A Landing a Day

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Troy, Niskayuna and Loudonville, New York

Posted by graywacke on September 22, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2297; A Landing A Day blog post number 727.

Dan: Ding! Ding! Ding!  This is my first NY landing since I changed how I came up with random lat/longs (81 landings ago).   Of course, NY is an OSer, and my Score went down – all the way from 701 to a new record low, 682.

Check out “About Landing (Revisited)” if you don’t understand the above, and, for some reason, want to.

And get this:  I went from Troy to Troy – Troy VT (last landing) to Troy NY!

Here’s my regional landing map:


And my local landing map:


I can see that I’ll need to zoom in for a closer look:


And an even closer look:


I landed in the Three Daughters neighborhood, with streets named after Eva, Teresa and Anna May.

Here’s my streams-only map:


Street Atlas (bless its heart), lets me know that the stream near my landing is known as Stream.  Not Latham Creek (or whatever), just Stream.  And then, “Stream” dead ends.  Of course, it doesn’t really dead end – I’m sure it makes its way via storm sewers to the Hudson River (15th hit).

And then, that drop of water that falls on my landing travels way down the Hudson, past yet another landing location (where Sully put his jetliner gently down in the middle of the river), past the Statue of Liberty, and out to the Atlantic.

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight into the Capital District.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip to suburbia, then hit your back button.

Google Earth is typically quite good about Street View coverage in urban areas, and this area is no exception:


And here’s what the Orange Dude sees, as he’s looking at 20 Eva St., Latham NY:


Here’s another look at my least-local local landing map:


You can see a pretty crowded area.  As I searched Wiki, I came up with a strange threesome of hooks:  The Night Before Christmas (Troy); Mother Ann Lee and the Shakers (Niskayuna); and the birth of the Beatniks (Loudonville).

I think I’ll start with some Christmas poetry.  From the Troy entry for Wiki:

On December 23, 1823, The Troy Sentinel was the first publisher of the world-famous Christmas poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (also known as “The Night Before Christmas”). The poem was published anonymously. Its author has long been believed to have been Clement Clarke Moore, but its author is now regarded by some to have been Henry Livingston, Jr.

This isn’t much of a hook, so I’ll be as brief as I can.  Here, from the Wiki entry for Henry Livingston:

Henry Livingston, Jr. (October 13, 1748 – February 29, 1828).

[Total personal aside:  Henry shares his birthday with my sister Tacey and his death date (yes, February 29) with my ol’ buddy Mike.]

He has been proposed as being the uncredited author of the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”

Credit for the poem was taken in 1837 by Clement Clarke Moore, a Bible scholar in New York City, nine years after Livingston’s death (and 14 years after the poem’s publication). It wasn’t until another twenty years that the Livingston family knew of Moore’s claim, and it wasn’t until 1900 that they went public with their claim. Since then, the question has been repeatedly raised and argued by experts on both sides.

Around 1807 (16 years before the poem’s publication), Livingston’s sons Charles and Edwin and a neighbor Eliza remembered the poem being read by Henry. Following their father’s death in 1828, Charles claimed to have found a newspaper copy of the poem in his father’s desk, and another son Sidney claimed to have found the original handwritten copy of the poem with its original crossouts.

The handwritten copy of the poem was passed from Sidney, on his death, to his brother Edwin. However, the same year that the family discovered Moore’s claim of authorship, Edwin claimed to have lost the original manuscript in a house fire.

By 1879, five separate lines of Henry’s descendants had begun to correspond among themselves, trying to compare their family stories in the hope that someone had some proof that could be brought forward, but there was no documentation beyond family stories.

Don Foster, Professor of English at Vassar, has argued that Livingston is a more likely candidate for authorship than Moore.  Foster’s claim, however, has been countered by document dealer and historian Seth Kaller, who once owned one of Moore’s original manuscripts of the poem.

[“once owned,” eh?  Sounds suspicious.  Where it is now?]

Kaller has offered a point-by-point rebuttal of both Foster’s linguistic analysis and external findings.

New Zealand scholar MacDonald P. Jackson invested over a year of research statistically analyzing the poetry of both men. His conclusion: “Every test, so far applied, associates “The Night Before Christmas” much more closely with Livingston’s verse than with Moore’s.”

ALAD comes down squarely on the side of Livingston, mainly because he himself never claimed authorship, while Moore claimed authorship only after Livingston was long dead.  If Moore cared enough to claim authorship, why didn’t he claim it earlier?

Moving right along to the Shakers.  And not really the whole religion, but their founding matriarch, “Mother” Ann Lee.  From Wiki:

Ann Lee:  29 February 1736 – 8 September 1784

[There’s that February 29th date again!  But this time, a birthday . . .]

In 1774 Ann Lee and a small group of her followers emigrated from England to New York City. After several years, they gathered at Niskayuna NY. They worshiped by ecstatic dancing or “shaking”, which dubbed them as the Shakers. Ann Lee preached to the public and led the Shaker church at a time when few women did either.

Early History

In 1758 she joined an English sect founded by preacher James Wardley and his wife Jane; this was the precursor to the Shaker sect.  She believed in and taught her followers that it is possible to attain perfect holiness by giving up sexual relations. Like the Wardleys, she taught that the shaking and trembling were caused by sin being purged from the body by the power of the Holy Spirit, purifying the worshiper.

Lee developed radical religious convictions that advocated celibacy and the abandonment of marriage, as well as the importance of pursuing perfection in every facet of life.

In England, Ann Lee rose to prominence by urging other believers to preach more publicly concerning the imminent second coming, and to attack sin more boldly and unconventionally.  She spoke of visions and messages from God, claiming that she had received a vision from God the message that celibacy and confession of sin are the only true road to salvation and the only way in which the Kingdom of God could be established on the earth. She was frequently imprisoned for breaking the Sabbath by dancing and shouting, and for blasphemy.

Move to America

Mother Ann and her converts arrived in New York City in August 1774, where they stayed for nearly five years. In 1779 they leased land at Niskayuna and the Shakers settled there, where a unique community life began to develop and thrive.

Ann Lee opened her testimony to the world’s people on the famous Dark Day in May 1780, when the sun disappeared and it was so dark that candles had to be lighted to see indoors at noon.

[Say what?!?!  More about the Dark Day in a bit, but first a picture of Mother Ann:]


The followers of Mother Ann came to believe that she embodied all the perfections of God in female form and was revealed as the “second coming” of Christ.  The fact that Ann Lee was considered to be Christ’s female counterpart was unique. She preached that sinfulness could be avoided by not only treating men and women equally, but also by keeping them separated so as to prevent any sort of temptation leading to impure acts. Celibacy and confession of sin were essential for salvation.

Unfortunately, the Shakers were sometimes met by violent mobs and Ann Lee suffered violence at their hands more than once. Because of these hardships Mother Ann became quite frail; she died on 8 September 1784, at the age of 48.

She died at Watervliet and is buried in the Shaker cemetery located in the Watervliet Shaker Historic District.


It is claimed that Shakers experienced a 10-year period of revelations in 1837 called the Era of Manifestations.

The Era of Manifestations?  From Wiki:

The Shaker movement was at its height between 1820 and 1860. It was at this time that the sect had its most members, and the period was considered its “golden age”. It had expanded from New England to the Midwestern states of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio.  It was during this period that it became known for its furniture design and craftsmanship.

In the late 1830s a spiritual revival, the Era of Manifestations was born. It was also known as the “period of Mother Ann’s work,” with the spiritual revelations marked by visions and ecstatic experiences among the followers of Mother Ann.

According to Shaker tradition, heavenly spirits came to earth, bringing visions, often giving them to young Shaker women, who danced, whirled, spoke in tongues, and interpreted these visions through their drawings and dancing.  The intense spirituality revitalized their meetings.

Here’s a Wiki shot of the Shakers shaking:


From the Wiki entry for the Shakers:

The Civil War Period

As pacifists, the Shakers did not believe that it was acceptable to kill or harm others, even in time of war.  President Lincoln exempted Shaker males from military service, and they became some of the first conscientious objectors in American history.

20th Century to Present

By the early 20th century, the once numerous Shaker communities were failing and closing. Today, in the 21st century, the Shaker community that still exists–Maine’s Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community–denies that Shakerism was a failed utopian experiment.

As of 2016, there are three Shakers remaining at Sabbathday Lake: Brother Arnold Hadd, age 58, Sister Frances Carr, 89, and Sister June Carpenter, 77.  Brother Brian Burke was recently the youngest of the Shakers; he joined the community in March 2015 at the age of 29. He has since departed the Shaker community.

There’s a robust website for the Sabbathday Lake Shaker community (MaineShakers.com).  Here’s the homepage, showing a worship service:


There is much power in fairly recent heavenly revelations – how about the Mormons?  But the Mormons started out practicing polygamy (resulting in scads of kids).  Although polygamy is outlawed, they still believe in having scads of kids.  The Shakers believe in having none. 

Phew.  Just one more topic:  the Beatniks.  But first this, about the aforementioned “Dark Day” when Mother Ann began her public testimony.  From Wired.com:

1780: In the midst of the Revolutionary War, darkness descends on New England at midday, May 19th. Many people think Judgment Day is at hand. It will be remembered as New England’s Dark Day.

Diaries of the preceding days mention smoky air and a red sun at morning and evening. Around noon this day, an early darkness fell: Birds sang their evening songs, farm animals returned to their roosts and barns, and humans were bewildered.

Some went to church, many sought the solace of the tavern, and more than a few nearer the edges of the darkened area commented on the strange beauty of the preternatural half-light. One person noted that clean silver had the color of brass.

It was darkest in northeastern Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire and southwestern Maine, but it got dusky through most of New England and as far away as New York. At Morristown, New Jersey, Gen. George Washington noted it in his diary.

In the darkest area, people had to take their midday meals by candlelight. A Massachusetts resident noted, “In some places, the darkness was so great that persons could not see to read common print in the open air.” In New Hampshire, wrote one person, “A sheet of white paper held within a few inches of the eyes was equally invisible with the blackest velvet.”

Professor Samuel Williams of Harvard gathered reports from throughout the affected areas to seek an explanation. A town farther north had reported “a black scum like ashes” on rainwater collected in tubs. A Boston observer noted the air smelled like a “malt-house or coal-kiln.” Williams noted that rain in Cambridge fell “thick and dark and sooty” and tasted and smelled like the “black ash of burnt leaves.”

As if from a forest fire to the west or north? Without railroad or telegraph, people would not know: No news could come sooner than delivered on horseback, assuming the wildfire was even near any European settlements in the vast wilderness.

A definitive explanation came in 2007. In the International Journal of Wildland Fire, Erin R. McMurry of the University of Missouri forestry department and co-authors combined written accounts with fire-scar evidence from Algonquin Provincial Park in eastern Ontario.  They documented a massive wildfire in the spring of 1780 as the “likely source of the infamous Dark Day of 1780.”

There you have it.  OK.  On to the Beatniks.  Under Notable People for Loudonville, it says:

Joan Vollmer, beatnik and common law wife of William S. Burroughs.

Her name was clickable, so of course I clicked.  I’ll start with a pic (showing that she got in a little trouble now and again):


Wow.  A Shaker she ain’t.  Here’s a Wiki excerpt:

Joan Vollmer (1923 – 1951) was the most prominent female member of the early Beat Generation circle. While a student at Barnard College in New York City, she became the roommate of Edie Parker (later married to Jack Kerouac). Their apartment became a gathering place for the Beats during the 1940s, where Vollmer was often at the center of marathon, all night discussions. In 1946, she began a relationship with William S. Burroughs, later becoming his common-law wife. In 1951, Burroughs killed Vollmer by shooting her in the head in what was apparently a drunken attempt at playing William Tell.

Geez.  Here’s a little more from Wiki:

Joan Vollmer and Edie Parker shared a series of apartments in New York’s Upper West Side that they shared with the writers, hustlers, alcoholics and drug addicts that later became known as the Beats. These included: William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, Herbert Huncke and Vickie Russell (a prostitute and addict who appears as “Mary” in Burroughs’ novel Junkie).

All except Vickie Russell are clickable and have their own Wiki entries.

So, she married Burroughs and he killed her?  From Wiki:


Burroughs initially tried to support his family by farming cash crops in the Rio Grande valley. When this failed, he moved Vollmer and their children to New Orleans. While living there he was arrested for heroin possession, during which time police searched Vollmer’s home, unearthing letters from Ginsberg discussing a possible shipment of marijuana. The resulting criminal charges were grave — upon conviction Burroughs would have served time in Louisiana’s infamous Angola State Prison; he fled for Mexico City.  Once he was settled, Vollmer joined him, along with her children.

In her son’s novel Kentucky Ham (1973), Vollmer is remembered as a gentle and considerate mother who was meek and deferential to her husband’s parents. Yet she is also depicted as being prone to wild bouts of self-destructive behavior. The book recounts a reckless, almost deadly drive down a mountainside road in Mexico.  Joan’s battered appearance and unpredictable behavior alarmed Ginsberg when he visited with Lucien Carr in 1951.

Ted Morgan describes her in Literary Outlaw as a woman suffering from serious drug and alcohol addictions which had aged her noticeably. Her face was swollen; she limped due to a recent bout of polio.


Three days after Burroughs returned to Mexico City from a South American trip, Vollmer was balancing a water tumbler on her head as her husband aimed a handgun at it. When Burroughs fired, the bullet missed the water tumbler and hit Vollmer, who died later that day from a gunshot wound to the skull, aged 28.

Burroughs gave several contradictory versions of events to Mexican authorities. He initially claimed he accidentally shot Vollmer during a William Tell act, but changed his story, possibly after being coached by his Mexican attorney.  In court, Burroughs claimed he accidentally misfired the gun while trying to sell the weapon to an acquaintance.

Burroughs was held in custody on murder charges for two weeks before being released on bail after his brother arrived from St. Louis to dispense thousands of dollars in a variety of legal costs. Vollmer was buried in Mexico City.

For a year, Burroughs reported every Monday morning to the jail in Mexico City while his prominent attorney worked to resolve the case. However, when his attorney fled the country after accidentally shooting and killing a trespasser on his property — a child of a government official — Burroughs re-entered the United States.  He discovered that Louisiana had not issued a warrant for his arrest on the previous narcotic charge. In absentia, the Mexican court convicted Burroughs of manslaughter in Vollmer’s death. He received a two-year suspended sentence.

Still in Wiki, Brenda Knight in The Women of the Beat Generation puts a very positive spin on Joan Vollmer’s contributions:

“Joan Vollmer Adams Burroughs was seminal in the creation of the Beat revolution; indeed the fires that stoked the Beat engine were started with Joan as patron and muse. Her apartment in New York was a nucleus that attracted many of the characters who played a vital role in the formation of the Beat; … Brilliant and well versed in philosophy and literature, Joan was the whetstone against which the main Beat writers — Allen Ginsberg, Jack Keruac, and Bill Burroughs — sharpened their intellect. Widely considered one of the most perceptive people in the group, her strong mind and independent nature helped bulldoze the Beats toward a new sensibility.”

Here’s the iconic William S. Burroughs photo:

William S Burroughs

For a little broader look at the Beatniks, here’s the first paragraph from Wiki’s entry for the Beat Generation:

The Beat Generation was a group of authors whose literature explored and influenced American culture in the post-World War II era.

The bulk of their work was published and popularized throughout the 1950s. Central elements of Beat culture are rejection of standard narrative values, the spiritual quest, exploration of American and Eastern religions, rejection of materialism, explicit portrayals of the human condition, experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and sexual liberation and exploration.

Allen Ginsberg’s Howl (1956), William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch (1959) and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957) are among the best known examples of Beat literature.  Both Howl and Naked Lunch were the focus of obscenity trials that ultimately helped to liberalize publishing in the United States.  The members of the Beat Generation developed a reputation as new bohemian hedonists, who celebrated non-conformity and spontaneous creativity.

The so-called Beatniks (especially Allen Ginsberg) planted the seeds that eventually became the 1960s hippie culture.

From Wiki, here’s a Burroughs quote from the introduction to his 1985 novel Queer:

“I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death, and to a realization of the extent to which this event has motivated and formulated my writing. I live with the constant threat of possession, and a constant need to escape from possession, from control. So the death of Joan brought me in contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit, and maneuvered me into a life long struggle, in which I have had no choice except to write my way out.”

I don’t have anything to say about all of this.  A good part of the above is appalling, but maybe I should read some of the Beat literature . . .

It’s time for a closing GE Panoramio shot.  I found this, by Ruok, taken a mile north of my landing:


Seems fitting for a rather icy post, eh?

That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day

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Troy, Vermont

Posted by graywacke on September 16, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2296; A Landing A Day blog post number 726.

Dan:  Today’s landing marks my first Vermont landing since I changed how I get my random lat/longs (80 landings ago).  So, of course, VT was undersubscribed.  But since it’s so small, my Score only went down a measley one point – from 702 to 701 (and now VT is definitely oversubscribed).

Check out “About Landing (Revisited)” if you care to understand the previous paragraph.  If not, just keep reading.

Here’s my regional landing map:


And my local landing map:


I landed right next to the Missiquoi River (2nd hit), the blue line just east of my landing.  As you can see below, the Missiquoi discharges into Lake Champlain, which is part of the Richelieu River watershed (7th hit). 


The Richelieu makes its way to the St. Lawrence (104th hit).

It’s time to fly on in to north central VT, starting from about 10,000 miles up.  Click HERE, enjoy the flight, then hit your back button.

See that I landed right next to a road?  I wonder if it has Street View coverage?  Well, looky here:


And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:


I sent him up the road a little, and then had him look back towards the landing and the farm:


The farm looks looks prosperous, eh?  I always wonder how north-country farmers (with such a short growing season) manage . . .

Did you notice on my local landing map that just west of my landing is a feature labeled “Jay Peak Trail.”  I’m a casual skier who has skied in Vermont (Killington and Sugar Bush) and I was aware of a ski mountain known as Jay Peak.  Well, here’s an oblique GE shot looking past my landing towards Jay Peak:


You can see the ski trails on the right hand side of the mountain.

Here’s a cool shot of some Jay Peak trails, likely shot with a drone (by Maxime Chevalier, perhaps a visitor from Quebec which lies just a few miles north):


Anyway, I checked out Westfield, and could find nothing.  Well, almost nothing.  I put the Orange Dude right in “downtown” Westfield, and here’s what I found:


Let me guess.  That’s the Westfield General Store.  Looks like a cool place . . .

And then there’s Troy, where I found this on Google:

In one of the stranger chapters in Vermont history, in 1967 researcher and scientist Gerald Bull constructed the 6,000-acre Space Research Corporation facility, which straddled the US-Canadian border between Highwater (in Quebec) and Jay (in Vermont).

His intent was to build “superguns” (part of the so-called “Project Babylon”) that could fire research packages (as well as weapons) into low earth orbit, precluding the need for massive rockets.

A quick side note.  In Vermont, “towns” are like townships in most other states.  The Town of Troy extends to the Quebec border and includes the villages of Westfield, Troy and North Troy (shown on my landing map). 

Here’s a GE map (which shows much smaller towns than Street Atlas), showing Highwater (in Quebec) and Jay (in Vermont).  My landing is just off the map to the south:


So back to Gerald Bull.  There’s a personal story here, so I’ll tell it:

I was sitting at the kitchen table.  I had just put the finishing touches on my Salton Sea post, and was about to generate a new random lat/long location for my next landing.  I always feel a rush of anticipation when I do this.

My wife Jody was sitting at the table, and I let her know that I was about to land, and that I’d give her insider information about the location.  When I saw that I landed in far northern Vermont, I said something like:  “How about that!  I just landed close to Highwater where Gerald Bull tested his supergun.”

Gerald Bull?  Highwater?  How would I know that?  After all, I hadn’t landed near here before – and that’s my usual source of obscure trivia.

Well, it turns out that on the very day of this landing, I was about two thirds of the way through reading a novel by Louise Penny, The Nature of the Beast.  Jody had read the same book several months ago.

The book is one of 11 or 12 novels that chronicle the fictional life and times of one Armand Gamache, the head of the Homicide Division for Quebec’s provincial police force, Sûreté du Québec.

For the most part, the books take place in the “Eastern Townships,” generally that area of Quebec south and east of the St. Lawrence River and (of course) north of the U.S. Border – which includes the region just north of the Vermont border.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the series of novels and have no problem in recommending them.

So anyway – The Nature of the Beast begins with the discovery (by a young boy) of an incredibly huge gun that was hidden deep in the woods near the fictional Eastern Townships village of Three Pines.  The story goes on (with a couple of murders along the way), centered around information about Gerald Bull and Project Babylon – involving the construction of two massive “superguns.”

Since I was reading fiction (and I hadn’t yet read the post script that discussed the non-fiction Gerald Bull and the non-fiction Project Babylon), I assumed that this supergun thing was a figment of Ms. Penny’s imagination.  So, I was shocked to realize that Gerald Bull and Project Babylon were real.

AYKM?  What are the odds that as I was reading this novel, I would actually land close to the novel’s setting, and that with my second Wiki search (the first was Westfield), I would find information central to the book I was reading?

Gerald Bull and Project Babylon are well documented and all over the internet.  Here are a few highlights (from Wiki, starting with a 1964 photo of Mr. Bull):


  • Project Babylon was a project commissioned in 1988 by the then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein for Gerald Bull to build a series of “superguns.”
  • The first of these superguns, “Baby Babylon”, was a prototype for test purposes. It had a bore 13.8 inches, and a barrel length of 151 feet.  It was built in at the Highwater facility, was mounted horizontally and test fired into a hillside.
  • The second supergun, “Big Babylon”, was much larger.  Two Big Babylon guns were commissioned.  Components were built, but none were fully assembled. The barrel was to be 512 feet long, with a bore of 3.3 feet.  The completed gun would have weighed 1,655 tons.
  • It was designed to be a space gun able to shoot projectiles into orbit, a theme of Bull’s work for many years. For use as a weapon, some form of terminal guidance would be needed to direct the fired projectile to its intended target.

Big Babylon is the big gun found in the woods in the novel.  This gun is clearly fictional, based on the following (from Wiki):

The first Big Babylon gun was assembled in Iraq, at a site excavated from the side of hill.  The gun was never fully operational.

A second Big Babylon was under construction when Bull was assassinated in March 1990.

[Oh my.  This guy was playing with fire, and paid the price.  Check out the evil-looking guy in the background of the above photo.  His killer?]

In early April 1990, United Kingdom customs officers confiscated several pieces of the second Big Babylon barrel, which were disguised as “petrochemical pressure vessels”.

More pieces were seized in Greece and Turkey in transit by truck to Iraq. Other components, such as slide bearings for Big Babylon, were seized at their manufacturers’ sites in Spain and Switzerland.

After the Gulf War in 1991, the Iraqis admitted the existence of Project Babylon, and allowed U.N. inspectors to destroy the gun in Iraq as part of the disarmament process.

Several barrel sections seized by UK customs officers are displayed at the Royal Armouries, Fort Nelson, Portsmouth.

Here’s a Wiki shot of two of the assembled barrels at the Royal Armouries:


There is speculation that special agents from either Iran or Israel were behind the assassination (five bullets to the head).  In the novel, Armand Gamache solved the local murders and discovered who killed Bull in Belgium back in 1990 (and it wasn’t agents from Iran or Israel, it was a character in the novel . . .)

Project Babylon is a truly wild story.  If you’re interested to learn more, do a simple internet search for Gerald Bull and/or Project Babylon.

Time to close with a Jay Peak GE Pano shot (from just north of my landing by Blade Runner 3A:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day

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Salton Sea, California

Posted by graywacke on September 12, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2295; A Landing A Day blog post number 725.

Dan:  Geez.  My 8th California hit since I changed the way I get my random lat/longs (79 landings ago).  That makes CA my most oversubscribed state.  OS state = Score increasing (from 697 to 702).

Check out “About Landing (Revisited)” to have a clue about the previous paragraph.

Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2

Wow.  There are a lot of potentially-titular towns that I ignored! More about that later.

As you might suspect, I landed in a very arid area with very few streams.  Ergo, my streams-only map is quite simple:

landing 3a

I landed in the watershed of the New River (3rd hit); on to the internally-drained Salton Sea (5th hit). Obviously, much more about the Salton Sea later.

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight in to far southern California.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip, and hit your back button.

Not bad Street View coverage:

ge sv landing map

Here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

ge sv landing

So anyway, of course I checked out all of the little towns, and the one bigger town – El Centro.  I found them all to be pretty much:


OK, I guess I have to say something about the town closest to my landing, Plaster City.  From Wiki:

Plaster City is an unincorporated community in Imperial County.  United States Gypsum operates a large gypsum quarry and plant there and owns the town.

It is the site of the last industrial narrow gauge railroad in the United States. The 3-ft wide line runs north to a gypsum quarry and brings gypsum from the quarry to the plant.

Sorry, but the “city” label is bogus.  It’s just a large industrial facility, not a town at all.  I don’t see a single house there:

ge plaster

Here’s a Street View shot.  You can see the narrow-gauge tracks crossing the road:

ge plaster sv

I was curious about the gypsum mine, so I began following the tracks to the north (on GE).  Here’s an overview:

ge smudge

Let’s take a closer look at the “smudge:”

ge smudge2

Interesting.  Here’s an even closer look:

ge bullseye

There is a GE Panoramio photo icon right in the center of the bullseye (not shown above).  Here’s the Pano shot (by Joachim Cheung):

pano Joachim Cheung M-60 tank

Joachim let us know that this is an M-60 tank.  I have no clue why it’s out in the middle of the desert and why it has the circles around it . . .

Before I leave the area, here’s a shot of the gypsum train, from railpictures.net, by Paul Mancini:


 Before I checked out the Salton Sea, I checked out the New River.  From Wiki:

The New River originates in Mexico, and flows north through the city of Mexicali, into the United States towards the Salton Sea. The river channel has existed since pre-historic times; however, the river as known today was formed from a levee failure that resulted in massive flooding that re-created the Salton Sea.

Today, the river flow is not natural, mostly consisting of agricultural runoff, municipal sewage discharge from Mexicali and industrial dumping. The river has been referred to as the most severely polluted river of its size within the United States.

Now wait a second.  “The river as known today was formed from a levee failure.”  Say what? 

From San Diego State University:

In 1905, a diversion was engineered in the Colorado River, in Baja California, Mexico, a few miles South of Yuma, Arizona, for the purpose of conveying water to irrigate lands in the Imperial Valley, California. An unexpected flood caused the diversion to fail, and the Colorado changed course, first flowing West and then North in the direction of the Salton depression.

For two years, the entire flow of the Colorado discharged to a previously-dry lakebed (The Salton Sink, elevation 260’ below sea level), becoming the Salton Sea.

[And this was before the Hoover and Glen Canyon Dams, so the river actually flowed all year long.  Anyway, we need a map:]

landing 3b

By the time the river was brought under control in 1907, the water had filled the depression to the level of -195 ft (65 ft deep), creating the Salton Sea.

Left on its own, the water in the sea would have eventually evaporated.  In fact, by the early 1920’s, the sea nearly dried up, reaching a record low of -250 ft (only 10′ deep). However, in 1928, Congress acted to designate the lands within the Salton basin below -220 ft as storage for municipal wastes and seepage water from irrigated lands in Imperial valley.

Since then, the sea has risen to its present -227 ft. The average depth of the sea is about 30 ft, and the maximum is 51 ft.

From the Salton Sea Museum (dot org):

The New Liverpool Salt Works began operation in 1885, near the present day town of North Shore.  Native Cahuilla Indians and local settlers worked the 1,000 acre mine.


All buildings were underwater by 1906 as the basin flooded. (Note the flooded Salt Works building below)


The 1000-acre salt deposits, contributed to the salinity of the new ‘sea’.

Here are some other pics from the same website:



A new lake brings with it new recreational (and money-making) opportunities:


Ancient Lake Cahuilla was located where the Salton Sea is today (although it was typically much larger).  From the Salton Sea Museum website:


From Wiki:

Ancient Lake Cahuilla was created when the lower Colorado River shifted its course within its delta. Instead of flowing directly south to the head of the Gulf of California, the river’s waters were naturally diverted northwest into the Salton Basin, the base of which lay about 80-metre (260 ft) below sea level. When the river shifted its course back to the south, the isolated basin would have taken more than five decades to completely dry out again.

This most recently happened in the seventeenth century, although Cahuilla Lake existed numerous times since 1000 AD.

It’s time for a couple of Pano shots of the Lake.  First this, by Mike Angelo:

pano Mike Angelo

And this (from almost the same location), by InstinctImages:

pano instinct images

I’ll close with this shot from up in the mountains west of my landing, entitled “Plaster City View,” by Tommy 750:

pano tommy 750 plaster city view

That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day

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Grisdale, Matlock and Hoodsport, Washington

Posted by graywacke on September 6, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2294; A Landing A Day blog post number 724.

Dan:  Only my second hit since my “new” lat/long selection procedure (77 landings ago).  Ergo, Washington was undersubscribed, and my Score went down (from 712 to 697).

Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2a

I’ll zoom back a little so you can check out Puget Sound, and see that I landed on the Olympic Peninsula – that wild and wooly piece of real estate tucked up in the NW corner of Washington between Puget sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean:

landing 2b

My very local streams-only map shows that I appear to have landed in (not just near) Walter Creek, which flows to the Middle Fork of the Satsop River (first hit ever!):

landing 3a

Zooming back some, you can see (sort of) that the Middle Fork discharges to the East Branch (3rd hit).

landing 3b

Zooming back some more, you can see that the East Branch discharges to the Satsop itself (also 3rd hit), on to the Chehalis (5th hit, making the Chehalis the 165th river on my list of rivers with 5 or more hits):

landing 3c

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight.  Rounding out my series of spaceflights emanating from upside-down continents, here’s one from upside-down North America.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip, then hit your back button.

Three comments:  First – North America looks really different upside-down!  More so than the other continents, for some reason.  Secondly – GE confirms that I landed in (at least very, very close to Walter Creek).  Third – I’m not bothering with Antarctica in my upside-down series, ‘cause there’s no such thing as upside down or right side up for Antarctica (think about it).  In addition, as previously discussed here on ALAD, our convention that North is always up is totally arbitrary.

Here’s an oblique GE shot, looking north towards the Olympic Range:

ge 1

And some info about the Satsop from Wiki:

The Satsop River’s name means literally “made stream,” and is shared with the Satsop Indians, who lived along the river. 

[Strange name.  I wonder what the Indians believe about who (or what) “made” the river?]

The Satsops were devastated by smallpox and other epidemics, after which a remnant population moved from their ancestral lands along the Satsop River to the Chehalis Reservation. The remnant Satsop population was listed as 350 in 1870 and only 12 in 1885. There is no Satsop tribe today.

Saying “ouch” trivializes what happened to Indians, so I won’t.  I wonder how many Satsop Indians there were before the white man’s diseases . . .

Anyway, here’s a Street View shot of the Middle Fork, taken quite a ways south of Matlock:

ge sv mid sat

And one of the  Satsop, taken just before  the Satsop discharges to the Chehalis:

ge sv sat

I’ll return to my local landing map so you can check out Grisdale, Matlock and Hoodsport (sorry, Union):

landing 2a

I’ll start with Grisdale.  From SeattlePi.com (the Seattle Post Intelligenser):

When Camp Grisdale was opened by the Simpson Timber Company in 1946, it was one of a kind. The tiny logging village located in the woods, 35 miles north of Montesano, was the first planned community for lumberjacks and their families. The camp contained 52 family homes, a two-room schoolhouse, a company store and bunkhouses for bachelor loggers. When the camp was closed 39 years later, in 1985, it was the last logging camp operating in the contiguous United States. Today, Grisdale is an overgrown wooded area in the Olympic National Forest.

Ghosttowns.com has a couple of pictures of the old logging community:





And then there’s Matlock.  The only reason I included Matlock is the last sentence from the following Wiki paragraph:

Matlock is the primary population center for the western part of Mason County, a sporadically populated logging area. The most notable sites are the church, food bank, general store, post office, local grange hall, and the Mary M. Knight school, grades kindergarten through senior high school; the school mascot is the Knight Owl, a rarely commented on pun.

Man.  A great pun, and nobody comments on it, let alone laughs . . .

Moving along to Hoodsport.  Its name comes from the fact that it is a port on the Hood Canal.  The use of the term canal drives me crazy.  It’s not a canal.  Period.  It’s a natural arm of Puget Sound, deep enough that the word fjord is sometimes used to describe it.  Here’s a little from Wiki:


Hood Canal is a fjord forming the western lobe, and one of the four main basins,of Puget Sound.  Hood Canal is not a canal in the sense of being a man-made waterway—it is a natural waterway.

Hood Canal and the rest of Puget Sound were created about 13,000 years ago by the Puget Lobe of the Cordilleran Glacier Ice Sheet.

Hood Canal was named by the Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver in 1792, in honor of Admiral Lord Samuel Hood of that navy.  Vancouver used the name “Hood’s Channel” in his journal, but wrote “Hood’s Canal” on his charts. The United States Board on Geographic Names decided on “Hood Canal” as its official name in 1932.

I would be so in favor of using an Indian word for it.  I searched, and found this from the Seattle Times in an article about water quality degradation in the Hood Canal:

The devastation has economically and spiritually wounded the Skokomish, whose very name in their native language — tuwa’duqhL si’dakW — means “our big salt water.”

OK, so that’s a little awkward for our tongues.  And how about the capital L and W? 

I couldn’t find any information about the end-of-the-word capital letters, but I fear there’s no one to ask.  This, about the Skokomish language, from Wiki:

English is commonly spoken by the tribe. The Skokomish language is a dialect of Twana, a Central Salish language. The last fully fluent speaker died in 1980.

So what about Hoodsport?  Well, aside from the fact that it sounds like an athletic contest where everyone wears a hood, here’s a little from Wiki:

Hoodsport is renowned among SCUBA divers as a staging area to view the giant Pacific octopus. Local marine preserves such as Octopus Hole and Sund Rock offer divers the chance to see octopus, as well as other marine life.

Let’s take a look at a giant pacific octopus:

wiki cliff from arlington

About Octopus Hole (from Wiki):

Octopus Hole is a designated conservation area just over three miles north of Hoodsport. Octopus Hole is very popular with Scuba divers who enjoy diving the walls associated with the site to view various underwater creatures, including but not limited to Lingcod, Giant Pacific Octopus, Wolf Eel, sea cucumber, and nudibranch.

About Giant pacific Octopus intelligence (from Wiki):

Octopuses are ranked as the most intelligent invertebrates.  In the third century AD, Roman natural historian Claudius Aelianus wrote “Mischief and craft are plainly seen to be the characteristics of this creature.”

Giant Pacific Octopuses are commonly kept on display at aquariums due to their size and interesting physiology, and have demonstrated the ability to recognize humans that they frequently come in contact with. These responses include jetting water, changing body texture, and other behaviors that are consistently demonstrated to specific individuals.

They have the ability to solve simple puzzles, open childproof bottles and use “tools”.  The octopus brain has folded lobes (a distinct characteristic of complexity), visual and tactile memory centers.

They have been known to open tank valves, disassemble expensive equipment and generally wreak havoc in labs and aquariums.  Some researchers even claim that they are capable of motor play and having personalities.

It’s time for another look at the octopus.  This shot gives us a better feel for their intelligence (it’s the eye):


And while we’re at, the other creatures in the hole include lingcod, wolf eel, sea cucumber, and nudibranch.

Here’s a picture of a Lingcod:

wiki lingcod1

And a somewhat more menacing view:


Here’s a shot of a Wolf Eel:


And a BBC wolf eel video:

And another lovely close-up (a face only a mother could love):


Sea cucumbers are more ordinary (I’ve seen plenty snorkeling in the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands).  Here’s a screen shot of Google Images:

sea cucumbers screen shot

But the piece de resistance is the nudibranch (basically a shell-less sea slug).  Just relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy:

Spanish_Shawl_Nudibranch_(Flabellina_iodinea) wiki

nudibranchs09-nudibranch_18179_600x450 nat geo

nudibranch5 the junglestore.blogspot

67f9075ddc4b19500ca808501c9f38fa pinterest


Time for a couple of GE Panoramio shots, both by Larry Workman QIN. I’ll start with this one, taken about 2 miles NE of my landing:

pano larry workman QIN 2 mi NW

And then I’ll close with this one, taken less than a mile south:

pano larry workman QIN less than a mile n

 That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day

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Corning, California

Posted by graywacke on September 1, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2293; A Landing A Day blog post number 723.

Dan:  California is just like Texas.  “Really?” one might ask.  Well, only in the world of A Landing A Day does that statement make sense. 

Texas, is historically very undersubscribed, but is very oversubscribed since I inaugurated my new way of getting random lat/longs.  Exactly the same thing can be said for California, reinforced by today’s landing (the 7th out of 77).

OK, OK.  Same old drill.  Check out “About Landing (Revisited)” if you want to get at least an inkling of what I’m talking about . . .

Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2

Here’s a streams-only map, showing that I landing in the watershed of Red Bank Creek. 

landing 3

For some reason known only to the cartographers at Street Atlas, the stream course as shown doesn’t make it all the way to the Sacramento (it ended just downstream from the label.  After checking out Google Earth, it was clear that the stream did in fact make it all the way to the Sacramento (24th hit).  So, I added the blue line showing the approximate course of the stream to the Sacramento River.

Of course, the Sacramento makes its way to San Francisco Bay (35th hit), where some of the water molecules end up under the dock on the Bay.  Of course, there’s this lonely, forlorn guy sittin’ on that dock, restin’ his bones and watching the tide roll away . . .

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight in from an upside-down Eurasia (continuing a recent theme) to N-Cen CA.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip and hit your back button.

I landed in the foothills; here’s a shot past my landing looking west towards the mountains:

ge 1

I don’t have any GE Street View coverage of my landing, but I do of Red Bank Creek, quite a ways downstream:

ge creek sv map

Here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

ge creek sv

Once again (to get you re-oriented), here’s my local landing map:

landing 2

I checked out the largest town, Red Bluff as well as the six teeny towns (all with great names – Proberta, Gerber, Tehama, Los Molinos, Flournoy and Paskenta) only to settle on the second-largest town on the map, Corning as my titular community.  Although, as you’ll see, Corning doesn’t have much in the way of hooks.

But the town’s website (OK, OK – the city’s website) does identify Corning as the Olive City.  Here’s the citylogo:


Queen olives are Spanish olives that can be green or black.  Here are some green ones:


And some black ones:


Don’t know why some olives are green and some are black?  More about the olive color is coming right up.

The largest olive grower near Corning is Bell-Carter Foods.  They have a little blurb about the history of olives on their website:

The olive tree has been in existence for nearly 8,000 years and is an ancient symbol of abundance, glory and peace. It is one of the oldest known cultivated trees in the world—grown before written language was even developed.

A native to Syria and Asia Minor, the first olives were picked from a shrub. When the Assyrians discovered that a flavorful oil could be pressed from this fruit, they decided to cultivate it. Eventually it flourished and evolved into the hearty tree we know today. Although the olive tree grows very slowly and requires careful cultivation, its longevity rewards many generations of farmers. Amazingly, olive trees over a thousand years old still exist today in many parts of the world.

I’m not sure how old these trees are, but here’s a Wiki shot of an olive grove in Greece:


Here’s a little about the processing of olives from CalOlive.org:

While there are many different curing methods used around the world, in California, most olives become California black ripe olives, which are prized for their firm texture and smooth, mellow taste.

The method of processing California Ripe Olives was invented in the late 1800s by a housewife named Freda Ehmann –  and the same recipe is followed today. It is a multi-day process that starts by putting the olives into a lye curing solution to leach the natural bitterness out.

This is followed by a series of cold-water rinses, which remove every trace of curing solution. Throughout the multi-day curing process, pure air is constantly bubbled through the olives. This air is what creates the natural, rich dark color of California Black Ripe Olives. Green Ripe Olives go through a nearly identical curing process. However, their tanks are not injected with air, allowing them to retain their green color.

I found an olive orchard just outside of Corning that had Street View coverage.  I sent the Orange Dude to take a look, and here’s what he saw:

ge olive trees

So – what else is there about Corning?  Well, artist Ralph Goings is a native son.

From Wiki:

Goings is a pioneer in the Photorealist Movement.  His work is in many prominent art galleries including the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum.

A quote from Ralph:

“In 1963 I wanted to start painting again but I decided I wasn’t going to do abstract pictures. It occurred to me that I should go as far to the opposite as I could. … that projecting and tracing the photograph instead of copying it freehand would be even more shocking. To copy a photograph literally was considered a bad thing to do. It went against all of my art school training… some people were upset by what I was doing and said ‘it’s not art, it can’t possibly be art’. That gave me encouragement in a perverse way, because I was delighted to be doing something that was really upsetting people… I was having a hell of a lot of fun…”

From RalphGoings.com:

He has drawn our attention to the ordinary everyday experience of American life… showing that there is beauty in the mundane.

“My paintings are about light, about the way things look in their environment and especially about how things look painted. Form, color and space are at the whim of reality, their discovery and organization is the assignment of the realist painter.”

                                                                                                         Ralph Goings 1978

From an essay by Edward Lucie-Smith (posted on RalphGoings.com):

At a time when painterly technique is less and less understood, Goings’ work has suffered from a contempt it doesn’t deserve. His paintings may look photographic, but they are not in fact photographs. They are painstakingly made with the brush—in exactly the way that Vermeer made his light-filled interiors and his famous View of Delft.

This comparison is not made at random. One thing that Goings’ work does have in common with photographs is its examination of light. Photography records, not objects as things in themselves, but the fall of light on objects—in other words, the way in which light is shaped by anything that interrupts its trajectory from the source.

What the heck.  I’ll start with Vermeer’s View of Delft:


Seriously realistic, eh?  But check out this smattering of Ralph’s work.  Amazing stuff:




Time to close with a couple of GE Panoramio shots.  First this, from about 10 miles SE of my landing by Eric Leslie:

ge eric leslie 10 miles southeast

Eric also took the Pano shot closest to my landing – about 5 miles east:

ge eric leslie 5 miles east

That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day

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Columbus, Ohio

Posted by graywacke on August 28, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2292; A Landing A Day blog post number 722.

Dan:  Well, Ohio was PS (perfectly subscribed) with one landing.  This was my second landing there, pushing OH into OSer-land.  My Score (of course), went up, from 699 to 705.

If you don’t understand the above paragraph (and for some reason want to), check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2b

Hmmmm.  Very urban.  Maybe I need to zoom out a little:

landing 2c

So I’m just inside the beltway, in suburban NE Columbus. I wonder if they call it “the beltway” (like us easterners) or “the 270” (like westerners)?

Anyway, I need to zoom way in:

landing 2

Take a close look at the street names!  What an international community!

I like the little area west of my landing where Canberra (Australia) and Vienna (Austria) are surrounded by Saigon (Vietnam), Cairo (Egypt), Paris (France) and Rangoon (Myanmar, aka Burma).  You’d think that the cities would at least be grouped by continent.  Oh, well . . .

A couple of street names aren’t familiar.  Makassar?  Indonesia.  Karikal?  India.  Varadero?  Cuba.  Bolamo?  Well, it only comes up as a street in NE suburban Columbus . . .

How about my watershed?  Rather than my usual streams-only map, I’ll start with a local street map, showing where I think the storm sewers go (based on topography):

landing 3

I’m sure the water ends up in Alum Creek.  Zooming back with a more traditional streams-only map:

landing 3a

You can see that the Alum Creek discharges to the Big Walnut Creek, on to the Scioto River (6th hit).

Zooming back once more:

landing 3b

The Scioto (of course) goes to the Ohio (140th hit); on to the MM (897th hit).

It’s time for my spaceflight from an upside-down continent (this time South America), right on in to central Ohio.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip, and hit your back button.

Now I’ll use GE to get a closer look at my landing:

ge 1

I really don’t need a Street View shot, but it’s available, so what the heck:

ge sv landing

For those who need to know, I landed in the backyard of 3743 Paris Boulevard East, Westerville.

So, I headed downstream a few miles to get a look at the Alum.  I found this, which looks like the GoogleCamMobile drove up towards a footbridge (the blue line):

ge sv alum map

But see where the Orange Dude is?  That’s because he drove out halfway across the footbridge!  Here’s the mid-span view:

ge sv alum

You can tell that the side rails are pedestrian-worthy, not vehicle-worthy!

And looking back towards the parking lot:

ge sv alum 2

AYKM?  He drove halfway across a pedestrian bridge?  Oh, well.

So, Columbus.  Columbus and I go way back.  My family moved to Zanesville (50 miles east of Columbus, right on I-70) in 1960.  In the early 60s, I was a rabid Ohio State basketball fan (Jerry Lucas!  John Havlicek!  Bobby Knight!).  I was heart broken when my beloved Buckeyes lost twice in a row in the NCAA championships to Cincinnati (’61 & ’62)!  Imagine that.  Two national championships in a row that were all Ohio.

I remember curling up on the couch in my living room, all by myself, in the dark, listening to radio broadcasts of OSU basketball.  The radio was part of this huge console record player.  I can still hear radio announcer Jimmy Crum saying “How about that!” when the Buckeyes made a particularly impressive shot.

And football.  I went to my first college football game in Columbus.  It was 1965 and Hang On Sloopy (which I loved and quickly learned how to play on the piano) had been a huge hit in 1964.  I was blown away when the Ohio State marching band actually played it!  Little did I know then that Hang On Sloopy would become an absolute regular for the band.  It’s still played today!

And when I’m in the mood for raucus rock ‘n roll,  I still play it on the piano . . .

Here’s a must-watch 2012 video. 

This brought tears to my eyes.  And (as anyone who knows me can attest), I mean that literally.

While I’m at it, here’s the Band’s famous Script Ohio.  Well worth the 3 minutes and 49 seconds investment:

I remember the summer of 1967.  I was just 17.  Amazingly, my parents trusted me to ride as a passenger with my best friend Robby Higgins (driving his parent’s red 1958 Ford Station Wagon) and go all the way to Columbus.  I have no clue why we went to Columbus.  I remember hearing “Penny Lane” by the Beatles numerous times on the trip . . .

OK, OK. Gratuitous opportunity to post this:

So Columbus is huge (pop 850,160), not even considering the entire metro area (pop 2,000,000).  I’m overwhelmed.  As is my wont in these cases, I’m going to focus on interesting/famous people with people with a connection with Columbus.  I decided that only going to OSU wasn’t enough.  I’ll start with Simone Biles.  World #1 gymnast and Rio Olympics superstar.

Here’s some background info from Wiki:

Simone Arianne Biles was born on March 14, 1997, in Columbus, Ohio.  Her mother, Shanon Biles, was unable to care for Simone or her other children – a girl (seven years older than Simone), a boy (five years older), and Adria (two years younger) – due to her drug and alcohol addiction.

Shanon’s father and stepmother, Ron and Nellie Biles, who had two nearly-adult sons began temporarily caring for Shanon’s children in 2000, in the north Houston suburb of Spring, Texas.

In 2003 the couple officially adopted the two youngest children, Simone and Adria, and Jean’s sister adopted the two eldest.  Simone’s father Ron, originally from Haiti, is a retired air traffic controller and Nellie Cayetano, who emigrated from Belize, is the former co-owner of a chain of nursing homes.

There’s quite the story here, eh?  And it’s so cool that her father is from Haiti (where they speak Haitian Creole and French) and her step mother is from Belize (Spanish-speaking).  What a cultural blend.

Here’s a shot of Simone (People Mag):


And, as a child (NBC):


Moving on to Jack Nicklaus (the Golden Bear).  Generally considered the greatest golfer ever, Jack won more major golf tournaments (the US Open, the PGA, the British Open and the Masters) than anyone.  He has 18 championships, Tiger Woods has 14. 

I think Tiger was poised and in line to become the greatest ever, but Tiger imploded and likely will stay in second place.

Anyway, Jack was born & raised in Columbus/environs and went to Ohio State.  Here’s a little from Wiki:

Nicklaus was born on the East side of Columbus, grew up in the suburb of Upper Arlington, Ohio and is of German descent, the son of pharmacist Charlie Nicklaus (who ran a small chain of Nicklaus Drug Stores) and his wife Helen. Charlie was a skilled all-round athlete, who had played college football for the Ohio State University Buckeyes, and had gone on to play semi-professional football for the Portsmouth Spartans (who later became the NFL’s Detroit Lions). Charlie had also been a scratch golfer and local tennis champion in his youth.

[OK.  So it was in Jack’s genes.]

Jack went to Upper Arlington High School, whose nickname and mascot are called the Golden Bears.

[I never knew why he was called the Golden bear.]

Nicklaus was an honorable mention All-Ohio selection in basketball as a shooting guard in his senior year, and received some recruiting interest from college basketball programs, including Ohio State. He also competed successfully during his youth in football, baseball, tennis, and track and field.

[I’ll say it was in his genes.]

Nicklaus took up golf at the age of 10, scoring a 51 at Scioto Country Club for his first nine holes ever played. Charlie Nicklaus had joined Scioto that same year, returning to golf to help heal a volleyball injury.

Nicklaus won the first of five straight Ohio State Junior titles at the age of 12. At 13, he broke 70 at Scioto Country Club for the first time.  Nicklaus won the Tri-State High School Championship (Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana) at the age of 14 with a round of 68, and also recorded his first hole-in-one in tournament play the same year.

At 15, Nicklaus shot a 66 at Scioto Country Club, which was the amateur course record. He won the Ohio Open in 1956 at age 16, highlighted by a phenomenal third round of 64, competing against professionals.

There’s more, but you get the picture . . .

Speaking of picture, here’s a nice one of Jack from the Daily Mail:

daily mail

Moving along to somewhat famous boxer, Buster Douglas.  From Wiki:

James “Buster” Douglas (born April 7, 1960; grew up in Columbus, Ohio) is a former American professional boxer who competed from 1981 to 1999. He is best known for his stunning upset of Mike Tyson on February 11, 1990 in Tokyo to win the undisputed heavyweight title. At the time Tyson was undefeated and considered to be the best boxer in the world, as well as one of the most feared heavyweight champions in history due to his utter domination of the division over the previous three years.

The only casino to make odds for the fight (all others declining to do so as they considered the fight such a foregone conclusion) had Douglas as a 42-to-1 underdog for the fight, making his victory, in commentator Jim Lampley’s words, “The biggest upset in the history of heavyweight championship fights.”

Douglas held the title for eight months and two weeks, losing on October 25, 1990 to Evander Holyfield via third-round knockout, in his only title defense.

Douglas came out rather sluggish, and was thoroughly dominated by Holyfield during the first two rounds. In the third round Douglas attempted to hit Holyfield with a hard uppercut that he telegraphed. Holyfield avoided the uppercut and knocked an off-balance Douglas to the canvas with a straight right to the chin. Douglas did not get up, ending his brief reign. He retired after the fight.

Douglas vs Holyfield was a reported $24.6 million payday for Douglas. Doing little for the next several years, Douglas gained weight, reaching nearly 400 pounds. It was only after he nearly died during a diabetic coma that he decided to attempt a return to the sport.

The coma made Douglas realize he had to pull himself together, and he decided to go back into training.  He won six consecutive bouts, but his career did not get back on track.  He finished with an overall professional record of 38-6-1.

Here’s a pic of Buster (from Wiki by Lasan Rajapaksa, columbusmonthly.com,):


From what I can gather, ol’ Buster’s doing just fine now (at age 56). . .

Next on my list is Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace.  He led an incredibly full life.  I’ll just pick out some highlights:


  • Born in Columbus in 1890; grew up with a fascination for machines
  • As a boy, nearly killed twice. First, when run into by a horse-drawn carriage; and then when on a thrill ride in a cart down into a mine and the cart flipped over, just missed crushing him.
  • As a young adult, became well known as a race car driver.
  • After the US declared war on Germany in 1917, he enlisted in the Army, and immediately had his eye on being selected for pilot training.
  • Instead, he was trained as an aircraft mechanic; but he managed to talk his way into some flight training.
  • He proved his flying skills and was selected for an air combat unit.
  • He ended up being the #1 American Ace, credited with 26 “kills” of enemy aircraft. But get this, four of them (including #ers 25 & 26) were balloons.  Should they really count?
  • After the war, he founded the Rickenbacker Automobile company, and was the first manufacturer to use a 4-wheel braking system.
  • In 1927, he bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which he operated for 15 years.
  • In 1938, he became the founder and owner of Eastern Airlines.
  • In 1941, he was in an Eastern DC-3 that crashed just outside Atlanta. He was left for dead by rescuers.  His injuries included a fractured skull, a shattered left elbow with a crushed nerve, a paralyzed left hand, several broken ribs, a crushed hip socket, a pelvis broken in two places, a severed nerve in his left hip, and a broken left knee. Rickenbacker’s left eyeball was also blown out of its socket.


  • He recovered fully!
  • In 1942, the Secretary of War Henry Stimson sent him on a tour of airbases in the Pacific theater.
  • He was provided an older B-17D Flying Fortress as transportation to the South Pacific. The bomber strayed hundreds of miles off course while on its way to a refueling stop on Canton Island and was forced to ditch in a remote and little-traveled part of the Central Pacific Ocean.


  • For 24 days, Rickenbacker and his crew drifted in life rafts at sea. The food supply ran out after three days. Then, on the eighth day, a seagull landed on Rickenbacker’s head. He warily and cautiously captured it, and then the survivors meticulously divided it into equal parts and used part of it for fishing bait. They lived on sporadic rain water that fell and similar food “miracles”.
  • One crewman died and was buried at sea. After two weeks, the search for the lost B-17 was to be abandoned, but Rickenbacker’s wife persuaded them to extend it another week. At the end of the third week . . .


  • He resigned as CEO of Eastern Airlines in 1960 (due to declining revenues); he retired, traveled extensively with his wife, then died of a stroke in 1973. He is buried in Columbus.

Phew.  Quite the life, eh?

James Thurber’s next.  From Wiki:


Born in Columbus, Ohio, James Grover Thurber (1894 – 1961) was an American cartoonist, author, journalist, playwright, and celebrated wit. Thurber was best known for his cartoons and short stories, published mainly in The New Yorker magazine and collected in his numerous books.

One of the most popular humorists of his time, Thurber celebrated the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people.

He described his mother as a born comedian and “one of the finest comic talents I think I have ever known.” She was a practical joker, and on one occasion pretended to be crippled and attended a faith healer revival, only to jump up and proclaim herself healed.

Once, while playing a game of William Tell, one of his brothers shot James in the eye with an arrow, and he lost the eye. This injury would later cause him to become almost entirely blind. Unable in his childhood to partake in sports and other activities because of his injury, he elaborated a creative mind which he then used to express himself in writings.

Here are some Thurber cartoons:





And some Thurber quotes:

I used to wake up at 4 A.M. and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness.

Humor is a serious thing. I like to think of it as one of our greatest earliest natural resources, which must be preserved at all cost.

Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.

It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.

There are two kinds of light – the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.

One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough.

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.

I am not a cat man, but a dog man, and all felines can tell this at a glance – a sharp, vindictive glance.

There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else.

I’m 65 and I guess that puts me in with the geriatrics. But if there were fifteen months in every year, I’d only be 48. That’s the trouble with us. We number everything. Take women, for example. I think they deserve to have more than twelve years between the ages of 28 and 40.

I think that maybe if women and children were in charge we would get somewhere.

Women are wiser than men because they know less and understand more.

Moving along to music – I love rock and roll, and I love the music of Joe Walsh. Maybe this is a slight stretch, but according to Wiki, “Walsh and his family lived in Columbus, Ohio, for a number of years during his youth.”  But more importantly to me, Walsh went to Kent State University (in Kent, Ohio), which is where I received my Master’s degree in geology.  I was there in ’73-’74, and knew people who heard Joe’s group “The Measles” playing in Water Street bars in Kent back in ‘66/’67 in Kent.

I really don’t have much to say about Joe.  He was a hugely talented and original guitar player who had great success with the James Gang (Funk#49 and Rocky Mountain High), the Eagles (Hotel California, Life in the Fast Lane) and as a solo artist (Life’s Been Good).  Plus others.

Like so many of his ilk, he hit rock bottom with drugs and alcohol.  But he had a choice:  die or sober up.  Twenty years ago he jumped on the wagon and hasn’t jumped off (and is still touring).

Anyway, here’s a picture of Joe in the Fast Lane:


And here’s a shot of Joe going the speed limit, after getting a good night’s sleep:


If (and only if) you’re a Joe Walsh fan, here’s a cool video with some great music.  He plays his hits (Funk#49, Rocky Mountain High, Life’s Been Good) with Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates).  OK.  It’s really long . . .


I’ll close with this GE Panramio shot of Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville by John Weinhardt (about a mile NE of my landing)

pano jhn weinhardt

That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day

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Sonora, Eldorado, Ft. McKavett and Roosevelt, Texas

Posted by graywacke on August 24, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2291; A Landing A Day blog post number 721.

Dan:  Wow.  Seventy-five landings since starting my new way of getting random lat/longs, and now 10 landings in Texas!  10/75 = 13.3%   The area of Texas divided by the area of the lower 48 = 268,600/3,061,600 = 8.8%   The more mathematically inclined of my readers can readily see that I should have landed in Texas about 8.8% x 75 = 6.6 times.  So Texas is seriously oversubscribed (i.e., is an OSer), and my Score went up – from 693 to 699.

It’s time for my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2

Not surprisingly, I’m in a fairly arid region, with not much in the way of flowing streams.  Here’s all I could get from my local streams-only map:

landing 3a

I’m not sure, but I’ll say that I’m in the watershed of the Twentymile Waterhole; on to the Middle Valley Prong.  Are these stream names?  I do know that my drainage heads to the northeast, so maybe . . .

Zooming back a little:

landing 3b

I know that I’m in the San Saba River watershed; I’ll assume that the Middle Valley Prong discharges to San Saba River (5th hit, making the San Saba the 164th river on my list of rivers with five or more hits); on to the Colorado River (28th hit).  The Colorado (not THE Colorado), flows southeast across Texas and discharges into the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) space flight.  Last landing, I started with upside-down Australia.  I thought I’d try upside-down Africa this time around.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip, and then hit your back button.

I didn’t end up with decent Street View coverage for my landing spot, but I could get a look at my drainage pathway (Twentymile Waterhole?).  Here’s the Street View map:

ge sv ut map

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

ge sv ut

Hmmm.  Not a lot of water . . .

I had to go to Ft. McKavett (about 20 miles NE of my landing) to get a look at the San Saba River.  Here’s what the Orange Dude can see:

ge sv saba

Do you see what I see?  No guard rails!  No barrier to keep you from driving into the river!  Here’s another view:

ge sv saba no guard rails

Wow.  Amazing.  Vive le Texas!  If you drive into the river it’s your own damn fault!

Notice how the road stays low to the river.  This is new construction – I suspect that it’s designed so that the water goes over the road during a flood.  That would be a reason for no guard rails.  I wonder if there’s going to be a warning system for when the river flows over the road?

Time to take a close look at my five towns.  First, Sonora.  Well, Dan Blocker (“Hoss” on the TV show Bonanza) taught high school in Sonora before he made his way to Hollywood.  It turns out that I featured Dan when I landed in DeKalb, Texas (where he was born), so if you want to read about Hoss, type DeKalb in the search box and check it out.  Just for the heck of it, here’s a Wiki picture:


More about Sonora from the Handbook of Texas (from the Texas State Historical Society):

About 1885, Charlie Adams, a rancher and merchant from Fort McKavett, settled on four sections of land two miles north of Winkler’s Well. He named the site Sonora, after a family servant from Sonora, Mexico.

[He named the town after the home town of his family’s servant!  How about that!]

Adams offered free lots in his town, which in 1890 was selected as the county seat. The community comprised eighteen houses, three stores, two livery stables, two hotels, a combined schoolhouse and Masonic lodge, and fourteen tents.

Wow.  Free lots!  It was a different time.  I’m glad they mentioned the fourteen tents (apparently for the poorer folks who couldn’t afford to build a house on their free lots).

So how about Fort McKavett (where Charlie was from)?  From the Texas Historical Commission:

Standing atop a windswept remote hill, the remains of a 150-year-old West Texas fort beckon curious visitors to the site that is now considered one of the best preserved and most intact examples of a Texas Indian Wars (1850–1875) military post.

We need some pics.  From the Texas Historical Commission is this 1890 shot, with the caption below:


Fort McKavett, circa 1890, after civilians had moved into the buildings of the abandoned post and established a town named after the fort. The photograph appears to have been taken from atop the two-story commanding officer’s quarters. The building in the center of the photo is on the end of “lieutenants’ row,” the main parade ground is beyond, and the post headquarters building is in the upper right corner. Photo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife.

From the same website, here’s what’s there now:


And this GE Panramio shot by Joe Fu:

pano joe fu

How about Elderado?  TexasEscapes.com (History in a Pecan Shell) tells us that Eldorado was named after “the mythical city.”  Hmmm.  What mythical city would that be?  Well, here are excerpts from a Nat Geo article by Willie Drye.  (This is a little long, but well worth the read):

The lust for gold spans all eras, races, and nationalities. To possess any amount of gold seems to ignite an insatiable desire to obtain more.

Through the centuries, this passion gave rise to the enduring tale of a city of gold. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Europeans believed that somewhere in the New World there was a place of immense wealth known as El Dorado. Their searches for this treasure wasted countless lives, drove at least one man to suicide, and put another man under the executioner’s ax.

The origins of El Dorado lie deep in South America. And like all enduring legends, the tale of El Dorado contains some scraps of truth. When Spanish explorers reached South America in the early 16th century, they heard stories about a tribe of natives high in the Andes mountains in what is now Colombia.

When a new chieftain rose to power, his rule began with a ceremony at Lake Guatavita. Accounts of the ceremony vary, but they consistently say the new ruler was covered with gold dust, and that gold and precious jewels were thrown into the lake to appease a god that lived underwater.

The Spaniards started calling this golden chief El Dorado, “the gilded one.” The Spaniards and other Europeans had found so much gold among the natives along the continent’s northern coast that they believed there had to be a place of great wealth somewhere in the interior.

The Spaniards didn’t find El Dorado, but they did find Lake Guatavita and tried to drain it in 1545. They lowered its level enough to find hundreds of pieces of gold along the lake’s edge. But the presumed fabulous treasure in the deeper water was beyond their reach.

English courtier Sir Walter Raleigh made two trips to search for El Dorado. During his second trip in 1617, he sent his son, Watt Raleigh, with an expedition up the Orinoco River. But Walter Raleigh, then an old man, stayed behind at a base camp on the island of Trinidad. The expedition was a disaster, and Watt Raleigh was killed in a battle with Spaniards. Walter Raleigh was furious at the survivor who informed him of Watt’s death and accused the survivor of letting his son be killed.  After the confrontation with Raleigh, the man committed suicide.

Raleigh returned to England, where King James ordered him beheaded for, among other things, disobeying orders to avoid conflict with the Spanish.

Here’s a map to put some geography in perspective:

south america map

By the way, it’s about 1,000 miles from Trinidad to Guatavita Lake . . .

Here’s a little about Sir Walter Raleigh (from Wiki):

Sir Walter Raleigh (circa 1554 – 29 October 1618) was an English landed gentleman, writer, poet, soldier, politician, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularizing tobacco in England.

Raleigh was instrumental in the English colonization of North America and was granted a royal patent to explore Virginia, which paved the way for future English settlements.

He funded and organized two expeditions to North America (although he himself never went).  The second resulted in the ill-fated “lost colony” on Roanoke Island, NC.  His hoped-for New World income never materialized, and he instead turned to a search for El Dorado.

Here’s a picture of SWR on a tobacco tin:


Oh yea.  Regular readers may recall my Colorado City, Arizona landing that featured the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon group who still practices plural marriage.)  Their temple happens to be in Eldorado (pic from Wiki):


And now, Roosevelt.  From the Texas State Historical Society (TexasEscapes.com):

Roosevelt, located just off I-10 in Kimble County, was established with a post office in 1898 and was named by its founder, W. B. Wagoner, for Theodore Roosevelt, who reportedly visited the area with the famous Rough Riders.

In the 1920s the community hosted polo matches, as local ranchers bred polo ponies for national markets as well as horses for the United States Cavalry.

[Polo?  In Texas??]

The population of Roosevelt, estimated at twenty-five in 1925, averaged 100 from 1941 through the middle 1980s. The population dropped to fourteen in 2000

The center of town’s main (only?) attraction is the Simon Brothers Mercantile.  From Zeekboots post on Reddit:


Here’s a very brief You Tube video tour of the store by RichMoto1:


Now it’s Bing Futch’s turn.  You gotta check out this You Tube video, with lyrics below:


Simon Brothers Mercantile by Bing Futch.

Way down in Kimble County on U.S. 2-9-0
Clay Simon’s got a mercantile, he’ll greet you at the door
’bout everything and anything is there under one roof
we stopped in and got some pictures in case you needed proof


well Roosevelt is hot as hell but them Texas townsfolk sure are swell
they serve up country charm with a smile
there’s ice cold beers and souvenirs and camouflage for hunting deers
feel free to sit a spell and stay a while
at ye old Simon Brothers Mercantile

in 1898 it was a post office, no more
they started sellin’ groceries in 1924
now look, there is a feed store and a hardware store today
you can even get a fresh-cooked meal at the Back Door Cafe


on aisle one there’s dogfood, coffee, dungarees and pans
on aisle two there’s crab boil, corned beef, Chili Quick in cans
on aisle three there’s soap and candles, saws and Ginsu Knives
on aisle four there’s tackle, buck urine and bullseyes

you’ll find motor oil and shower heads on aisle five for sale
and here’s a fact, way in the back, they’re even raisin’ quail

when you’re ridin’ 10 through Texas and you need to stop for gas
this here is an establishment that you should never pass
without stepping out your vehicle and checking out this store
down in Roosevelt, the zipcode 76874


It’s time (finally!) for some GE Pano shots from near my landing.  Near Sonora are the Sonora Caverns.  Here’s a shot by Dallas 1959:

pano dallas 1959

I’ll close with this shot of a semi on I-10 just south of my landing (by dssup):

pano dssup

That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day

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Iron Belt, Montreal, Gile and Hurley, Wisconsin

Posted by graywacke on August 20, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2290; A Landing A Day blog post number 720.

Dan:  After 74 landings (since I changed how I come up with my random lat/longs), I finally landed in Wisconsin.  Obviously, WI is undersubscribed, so my Score went down from 714 to new record low, 693

Clueless but curious?  Check out “About Landing (Revisited)” above.  Clueless but could care less?  Continue reading . . .

Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2

My streams-only map:

landing 3a

As you can see, I landed in the watershed of Sullivan Creek, on to Potato Creek.  Zooming back a little:

landing 3b

You can see that the Potato goes on to the Potato (first hit ever!); on to the Bad (2nd hit).

Zooming back, you can see that the Bad discharges to Lake Superior (18th hit):

landing 3c

Of course, we’re in the St. Lawrence River watershed (103rd hit).

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight emanating from an upside-down Australia all the way to a right-side-up Wisconsin.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip (and don’t get dizzy), then hit your back button.

There’s lousy GE Street View coverage for my landing, but I can take a look at the Potato River:

ge sv map potato


Here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

ge sv potato

The Potato looks a little mashed between the trees on either side . . .

And the closest Street View of the Bad River:

ge sv bad map

And his view:

ge sv bad

While I’m looking at the Bad, check out this GE shot of the mouth of the river:

ge dirty bad

See the plume of bad Bad water that is dirtying the lake?  Maybe it just rained, and the river was particularly muddy. . . 

Being the geologist that I am, I wondered a little about the way that the river water instantly scoots right up (or I mean left up) the coast.  Unusual or ordinary?  Well, after looking at this GE shot, the answer is ordinary!

ge long island

How could I tell?  Well, look at “Long Island.”  It was formed by a consistent along-the-shore current heading northwest that transports (and then deposits) sediment – much (or all) of which came from the Bad, I suspect.

So why is the Bad River bad?  From BadRiverBanjo.com:

The Ojibwe Indians, also known as the Lake Superior Chippewa or Bad River Band, migrated to the area during the seventeenth century. They were the first to give the river its name – Mashkiziibi, or Swampy River – which French explorers translated simply as “Bad” River.

Two things. First, the Ojibwe were not the first to name the river.  Native Americans have been here in “Wisconsin” for more-or-less 12,000 years, and I’m sure at least one (if not more than one) group named the river thousands of years ago.

Secondly – the above is the only explanation of the river’s name that I could find, but I doubt that the French thought that swamps are inherently bad – and certainly the Ojibwe would not be judgmental about a particular river.  I suspect that something was lost in the translation as people who hardly spoke Ojibwe were communicating with people who hardly spoke French . . .

Let’s take another look at my local landing map:

landing 2

It’s time to move on to the various towns:  Iron Belt, Montreal, Gile and Hurley.  Ironwood doesn’t count – it’s in Michigan.

Well, these towns are pretty much:


But they certainly have a common denominator – they were all founded in the late 1800s due to the discovery of an iron ore body and subsequent iron mining.  It was easy to figure out that the iron ore body is knwn as the Gogebic Range.  Here’s a regional map (from Wiki) showing iron ranges that surround the western half of Lake Superior.  Note the Gogebic:


Also from Wiki, here’s a close-up map – the red and orange zone labeled “Area of natural ores” is the Gogebic.  If you look closely, you can see Hurley and Ironwood, right on the state line, and right in the middle of the Gogebic:


What the heck.  I’m a geologist, so I’ll put in Wiki’s geologic cross-section across the range (the “Ironwood”):


Not surprisingly, I’ll stick with Wiki for some discussion:

The initial boom in the Gogebic Range came between 1884 and 1886. The discovery of high-grade Bessemer ore on the Gogebic Range and the consequent unfolding of vast possibilities led to a speculative craze the like of which has had no parallel in Michigan or Wisconsin.

While it lasted, fortunes were made and lost within a month or even overnight.  On September 16, 1886, the Chicago Tribune reported: “Hundreds of people are arriving daily from all parts of the country and millionaires are being made by the dozens … The forests have given way to mining camps and towns, and a most bewildering transformation has taken place. In the palmy days of gold mining on the Pacific slope there is no record of anything so wonderful as the Gogebic.”

[“Palmy?”  Here’s a definition:  Glorious, prosperous, flourishing or successful (especially of a previous period of time).  “The palmy days of the 1950s”]

For decades in the late 19th century and into the 1920s, the Gogebic was one of the nation’s chief sources of iron.  Iron from the Gogebic helped to fuel the industrial boom in the Upper Midwest during these years. By 1930 mining was winding down in the area. The mines began closing amid a national economy suffering from the Great Depression. The result was widespread economic devastation in the Gogebic Range.

Here’s an interesting sidebar.  Look at this unadorned Google Earth shot:

ge 3

See the darker strip of land just south of my landing? Hmmm . . . maybe it coincides with the Gogebic Range!  I added some arrows to help show what I’m talking about:

ge 1

I then included some of the mining towns in this shot:

ge 2

And the darker green zone goes right through Hurley & Ironwood, just like the Gogebic.  I think there’s no doubt that the iron ore formation can be seen (and mapped) based on aerial photos! 

So why is it darker green?  Let’s look a little closer:

ge 4

Note that the area around my landing looks a little barren.  Barren, in northern Wisconsin?  No way!  The GE photo must be late fall, or early spring, when there are no leaves on the trees.

So why is the Gogebic darker green?  How about evergreens?  Let me check.  Here’s a Street View shot of a road that goes through the Gogebic:

ge 5

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

ge 6

Sure enough!  Evergreens.

Here’s a Street View shot of a road that is outside the Gogebic:

ge 7

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees: deciduous trees!

ge 8

So!  This is soooo cool!  There’s something about the geology/soils of the  Gogebic that encourages evergreen trees (over deciduous trees), and there’s something about the areas outside the Gogebic that encourages deciduous trees (over the evergreens). 

Lucky for you readers, I’m not going to do the research necessary to figure everything out (and then blog about it).  But it is time for some local Panoramio shots. 

There are some beautiful waterfalls in the area.  The Potato River falls aren’t far from my landing:

ge potato falls map

And here’s a lovely GE Pano shot of the lower Potato falls by Aaron Neffer:

pano aaron nuffer

And the upper Potato falls by Tom Ellis:

pano tom ellis

I’ll close with this shot by Douglas Feltman, taken just 3.5 miles south of my landing:

pano douglas feltman upson

That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day

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Elko and Lamoille, Nevada

Posted by graywacke on August 16, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2289; A Landing A Day blog post number 719.

Dan:  Similar to Montana, Nevada is one of those long-term OSers that is now (since I changed how I get my random lat/longs) a USer.  So, thanks to today’s landing, my Score went down (from 736 to a new record low, 714).

Check out “About Landing (Revisited)” if you’re curious about my first paragraph.  Otherwise, simply keep reading . . .

Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of the Tenmile Creek (getting there more-or-less along the path of the blue line that I added):

landing 3

As you can see, Tenmile Creek makes its way to the South Fk of the Humboldt River (3rd hit); on to the Humboldt (28th hit).  Zooming back, you can see that the Humboldt dead ends into Humboldt Lake, after draining a good portion of Nevada.

landing 3a

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight.  Strangely, it seems that the pilot turned on the video camera some time after taking off from Australia, just as he set his sights on Nevada.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip, and then hit your back button.

Here’s a GE shot looking east past my landing towards the Ruby Mountains:

ge 1

It just so happens that Nevada State Highway 228 (with Street View coverage) runs right by my landing:

ge sv landing map

Here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

ge sv landing

About five miles north of my landing, the same highway 228 crosses Tenmile Creek.  Here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

ge sv tenmile

Looking back up at my local landing map, you can see only three towns, one of which – Spring Creek – did not achieve titular status (in spite of its rather substantial population of over 12,000).  That’s because it’s a johnny-come-lately residential/tourist town, of no particular interest to me (and, I presume, to my readers).  OK, OK.  In 2013, it was voted the best place to raise a family in Nevada . . .

But I’ll move along to Lamoille (pop 105).  Actually, there’s very little to say about Lamoille, except that it was named after the Lamoille River and Lamoille County, Vermont.  I found this on the origin of the Vermont county name, from TheFreeDictionary.com:

Lamoille County was named after the Lamoille River, which runs through it.  “Lamoille” is a corruption of French la mouette, meaning ‘the seagull.’  This name was given to the river by Champlain.

The 1744 Charlevois map of discoveries in America showed the river as La Mouelle owing to an engraver’s neglecting to cross the tts.  Since then, after several spelling variations, the name Lamoille became entrenched.

What a strange name origin.  In Lamoille, you don’t drive a Corvette, you drive a Corvelle.  Moving over to Elko (pop 18,000).  From Wiki:

Elko is said to have been named by Charles Crocker, a superintendent of the Central Pacific Railroad. He was especially fond of animal names and added the letter “o” to Elk. There is no definitive evidence of this naming history, but it has become the widely accepted version.

Excuse me?  So Charles was “especially fond of animal names??”  What a strange attribute.  Is that what it said under his picture in his high school yearbook?  And adding an “o” to Elk?  Maybe his friends called him Chucko.

What else does Elko have to offer?  Well, here’s the dialogue of the very, very first scene in that all-time great movie, Groundhog Day.  To set the scene – Phil (Bill Murray) is a local TV weatherman, and he’s doing the weather:

“Somebody asked me today, ‘Phil, if you could be anywhere in the world, where would you like to be?’ And I said to him, ‘Prob’ly right here – Elko, Nevada, our nation’s high at 79 today.’ Out in California, they’re gonna have some warm weather tomorrow, gang wars, and some very overpriced real estate. Up in the Pacific Northwest, as you can see, they’re gonna have some very, very tall trees.

Here are the opening credits of the movie.  This is short – just hang in there to the end, and listen closely . . .

OK, so the clip didn’t quite make it all the way to “Elko.”

Is there more about Elko?  How about the short story Fear and Loathing in Elko by Hunter S. Thompson?

First this, about Hunter S. in Wiki:

Hunter Stockton Thompson (July 18, 1937 – February 20, 2005) was an American journalist and author.

Thompson became internationally known with the publication of Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (1967). For his research on the book he had spent a year living and riding with the Angels, experiencing their lives and hearing their stories first-hand.

Previously a relatively conventional journalist, he became a counter cultural figure, with his own brand of New Journalism which he termed “Gonzo”, an experimental style of journalism where reporters involve themselves in the action to such a degree that they become central figures of their stories.

The work he remains best known for, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1971), constitutes a rumination on the failure of the 1960s counterculture movement. It was first serialized in Rolling Stone, a magazine with which Thompson would be long associated.

Politically minded, Thompson ran unsuccessfully for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado, in 1970, on the Freak Power ticket.

He was also known for his lifelong use of alcohol and illegal drugs, his love of firearms, and his iconoclastic contempt for authoritarianism. He remarked: “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

After a bout of health problems, Thompson committed suicide at the age of 67. In accordance with his wishes, his ashes were fired out of a cannon in a ceremony funded by his friend Depp and attended by friends including then-Senator John Kerry and Jack Nicholson.

So, Fear and Loathing in Elko is a crazy tale about (of all people) Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.  No surprise, Hunter wasn’t a big fan.  Here are two non-political, Elko-and-Nevada-centric excerpts:

It was a Different Time. People were Friendly. We trusted each other. Hell, you could afford to get mixed up with wild strangers in those days — without fearing for your life, or your eyes, or your organs, or all of your money or even getting locked up in prison forever. There was a sense of possibility. People were not so afraid, as they are now. You could run around naked without getting shot. You could check into a roadside motel on the outskirts of Ely or Winnemucca or Elko when you were lost in a midnight rainstorm — and nobody called the police on you, nobody  checked out your credit and your employment history and your medical records and how many parking tickets you owed in California.

And another:

It was just after midnight when I first saw the sheep. I was running about eighty-eight or ninety miles an hour in a drenching, blinding rain on U.S. 40 between Winnemucca and Elko with one light out. I was soaking wet from the water that was pouring in through a hole in the front roof of the car, and my fingers were like rotten icicles on the steering wheel.

It was a moonless night and I knew I was hydroplaning, which is dangerous…. My front tires were no longer in touch with the asphalt or anything else. My center of gravity was too high. There was no visibility on the road, none at all. I could have tossed a flat rock a lot farther than I could see in front of me that night through the rain and the ground fog.

So what? I thought. I know this road — a straight lonely run across nowhere, with not many dots on the map except ghost towns and truck stops with names like Beowawe and Lovelock and Deeth and Winnemucca….

So who made this map? Only a lunatic could have come up with a list of places like this: Imlay, Valmy, Golconda, Nixon, Midas, Metropolis, Jiggs, Judasville — all of them empty, with no gas stations, withering away in the desert like a string of old Pony Express stations.

Real quick:  he (presumably Hunter) crashes into a flock of sheep, and comes across a limo that also crashed into the flock.  Clarence Thomas is in the limo . . .

Mentioning all of those little towns catches my ALAD interest.  With a minor effort in the WordPress Search box, I found:

Beowawe –  featured in two posts, mentioned in three others

Lovelock – featured in two posts, mentioned in one other

Winnemucca – featured in one post, mentioned in two others

Golconda – featured in one post

Nixon – mentioned in two posts

Midas – featured in one post

So nothing (yet) on Metropolis, Deeth, Imlay, Valmy, Jiggs or Judasville. Just give me another ten years of landing, and you never know . . .

It’s time to look at a lovely shot of the Ruby Mountains, by nomdeploom:

pano nomdeploom

And this, by Chris Hansenn of the South Fork Reservoir (the lake just 3 miles west of my landing:

pano chris hansenn

That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day

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Estacada, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on August 12, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2288; A Landing A Day blog post number 718.

Dan:  Doh!  (said in your best Homer Simpson voice).  Today marks my 6th Oregon hit since I changed my random lat/long methodology.  You know what that means – OR is a solid OSer, and my Score went up (from 731 to 736).

In fact, OR is number 1 on my current OSer list.  Here’s my list of OSers (don’t worry about the numbers, but they do reflect the relative magnitude of the OSer-ness of each state):


Check out “About Landing (Revisited)” to answer any questions you might have about the above.

Time for my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Clear Creek; on to the Clackamas River (3rd hit), and on to the Willamette (13th hit):

landing 3a

Before I go on, remember how to pronounce Willamette:  will-AH-met.

Zooming back a little, you can see that the Willamette makes its way to the mighty Columbia:

landing 3b

  FYI, Portland is on the Willamette, just upstream from the confluence with the Columbia.

Well, boys and girls, moms and dads, and friends of all ages, gather around the ol’ computer screen, because it’s time for that family favorite, the Google Earth (GE) rocket ride from outer space to northwest Oregon.  Just click HERE, enjoy and trip, and then hit your back button.

I think I’ll zoom in for a closer look:

ge 1

Well, looky there.  I landed just behind the house at 23260 S Hillsview Lane.  I hope that the good folks who live there don’t mind a huge yellow push-pin in their backyard . . .

Unfortunately, there’s no Street View coverage on South Hillsview Lane.  But I did find a view of Clear Creek, about three miles north of my landing:

ge sv clear creek map

Here’s what the orange dude sees:

ge sv clear creek

About 8 miles due north of my landing, a bridge crosses the Clackamas.  Here’s a lovely downstream view:

ge sv clackamas

Even though Estacada made it all the way to titular status, it is pretty much hookless. 

As is my custom, I investigated the name origin.  This, from PDXHistory (as reported in Wiki), about the name:

Estacado is a Spanish word and it means staked out or marked with stakes. It was suggested by George Kelly at a 1903 meeting associated with laying out the town.  Kelly selected the name at random from a U.S. map showing Llano Estacado in Texas. Kelly’s suggested name (along with others) were written down on pieces of paper and placed in a hat.

If Kelly’s suggestion had not been drawn from the hat, the town could have been named Rochester, Lowell or Lynn.

The above quote was from PDXHistory.com.  PDX?  It turns out that that’s the airport code for the Portland airport.  So why the X?  Well, here’s the X story (from an article by Dave English in Air Line Pilot, the journal of the Air Line Pilots Association):

The National Weather Service tabulated data from cities around the country using a two-letter identification system. Early airlines simply copied this system, but as airline service exploded in the 1930’s, towns without weather station codes needed identification. Some bureaucrat had a brainstorm and the three-letter system was born, giving a seemingly endless 17,576 different combinations.

To ease the transition, existing airports placed an X after the weather station code. The Los Angeles tag became LAX, Portland became PDX, Phoenix became PHX, Jacksonville JAX and so on.

Incidentally at the historic sand dune in Kitty Hawk where the first flight occurred the U.S. National Parks Service maintains a tiny airstrip called FFA—First Flight Airport.

By the way, I found a comprehensive list of airport codes, did a search for “X”, and discovered that there are about 30 airport codes worldwide that end in “X.”

 One in particular caught my eye:  The Sembach, Germany airport code is SEX.  (Apparently, the same X thing happened for some cities outside the U.S.)

And many people don’t like the airport in Sioux City – it SUX.

Enough about airport codes. Back to Estacada.  Just west of town is the Milo McIver State Park.

I took a look at the park brochure, and saw this map:

milo mciver bat trail and barn

The loop trail is known as the “Bat Trail,” and also note there is a “Bat Barn.”  What’s going on here?

From OregonStateParks.com:

Did you know that Milo McIver is home to one of the few nursery colonies in the state for a special type of bat? It’s the rare Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat, which looks as amusing as it sounds. Its Latin name is Corynorhinus townsendii (try saying that five times fast), and it’s listed as a sensitive species in Oregon.

Park staff discovered the bats living at Milo McIver about 15 years ago. Each summer, female big-eared bats gather to roost in a weathered horse barn that was once part of an old homestead—you can still see fruit and nut trees that were planted by the former owners in the surrounding meadow.

Here’s a picture of a Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat, from eNature.com:

eNature bat

And here’s a GE Panaramio shot of the bat barn, by Pamela Elbert Poland:


I’ve been generally aware about echolocation:  how bats miraculously “see” in the dark and how they are able to track down and catch insects.  What the heck!  Here’s a bat video from the BBC (with a segment featuring long-eared bats):


Truly amazing.  We can’t imagine what’s going on in teeny bat brains, as they pull maneuvers our technology can’t replicate.

Moving right along . . . to the Clackamas River.  If you look up at my local landing map, you can see a reservoir at the south edge of the map – this is the North Fork Resevoir, formed by the North Fork Dam.  Here’s a GE Panoramio shot of the dam by Michel Mercier (Monsieur Mercier, j’assume).

pano Michel Mercier

Well, it turns out that the Clackamas has historically contained significant salmon spawning grounds for several species of salmon, including Coho (in the spring) and Chinook (in the fall).  Interesting how the two species “learned” to share the river by spawning in different seasons. 

Anyway, as we all know, dams like the North Fork block the upstream salmon migration to spawning grounds.  But when the dam built in 1958, there was enough ecological awareness that a salmon fish ladder was built at the same time.  From the OregonEncyclopedia.com:

At two miles in length, the North Fork Fish Ladder on the Clackamas River is among the longest such features in the world. Built as part of Portland General Electric’s North Fork Dam project, the fish ladder was completed in 1958.

In the early years of hydroelectric generation, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there was little attempt to mitigate damage to fish passage; and dams of all sorts—including those built for hydroelectric power, irrigation, and flood control—were viewed as necessary improvements, even where they eliminated fish migration.

As dams grew in scale, however, so did their impacts on fish populations, and sports and commercial fishing interests began to press utilities and irrigators for improved fish protection measures. Many early dams were retrofitted with fish ladders, and other efforts, from operating hatcheries to transporting fish around river obstacles, became a standard part of dam construction and operation.

Here’s a GE Pano shot of the North Fork salmon ladder, by FarCorners:

pano FarCorners

Along with how bats catch insects, most of us are generally aware that salmon return to the same fresh water spawning grounds where they were born in order to lay their eggs.  And this is after migrating out to the ocean. 

From Wiki:

Salmon spend their early life in rivers, and then swim out to sea where they live their adult lives and gain most of their body mass. When they have matured, they return to the rivers to spawn. Usually they return with uncanny precision to the natal river where they were born, and even to the very spawning ground of their birth.  After spawning, all Pacific salmon die.

The Clackamas River salmon are anadromous, a term which comes from the Greek anadromos, meaning “running upward”.  Anadromous fish mature in ocean saltwater. When they have matured they migrate or “run up” freshwater rivers to spawn in what is called the salmon run.

The life cycle of an anadromous salmon begins and, if it survives the full course of its natural life, usually ends in a gravel bed in the upper reaches of a stream or river. These are the salmon spawning grounds where salmon eggs are deposited, for safety, in the gravel.

The eggs of a female salmon are called her roe. To lay her roe, the female salmon builds a spawning nest, called a redd, in a riffle with gravel as its streambed. A riffle is a relatively shallow length of stream where the water is turbulent and flows faster.

She builds the redd by using her tail (caudal fin) to create a low-pressure zone, lifting gravel to be swept downstream, and excavating a shallow depression. The redd may contain up to 5,000 eggs, each about the size of a pea, covering 30 square feet.

One or more males will approach the female in her redd, depositing his sperm, or milt, over her eggs.  The female then covers the eggs by disturbing the gravel at the upstream edge of the depression so that the gravel covers the fertilized eggs.  She then moves on to make another redd. The female will make as many as seven redds before her supply of eggs is exhausted.

Very interesting, but how do salmon find their natal spawning grounds after spending years out in the open ocean?

Once again, from Wiki:

In the ocean, it is theorized that the salmon are sensitive to the earth’s magnetic field, and create an internal map of magnetic variations as they swim in the ocean.  They are then able to find their way back to the general vicinity of estuary where their natal freshwater stream discharges to the ocean.

They then rely on their sense of smell.  Salmon (and all fish) “smell” by sensing water that flows across sensory organs located in their heads.

Once in vicinity of the estuary or entrance to its birth river, salmon use chemical cues (which they can smell), and which are unique to their natal stream.  They use this mechanism to find the entrance of their natal stream.

Salmon are able to locate their home rivers with such precision because they can recognize its characteristic smell. The smell of their river becomes imprinted in salmon when they first migrate out to sea.

Homecoming salmon can also recognize characteristic smells in tributary streams as they move up the main river.

Remember what I said about bats?  Well, here’s the same statement about salmon:

Truly amazing.  We can’t imagine what’s going on in teeny salmon brains, as they pull maneuvers our technology can’t replicate.

I’ll close with this shot of the Clackamas just upstream from Estacada (at Milo McIver Park) from OregonStateParks.com:

index (1)

That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day

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