A Landing a Day

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Valparaiso, Indiana

Posted by graywacke on November 14, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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 relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2421; A Landing A Day blog post number 854.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (41.4289o N, 87.0481oW) puts me in NW Indiana:


And yes, I have Street Atlas once again (after my hard drive crash).  I had to pay a ridiculous $160 on eBay for Street Atlas 2010!  Anyway, here’s my local landing map, showing I had little choice but to feature Valparaiso:

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the watershed of Salt Creek, on to the Little Calumet R (first hit ever!); on to the Calumet R (first hit ever!). 

Of course, the big blue blob at the top of the map is Lake Michigan (38th hit); on to the St. Lawrence R (110th hit).

I know that the region encompassing northwest Indiana and northeast Illinois is incredibly flat and low-lying (relative to Lake Michigan).  I also know that we industrialists starting messing around with the rivers and drainageways of this region back in the 19th century. 

So, a little research reveals that the Little Calumet used to be the upstream portion of the Grand Calumet.  I have made some crude erasures (and added a blue line connecting the Little & and the Grand) to recreate the original drainageways:

The river flowed west, made a u-turn, and then flowed east before discharging into Lake Michigan in Gary.  Originally, the Calumet River only drained Calumet Lake.

I have excellent Google Earth (GE) Street View coverage, and was able to look at my landing from two nearby vantage points:

First, from the street in front of the houses:

And then, a look across the field behind the houses:

I also could get a look at Salt Creek not far from my landing:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

Time to look at Valparaiso (pop 32,000).  First, we all must pronounce it correctly:  val-pah-RAY-so.  

From Wiki:

The town was established in 1836 as Portersville, county seat of Porter County.  In 1837, it was renamed to Valparaiso (meaning “Vale of Paradise” in Old Spanish).  It was named after Valparaíso, Chile, near which the county’s namesake David Porter battled in the Battle of Valparaiso during the War of 1812.

There was a battle in Chile during the war of 1812??  Yes, David Porter (who has no particular connection to northwest Indiana), was a naval captain who sailed his ship the USS Essex to the southern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans before the War of 1812 began. 

After war was declared, he was captured two British ships off the coast of Brazil.  He rounded Cape Horn, and headed north in the Pacific towards Valparaiso, Chile.  Once there, he went after British whalers, capturing several.  The British had become aware of his activities and sent a war ship (HMS Phoebe) to Valparaiso.

A battle ensued, and Phoebe kicked ass.  From Wiki:

Phoebe suffered four killed and seven wounded. Essex had 58 dead and 65 wounded. Phoebe had holes below the waterline as well as her rigging severely cut. Essex had been hit with more than 200 shot and had her stern smashed in, a hole in her counter, her wheel and rudder damaged, all three masts damaged, the figurehead shot away, 15 guns disabled, 55 gun crew killed, 60 gun crew wounded, and the upper works and rigging severely damaged.

In his final report, David Porter claimed that the British had violated neutrality, conducted themselves dishonorably and inhumanely, and plundered his personal property after the engagement. He stated that the loss of Essex was simply due to a series of misfortunes. He wrote to Secretary Jones “I hope, Sir, that our conduct may prove satisfactory to our country.” Porter finally claimed that the United States had the right to reclaim Essex from the British.

Herman Melville criticized Porter’s refusal to strike his colors when it became clear that the situation was hopeless.  Instead, Melville accused Porter of seeking to “crown himself with the glory of the shambles, by permitting his hopeless crew to be butchered before his eyes.”  Melville added:  “Nor, by thus continuing to fight, did this American frigate, one iota, promote the true interests of her country.”

Evidently, Valparaiso’s founding fathers bought Porter’s story (and paid no attention to Melville) . . .

So, what about Valparaiso, Chile? (Also pronounced val-pah-RAY-so, but with that difficult-to-pronounce Spanish “r”.)  Here’s a map:

And here’s a GE close-up.  Note that all of the lighter areas are urban:

Here’s the opening section of Lonely Planet’s Valparaiso write-up:

Syncopated, dilapidated, colorful and poetic, Valparaíso is a wonderful mess. Pablo Neruda, who drew much inspiration from this hard-working port town, said it best: ‘Valparaíso, how absurd you are…you haven’t combed your hair, you’ve never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you.’

But Neruda wasn’t the only artist to fall for Valparaíso’s unexpected charms. Poets, painters and would-be philosophers have long been drawn to Chile’s most unusual city. Along with the ever-shifting port population of sailors, dockworkers and prostitutes, they’ve endowed gritty and gloriously spontaneous Valparaíso with an edgy air of ‘anything goes.’ Add to this the spectacular faded beauty of its chaotic cerros (hills), some of the best street art in Latin America, a maze of steep, sinuous streets, alleys and escaleras (stairways) piled high with crumbling mansions, and it’s clear why some visitors spend more time here than in Santiago.

It’s time for a tour.  I spent some time on GE Street View.  Virtually every street in Valpo has coverage:

I dropped the Orange Dude randomly around town.  Here’s a very typical street scene on one of the hills above the city:

And here’s another:

And then, I happened upon this lovely church:

Which I thought deserved a closer look:

And an even closer look:

Is that cool, or what?

I cheated a little, and researched areas of Valpo that are particularly rich with street art.  I put the Orange Dude in the general vicinity and started looking around.  Here’s one shot:

And another:

And another:

Here’s a particularly amazing piece of street art by Cuellimangui (from the artist’s Flickr photostream).  It’s so long, I had to break it into two photos. First the front:

And then the back:


I then moved over to YouTube.  Here’s a cool video by Henrik Eriksson (good Chilean name):



And then this, entitled  “Amazing Alley” by Michael Melkonian (another not-Chilean name):


Before heading back to Indiana, a personal note:  I work (a little) with a young man named Golky Barrios.  He is Chilean and lived for four years in Valparaiso in his early twenties.  He loved the city and everything about it – the hills, the ocean, the beaches, the nightlife and, yes, the street art.  He said that more than anywhere else in Chile, the city has an anything-goes attitude.  He and his roommate had a 4 bedroom apartment; they rented out the two bedrooms to friends and family who wanted to visit.  He told me he loved being a tour guide for first-timers visiting Valparaiso.

So, let’s head back to good ol’ Indiana in the good ol’ US of A. 

I noticed “Indiana Dunes State Park” along the lakeshore north of my landing (the green splotch):

A childhood memory came flooding back.  Between the ages of 5 and 10, my family lived in Oak Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb.  One beautiful day (a Sunday it turns out), we decided to visit the Indiana Dunes.  I think my Mom packed a picnic lunch, and we decided that we’d leave right after church, which was presided over by my father, a Presbyterian minister.

After church, we jumped right in the car.  Our route to the dunes included the Indiana Turnpike, a toll road.

When we pulled up to the toll booth to pay the toll, my Dad said to my Mom something like “I must have forgotten my wallet.  Do you have any money?”  To which my Mom answered, “no.”

Here’s the peculiar (and funny) part.  We must have left in such a hurry after church that my father didn’t bother taking off his clerical collar.  As he was explaining to the toll booth collector that we had no money, the collector interrupted and said something like, “No problem, Father.  This one is on me.”

My Dad didn’t correct the perception of him as a priest.  Although one might wonder, who is the woman in the front seat and why are there three kids in the back?.  Anyway, my Dad tried to get the man’s name and address so he could send him the money.  He would have nothing of it.

My father is very practical; he simply said thanks, (I don’t think he said “Thank you, son”) and off we went to see the dunes.

I’ll close with some shots of the Indiana Dunes State Park.  First this of the actual dunes from IndianaDunes.com:


Nearly all of the Google Earth photos are sunset shots over the lake, so I’ve picked a few.  First this, by Helen Q. Huang:

And this, by James Pappas:

By Floyydd Mumford (yes, that’s how he spells his first name):

And Andreas Owen:

I’ll close with this one, by Nathan King:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day







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Wawbeek, New York

Posted by graywacke on November 7, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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 relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2420; A Landing A Day blog post number 853.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (44.2812 o N, 74.3708oW) puts me in far northern New York:


As you can see above, this was my 7th landing in New York since January 2013, when I lost all of my previous yellow push-pins on Google Earth.  (In spite of my recent hard drive crash, a smart young man from my wife’s office was able to transfer the 400+ push-pins from my damaged hard drive to my new one.)

Going back to the above map with its 7 NY landings.  Don’t be fooled.  The one way down south is landing 2412, my recent Staten Island landing.  Landing 2390 is in PA, not NY.  Funny how my landings have totally ignored the vast majority of the area of New York State . . .

Here’s my (very) local landing map:


I mean, really.  Wawbeek isn’t really a town, as you’ll soon learn.  I’ll zoom back a little.  If you know the Adirondacks at all, you’ll have a clue as to where I landed:

But I am really in the boonies.

Tracing my drainage was a challenge.  Using the Google Earth (GE) elevation tool, I figured this out, close to my landing:

So I landed in Deer Pond Marsh, which drains to Brandy Pond, on to Fish Creek Ponds (not Square Pond) and then to Fish Creek Bay (part of Upper Saranac Lake).

While I’m here, I saw that I could get a GE Street View shot of my drainage pathway, and my landing:

Here’s the “upper” Fish Creek Pond view towards my landing:

Here’s the “lower” Fish Creek Pond view towards the end of the pond where my drainage ends up:

Zooming back, Upper Saranac Lake drains to Middle Saranac Lake and then to Lower Saranac Lake:

Moving east:

Lower Saranac Lake drains to First Pond, to Second Pond, to Oseetah Lake, to Lake Flower, and finally to the Saranac River (2nd hit).

Zooming way back (and moving over to Google Maps), you can see that I highlighted three cities:

The Saranac flows from Saranac Lake to Plattsburgh, where it discharges into Lake Champlain.  The Richelieu River (8th hit) flows out of Lake Champlain, and discharges to the St. Lawrence River (109th hit) at Sorel, Quebec.

Geez.  I’m exhausted, and all I’ve done is my drainage!

So I checked out the towns of Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake (see my slightly-less-local map above), but found no decent hook.  I’m sure I could find a Lake Placid hook, what with the 1980 Olympics and the “Miracle on Ice,” when the US college-kid amateurs beat the big bad Soviet Union in ice hockey.  I remember watching the game; I might rank it as the number one emotionally draining and exhilarating sporting event I have ever seen.  But, at 20 miles, it seemed kind of far away.

But Wawbeek?  Like I said before, it’s not really a town.  But I found a definitive Wawbeek article on LocalWiki.org.  I’ve never stumbled on Local Wiki before.  Before jumping into Wawbeek, here’s a little about Local Wiki.  It was started in Davis, California, as “Davis Wiki.”  Local residents are the main contributors and users.  From their website:

In a week, nearly half of residents use it; in a month, nearly everyone uses it. And 1 in 7 residents contribute material to the project. Today the residents of Davis use it for everything from learning about local news and local history to helping return lost pets to their owners.

Some folks associated with Davis Wiki decided to launch LocalWiki (in 2010) to encourage communities across America to use the Davis model.

From their website:

After experimenting with a variety of approaches — and growing LocalWiki to over 300 communities — we re-launced LocalWiki as a global, hosted platform for local knowledge sharing in in early 2015.

One might think that I would have run into LocalWiki before.  Anyway, I did find a Wawbeek Hotel article, part of the “Historic Saranac Lake” LocalWiki series.  From their article:

In 1889, the Wawbeek Lodge, a five story structure on forty acres, with 200 guest rooms and cottages was opened on the southwest shore of Upper Saranac Lake.  The Lodge was purposely located at the historic Sweeney Carry, a portage route between the lake and the Raquette River.

Here’s the original Lodge in an 1891 photo:

“Sweeney Carry” was WikiClickable, so I did, and saw this 1893 article from The Adirondacks Illustrated by Seneca Ray Stoddard:

And here’s the 1888 photograph upon which the above sketch was based:

Here’s my best guess of the route of Sweeney’s Carry:

Speaking of “carries,” there’s an Indian Carry mentioned in the Upper Saranac Lake article:

The Indian Carry is a portage trail that leads from the southern end Upper Saranac Lake to the Stony Creek Ponds.  Canoes could be paddled down Stony Creek (leading south out of the Stony Creek Ponds) and thence to the Raquette River. It dates to the pre-history of the Adirondacks, and is still in use, especially during the yearly, 90-mile Adirondack Canoe Classic canoe race.

Here’s my best guess for the Indian Carry – based on the flattest route between the two lakes:

Its north end was the site of the Rustic Lodge, and later Swenson Camp, and its south end was the site of the Hiawatha Lodge.

Here’s an early 1900s view of Hiawatha Lodge:

You might wonder how I knew where Hiawatha Lodge was located (the yellow push-pin in the Indian Carry map).  It wasn’t shown on any map.  Well, I moved a low-angle Google Earth view around the lake until I could match the mountain in the background (see above picture) thusly:

Well done, Greg!  Back to LocalWiki:

English author Charles Dickens visited the area the summer of 1859, staying at Paul Smith’s Hotel.  Paul Smith himself served as guide, as recounted in Dickens’ periodical All The Year Round, published on September 29, 1860, in which he wrote of the trip from the St. Regis Lakes to Tupper Lake via Upper Saranac Lake: “That night we slept at a loghouse, on the Indian carrying-place.  Next day we crossed the carry at daybreak, took the Stony Creek Ponds, and entered the Racquette, twenty miles above Tupper’s Lake.”

From InAndAroundTheAdirondackPark.com, here’s a reproduction of the beginning of Dickens’ piece:

Here’s more-or-less the route of Dickens’ trip:


The line on the map total 35 miles; the actual trip was surely more circuitous and therefore longer (estimated at 50 miles by Dickens).

Now wait a second!  Hold the presses!  I went to regular old Wiki to read about Charles Dickens’ trip to America, and found that he had two trips.  One in 1842, and a second in 1867-68.  Nothing about an 1859 trip.  In fact, Wiki says:

“While he contemplated a second visit to the United States, the outbreak of the Civil War in America in 1861 delayed his plans.”

I’ll get back to the discrepancy in a bit.  But here are some interesting tidbits about his 1842 trip (from a 2012 BBC magazine article):

On his first visit to America in 1842, English novelist Charles Dickens was greeted like a modern rock star. But the trip soon turned sour, as Simon Watts reports.

On Valentine’s Day, 1842, New York hosted one of the grandest events the city had ever seen – a ball in honour of the English novelist Charles Dickens.

Dickens was only 30, but works such as Oliver Twist and the Pickwick Papers had already made him the most famous writer in the world.

The cream of New York society hired the grandest venue in the city – the Park Theatre – and decorated it with wreaths and paintings in honour of the illustrious visitor.

There was even a bust of Dickens hanging from one of the theatre balconies, with an eagle appearing to soar over his head.

Dickens and his wife, Catherine, danced most of the night in the company of around 3,000 guests.

“If I should live to grow old,” the novelist told a dinner the following night, “the scenes of this and other evenings will shine as brightly to my dull eyes 50 years hence as now”.

But a visit which had started so well quickly turned into a bitter dispute, known as the “Quarrel with America”.

When Dickens’s boat made a stopover in Cleveland, he awoke to find a “party of gentlemen” staring through the cabin window as his wife lay in bed.

“If I turn into the street, I am followed by a multitude,” Dickens complained in a letter.

“I can’t drink a glass of water, without having 100 people looking down my throat when I open my mouth to swallow.”

In his travel book, American Notes, Dickens describes Mid-Westerners at dinner as “so many fellow animals”, who “strip social sacraments of everything but the mere satisfaction of natural cravings”.

“The longer Dickens rubbed shoulders with Americans, the more he realised that the Americans were simply not English enough,” says Professor Jerome Meckier, author of Dickens: An Innocent Abroad.

“He began to find them overbearing, boastful, vulgar, uncivil, insensitive and above all acquisitive.”

Dickens visited Washington DC later in his trip.  But by now he was in such a foul mood that his enduring memory of the city was the tobacco-spitting he saw in the streets.

“Washington may be called the head-quarters of tobacco-tinctured saliva,” Dickens fumed in American Notes. “The thing itself is an exaggeration of nastiness, which cannot be outdone.”

On his return to England, Dickens published two books about his American trip.

As well as the scathing travel writing of American Notes, he satirised the country viciously in a section of Martin Chuzzlewit, his next major novel.

To the American press, the books were a libel on their country.

“We are all described as a filthy, gormandizing race,” raged an article in the Courier and Enquirer, which was edited by James Watson Webb.

[“Gormandizing” more-or-less equals “glutinous.”]

It described Dickens as a “low-bred scullion… who for more than half his life has lived in the stews of London”.

Many of the friends Dickens had made in America, such as the novelist, Washington Irving, were also outraged and struggled to forgive him for ridiculing their country in print.

“Americans felt they’d welcomed Dickens into their country as a hero,” says Prof Meckier, “and now there was a sense he was a traitor.”

Phew.  One might think he would never come back, right?  Wrong.  So, here’s what Wiki says about his 1867 trip:

Landing at Boston on November 9th, he devoted the rest of the month to a round of dinners with such notables as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and his American publisher, James Thomas Fields. In early December, the readings began. He performed 76 readings, netting £19,000, from December 1867 to April 1868.

[I found a historical pound inflation calculator on the internet.  It says that £19,000 in 1867 would be worth £2,147,000 ($2,730,000) today.  Not bad!]

Dickens shuttled between Boston and New York, where he gave 22 readings at Steinway Hall. Although he had started to suffer from what he called the “true American catarrh”, he kept to a schedule that would have challenged a much younger man, even managing to squeeze in some sleighing in Central Park.

[“Catarrh?”  It means “excessive discharge of mucus.”  Charming.]

During his travels, he saw a change in the people and the circumstances of America. His final appearance was at a banquet the American Press held in his honour, when he promised never to denounce America again.

By the end of the tour Dickens could hardly manage solid food, subsisting on champagne and eggs beaten in sherry.

[Hold on!  AYKM?  Champagne and eggs beaten in sherry??  I’ll have to try that!]

When he boarded the Cunard liner Russia to return to Britain, he barely escaped a Federal Tax Lien against the proceeds of his lecture tour.

This is all information about Charles Dickens that I didn’t know.

So, the question remains:  Why did Local Wiki say that Charles Dickens was in America in 1859, and regular Wiki say nothing about this alleged trip?  Well, I’m coming down on the regular Wiki side:  Dickens was not in America (much less in the Adirondacks) in 1859!  Here’s why:

Quoting Local Wiki:

On September 29, 1860, English writer Charles Dickens published an article in his weekly periodical “All The Year Round”  titled, “Shooting in the Adirondack”.The author is unidentified.  The piece describes a “tramp” [a trek] taken in the Adirondack Mountains with Paul Smith as guide.

On April 25, 2018, we learned from Ted Comstock that the above account was not written by Charles Dickens. Instead, the periodical All the Year Round was “conducted by Charles Dickens.” The article was unsigned, but the details are convincing enough that they seem to be the unknown writer’s personal experience at that early date.

I mean really.  Quoting from the original “All The Year Round” article:

The house, a large frame building, was completed and furnished, and Paul was married and settled, before June.

Does that sound like the prose of a great English writer?  Or:

I should like to describe an Adirondack village, made up of some half-dozen log houses of the rudest description, with sometimes and unpainted frame-house, with the sign “Post-office” on it.

No.  Dickens did not write this.  But he, for some unknown reason, lifted a piece written by someone who, in 1859, traveled from St. Regis Lakes to Tupper Lake.  He didn’t say who it was, and he didn’t say it wasn’t him.  Oh, well…

I guess it’s time for me to get back to the Wawbeek, and back to LocalWiki, starting with this 1890 shot of the Lodge:

Despite its scenic location and lavish appointments, it closed in 1913, a victim of high operating costs and a trend toward shorter hotel stays and increasing private camp and cottage ownership. It was torn down shortly thereafter.

It was rebuilt as a smaller inn in 1922 (or 1930, depending on the source).

Here’s a 1966 brochure:

Seems rather ordinary, eh?  Back to Local Wiki:

The hotel went through a series of owners, but it ended up being donated to St. Lawrence University in 1975. The University leased the inn to Sports Illustrated for the 1980 Winter Olympics.  The weekend after the magazine staff left, a fire destroyed the building.

Here’s a little of what the Adirondack Enterprise newspaper had to say about the fire:

The main lodge at the historic Wawbeek Inn on Upper Saranac Lake was completely destroyed by fire on Saturday night.

The spectacular blaze raged out of control for hours with flames and smoke billowing high into the air. The conflagration was visible against the night sky for miles around.

Spectators were comfortably warm at a distance of well over a hundred feet from the building, despite subzero temperature readings.

So, it’s not clear to me exactly what happened next, but a lodge was rebuilt and then sold in 2008, and then at least partially demolished.  I think it’s just a private residence now, maybe this from the Wall Street Journal:

I’ll close with a couple of Fish Creek Ponds shots.  First, this daytime shot by Karmie Klotz:

And then, this sunset shot by Christopher Lennon:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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Livingston and Hornitos, California

Posted by graywacke on October 31, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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 relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2419; A Landing A Day blog post number 852.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (37.4825 o N, 120.5040oW) puts me in central California:

Without a decent mapping program, I’m going to use Google Earth (GE) for my local landing map:

Looky there!  Two landings very close – just one mile apart!  The one to the left is landing 2248 (February 2016, “Snelling and Merced, California”). 

And now, time for true confessions.  My regional landing map above is cut and pasted from landing 2248.

I found a “hydrographic” add-on for Google Earth.  Using it, I was able to find this:

So, I landed in the watershed of Cowell Ditch.  Stealing information from landing 2248, Cowell Ditch joins up with Dana Slough.  And then, using Google Maps:

You can see that Dana Slough discharges to the Merced River (2nd hit; my first hit, obviously, was landing 2248).

I’ll then borrow this regional watershed map from landing 2248:

The Merced discharges to the San Joaquin (12th hit), which makes its way to San Francisco Bay (16th hit).

There is excellent GE Street View coverage:

And with my landing only one hundred yards away, here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

And then, he turns around and looks downstream at Cowell Ditch:

I moved him a few hundred yards north to look at the Dana Slough:

And here’s what he sees:

And just a couple of miles away, here’s a quick look at the Merced River:

OK, so it’s time to check out Livingston.  From Wiki:

The Livingston post office opened in 1873, closed in 1882, and re-opened in 1883.  [I don’t know why details about the Post Office are so often considered important in the Wiki “History” section.  Oh well.]

The town was named for Dr. David Livingstone, a British explorer of Africa who was an international celebrity in the late 1800s. An error on the town’s Post Office application resulted in the difference in spelling between his name and the town’s

I presume you know about as much about Dr. Livingstone as I do.  So, just a little bit of info, from Wiki:

David Livingstone (1813 – 1873) was a Scottish physician, African explorer and pioneer Christian missionary.  He was one of the most popular British heroes of the late 19th-century Victorian era. He had a mythical status that operated on a number of interconnected levels: Protestant missionary martyr, working-class “rags-to-riches” inspirational story, scientific investigator and explorer, imperial reformer, anti-slavery crusader, and advocate of commercial and colonial expansion.

[In the plus column, he was anti-slavery.  In the minus column, he was an advocate of colonial expansion.]

His fame as an explorer was based on his obsession with learning the sources of the Nile River. “The Nile sources,” he told a friend, “are valuable only as a means of opening my mouth with power among men. It is this power which I hope to remedy an immense evil” – the slave trade.  His subsequent exploration of the central African watershed was the culmination of the classic period of European geographical discovery and colonial penetration of Africa.

Livingstone completely lost contact with the outside world for six years and was ill for most of the last four years of his life.

Henry Morton Stanley had been sent to find him by the New York Herald newspaper in 1869. He found Livingstone in the town of Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika on 10 November 1871, greeting him with the now famous words “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

Livingstone responded, “Yes” and then “I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you.” These famous words may have been a fabrication, as Stanley later tore out the pages of this encounter in his diary.  Even Livingstone’s account of this encounter does not mention these words.

[Makes one wonder what was really said.  Here’s ALAD’s version:  As Dr. Stanley approached Livingstone, he said, “My God, you look terrible.”  Dr. Livingstone responded, “Who the hell are you?  You don’t look so great yourself.”  Later, they decided they needed a sanitized version  . . . ]

However, the phrase appears in a New York Herald editorial dated 10 August 1872, and the Encyclopædia Britannica and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography both quote it without questioning its veracity.

The words are famous because of their perceived humor, Livingstone being the only other white person for hundreds of miles.

Despite Stanley’s urgings, Livingstone was determined not to leave Africa until his mission was complete. His illness made him confused and he had judgment difficulties at the end of his life.

David Livingstone died in 1873 at the age of 60 in Chief Chitambo’s village at Ilala, southeast of Lake Bangweulu, in present-day Zambia, from malaria and internal bleeding due to dysentery. His loyal attendants Chuma and Susi removed his heart and buried it under a tree near the spot where he died.  The site is now known as the Livingstone Memorial.

The rest of his remains were carried, together with his journal, over 1,000 miles by Chuma and Susi to the coastal town of Bagamoyo, where they were returned by ship to Britain for burial at Westminster Abbey.

Moving right along.  Hornitos, I presume.

There’s an old historical plaque in town (or at least there was).  Here’s the transcription:

Started in 1850 by outcast Mexicans from nearby Quartsburg and given the name Hornitos, meaning “Little Ovens” from the dome-like rock and mud bake ovens being used by some Germans. 

The Whites soon gained predominance.  The population grew to many thousands and it became one of the richest and toughest early day mining camps.

Wow.  The Whites soon gained predominance, eh?  Talk about politically incorrect . . .

Here Joaquin Murietta, noted bandit chief, had a hideout and many friends. 

So happy he had many friends.

Wells Fargo established an office as early as 1852 to handle the millions produced by nearby mines.

Ghirardelli of chocolate fame started his fortune by merchandising.

More about Ghirardelli in a bit.

Here, for over fifty years, were enacted the annual religious customs of old Mexico.

Wiki has another story all together about the origin of the town’s name:

The name, meaning “little ovens” in Spanish, was derived from the community’s old Mexican tombstones that were built in the shape of little square bake ovens.

[Revisionist history, or the truth?  I certainly prefer Wiki’s version!  Continuing with Wiki]:

Domingo Ghirardelli had a general store here between 1856 and 1859 where he perfected his chocolate recipes. The remains of the store can still be seen in town.

 Here are some pictures, from Wanderwisdom.com, starting with Ghirardelli’s building:


Here’s some old building:

And the old town jail:


And the Masonic Lodge:

From walkingmyfamilyline.blogspot, here’s a back-in-the-day shot of the old hotel (looking quite prosperous):


From Wikimapia, here’s a bunch of guys in front of the Hornitos saloon:


And, from Calisphere – the California State Library website, this shot of Main Street:

A quick word about Ghirardelli Chocolate.  Domingo moved on from Hornitos and set up shop in San Francisco, where he really made it big.  I mentioned Ghirardelli to my wife Jody, who spent some formative years in San Francisco.  She immediately said “Ghirardelli Square.”  So, I went to Wiki:

Ghirardelli Square is a landmark public square with shops and restaurants and a 5-star hotel in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco, California.

In 1893, Domenico Ghirardelli purchased the entire city block in order to make it into the headquarters of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. In the early 1960s, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was bought by the Golden Grain Macaroni Company which moved the headquarters off-site to San Leandro and put the square up for sale.

San Franciscan William Roth and his mother, Lurline Roth, bought the land in 1962 to prevent the square from being replaced with an apartment building. The square and its historic brick structures became an integrated restaurant and retail complex. The historic  Clock Tower was renovated; the lower floors of the Clock Tower are now home to Ghirardelli Square’s main chocolate shop.

As I’m finishing things up, I’ll repeat my Dana Slough GE Street View shot:

For post 2248, I closed with this Panoramio shot by Ray1623 of the cattle along Dana Slough (some of which you can see above):

For this post, I’ll close with a GE shot by Kevin Swaney from the same location, but now a bison (and a llama?) have been added to the mix:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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Bruneau and Wickahoney, Idaho

Posted by graywacke on October 24, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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 relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2418; A Landing A Day blog post number 852.

Dan:  Before diving in to my usual ALAD shtick, I need to remind you that my hard drive crashed.  I wasn’t able to recover my Street Atlas mapping program, so the maps for this post are from Google Maps.  I’m not satisfied with these maps, but they’ll have to do for this post . . .

Today’s lat/long (42.6582 o N, 116.0395oW) puts me in SW Idaho (you have to look closely to see the state lines):

And here’s my local landing map:

Here’s a Google Earth (GE) shot that features my two titular towns:

Zooming way in with Google Maps:

I had no idea that Google Maps actually shows creek names!  So, I landed in the watershed of Big Jacks Creek. 

I couldn’t connect the two creeks on a single map, but trust me that Big Jacks Creek flows into Jacks Creek:

Zooming back (and adding my own labels) you can see that Jacks Creek flows into the Bruneau River (1st hit ever!), which discharges to the Snake River (85th hit).  The Snake makes its way to the Columbia (177th hit).

Here’s an oblique GE shot, showing my cool landing location, right above Big Jacks Creek:

So, my titular Bruneau is hookless, but not far away is the Bruneau Sand Dunes.  Here’s a GE shot of the dunes:

Here are some cool pics.  First these, from Idaho State Parks:

And this, from Gene and Daniel’s Channel:

And this GE shot, from Kris:


And I found an article thusly titled:

Precision Topography of a Reversing Sand Dune at Bruneau Dunes, Idaho as an Analog for Transverse Aeolian Ridges on Mars

by James R. Zimbelman and Stephen P. Scheidt

Before talking about Mars, the authors present a little background about the Bruneau dunes (which are known as “reversing dunes”):

A reversing sand dune is defined to be ‘‘a dune that tends to develop unusual height but migrates only a limited distance because seasonal shifts in direction of the dominant wind cause it to move alternately in nearly opposite directions’’ (Jackson, 1997, p. 545).

The seasonal wind pattern is therefore bidirectional for reversing dunes, where the two dominant winds from nearly opposite directions are balanced with respect to strength and duration (McKee, 1979).

The Bruneau Dunes in central Idaho are an excellent place to conduct a study of reversing sand dunes because here the dunes have grown to impressive heights in a wind regime that supports the development of reversing dunes rather than horizontally migrating dunes.

In fact, the Bruneau dunes sport the tallest dune in North America – 470 feet high.

So anyway, there are many sand dunes on Mars, and given their morphology, it has been hypothesized that some of the dunes (the Transverse Aeolian Ridges, or TARs) are reversing sand dunes like Bruneau.  The study concluded that in fact, this is true.

Here are some cool shots of the Mars TAR dunes from Wiki:

My first ALAD Mars pics!

So, what about Wickahoney?  Well, here’s what Wiki has to say about Wicka:

Wickahoney is a ghost town in Owyhee County, Idaho. The town is located in a remote part of southern Owyhee County. It once had its own post office, which doubled as a stagecoach stop on the route from Mountain Home, Idaho to Mountain City, Nevada; the now-abandoned Wickahoney Post Office and Stage Station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

And here’s what Idaho Public TV has to say:

The Wickahoney stage stop, or what’s left of it, wasn’t always a crumbling ruin in the middle of the Owyhee Desert. It was once the tidy home of the Dunning family, who established a ranch at the remote location in 1887.

It was also a functioning post office and refuge for travelers on the stage route between the towns of Mountain City, Nevada and Mountain Home, Idaho. As with most desert encampments it was built near a dependable water supply, the lush Wickahoney Springs.

Here’s a GE shot showing that there is some water near Wickahoney:

Here’s the way it used to look:

And here’s what it looks like today:

I’ll close with some local GE shots.  First this, of the Bruneau Canyon, by James Farrell:

A little further upstream, here’s how it looks (by Greg Stringham):

Here’s a shot by David Ross of Big Jacks Creek, just upstream from my landing:

And here’s some cool rocks a little further upstream (GE pic by Greg Stringham):



That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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Peach Springs, Arizona

Posted by graywacke on October 17, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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 relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Dan:  As I mentioned in my last post – “Pearce Ferry, Arizona,” my hard drive crashed, and so I’m buying a little time for myself by stretching my landing to two posts.  Plus, I had three decent hooks (only one of which was covered in my previous post).  

So, this post has a different title, but it’s the same landing (so no ALADus Obscurus).  Here’s the same local landing map:

I’m also going to repeat one of the Google Earth (GE) shots from the Pearce Ferry post:

As I said in that post, there’s no Street View coverage along the nearby road.  But, I realized that E. Diamond Bar road leads to an airport.  An airport???  I thought I landed out in the middle of nowhere.

And past the airport, there appears to be something of potential interest:

I’ll say!  Check out this GE close-up:

The loop thing sticking out over the edge of the cliff is the famous Grand Canyon West Skywalk.  Here’s a shot from the website:

And another:

And yes, the floor of the skywalk is glass. 

From the website:

In the old days, the most thrilling view you could get of the Grand Canyon came standing at its edge. In 2007, that view got even better with the opening of the Skywalk at Eagle Point. This 10-foot-wide, horseshoe-shaped glass bridge extends 70 feet out over the rim of the Canyon. Look down and you can see right through the glass platform 4,000 feet to the floor of the Canyon below. Profiled by the National Geographic Channel, The Today Show, and CNN, this engineering marvel offers unparalleled views of the one of the world’s Seven Natural Wonders.

Nervous about walking on glass almost a mile above the Grand Canyon? Have no fear; the Skywalk is strong enough to bear the weight of seventy 747 passenger jets.

And then just past the Skywalk, you can drive on to Eagle Point [aka Guano Point; more about the name coming right up]:

And what’s this right out on the point (as you can see on this amazing GE shot)?

From Papillon.com:

Jutting out into the Grand Canyon, Guano Point could be one of the most stunning viewpoints in the whole of the Grand Canyon. One can walk out to the tip of the point and experience a nearly 360 degree canyon view.

While at the point one can see a few remnants of a past age. In 1958 the rights to a nearby bat cave were purchased by U.S. Guano Corp. The company constructed a $3.5 million dollar, 8,800-ft tramway system to extract the expected 100,000 tons of guano (a valuable ingredient in fertilizer) from the cave below the rim.

Unfortunately the original site survey was incorrect and the last of the mere 1,000 tons of guano was extracted by the end of 1959. Shortly after the mine petered out, a US Air Force fighter jet collided with the overhead cable system, permanently disabling it. [Yea, but what happened to the jet?!?]  The remaining towers were left intact as a monument to man’s attempt to mine the canyon.

So how about Peach Springs.  Well, there’s a story.  I had just landed at this location and was taking my first look at the Street Atlas landing map.  (This is before my hard drive crashed).  As shown on my local landing map, the nearest town was Peach Springs.

So, of course, I Googled Peach Springs, went to Wiki and read this about the Route 66:

Route 66 runs through the town and brought large numbers of cross-country travelers.  However, in 1978, Interstate 40 was opened 25 miles to the south. Overnight, Peach Springs went from being on the main drag to being more than thirty miles from the new interstate.   The new road shortened the highway distance from Kingman to Seligman by 14 miles at the expense of turning villages like Truxton, Valentine and Hackberry, Arizona, into overnight ghost towns. Peach Springs survived as the administrative base of the Hualapai tribe but suffered irreparable economic damage.

Personal aside – and this is truly amazing:  At the very moment that I was doing my Peach Springs research, my four granddaughters were in the next room watching the Disney Pixar movie “Cars” (which I had never seen).  I was invited to watch, but I decided that I’d rather work on my landing.

So, there’s was a Wiki section entitled “In Popular Culture.”  My jaw hit the table when I read this:

A similarly named and situated town, Radiator Springs, is depicted in the 2006 animated film “Cars”. A map with no local off-ramp from I-40 to a largely-parallel US 66 is described in the movie (“the town was bypassed to save ten minutes of driving”) to explain vacant, abandoned storefronts after the new road reduced Main Street traffic to zero.

Wow!  What are the odds?  A quick calculation shows that I have about a one in 2,000 chance of landing within 20 miles of a particular town in the Lower 48.  So what are the odds that the movie Cars would be playing in the next room at the same time I was landing?  One in a million?  And remember, we would have to multiply those two numbers, so we’d be at one chance in two billion! 

The Landing God was getting a good chuckle when He set this up for me! 

I immediately abandoned my landing, and sat down to watch the rest of the movie – I missed the first half hour or so, but I was filled in on the important details.  Actually, pretty cool movie.  Here are a couple of shots:


I’ll close with this shot from Eagle (Guano?) Point from the website GrandCanyonTours.com:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day

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Pearce Ferry, Arizona

Posted by graywacke on October 10, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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 relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2417; A Landing A Day blog post number 851.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (35o 55.291’N, 113o 55.473’W) puts me in NW Arizona:

I landed out in the boonies:

You don’t see Pearce Ferry.  Well, I’ll show you what’s going on soon enough.  You also may be wondering why Peach Springs isn’t titular.  Well, stay tuned, and you’ll find out at the end of this post.

My streams-only map doesn’t give much in the way of local information, but I certainly landed in the Colorado River watershed (185th hit):

As usual when I land in the arid West, I turn to Google Earth (GE) to better define my drainage.  Well, here ‘tis:

So there is a drainageway (likely a “wash”).  But does it have a name? Well, let’s see.  First, I zeroed in on where the wash hits the Colorado:

So, “Pearce Ferry Road” dead-ends at the river.  Think I Googled “Pearce Ferry?”  Well, duh . . .

So, Wiki lets us all know that the Pearce family operated a ferry at this location, starting around 1876. 

Being a wild and crazy guy, I decided to Google “USGS map Pearce Ferry.”  Bingo!  Here ‘tis:

And there it is!  I landed in the watershed of Grapevine Wash!

I was hopeful for good GE Street View:

But alas.  E Diamond Bar road does not have Street View coverage . . .

So, while on Google, I discovered that there is a Pearce Ferry Rapids.  Here’s the June 2017 GE look at the rapids:

And a close-up:

Looks like pretty nasty rapids, eh?  (Gnarly in young, cool kayaker’s terminology).  Well, when one Googles “Pearce Ferry Rapids,” there is much information.  In summary:

  • Hoover Dam (which dams up Lake Mead) was completed in 1936, and Lake Mead reached maximum capacity sometime before 1940.
  • The Lake had various highs and lows through the years, but the last time it was at full capacity was 1983.
  • When the lake is relatively high, the area of Pearce Ferry is below water, and (of course) there are no Pearce Ferry Rapids.
  • Beginning in about 2000, a regional, long-term drought began, and water levels began to drop. Here’s a graph (by Paul Lupus, posted in Arachnoid.com:

  • Beginning about 2008, the lake was gone at Pearce Ferry, and rapids began to develop.
  • By about 2014, the rapids became impassable.

Here’s a You Tube video “Camino de Santiago Journey” that shows the rapids.  Notice that early in the video, the narrator points out that the silt formation on the other side of the river was laid down when the lake was at much higher levels.


Here’s a video showing “dories” shooting the rapids in December 2008 (just after the lake dropped low enough so that the rapids formed):


Here’s a February 2017 video by Tom Martin showing the rapids in their full glory:


NEWS FLASH!  My hard drive crashed!  Fortunately, I was able to save my landing spreadsheet, the photos/figures for this post and the Word document where I prepare my drafts.  But, Street Atlas:  GONE!  All of my landing yellow push-pins on Google Earth:  GONE!  I had 440 Google Earth push-pins, marking all of my landing spots since January 2013.  As I recall, I had a hard drive crash back then, and the same thing happened . . .

I was working on two other hooks for this post, but because this is going to take me some time and effort to get ALAD back on track, I’m going to close this post for now.  Look for a “revisited” post next.  Teaser:  among other things, it’ll feature Peach Springs, the town you can see on my local landing map.

I’ll close with this GE shot by Liam Mulder, taken 10 miles east of my landing, in the area considered as the west end of the Grand Canyon:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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La Grande, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on October 1, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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 relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2416; A Landing A Day blog post number 849.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (45o 28.549’N, 118o 0.066’W) puts me in NE Oregon:

My local landing map shows the titular La Grande (plus a few other teeny hookless towns):

My streams-only map shows that I landed in the Willow Creek watershed:

As you can see, Willow Creek discharges to the Grande Ronde River (4th hit), on to the Snake (84th hit) and (of course, but not shown), on to the Columbia (176th hit).

As you can see, Google Earth (GE) Street View will do double duty, showing us Willow Creek as well as my landing:

Here’s the view upstream towards my landing:

And, because it’s so pretty, here’s the downstream view:

I don’t really have anything to say about La Grande – so you might wonder why it’s titular.  Well, Wiki mentioned that La Grande (pop 13,000) is the largest town in the Grande Ronde Valley, and the Grande Ronde Valley was Wiki-clickable. 

So click I did, and discovered that its name means “great circle,” which is one way to describe the valley.  Here’s a GE shot of the valley, and as you can see, the central part of the valley is somewhat circular:

 Here’s an oblique shot looking across the valley up near my landing:

But what caught my eye (and is the hook for this landing) is the fact that Wiki tells us that the Grande Ronde Valley is underlain by the Columbia River Flood Basalts.

I’ve mentioned this geologic feature several times in this blog, but always in the context of the great Glacial Lake Missoula Floods, which swept down across the basalts, creating a unique landscape known as the “channeled scablands.”  (Check out my Missoula MT, Lake Chelan WA and Othello WA posts for way more information on this, perhaps my favorite blogging topic.)

Even though I’ve landed in the flood basalts many, many times, I’ve never featured them.  I’ll start with a map:

All of the green on the above map is underlain by the Columbia River Flood Basalts.  So what exactly are they?  Here’s some general information: 

  • Cracks (“feeder dikes”) opened up in the earth’s crust. Liquid magma poured out, “flooding” the landscape with molten lava.
  • The lava covered an amazing 63,300 square miles.
  • The lava (now basalt) is as much as 2 miles thick.
  • About 85% of the lava erupted during a one-million year period, about 15 – 16 million years ago. The volume of this eruption is about 42,000 cubic miles, enough to cover the continental United States to a thickness of 40 feet!

Here’s a map showing the location of the feeder dikes (the dashed lines):

One of the flows traveled from west Idaho (from the feeder dike labeled CJ) all the way to the Pacific Ocean (375 miles), making it the longest known lava flow on Earth!

From Oregon State University, here’s a picture of an actual feeder dike (located about 40 miles east of my landing):

Here’s a USGS shot of basalt flow beds along the Columbia River:

Now we have to get to the “why” part of the story.  Although not totally accepted, it seems generally true that the basalt flows are associated with the Yellowstone Hotspot.  The hotspot is a huge blob of liquid magma (normally found in the mantle) that is much closer to the surface than typical.  It is currently located under Yellowstone Park, and is the cause of all of the hotsprings and geysers.

Now, pay attention.  Because of plate tectonics, it turns out that the continental U.S. is generally creeping west (away from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge), at a breakneck speed of about 2 inches per year.

Relatively speaking, the hotspot is stationery, so the hotspot appears to be migrating eastward at a rate of 2 inches per year (as the continental US creeps westward over the hotspot).  Here’s a map showing the apparent migration of the hotspot (the numbers in each hotspot location are millions of years):

So, 15-16 million years ago, when the basalts were pouring out onto the surface, the hotspot was near the far southeastern corner of Oregon, quite a distance away from the feeder dikes (like 250 miles).

Various geologists have hypothesized that due to tectonic forces, 1) the crust was thinned out up in the NE Oregon area, and 2) cracks formed in the crust.  The area of liquid magma is much larger than the hotspot, and it is theorized that liquid magma made its way to the surface from the general hotspot area via the feeder dikes.

Although I don’t pretend to understand everything on this Wiki map, it generally shows the connection between the hotspot and the area of the feeder dikes:

It’s time to look for some pretty photos near my landing. Here’s a GE shot by Zach Aichele, taken from the mountains west of my landing, looking east across the Grande Ronde Valley:

I’ll close with this shot taken in the same mountains, by Taylor Schuck:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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Max, ND (with bonus north shore of Lake Superior coverage)

Posted by graywacke on September 21, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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 relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2415; A Landing A Day blog post number 848.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (47o 44.714’N, 101o 39.269’W) puts me in Cen-NW North Dakota:

My local landing shows a VP* of small towns:

*Veritable Plethora

I checked’em all out, and they’re all pretty much hookless.  Anyway, here’s my streams-only map:

You can see that I landed in the watershed of good ol’ Stream Perennial; on to the Middle Branch Douglas Creek, on to Douglas Creek Bay (which I assume used to contain Douglas Creek, before the reservoir was built); on to Lake Sakagawea, which is the dammed-up Missouri River (431st hit. 

Of course, Mighty Mo’ heads to the Mighty Mississip (937th hit).

I’ve got decent Google Earth (GE) Street View coverage:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I moved him down the road a wee bit so I could look across a lake at my landing:

And I was able to get a look at the Middle Branch Douglas Creek:

Here’s the upstream view:

And the downstream:

Like I said above, the VP of towns are nothing much for me to talk about.  Even my titular Max.  From Wiki, about the name:

The Soo Line came from the south and would have east and west branches at a junction to be named “Junction” or “Junction City”. However, people started calling it Max’s Post Office, after Max Freitag, eldest son of Paul Freitag. Paul Freitag was a local farmer and the first postmaster. Max asked people he met at the junction if they were coming to “his” post office to pick up their mail. The name, truncated to simply Max, stuck (in habit, if not officially). When the town was later moved two miles west to the present townsite, the name was changed officially to Max.

The town has a cool website, with a series of pictures that change.  Here are my two favorites:

And then, here’s their hook:  “Live Life to the Max:”

That’s all folks! So what else do I have? Well, as at least some of you know, the way I pick my random lat/long location is using a website where I must first designate a large rectangle that encompasses the entire Lower 48.  So, the rectangle also encompasses portions of the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico and Canada.  Of course, I throw out these “landings.” 

I had quite the string of these bogus landings (for today’s landing), including two Atlantic Oceans, one Mexico, one Canada, and one Lake Superior.  The Lake Superior landing caught my eye, so I saved it.  Here ‘tis:

And a closer look:

I “landed” just off the coast of the Black Bay Peninsula, although not labeled here.  Here’s a much closer look:

Looking at GE, here’s a shot of most of the Black Bay Peninsula, which appears to be totally, completely undeveloped.  No roads, no buildings, no nothing:

Here’s the little island I landed near:

I forget exactly how I figured out the name of the peninsula, but anyway, here’s some of what Wiki has to say about it:

Black Bay Peninsula is a volcanic peninsula in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, located on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  It is located on the southeast side of Black Bay and consists of over 300 flood basalt lava flows.

I then found this 1970 document:

Of course, it’s all about geology, but I found this description of “natural resources” of the peninsula to be interesting:

The animals most commonly seen in the area were birds, of which sea gulls and other water fowl were the most evident. In the early part of the field season numerous sea gulls were observed on small rocky islands, but by the middle of the summer the eggs were all hatched and the nests were abandoned.

A great variety of ducks are common. Other birds observed include great blue heron, sparrow hawk, partridge, crow, cedar waxwing, and rubythroated hummingbird.

Moose were seen in great numbers throughout the summer. Other animals observed include otter, porcupine, ferret, beaver, rabbit, chipmunk, and a variety of squirrels.

Although bears were not observed, signs of their presence in the area were common.

Much of the area has been logged over, and most of this appears to have been done just after World War II. The only areas which do not seem to have been logged are the islands, except Edward Island, and the areas of a more rugged topography underlain by intrusive rocks.

Although there’s no discussion of cultural resources, the authors did say that their access to the entire peninsula was by boat only.

So, I did a quick GE tour of the peninsula, and found nothing man-made with the exception of a very long dirt road (actually better than 30 miles long):

Here’s a close-up of the road’s terminus:

And an even closer view:

Here’s a very cool oblique view was we can really see what we’re looking at:

Also – see the light dot at the very end of the road?  Let’s take a closer look:

Vehhhhhry interesting.  It appears to be a small building, about 30’ x 15.’  So, someone spent a considerable amount of money to construct a road that leads to a little building located near an outcrop of rock. 

Well, as mentioned earlier, I found a report on the geology, so let’s see what I can find out about the outcrop.  Here’s a geologic map.  I’ve labeled an “interesting feature” (the purple geologic unit) that’s located near the end of the road:

And a close-up near the end of the road and the outcrop:

The black line (a fault) that cuts across the purple bedrock feature appears to be the end of the cliff structure shown above.  The green unit are the basalt flows that make up much of the peninsula:

The purple unit is an igneous intrusive, a type of rock known as diabase:

I know diabase.  In the winter (when the leaves are gone), I can see a diabase ridge about a mile behind my house. It’s a tough rock, which is why it’s a ridge former, both behind my house and up there in Canada.  We have diabase quarries nearby; the rock is sold as quarry stone of different sizes; for example, 2” used in construction as a coarse fill material.

Bottom line.  It makes no sense to build a 30-mile road to a diabase outcrop.  But then I noticed something else:

See the cut-outs along the road?  Let’s take a closer look at one of them:

There are many of these low gray structures (or whatever they are) along the road, like maybe 50 or so. They all appear very similar – typically two gray rectangles.   In some places, there are many of these cut-outs along the road:

I went out to where the dirt road joins up with civilization, and yes, there was GE Street View coverage.  Here’s the end of the road:

The sign at the end of the road says (and I quote):  “This area was tree planted in 1990 as part of Buchanan Forest Products commitment to growing the future forest.  Our entire future is these planted trees.”

Their entire future didn’t last long.  In 2009, the company went bankrupt, letting go of over 1,000 workers . . .

While the dirt road could have been a logging road (at least in part) I don’t think the logging company has anything to do with the fundamental mysteries surrounding this road:  the building at the end of it, or the strange gray structures.

Enough!  I’m done!  You’re probably done, as well!  I have nothing more to offer, no clever theory as to what’s going on . . .

This is an example of what happens when I can’t find a hook.

Let’s head back to ND and put a wrap on this post.  I’ll close with this GE shot of Lake Sakajawea by Pegi Sheets:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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Mayo (and Branford), Florida

Posted by graywacke on September 14, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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 relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2414; A Landing A Day blog post number 847.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (30o 9.731’N, 83o 2.458’W) puts me either 1) in the E-Cen FL panhandle or 2) in N-Cen FL:

My local landing map, highlights both my titular Mayo and my watershed river:

(You don’t see Branford; it’s to the southeast just off the map.  At the end of the post, I’ll explain its mysterious parenthetical position in the post title.)

No need for a streams-only map.  I landed in the Suwannee River watershed (6th hit).  The Suwanee heads south from here, discharging to the Gulf of Mexico.

Here’s where I put the Google Earth (GE) Orange Dude to get a look at my landing:

And here’s what he sees:

There’s one reasonably local bridge over the Suwanee:

And here’s the view:

I’ll follow up with this GE photo of the bridge by Jeffrey Barth:

Before spreading Mayo on this post, I’ll stay with the Suwanee for a bit.  From Wiki:

This river is the subject of the Stephen Foster song “Old Folks at Home” (aka “Way Down Upon the Swanee River).

[When I was a kid, this was one of those generally-familiar songs that “everyone” knew.  I’d call it an iconic American Folk song.]

Foster had composed most of the lyrics but was struggling to name the river of the opening line, and asked his brother to suggest one.

The first suggestion was “Yazoo” (a river in Mississippi), which despite fitting the melody perfectly, was rejected by Foster. The second suggestion was “Pee Dee” (in South Carolina), to which Foster reportedly said, “Oh pshaw! I won’t have that.”

His brother then consulted an atlas and called out “Suwannee!” Foster said, “That’s it, exactly!” Adding it to the lyrics, he purposely misspelled it as “Swanee” to fit the melody.

Foster himself never saw the Suwannee—or even visited Florida—but the popularity of the song stimulated tourism to Florida, to see the river.

Written in the first person from the perspective of an African slave (at a time when slavery was legal in the south), the song’s theme is the despair of a slave sold to another plantation, thus being diverted from his family, a practice which was seen as a special hardship and one of the major points against slavery at the time.   Foster himself supported the North during the American Civil War and supported abolition of slavery.

The word, “darkies,” used in Foster’s lyrics, has often been amended, for example, “brothers” was sung in place of “darkies” at the dedication of the new Florida state capitol building in 1978.

“Old Folks at Home” has been the official state song of Florida since 1935.

Here’s the song, as sung by Paul Robeson (full lyrics are below, of which he sings only part):


Way down upon the Swanee River
Far, far away
That’s where my heart is turning ever
That’s where the old folks stay
All up and down the whole creation
Sadly I roam
Still longing for the old plantation
And for the old folks at home

All the world is sad and dreary everywhere I roam
Oh Lordy, how my heart grows weary
Far from the old folks at home

All ’round the little farm I wandered
When I was young
Then many happy days I squandered
Many the songs I sung
When I was playing with my brother
Happy was I
Oh, take me to my kind old mother
There let me live and die

All the world is sad and dreary everywhere I roam
Oh Lordy, how my heart grows weary
Far from the old folks at home

One little hut among the bushes
One that I love
Still sadly to my mem’ry rushes
No matter where I rove
When shall I see the bees a humming
All ’round the comb
When shall I hear the banjo strumming
Down by my good old home

All the world is sad and dreary everywhere I roam
Oh Lordy, how my heart grows weary
Far from the old folks at home

A few items to discuss:  First, while I have long been generally familiar with the song (especially, the first line), I wasn’t aware that it was the lament of a slave separated from his family.

Secondly:  This is the Florida state song?  Since 1935?  It seems peculiar that a song of slave lament should be a state song . . .

Thirdly:  Paul Robeson.  Quite the interesting fellow.  From Wiki:

Paul Leroy Robeson (1898 – 1976) was an American bass baritone concert artist, stage and film actor and All-American college football player who became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his political activism. Educated at Rutgers College and Columbia University, he became active in the Civil Rights Movement and other social justice campaigns. His sympathies for the Soviet Union and for communism, and his criticism of the United States government and its foreign policies, caused him to be blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

In 1915, Robeson won an academic scholarship to Rutgers College, where he was twice named a consensus All-American and was the class valedictorian. Almost 80 years later, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He received a law degree from Columbia Law School, while playing in the National Football League (NFL).

Between 1925 and 1961, Robeson recorded and released some 276 songs, spanning many styles, including Americana, popular standards, classical music, European folk songs, political songs, poetry and spoken excerpts from plays.

During World War II Robeson supported the American and Allied war efforts. However, his history of supporting civil rights causes and pro-Soviet policies brought scrutiny from the FBI. After the war ended, Robeson was investigated during the age of McCarthyism. Due to his decision not to recant his public advocacy, he was denied a passport by the U.S. State Department, and his income, consequently, plummeted.

He moved to Harlem and published a periodical critical of United States policies. His right to travel was eventually restored as a result of a 1958 Supreme Court decision. In the early 1960s he retired and lived the remaining years of his life privately in Philadelphia.

So, I can’t resist. I live 20 minutes outside of Princeton, and have long been aware that there’s a street called Paul Robeson Place.  But check out this map:

OK, so I’m heading east on Hodge Road.  Hodge Road turns into Paul Robeson Place, which then turns into Wiggins Street, which then turns into Hamilton Avenue.

But wait.  There’s more:

Hamilton Avenue turns into Rollingmead Street which turns into Littlebrook Road which turns into Tyson Lane.

Unbelievable.  GPS directions from the west side of Princeton over to the east side will sound very complicated when actually they’d be very simple if this street had but one name (or take Nassau Street (Rt 27) . . . .

Geez.  I guess it’s time for some Mayo.  Well, the town was named after Confederate Colonel James Mayo.  Straightforward enough, I guess.  But hot off the presses!

The NY Times/Associated Press:

USA Today:


Evidently, for $25,000, Kraft convinced Mayo to temporarily change its name to Miracle Whip, telling residents this is a legal, permanent change.  Of course, it isn’t.  The idea is that Kraft would do interviews with the locals who thought the name change was real, using the clips for commercials or whatever.

Even Google Maps got into the game:

Some pics:

Moving right along.  The whole area around my landing is “karst,” a geologic term meaning that the landscape is dominated by limestone features such as caves, sinkholes and underground streams.  Here are scuba divers at a water-filled sinkhole (GE shot by Peter Lapin):

As promised much earlier, it’s time to explain Branford’s parenthetical appearance in the post title.  Just last night, I was talking on the phone with my youngest son Jordan (who’s 30).  He and his S.O. Laura just returned from a road trip and he was telling me about it. 

They went to Charleston SC, then Savannah GA, then Branford FL.  I interrupted, excitedly telling Jordan that I just landed there!  After exchanging expressions like “no way,” “you’ve got to be kidding me,” and “what are the odds?” Jordan explained that the trip to Branford had one purpose:  visiting Bob’s River Place.  (For this landing, of course I checked out Branford, but somehow missed Bob’s.)

Jordan explained that Bob’s is an old-fashioned swimming hole right on the banks of the Suwanee, that’s amazingly fun.  Platforms for high diving/jumping, water slides and rope swings, with an anything-goes atmosphere.  Here’s a video:


I’ll close with this GE shot of another water-filled sinkhole, by Matt Fish)

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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Grygla, Minnesota

Posted by graywacke on September 1, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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 relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2413; A Landing A Day blog post number 847.

Dan:  So, today’s lat/long (48o 19.121’N, 95o 10.128’W) puts me in NW Minnesota:

(I initially called it North Central, but then realized the locals consider themselves to live in NW MN.)

Here’s my local landing map, showing a VP* of small towns:

*Veritable Plethora

Here’s my very local streams-only map

This map doesn’t really tell me anything about where a drop of water that falls on my landing ends up, but it does show peculiar, obviously-manmade drainage channels.  More about these in a bit.

Using the Google Earth elevation tool, I figured out that my drainage in fact heads south towards Upper Red Lake.  So here’s the larger picture of my watersheds:

As you can see, that drop of water I was talking about makes its way from Upper Red Lake to Lower Red Lake to the Red Lake River (10th hit); on to the Red River (49th hit).  Although not shown, the Red makes its way to the Nelson (67th hit), and eventually to Hudson Bay.

So I landed way out in the boonies, far from any road that could conceivably have GE Street View coverage.  But I could get a look at Upper Red Lake:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I then had the OD head west to see where the Red Lake River exits Lower Red Lake.  Looking upstream towards the lake:

And looking downstream (west):

So, what about Grygla (pop 200, pronounced GRIGG-leh)?  Well, here’s what the town website had to say about the name:

The Postal Department sent out an inspector from Washington, D.C., to check out the community.  The inspector’s name was Count Gryglavitch. Because no one could agree on a name for the town, the inspector signed his own name to the request, and “Grygla” became the name of the town.

Now, wait a second.  The town fathers let some phony Count get away with that?  Oh, well . . .

Here’s a 1904 shot of Main Street:

And a shot of Main Street 8 years later:

But hey.  The “city” has a robust website:

Moving right along . . .

Returning to GE, let’s take a look at the ill-defined landscape near my landing:

You can clearly see the manmade rectilinear drainageways, and what appears to be vague blotchy vegetation.

Zooming back to see the bigger picture around the lakes:

What a peculiar looking landscape.  I turned on the photo layer, and found this picture not far east of my landing:

So, Sam Smith posted a picture of the Red Lake Peatland Scientific and Natural Area.  It looks like I landed in a peat wetland (or bog).  Of course, I Googled “Minnesota Peat,”  which sounds like the name of a legendary lumberjack.

So, what is peat?  Well, it is the accumulation of dead plant matter in a low-lying, relatively flat wet area where the water chemistry is such that plant-eating bacteria don’t thrive, and the dead plant matter doesn’t decay.  In Minnesota, the peat deposits are typically some 10s of feet thick, and began forming after the glaciers left the area, about 8,000 years ago.

As part of the “mining” process, the bog has to be partially dewatered, so a network of drainage channels are dug so that the water flows away and the water level lowers.  That’s what all of those drainageways are all about.

I found a 2004 Minnesota Public Radio article entitled “Peat Could Be Minnesota’s Newest Cash Crop.”

Here’s the caption of the photo:

Huge machines are used to vacuum peat from a drained wetland in northern Minnesota. Only thin layers of peat are harvested each year, so companies often spend decades removing peat from the same small plot. Horticultural peat mining is a $10 million dollar industry in Minnesota. But some say it could be a lot more. Researchers are developing high value uses for the resource. (Photo courtesy Berger Peat Moss, Inc.)

And then, from the article:

Northern Minnesota has nearly seven million acres of peatlands. That’s more than any other state except Alaska. Peat is the decayed remains of plants that accumulate over centuries in wetlands. Most people think of peat as the black, mossy stuff home gardeners use to help their plants grow. But researchers in Minnesota say peat is much more than that. They’ve discovered other uses for peat that could be worth millions.

The article goes on to explore other potential uses of peat (including plant food chemicals and wax), but concludes that the economic drivers and environmental concerns have yet to be fully addressed.

Look back at the GE shot of the lakes.  See that dark triangular feature just south of my landing?  What the heck is that?  Here’s a closer view:

So, I found an article about Minnesota Peat that included this:

Hey!  That dark triangle is actually numbered.  Let’s see . . .

It’s the “Western Water Track,” which is a “watertrack fen.”   A fen is just another word for a swamp or bog, so maybe the water flows a little more quickly through a watertrack fen.  Whatever . . .

I’ll close with a couple of GE photos.  First this, by Skylar Wolf, taken in the peat bog just west of my landing:

We might be looking along one of those drainageways.  Anyway, I’ll close with this sunset shot, taken on the east shore of Upper Red Lake (by Torry Miller):


That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 A Landing A Day






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