_Lubkin_-_NARA_-_

Moving right along.  Of course, I checked out Panoramio photos close to my landing.  The closest one is this, posted by Robert Stolting (of Fernley) with an intriguing title:  “Sculptor’s Work, High and Dry.”

 pano robert stolting .67 mi se tufa

The caption for the photo:  “Tufa formation, formed thousands of years ago from calcium carbonate precipitating out of a spring entering an ancient crash water lake.”

Right out of the gate, I had to see what a “crash water lake” is.  I mean, I’m a geologist and that’s an expression I’ve never run across.  After a quick Google search, it looks like no one else has ever run across it, either.  I think that Mr. Stolting intended to say “fresh water lake.”

Once that change is made, the caption makes perfect sense.  Tufa is a limestone rock formed when spring water, enriched with calcium carbonate (the stuff of limestone), discharges underwater into a fresh water lake.  The calcium carbonate precipitates out of solution, progressively forming tufa one microscopic layer at a time (all of this under water).  When the water levels retreat, out pops the tufa!  Tufa can result in some very interesting-looking formations. 

Here are two tufa shots (or is that tu twofa shots) at Pyramid Lake (located about 30 mi NW of my landing; just NW of Nixon on my local landing map above).  First this, from Photo River Blog (Hammon Photography):

 hammon photography photo river blog

And this, from Rachid Photo:

 rachid photo

Any question why it’s called Pyramid lake?  

So, we need a big ol’ lake near my landing.  As discussed in my Susanville CA post, the lake is Lake Lahontan, of which Pyramid Lake is a remnant.  Here’s a map of the lake (from Stanford U.):  

 stanford lake lanohan

You can see that my landing was right on the shoreline (more about that later).  Also – see the portion of the lake that crosses the border into California?  That’s near Susanville (mentioned above).

Here’s what Wiki has to say about the lake:

At its peak approximately 12,700 years ago (as the continental glaciers were in retreat), the lake had a surface area of over 8,500 square miles. The depth of the lake was about 900 feet at present day Pyramid Lake, and 500 feet at the Black Rock Desert. Lake.  At its peak, Lahontan, would have been one of the largest lakes in North America.

So let’s look a little closer at my landing location (thanks to a USGS map), and the location of the tufa deposit in Robert Stolting’s Pano photo:

 usgs lahonton map

Note that the lake elevation is 4370, and my landing elevation is 18′ above that.  So, I landed right on the shore of the lake, or even more likely, on an off-shore island (the double-humped hill shown on the GE shot near the beginning of the post).  The tufa (and its associated underwater spring) was less than a mile to the south of the island (in about 140’ of water, at the deepest).  

There you have it.

Moving right along (and keeping with Robert Stolting).  The second closest Pano shot to my landing is another of his photos, about 1.5 mi NE of my landing:

 pano robert stolting 2 mi NE

I’ll close with this shot by SlakingFool, about 12 mi SW of my landing:

 pano slakingfool, e of fernley looking towards hazen

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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Swan Lake, Montana

Posted by graywacke on September 12, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2120; A Landing A Day blog post number 548.

 Dan:  Gee whiz.  I can’t get out of the greater Northern Utah / Idaho / Western Montana region (four in a row!).  Here’s my second recent visit to OSer . . . MT; 121/102; 4/10; 6; 148.7. 

Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

Here’s a regional map showing my last four landings:

 landing 1a

My local landing map shows my proximity to Swan Lake:

 landing 2

Zooming back a little, you can see how close today’s landing (2120) is to landing 2117:

 landing 2a

Here’s a map showing my more local watersheds:

 landing 3

You can see that I landed in the watershed of Silvertip Creek; on to the Spotted Bear River (1st hit!); on to the South Fork of the Flathead River (2nd hit – and the first hit was the nearby landing 2117!).  Moving back a little, we can see more of the watershed story:

 landing 3a

 From the South Fork of the Flathead River, on to the Flathead River (12th hit); to the Clark Fork (20th hit); to the Pend Oreille (22nd hit); to the Mighty Columbia (152nd hit).

OK, so you can’t see it on the map, but you’ll have to trust me that south of Flathead Lake, the Flathead flows into the Clark Fork . . .

It’s time for the Google Earth trip from Yellow Pine to Swan Lake:



Here’s a static oblique GE shot, looking north – what a cool spot!


Moving back, we see a fascinating geological landscape (still looking north):


Wow.  There’s some awesome geology going on here.  I wish I knew the story so I could relate it everyone.  It looks like the white beds are tilted, sloping upward to the west (that would be dipping east, to use correct terminology).  The rocks are totally different moving west, but it’s tough to figure out the structure.  Oh, well.

So, on to Swan Lake.  From SwanLakeMontana.org:

In the early 1900’s Swan Lake began as a community of loggers cutting timber for lumber and the ties to build the Great Northern Railroad. Some say that our name comes from the trumpeter swans that used to populate the lake.  Others say that it was named after Emmett Swan, an early resident. Others simply say the name comes from the mountains to our east. No matter how we got the name, Swan Lake is known today as home to those who enjoy everything this part of Montana has to offer.

I couldn’t really find a geographical, geological or historical hook.  The lake valley was dug out / dammed up by the glaciers (no surprise there).  So where to go with this post?  How about back to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, or, more specifically, his best-known ballet piece, none other than Swan Lake.  Here’s ol’ Pyotr’s picture (from Wiki):

True confessions:  I had no clue what this incredibly famous composer looked like!

Continuing my true confession, I had no clue what “Swan Lake” is all about.  So, I lifted a synopsis of the story line from the Houston Ballet website.  Right up front, let me apologize for the irreverent comments that I’ve inserted.  Hey – I’m just being honest (and left-brained).  Well, here goes:

 Act I

 Scene I: Deep in a Dark Wood

Odette, a young maiden, is in the forest.  The evil knight Rothbart appears and captures her, turning her into a white swan.

[“Ho Hum. I think I’ll turn this woman into a swan.  Why?  Because I can.”]

She is cursed to remain a swan during the day, and a maiden at night.

[Why not the other way around?  Why not a full-time swan?  Oh, well.]

Scene II: A Royal Hunt at the Edge of the Wilderness

Later, the young Prince Siegfried and his entourage arrive in the forest and set up camp, celebrating the day’s hunt.  The Queen calls her son aside and reminds him that tomorrow is an important day, as he is now a man and eligible for marriage.

She introduces him to four eligible young princesses, but he is distant and uninterested.

[Why would any healthy, red-blooded young man be disinterested??  Did he have a premonition that his one true love was soon to appear?]

The Queen sternly warns him that this is the last night of his youth and that he must soon take on the responsibility of adulthood.  Upset, Siegfried decides to leave the camp and venture out into the woods alone.

 Scene III: In the Forest

Deep in the forest that evening along the edge of a lake, Siegfried sees a young maiden.  Odette is beautiful, and he falls instantly in love.

[Oh, all right.  Love at first sight.  I get that.]

However, she is terrified, and begs him to leave, to no avail.  Charmed by his bravery, Odette finds herself falling in love with him.

As the sun begins to rise, the evil knight Rothbart summons Odette.  She goes to him and is transformed into a swan and flies away.  Soon thereafter, a large flock of swans lands on the lake.  Hunters from the royal party see the flock and prepare to shoot, but the Prince intervenes and orders them not to shoot.  Siegfried notices that one of the swans is Odette and he professes his love to her.

[Odette’s a swan.  How does Siegfried recognize her?  A distinctive birth mark?  Also - he professes his love to her!  Can Odette the swan understand Russian?]


Act II

The next night, the Queen hosts a ball and presents eligible princesses to her son, but the Prince pays little attention.  Suddenly, Rothbart and a maiden dressed in black arrive.

[Rothbart can crash the Queen’s party?  What about security?]

It is Odile.  She is the mirror image of Odette.

[The old “mirror image” trick.]

The Prince is smitten with the mysterious woman in black and begs his mother to consider the new arrival.

[Are you kidding me?  So quickly, he has forgotten about Odette?]

Siegfried and Odile dance and he proclaims his love for her; he tells his mother that he wants to marry Odile.

[I’m sorry, Sieggy’s a loser.]

Just then, Siegfried sees Odette in the crowd.  She is horrified by the betrayal and runs out.  The prince runs to Odile and realizes that she is one of Rothbart’s swans and that he has been fooled.

[Fooled?  Lousy excuse for abandoning your true love!]

The devastated prince chases Rothbart as he flees the court.



While it’s still dark, the Prince arrives at the edge of the lake in the forest and begs the distraught Odette for forgiveness.

The sun comes up and the maidens turn back into swans in the morning mist.

Before long, Rothbart and his black swans appear and he summons all of the swans, including Odette.  The Prince, desperate to be with his love, grabs his crossbow to kill Rothbart. The Prince shoots, but his arrow hits Odette (the swan) instead.

[I hate it when that happens.  Imagine if his aim were better - the ballet sure would have a different ending . . .]

Rothbart holds Odette in his arms but when she falls, she is a maiden.  The spell Rothbart cast on Odette is broken, and the Prince runs to her.  Odette, as a woman, dies in the Prince’s arms.

He picks up her body and walks into the lake, drowning himself.  Young maidens appear from the forest, forever changed.

Phew.  OK – so, maybe with beautiful music and beautiful dancing, I wouldn’t be so cynical.  Speaking of beautiful music and beautiful dancing, I’ll move right along to some of both.  This is Four Little Swans, performed by the Marlinsky Ballet and posted by ClassicClips10:



I’ll then move right along to this clip of a performance by the Great Chinese State Circus (posted by Alyaz).  Note that there have been nearly 26 million views:



Enough classical music & ballet!  Time for some Panoramio pictures.  Once again, I’ll stay as close to my landing as possible.  I’ll start with this shot of the Spotted Bear River, about 4 mi NW of my landing (by AngKillian):

 pano angkillian spotted bear 4 mi NW

I wonder if the river bed with potholes looks like a spotted bear from some vantage point?  

All the rest of the pictures are by MontanaBackPacker.  Here’s a shot taken two miles east of my landing, looking east towards Pentagon Mountain:

 pano montanbackpacker 2 mi E looking E

Here’s another shot, also about two miles east, looking SW towards Silvertip Mountain:

 pano montanabackpacker 2 mi E looking SW towards silvertip peak

I’ll close with this stunning shot (from the same area), looking north:

 pano montanabackpacker 2 mi E looking N





© 2014 A Landing A Day




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Yellow Pine, Idaho (revisited)

Posted by graywacke on September 8, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2119; A Landing A Day blog post number 547.

Dan –  My last landing (Bear Lake Utah) just missed Idaho by a mile – landing in the OSer UT as opposed to the USer ID.  I didn’t miss a second time . . .ID; 50/58; 4/10; 148.3.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

I’ve had three landings in a row are in the same neck of the woods: western Montana, then northeast Utah, and now central ID:

 landing 1a

My local landing map shows my proximity to Yellow Pine:

 landing 2

Yellow Pine!  AYKM*?  My very first blog post (landing 1583 in November 2008) was Yellow Pine!  And that landing was my third landing near Yellow Pine (the first being landing 492 in July of 2004 and the second, landing 1355 in February of 2008)!  And I had another blog post where I landed near Yellow Pine, but featured another town – Roseberry – instead (landing 1858 in February of 2010)!

       *Are You Kidding Me?

So, this is my fifth Yellow Pine landing, which may not sound extraordinary to you, but it certainly sounds extraordinary to me!  (OK, OK, I promise:  no more exclamation points this post!) 

 Here’s a map showing my five Yellow Pine landings:

 landing 4

Let’s head up to Yellow Pine from Bear Lake, courtesy Google Earth (GE):

Before I forget, here’s my watershed map:

landing 3

My landing drains to Johnson Creek, on to the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River (1st hit!); on to the South Fork of the Salmon River (2nd hit); to the Salmon River (13th hit); to the Snake River (75th hit); to the Columbia River (151st hit).  

Here’s a static, oblique GE shot of my landing, looking north:

 GE 1

So anyway, Yellow Pine it is.  I’m not going to wander off, and hook up with some other town.  No sir, not this time.  Here’s the GE trip from my landing to the town:

First off, I want to stress just how isolated this town is.  Here’s a slightly expanded landing map – the roads coming in from the south and west are both dirt roads:

 landing 5 isolation

I did a quick route map on Google Maps from Yellow Pine to McCall (the closest town).  Here ‘tis:

 google maps yellow pine to mcCall

Fifty miles takes three hours & ten minutes!!  Wow.  So, according to Google Maps, you average less than 20 mph on that road.  I have a feeling that with a tough pick-up, the trip can be made quite a bit faster (and generally is).

So, let’s have a listen to local resident Darwin DeBois for some history, some insights on wildlife management and local color:

In fact, it was the very same harmonica fest that I featured on the very first post of A Landing A Day.  Now I could update that post with news of the 2014 Harmonica Fest, but I think that the following from my original post captures the essence of the town and the Fest  just fine:

 yellow pine





            This is a  picture of Harmonica Fest 2008.  Wow!  Look at the crowds!  They actually close down Main Street for three days!!

 old post fest crowds

From the same website, this about the Village of Yellow Pine:

The village of Yellow Pine is high in the Idaho mountains (alt. 4,765 ft), 150 miles north of Boise, surrounded by national forests… and is known as the “Gateway to the Central Idaho Wilderness Area.”  You’ll see dirt streets, a real live “little red schoolhouse” (fondly known as The University of Yellow Pine), a wooded RV park, rustic cabins, country store, hotel, gas pumps, three tavern/cafes, and the Community Hall and Fire Hall.

The Pioneer Cemetery (which contains many historic grave stones) is in the forest near the Yellow Pine campground, about 1/4 mile from town.

old post cemetery


I love that “Dead End Road” has equal billing to the cemetery.

 If there’s a fire in Yellow Pine, don’t worry, this fine fire truck will be zooming to the scene:

 old post firetruck

Back to me in the here and now . . .

What I failed to mention back in ’08 is that there is no admission charge!  All you gotta do is figure out how to get yourself to Yellow Pine in early August, find yourself a place to camp, and then you’re all set for the time of your life!

I found the following video of an act at the 2014 Music & Harmonica Fest – a piece by the Half Fast Hillbillies:

And then this act, from the 2010 fest, entitled “Cirque du Saloon by Ali and Dylan.”  I mean where else will you find a woman performing with a hoola hoop, accompanied by a guitar and harmonica version of Sweet Georgia Brown?

While checking out You Tube, I noticed the following video by SunFlyer65, which shows a take-off and landing at a private airstrip near Yellow PIne.  This is very cool, and I highly recommend that you stay with it for the entire 4 minutes:

They’re flying over the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River, not far from where Johnson Creek comes in.  Anyway, here’s a GE shot of the airstrip:



Time for some Panoramio shots close to my landing.  I’ll start out 7 miles south, with this shot along Johnson Creek by ElkBender257:

pano elkbender257 on Johnson ck 7 mi n


Here’s one by Ralph Maughan (a familiar name) about 5 miles east:

pano ralph maughan  5 miles east


I used three of Ralph’s pictures in my Jackson Hole (part 2) post and one in my Cherry Creek NV post.


I’ll close with this shot by Jason Abbott of Johnson Creek about 2 miles north:

pano jason abbott 2 mi n johnson creek


That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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Bear Lake, Utah (and Idaho)

Posted by graywacke on September 3, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2118; A Landing A Day blog post number 546.

Dan –  Give me a break.  Five OSers in a row, then three USers in a row, and now, four OSers in a row, thanks to this landing in . . . UT; 76/59; 3/10; 148.9.  Here’s my regional landing map, which looks like a toss-up between UT & ID:

 landing 1

But as you may have suspected by the post title, I actually landed in the middle of Bear Lake, in UT:

 landing 2

I landed almost exactly one lousy mile south of ID, which is, of course, a solid USer.  So, let’s look at UT & ID:  Although adjacent states,  UT is 76/59 (over-subscribed by 17) while ID is 49/58 (under-subscribed by 9).  Oh well, the Landing God works in mysterious ways . . .

It’s time to fly with me from Seeley Lake to Bear Lake:


Here’s a static, oblique GE shot looking north:

 GE 1

Here’s a GE Street View shot from the east shore of the lake looking out at my landing:

 GE SV landing from East shore

Below is a streams-only shot that more-or-less shows that a drop of Bear Lake water heads north out of the lake into a canal that feeds the Bear River (3rd hit); which flows into the Great Salt Lake (14th hit); from Great Salt Lake, my drop has little choice but to evaporate . . .

landing 3


For this post, I’ve decided to feature the Lake and only the Lake –  as a geologist sees it.  I shan’t be writing anything about people or towns.  So here goes:

As my regular readers know, I enjoy learning about lakes, and what excuse they have for existing at all.  After all, lakes don’t come into existence during the course of normal landscape development.  If you take a big patch of high ground and start eroding it with millions of years of rainfall, you don’t get a lake – you get a dissected landscape, with every surface sloping down towards a stream, which leads to another stream, etc.

Something else needs to happen, like a glacier needs to dump a bunch of dirt and rocks and block up a stream.  Or maybe it’s a landslide that blocks the stream.  Or, a glacier simply gouges out a hole. 

Or maybe, the earth is splitting apart thanks to deep-seated tectonic forces, and a huge block of the earth is sinking.  And maybe the big hole that results fills up with water.  And maybe the block of the earth is sinking at a faster rate than it’s filling up with sediment.  And maybe Bear Lake is the result of that very sinking block of earth.

So, the eastern shoreline of the lake is marked by a fault, with (obviously), the lake side of the fault going down.  The west side of the lake is more like a hinge, so the basin slopes down from west to east.  Here’s a screen shot of a page from a wonderful pamphlet put out by the Utah Geological Survey (no need to read the words unless you’d like to – more about the pamphlet later):

 cross section

The total movement along the fault has been about three miles!  There’s way less than three miles of elevation difference, because the mountain has been busily eroding at the same time (over millions of years) that the fault has been moving.

Not surprisingly, the deepest part of the lake is just off the eastern shore.  Here’s a bathymetric contour map from Utah State University:

 lake depth utah state u

These are 5-meter contours; the deepest part of the lake is about 60 meters (about 200 feet) deep.

I mentioned the Utah Geological Survey pamphlet above.  Here’s the cover:

 why is bear lake so blue utah.gov

So, I guess I have to let you know why the lake is so blue:

 why is bear lake so blue utah.gov 2

Also in the pamphlet is information about the relationship between the Bear River and the Lake.  Here’s a picture showing variations on a theme over the past 220,000+ years (the current situation is in the lower right):

 bear river hydrology from utah.gov

For those curious, detail-oriented folks, here’s some additional information about the comings and goings of Bear River:

 time line, open & closed; utah.gov

To check out the entirety of this pamphlet, click HERE.

Because the lake is important for both flood control and agricultural water supply, folks have messed with the natural system a little.  There are hydraulic controls for the incoming water from the Bear River (via Mud Lake, part of the wetlands system north of the lake) and for the outgoing water (via a canal that goes back to the river). 

Here’s a GE shot showing that the two structures are close together along the north shore of the lake:

 GE 2 lake out & in

GE Street View coverage is available on the road that crosses both structures.  Here’s a view of the outlet structure looking towards the lake:

 GE SV lake outlet 1

And away from the lake:

 GE SV lake outlet 2

Here’s a view of the inlet structure, with Bear Lake off to the right out of the picture:

 GE SV lake inlet

As usual, I’m going to close with some pretty pictures.  Here’s a lovely Wiki shot of the lake with its very blue water:

 wiki cool shot of bear lake

And a Panoramio shot of the east shore of the lake, looking south (by Layne Parmenter):

 pano layne parmenter e shore of lake looking south

I’ll close with a Pano sunset shot over the lake by Carl Hancock:

 pano carl hancock sunset over lake

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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