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Archive for January, 2013

Truckee, California

Posted by graywacke on January 30, 2013

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

 Dan –  It wasn’t long ago that we visited 29 Palms; although we’ll stay in the state, now we’ll head quite a ways north for another landing in . . . CA; 92/106; 4/10; 4; 155.0.  Here’s my regional landing map, showing that I landed just outside Nevada’s elbow:

 truckee landing 1

My closer-in landing map shows I landed near Truckee and Lake Tahoe:

 truckee landing 2

I’ve gone from a landing in the beautiful Absaroka Mountains of Wyoming to the beautiful Sierra Nevada of California. . .

I landed in the Truckee River watershed (first hit!).  The Truckee is the river that runs out of Lake Tahoe.  It flows east into Pyramid Lake (with nothing flowing out), over in NV.

 My Google Earth (GE) shot shows an ill-defined snow-covered wooded landscape:

 truckee GE1

I zoomed closer in; I landed in a snowy alpine (sierra nevadine?) field.  For reference, the open field is about two football fields across.

 truckee GE3 - about two football fields wide

To get a broader perspective, here’s an oblique GE shot looking south with Lake Tahoe in the background:

 truckee GE2

That’s the Truckee River flowing out of the Lake.  If you follow the valley in the foreground (and extending towards the right side of the photo), that’s the old pioneer California Trail, with Donner Pass at the right edge of the photo.  More about Donner Pass later.  But first, this about Truckee . . .

 There is no doubt about the origin of the name “Truckee,” since there was a Paiute Indian chief named “Chief Truckee” who played a major role in the early history of the area.  About Chief Truckee (and his name), from truckeehistory.org:

During the 1830s and 1840s, increasing numbers of Americans began to traverse the Humboldt desert westward toward what is now called the Truckee River basin.  These grateful pioneers named the river after a friendly Paiute Indian chief (Chief Truckee) who safely guided their wagons over the Sierra Pass into California.

There are numerous theories as to how Chief Truckee got his name (too many to go into here).  The most likely is that the Chief’s real Paiute name was Tru-ki-zo, and this name was simplified to simply “Truckee.”  (Always go for the simplest answer . . .)

Note that Chief Truckee was a trusted guide for John C. Fremont, who “discovered” Lake Tahoe.  Amazingly, this is the third of the last four posts with a significant reference to John Fremont!  Note that before Donner Pass was named Donner Pass, it was named Fremont Pass.

 Speaking of Donner Pass, it’s located about 5 miles from my landing.  Here’s an oblique GE shot showing Donner Lake in the foreground (which used to be called Truckee Lake, by the way), and Donner Pass in the distance.  This is the setting for the Donner party drama discussed a little later in the post.  My landing (not shown) is off to the left. 

 truckee GE Donner Passw

The GE shot below shows my landing (at an elevation of 7752), a nearby mountain top (elevation of 8220), Donner Pass (7122), and a mountain top (9107) on the other side of the Pass.

 truckee GE4

A two-lane road (the old Lincoln Highway) climbs through Donner Pass.  FYI, I-80 follows the Old Lincoln Highway for the most part, but climbs over the mountain a little north of Donner Pass (at an elevation more than 100 feet higher than Donner Pass).  Here’s a Wiki picture of Donner Pass (looking east), with the caption beneath:

Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum

Donner Lake in the distance and the now abandoned railroad grade over Donner Pass. The Lincoln Highway can be seen in the middle of the photo, climbing the pass, on the left side of the photo.

This about Donner Pass, from Wiki:

To reach California from the East, pioneer emigrants had to get their wagons over the Sierra.  In 1844, the Stephens Party followed the Truckee River up into the mountains. At the head of what is now called Donner Lake, they found a low notch in the mountains and became the first overland emigrants to use the pass.

The pass received its name, however, from another group of California-bound emigrants. In early November 1846, the Donner Party found the route blocked by snow and was forced to spend the winter on the eastern side of the mountains, in cabins near Donner Lake.  Of the 81 emigrants, only 45 survived to reach California; some of them resorted to cannibalism to survive.

Also from Wiki (more detail on the Donner Party ordeal):

Both a source of settler pride and an example of hubris, the Donner Party ordeal is Truckee’s most famous historical event. In 1846, a group of settlers from Illinois, originally known as the Donner-Reed Party but now usually referred to as the Donner Party, became snowbound in early fall as a result of several trail mishaps, poor decision-making, and an early onset of winter that year.

Choosing multiple times to take shortcuts to save distance compared to the traditional Oregon Trail, coupled with infighting, a disastrous crossing of the Utah salt flats, and the attempt to use the pass near the Truckee River (now Donner Pass) all caused delays in their journey.

Finally, a massive, early blizzard brought the remaining settlers to a halt at the edge of what is now Donner Lake – about 1,200 feet below the steep granite summit of the Sierra Nevada mountains and 90 miles east of their final destination, Sutter’s Fort near Sacramento.

Several attempts at carting their few remaining wagons, oxen, and supplies – sometimes by pulling them up by rope – over the summit proved impossible due to freezing conditions and a lack of any pre-existing trail. The party returned to their camp near Donner Lake, broken in spirit and short on supplies.

What followed during the course of the brutal winter is a miserable story of starvation, including cannibalism. The survivors were saved by a Reed Party member who had been ejected from the party months earlier (and taken a different trail to Sacramento).  Seeing that the Donner Party never arrived at Sutter’s Fort, he initiated several relief parties. Of the original 87 settlers, 48 remarkably survived the ordeal.

Moving right along . . . this, about Donner Pass weather, from Wiki:

Winter weather at Donner Pass can be brutal. At an average of over 34 feet of snow per year, Donner Pass is one of the snowiest places in the United States.  Four times since 1880 total snowfall at Donner Summit has exceeded 60 feet and topped  65 feet in both 1938 and 1953.

I’ll close with this lovely winter shot of the Truckee River, just east of Truckee (Wiki):

 truckee river wiki

 That’ll do it.

 KS

 Greg

© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Dubois, Wyoming (revisited)

Posted by graywacke on January 27, 2013

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

Dan –  My third OSer in a row (keeping me mired at 3/10) is . . . WY; 71/63; 3/10; 3; 155.6.  My regional landing map shows I landed in NW WY, up near Yellowstone Park:

 dubois landing 1

A closer look shows my proximity to the town of Dubois (about 20 miles away).  Jackson Hole (the valley of the Snake River south of Moran Junction) is about 50 miles to the west of my landing:

 dubois landing 2

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows that I landed in a wooded valley just north a stream:

 dubois GE1

You can’t tell how steep the valley walls are in the above shot.  But now you can, with an oblique GE shot:

 dubois GE3

All I can say is that GE is amazing.  The above looks like a photo taken from an airplane . . .

 I landed in the southern end of the Absaroka Mountains, in the valley carved by the Caldwell Ck.  The Caldwell flows into the Wiggins Fork (a new river for A Landing A Day); on to the East Wind R (yet another new river); to the Wind R (8th hit); to the Big Horn R (17th hit); to the Yellowstone R (a milestone – the 50th hit); to the Missouri (367th hit); and, of course, to the MM (781st hit).  Phew.  Eight, count ’em, eight waterways . . .

 By the way, I landed in Fremont County, which was named after John Fremont.  That’s two of my last three landings where Mr. Fremont made his mark.

 This is an incredibly picturesque area.  I stumbled on a photo blog by Gary Keimig.  Here’s his shot of the Wiggins Fk valley, with Gary’s comment below the picture.  Click HERE to go to his blog.

Double cabins 10 009

July 6, 2010
One morning finds me at Double Cabins where Frontier Creek joins the Wiggins Fork. The whole valley is in spring flood mode and channels filled with running water fill the wide valley floors of both streams as they join together continuing their channelization on downstream.

 Moving down the valley to Dubois:  First things first.  You’ll noted the “revisited” added to the title.  That’s right, I did a Dubois Wyoming post back on July 9, 2010. I just reread the post and if I don’t say so myself, it’s a good one!   Click HERE to check it out (and you’ll see I landed quite a bit southwest of today’s landing, but Dubois was still the closest town).

Here’s a map showing my first Dubois landing location:

dubois landing comparison

In that post, I mentioned the fact that the town was initially known as the town of “Never Sweat” (which, like Wolf Pen Georgia, I prefer to the actual name).  This time around,  I found two contradictory explanations for “Never Sweat.”   From WindRiverCountry.com:

It was 1886 and they wanted to call their little settlement “Never Sweat,” due to the valley’s warm dry winds (which I mentioned in my earlier Dubois post).

From the Dubois Chamber of Commerce website:

It was 1886 and they wanted to call their little settlement “Never Sweat’, a joke on the men of the area who seemed not to take work too seriously (which I did not mention in the earlier post).

Note how the opening phrase of each sentence is identical – hmmmm.  Anyway, I vote for the second.  

 Both sources agree that the town ended up being named for Fred Dubois, a two-term Senator from Idaho (who shares my May 29th birth date!).  For a robust treatment of Mr. Dubois (including his interesting relationship with local Mormons and his connection with Navy bean soup) take a look at my first post.

 In that post, I speculated that the town was likely pronounced “doo-boys.”  Well, now Wiki has chimed in, telling us that, in fact, the town’s name is pronounced “doo-boys.” But Wiki adds the additional information that the accent (of course) is on the first syllable.  I said “of course” after pronouncing it out loud:  first with the accent on the second syllable, and then with the accent on the first.  I sure as heck sounded more like a cowboy saying DOO boys.

 Here’s a shot of beautiful downtown Dubois (from WyomingTourism.com), which certainly looks the part of a genuine cowboy town:

dubois wyoming tourism.com

That’s the image sought by the town, as one can see by looking at the header on the town’s website (duboiswyoming.org):

 header

Of course, there’s this pesky quote from Wiki:

A significant proportion of Dubois residents are writers, artists, photographers, musicians and songwriters, drawn to the remote town in part by its relatively moderate climate and remarkable scenery.

Well, I’m a writer (of sorts), a musician (of sorts) and a songwriter (of sorts).  I’m no cowboy, but I must say that I could think of many way worse places to live than Dubois (like NJ????)

 I’ll close with this shot from near Dubois, from firstlightworkshop.com (a digital photography workshop):

 dubois firstlightworkshop.com  scenery

 That’ll do it.

 KS

 Greg

© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Stanton, Iowa

Posted by graywacke on January 25, 2013

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

Dan –  Starting to slip a little (down to 3/10) thanks to this OSer landing in . . . IA; 42/36; 3/10; 2; 155.1.

 Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

 My close-in landing map shows my proximity to Red Oak, Stanton and Stennett:

landing 2

 I’m closest to Stennett, but it’s so small, it’s not there at all!

Logic would dictate that I would feature Red Oak; a substantial community (pop nearly 6,000).  But a fairly thorough search of Red Oak on the internet came up pretty much empty, insofar as a topical hook is concerned.  (I’m sure it’s a lovely community and a great place to live).  A quick look at Stanton (pop only about 700), and I was convinced.  Stanton, it is.

 But first, here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot, showing that (of course), I landed in a farm field:

 GE1

For only the second time, I landed in the East Nishnabotna River watershed, on to (what else?) the Nishnabotna River (also my second hit); on to the Missouri (366th hit) to the MM (780th hit).  Here’s a GE shot of the East Nishnabotna, at the Route 34 bridge just west of Red Oak:

 e nishnabotna

By the way, according to Wiki, “Nishnabotna” is Native American for “canoe-making river.”  I’m not sure how a river makes a canoe . . .

 So, Stanton.  It has long been known as the Little White City, because of the preponderance of white houses.  Here’s a great aerial shot of the town (aerial photo by Kevin McGrew, posted on the mchsi.com website), showing what looks like mostly white houses & buildings:

 Kevin McGrew on mchsi.com website

Here’s the town’s logo from the town’s website:

 logo3

Huh.  Funny-looking water towers, eh?

 From Wiki:

Stanton was first settled by Swedish immigrants. The town is best known for its two water towers, the tanks of which are painted and shaped like a coffee pot (the largest Swedish coffee pot in the world) and a coffee cup.  These also allude to the fact that Stanton is the hometown of actress Virginia Christine, best known to TV viewers as “Mrs. Olson” in classic commercials for Folgers Coffee.

Well, there you have it.  Of course, we’ll need some pictures of the two water towers.  First, the pot (Panoramio by Denis Scannel):

 denis scannel panoramio

And then, the cup (Panoramio by nguyen463):

 nguyen463

Roadside America has quite the write-up about Stanton’s water towers:

One of the few Big Coffee Pot towns with a semi-legitimate coffee claim-to-fame, Stanton is the home of “Mrs. Olsen.” Or, at least, it was the home of an actress — stage name Virginia Christine — made famous as Folgers’ Mrs. Olsen, hawking their “mountain grown” coffee in TV commercials. She’d long since departed the Iowa, but returned for the town’s Centennial celebration in 1970 as parade Grand Marshal. Stanton celebrated the connection, along with its own Scandinavian roots, with a 120-ft. Coffee Pot Water Tower erected in 1971.

The “Swedish-style” pot, painted with decorative hearts and flowers, holds 40,000 gallons and sits on top of a 90-ft. tower.  The pot is 35-ft. high, the spout is 10-ft. high, and the handle is 15-ft. high.  If you really care.

In 2000, a 96-ft. tall coffee cup water tower was erected to complement the coffee pot. Its capacity dwarfs the old pot, holding 150,000 gallons of water ready for percolation.  It won the 2000 “Tank of the Year” award from the Steel Plate Manufacturer’s Association!

Moving on to Mrs. Olsen herself:

 virginia-christine-1-sized

I must insist that you check out one of her Folgers Coffee commercials on You Tube.  This is a priceless snapshot of a bygone era:

 Click HERE  to watch.

 After Dylan watched that commercial, he wrote “The Times They are A-Changing.”

Here’s my own Folgers story:  In the late 1950s, I lived in Oak Park IL, a Chicago suburb (before Mrs. Olsen).  We had a kitchen radio that was often on.  I remember a commanding male voice coming over the radio, saying “I will bring a mountain to Chicago.”  This was a topic around the family dinner table – Chicago is as flat as a pancake; how could someone bring a mountain to Chicago? 

 We heard this many, many times, and saw billboards with the same message.

 Finally, after a couple months of this, we received a one pound can of Folgers coffee in the mail (as did our neighbors), and the ads switched over to extolling the wonders of “Mountain Grown Coffee.”  What a let down.

 And yes, as I recall, my parents switched from Maxwell House (“good to the last drop”) to Folgers . . .

 I’ll close with this about Susie’s Kitchen, a Stanton restaurant featured on RoadFood.com (Michael Stern visited Susie’s and wrote the post).  Here’s Susie’s famous “Fruits of the Forest” pie, with Michael Sterns comments below:

pie

“One of Iowa’s top pies: Fruits of the Forest, made in a fine, flaky crust that only the inclusion of lard can achieve.”

That’ll do it.

KS

Greg

© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Summer Lake, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on January 19, 2013

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

 Dan –  After three USers, I guess I can’t complain about a solid OSer . . . OR; 75/64; 4/10; 1; 154.7. 

Ignorable minutiae alert – the following paragraph is eminently skippable:

You may have noted (but you probably did not), that the next-to-last number in the above string dropped from 14 last post to 1 this post.  As you may recall (but you probably don’t), that number refers to the ratio just before it; in this case 4/10.  4/10 refers to how many USers I’ve had of my last 10 landings.  I just ended a streak of 14 landings, where that ratio was 5/10 or higher.  Now, starting with 1, I’ll be tracking the number of consecutive posts where that ratio is 4/10 or lower.

 So anyway, here’s my regional landing map, showing I landed in south-central OR:

summer - landing 2

Here’s a closer-in view, showing my proximity to Summer Lake (the town), Summer Lake (the lake), Silver Lake (the town) and Silver Lake (the lake):

 summer - landing

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows an ill-defined arid landscape, with mysterious white spots:

 summer - GE1

Here’s a StreetView shot, with my landing about two miles to the right up on the plateau.

 summer - landing about 2 miles to the right up the hill

 Backing out quite a bit, this GE shot shows an incredible variety of landforms, colors and textures:

 summer - GE3

This oblique GE shot (looking south) shows Summer Lake, with what I assume to be Winter Ridge (based on Fremont’s quote, below in italics) looming over the lake:

 summer - GE2

I landed rather close to the watershed divide between Summer Lake and Silver Lake.  I ended up on the Silver Lake side, so rain that falls on my landing spot (as infrequent as that may be) would flow north and makes its way to Silver Lake, which has no outlet.

 I’m closer to Summer Lake (the town) than Silver Lake (the town) and Summer Lake (the lake) is much more substantial than Silver Lake (the lake), so Summer Lake gets my spotlight.  From Wiki:

Summer Lake, for which the town is named, is one of the largest in Oregon at approximately 20 miles long and 10 miles wide.  It was named by Captain John C. Frémont during his 1843 mapping expedition through Central Oregon.

On December 16, 1843, the expedition struggled down a steep cliff from a snow-covered plateau to reach a lake in the valley below.  Frémont named them “Winter Ridge” and “Summer Lake.” From the rocky cliff overlooking the lake basin, Frémont described the discovery and naming of Summer Lake as follows:

“At our feet…more than a thousand feet below…we looked into a green prairie country, in which a beautiful lake, some twenty miles in length, was spread along the foot of the mountain…Shivering on snow three feet deep, and stiffening in a cold north wind, we exclaimed at once that the names of Summer Lake and Winter Ridge should be applied to these proximate places of such sudden and violent contrast.”

The first settlers began to arrive in the Summer Lake Valley around 1870. However, the high desert was difficult to farm, and many early settlers stayed only a few years before moving on to greener country.  As a result, the population of the valley never grew beyond a few hundred people.

John Fremont was an explorer, soldier and politician.  He was the first Republican candidate for president (in 1856).  This was back when the Republicans were the liberals and the Democrats were the conservatives (as we all now know after watching “Lincoln.”)

Here’s a picture of Fremont on a cigar box (with the picture’s caption below):

369675_f260

In the old days, this was like getting your picture on the Wheaties box.

This, from Wiki, about the election:

Frémont was one of the first two senators from California, serving from 1850 to 1851.  He was the first presidential candidate of the new Republican Party in 1856.  It used the slogan “Free Soil, Free Men, and Frémont” to crusade for free farms (homesteads) and against slavery.  As was typical in presidential campaigns, the candidates stayed at home and said little.

The Democrats campaigned fiercely, warning that a victory by Frémont would bring civil war [oh, come on – not a chance!]. They also raised a host of issues, including the false allegation that Frémont was a Catholic.  Frémont’s powerful father-in-law, Senator Benton, praised Frémont but announced his support for the Democratic candidate James Buchanan.

Here’s the electoral map.  

summer - election results

Poor John.  In spite of a great slogan –  “Free soil; Free Men, and Fremont,” he got nailed by worries about a civil war, people thinking he was (oh no!) Catholic, and his own father-in-law supporting Buchanon.

 I’ll close with this Wiki shot of Summer Lake:

 summer lake from wiki

 That’ll do it.

 KS

 Greg

 

© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Butler, Georgia

Posted by graywacke on January 17, 2013

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

Dan –  After a western USer (CA), an eastern USer (IN), how about a southern USer . . . GA; 35/38; 5/10; 14; 154.3.  Here’s my broader landing map, showing that I landed in the south-central part of the state:

 butler landing 2

Here’s my landing map, showing proximity to Reynolds, Butler, and the Flint River:

 butler landing

And yes, I landed in the Flint R watershed (6th hit); on to the Apalachicola R (8th) hit; on to the Atlantic Ocean.   Here’s a StreetView shot from a bridge over the Flint, just east of my landing:

 butler flint r GE SV

My Google Earth shot shows that I landed in a mixed wooded / agricultural area:

 butler GE 1

So, although I landed a little closer to Reynolds, I’ve decided to feature Butler.  If you’re from Reynolds, sorry about that – but I did a quick internet search and found that Butler had a little more material of interest . . .

 From the City’s website’s History section:

Butler was named for General William Orlando Butler, a distinguished soldier of the Mexican War. Before the town became known as Butler, it was known by various names, among them Mount Pleasant and Wolf Pen.

Butler was surveyed, and clearing began in 1852. Tradition says that a huge tree was burned on the site for the town, and that the fire could be seen for as much as ten miles. Thus, Butler was said to have been built on the highest spot between Savannah and Columbus.

Before I check out General Butler, a couple of things:  First, I want to say that I’m really sorry that the name “Wolf Pen” didn’t stick.  Imagine living in Wolf Pen, GA.  Way cooler than Butler.

 Plus, I’d like to address the second paragraph.  I don’t care what tradition says.  Just because a fire could be seen for ten miles, I think it’s a stretch to say that therefore Wolf Pen, er, I mean Butler, is on the highest spot between Savannah & Columbus.  I think I’ll check with Google Earth (which shows the land elevation wherever you look).

 Well, Columbus is to the west side of Georgia (up against Alabama), on the Chattahootchee River, at an elevation of about 240 feet above sea level.  Savannah is on the east coast, just above sea level.

 The highest elevation in Butler is about 643.  So far, so good.

 Being a hydrologist of sorts, I figure that the high point will be on the watershed divide between the Chattahootchee & the Flint.  Well, Butler’s not on the divide.  But, I found a spot about 12 miles west of Butler that is on the watershed divide.  Surprise, surprise:  it has an elevation of 740 feet!

 The A Landing A Day Myth Buster strikes again!

 So, moving on to General William Orlando Butler.  First, the basics from Wiki:

William Orlando Butler was a U.S. political figure and U.S. Army major general from Kentucky. He served as a Democratic congressman from Kentucky from 1839 to 1843, and was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee under Lewis Cass in 1848.

A younger General Butler:

 butler -  younger butler from wiki

An older General Butler (he made to 90!):

 butler - older butler from national guard history emuseum, courtesy KY Historical Society

Of course, there are some items of interest – his service in the Mexican-American war, and his unsuccessful run for VP in 1848.  Incidentally, here’s a picture of Lewis Cass, under whom he ran:

 butler - lewis cass

All in all, not a very attractive man (no wonder he lost!)

 Anyway, I ran across the fact that General Butler was an accomplished (and popular) poet.  His most famous poem is “The Boatman’s Horn.”  I’m not a big poetry fan, but I read the poem.  It’s a little thick and obscure for my straight-ahead tastes, but I decided to present it here in its entirety.

The Boatman’s Horn

by General William Orlando Butler

 O boatman! wind that horn again,
For never did the listening air,
Upon its lambent bosom bear       [lambent = emanating a soft radiance]
So wild, so soft, so sweet a strain!

What, though thy notes are sad and few,
By every simple boatman blown,
Yet is each pulse to nature true,

And melody in every tone.

How oft in boyhood’s joyous days,
Unmindful of the lapsing hours,
I’ve loitered on my homeward way
By wild Ohio’s bank of flowers;
While some lone boatman from the deck
Poured his soft numbers to the tide,
As if to charm from storm and wreck
The boat where all his fortunes ride!

Delighted Nature drank the sound,
Enchanted echo bore it round
In whispers soft and softer still,
From hill to plain and plain to hill,
Till e’en the thoughtless, frolic boy,
Elate with hope and wild with joy,
Who gamboled by the river side,      [gambol = playfully frolic]
And sported with the fretting tide,
Feels something new pervade his breast,
Change his light step, repress his jest,
Bends o’er the flood his eager ear
To catch the sounds far off, yet dear .
Drinks the sweet draft, but knows not why
The tear of rapture fills his eye.
And can he now, to manhood grown,
Tell why those notes, so wild, so lone,
As on the ravish’d ear they fell,
Bound every sense in magic spell?

There is a tide of feeling given
To all on earth, its fountain Heaven;
Beginning with the downy flower
Just ope’d in Florio’s vernal bower,      [vernal bower = springtime leafy shelter]
Running each nice gradation through,
With bolder murmur, and with brighter hue;
That tide is Sympathy! Its fitful flow
Gives to this life its joy or two:
Music, the master spirit, that can move
Its waves to war, or lull them into love;
Can charm the starting tear from Beauty’s eye,
And bid the heart of virtue cease to sign;
Can cheer the dying sailor on the wave,
And shed bright halos round the Soldier’s grave;
Inspire the fainting Pilgrim on his road,
And elevate his soul and thoughts to God!

Then Boatman! wind that Horn again!
Tho’ much of Sorrow mark its strain;
Yet are its sounds to Sorrow dear!
What tho’ they wake fond mem’ry’s tear?
Tears are mem’ry’s sacred feast,
Where Rapture sits a smiling guest.

OK, so the poem touched me just a little (although the verse beginning with “There is a tide of feeling given” is particularly obscure for my taste).  But anyway, the General is not alone in sensing a greater beauty (and meaning) in a seemingly ordinary experience . . .

 And now a word about perhaps the most obscure phrase: “Florio’s vernal bower.”  I more or less get the “vernal bower” part, but who the heck is Florio? 

 I rolled up my sleeves, and did some internet research.  At first, I thought that Florio was John Florio, an Italian-turned-Brit poet from the 1500s, who is credited by some as being the actual writer of Shakespeare’s plays.  But I hit a dead end looking for a reference to “vernal bower” in John Florio’s poetry.  But then I hit on this, from an 1827 review (written by an anonymous reviewer) of “Anniversary Poem” by James Gordon Brooks:

“Before we speak particularly of this poem [Anniversary Poem], we avail ourselves of the opportunity afforded us of taking a glance at Mr. Brooks’s previous poetical writings. We do this with the more pleasure, as we have never seen, save in newspaper criticisms, any notice of them.

These productions first appeared in a Poughkeepsie newspaper, under the signature of Floranthes, and afterwards in the daily evening papers of New York, under the signature of Florio. Few productions of our native literature have had so wide a circulation or met with so great a number of readers, as the poems under the latter signature. It is of these that we intend now to speak.”

OK, interesting, so James Gordon Brooks published very popular poetry under the pseudonym “Florio.”  But check this out, from the American Monthly Magazine, Vol 1 (1829), which contains this discussion of poetry by “Mr. Brooks.”  Note, in particular, the fourth line of the poem:

florio - brooks poem

Bingo!  The internet is amazing!  Florio’s vernal bower – ha!  (You can see by the yellow highlight that my Google search was for Florio and “vernal bower.”)

 I’ll close with a couple of Google Earth Panoramio shots.  First, this by Superjanni entitled “Roadside Georgia”, taken about 2 miles east of my landing:

 butler superjanni panaramio

 I love the “Inside Yard Sale” . . .

 I’ll close with this shot by MaryAlice, taken of the Howard General Store, about 15 mi west of my landing (at almost exactly the same elevation as Butler, by the way):

 panaramio maryalice general and country store at Howard 15 mi w

  That’ll do it.

 KS

 Greg

© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Brook, Indiana

Posted by graywacke on January 13, 2013

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

Dan –  After a western USer, here’s an eastern USer . . . IN; 18/23; 5/10; 13; 154.8.  Here’s a landing map, showing that I landed right near the IL border in NW IN:

brook landing 2

 My closer-in landing map shows my proximity to the state line, the Iroquois R, and the town of Brook.  Note that I am proudly using features of my newly-installed StreetAtlas 2013 Plus software – the labels and measurements (although, the measurement from the town to the river obliterates the name “Brook”).

brook landing 1

 Obviously, I landed in the Iroquois R watershed (3rd hit); on to the Kankakee R (4th hit); to the Illinois R (16th hit); to the MM (779th hit).

 My Google Earth shot shows (not unexpectedly) that I landed in a farm field:

brook GE 1

 What a hassle I had landing!  Why, you may ask.  First, some background:  as you know, Dan (but other readers may not), when the Excel spreadsheet (that I created) selects a random lat/long (i.e., my landing location), it does so using a huge rectangle that includes all of the lower 48.  Well, such a rectangle also includes big chunks of the Atlantic Ocean (mostly to the south), the northern Gulf of Mexico, northern Mexico (including Baja and the Gulf of California), the Pacific Ocean (mainly off the coast of CA) and south east Canada (east of the Great Lakes).  Well, these non-lower 48 landings (I call them “try agains”) happen fairly frequently.  By the way, I also include Great Lakes landings as try agains.

 So let me tell you what happened:  I had an unbelievable string of try agains that I had to plow through on my way to finally landing outside of Brook IN:

 –  4 landings in the Atlantic Ocean

–  3 landings in Mexico

–  2 landings in Canada

–  1 landing in the Pacific Ocean

–  1 landing in Lake Superior

–  1 landing in Lake Michigan

 Twelve try agains in a row!  Of course, since I keep track of all things landing, I keep track of try agains.  It turns out that during my 1978 landings so far, I’ve had 1402 try agains.  Doing the math:  1402/(1402+1978) = about 41.5% of the time I fire up my Excel spreadsheet, I land outside of the lower 48. 

 The odds of doing this are less than the odds of getting 12 heads in a row when flipping a coin!  Doing some more math:  the odds of getting 12 heads in a row is one in 2 to the 12th power, or one in 4,096.  The odds of getting 12 try agains in a row?   Get this . . . one in 2.41 (i.e., 1/0.415) to the 12th power . . . drum roll please . . . or one in 38,550!!!! 

 For people who got bleary-eyed and couldn’t read the last paragraph, let me repeat:   the odds of getting 12 try agains in a row is one in 38,550!!!

 Unbelievable!!!!

 Moving right along . . .

 As you might guess, my first Google search was for Brook IN.  It turns out that the town has a very nice website (brookindiana.com).  As is my wont, I look for interesting history, including any info on name origins.  Well, this friendly website has the history section right on the home page, and the history section starts right out with how the town got its name:

“Now there were two creeks of about the same size two or three miles south of the settlement (that) would help with the selection of the name. I have no desire to excite the minds of people of Brook and have them make pilgrimages to see those two dirty little creeks, but if you look closely at them you can see the origin of the name of the town of Brook.” –Aaron Lyons 1901, from And They Named Her Brook.

 Wow.  The title of the book is And They Named Her Brook.  So, it seems that this naming process was pretty important to Aaron, eh?

 Of course, I immediately began checking out both my landing map and Google Earth, to check out these afore-mentioned brooks “two or three miles south of the settlement.” 

 Hmmmmm.  It doesn’t take much of a sleuth to see that the most significant waterway south of town (less than a mile away, as shown on my landing map) sure as heck ain’t no little brook!  It’s the Iroquois River!  Here’s a Google Earth StreetView shot of the river just upstream from Brook:

brook street view 1

 As you can see, it’s no jump-across (or easily ride your horse across) little stream.  This is a real river!!  OK, OK, so there are a couple of little streams south of the river, but give me a break!  No one in their right mind would name a town after a couple of insignificant streams (called “ditches” by StreetAtlas) located on the far side of a river!! 

 Wait a second, I need to calm down, take a deep breath before I get too worked up.  Maybe I should do a little more research . . .

 OK, OK, I think I get it.  A careful reading of the history section states that “the first courthouse of the original Benton-Jasper-Newton County was located two miles south of Brook.”  This was back in 1839.  So, maybe a little settlement grew up around the courthouse, near a couple of brooks, and they named it Brook.  The actual town of Brook (in its current location) wasn’t actually formed until 1866; maybe by then, the dreamed-of town by the old courthouse was long gone (or at least inconsequential).  So maybe the town fathers figured they’d transfer the informal name of the area around the old courthouse to the new town . . .

 Phew, that makes more sense (although they could have named it Rivulet, which is a little cooler . . .)

 Just for the record, here are the streams located south of the river (Barten Ditch and Hunter Ditch), with the approximate location of the former courthouse also shown:

brook - brooks s of the river

 (Notice yet another StreetAtlas 2013 feature – I can make the streams stand out as heavy black lines . . .).  If the courthouse location is correct, the two brooks mentioned by Aaron Lyons are likely the two branches of Hunter Ditch that join together nearby.

 So anyway, I think that Mr. Lyons’ quote is a little misleading and could use a little explanation.  A Landing A Day respectively suggests that the Town of Brook revise their history section, to make it clearer how the town got its name.  I may not be the only one who read those words and was more than a little baffled . . .

 I’ll close with a picture (from the town’s website) of this ad from a 1933 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine:

witchhazel

 As you can see, Hess Witch Hazel Cream was manufactured right here in good ol’ Brook.  The ad is aimed at all of the kid glove wearers with chapped hands who really don’t like that pesky gummy film . . .

  That’ll do it.

 KS

 Greg

© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Twentynine Palms, California

Posted by graywacke on January 11, 2013

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

Dan –  Rebounding from a run of 5 straight OSers, I landed in a solid USer. . . CA; 91/106; 5/10; 12; 155.4.  Here’s my landing map, showing that I landed  about 25 mi NE of the city of Twentynine Palms (aka 29 Palms).

 landing

Without further ado, here’s a picture of a sculpture by artist Chuck Caplinger that greets motorists driving into 29 Palms from the west (picture from Strong Cities – Strong State website):

 strong cities - strong state website

Having a birthday on the 29th of the month, I already feel an affinity for this place.

 Anyway, 25 miles northeast of 29 Palms (where I landed) is wide open desert country.  Here’s my Google Earth shot:

 GE1

You can see that I landed about a mile east of a road (a dirt road).  About another mile west is a major paved road, with Street View coverage – so here’s the obligatory shot looking out towards my landing:

 GE3

Just to the south of my landing is a relatively modest mountain range, the Sheephole Mountains (aka the Sheep Hole Mountains).  Here’s an oblique Google Earth shot of the Sheep Holes (I like the two-word version better):

GE4 

From Wilderness.net, here’s a photo of the lovely Sheep Holes:

 from wilderness.net

I could find nothing on the etymology of the name Sheep Hole.  I could probably come up with something (likely scatological), but I think I’ll leave it alone.

 Before I forget – I landed in an internal watershed.  The land slopes north, away from the Sheep Holes, and bottoms out in a bleached-out playa.  Here’s a Street View shot of the playa:

 playa

Getting back to 29 Palms.  Speaking of etymology, there has to be a story behind the name, right?  Well, of course, there is.  From the “History” section of the City’s website:

The first recorded exploration of Twentynine Palms was made in 1855 by Colonel Henry Washington [a surveyor]. He found Native Americans near the spring they called “Mar-rah,” meaning “land of little water.” The spring, which is now called the Oasis of Mara, is located on the grounds of the historic 29 Palms Inn adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park Headquarters and Oasis Visitor Center.

The Oasis of Mara was a favorite camping spot for early prospectors. There, they would rest and replenish their water supplies before venturing farther into the unknown desert. The general area was then known as Palms Springs [the modern city of Palms Springs is about 35 mi SW of 29 Palms].

Legend says that the name of 29 Palms was first used by these gold miners because of the 29 palm trees surrounding the Oasis, and in fact the area was designated as such in the description of a mining claim which stated that the claim was a certain distance from 29 Palms Springs. However, it is also known that a member of an 1858 survey party reported that there were 26, not 29, fine, large palm trees at the oasis.

There you have it.  So, at one time, 29 (or 26) palm tree surrounded the Mara Oasis.  The modern-day oasis is the dark east-west strip of vegetation shown here on this GE shot:

 GE - Mara Oasis

It stretches for about ¾ of a mile (and is obviously controlled by some linear geologic feature such as a fracture or fault that directs groundwater towards the surface).  The darkest area to the west is the heart of the oasis, on the grounds of the 29 Palms Inn.  Here’s a picture of the pond at the Inn (Panaramio by Brian Dean):

 oasis in the desert panaramio brian dean

The eastern end of the oasis is just behind the visitor’s center to the Joshua Tree National Park.  There’s no standing water, just happy vegetation sucking up shallow groundwater in the middle of the desert.  Here’s a National Park Service shot showing the “Oasis of Mara trail” behind the visitor’s center:

 mara

My last stop will be the Joshua Tree National Park.  But first, why are Joshua Trees called Joshua Trees?  It appears we have the Mormons to thank.  From Wiki:

 The name Joshua tree was given by a group of Mormon settlers who crossed the Mojave Desert in the mid-19th century. The tree’s unique shape reminded them of a Biblical story in which Joshua reaches his hands up to the sky in prayer.

 By the way, the “Utah Trail” passes through 29 Palms (and in fact is the name of a north-south street in the city).  This was a trail used by Mormons emigrating from Utah to the Mojave.  Let me tell you, those 19th-century Mormons left their mark throughout the west . . .

Anyway, I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from the Joshua Tree National Park.  First, this of water behind “Barker Dam,” located in the park:

 JoshaTreeOnset

I’ll close with a sunset behind a Joshua tree (from nationalparks.org):

 national parks.org

That’ll do it.

KS

 Greg

© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Del Bonita, Montana

Posted by graywacke on January 3, 2013

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

Dan –  Oh my.  My oh my.  Let me see, it was last May when I posted my Londonderry VT landing.  That makes it about seven or eight months ago.  Seven months without a landing.  Seven months without a post.  I’m inspired by our recent visit (and I’m OK and you’re OK), so why not a landing?

Back in the saddle, and where do I land?  In the number one OSer, of course . . . MT; 116/95; 5/10 (0/5); 12; 156.0.  For the 12th time, I landed in the Milk R watershed, on to the Missouri (365th hit).

Boy, I feel like I need a little review.  Well, here’s a graph of my Score since I began the blog.  You can see I have been in a OSer / USer funk for the last 60 or so posts (the up and down part of the tail end of the graph).

Score

Anyway, moving right along.

My landing map shows that I landed about 6 miles south of the Canadian border, near the border crossing known as Port of Del Bonita.  Man, that sounds like it should be a Mexican border crossing, eh?

landing

My GE shot shows that I landed on the edge of a huge farm field:

GE1

The drainageway just south of my landing looks like it might be dramatic.  Well, not so dramatic.  Here’s a GE Street View shot of the drainageway, less than a mile west of my landing where it crosses the highway:

GE shot of drainage

An oblique GE shot shows that the Rockies aren’t too far to the west (actually, almost 50 miles away):

GE2

I think the actual town of Del Bonita is in Alberta (AB in post office shorthand), and the “Port of Del Bonita” is the name given to the MT border crossing.  I probably overstated in saying that Del Bonita AB is an actual town.  There’s really nothing resembling a town that I could discern.  And, there sure ain’t nuthin’ much about it on the internet . . .

So, searching for a topical highlight, I could do no better than the Whetstone International Airport. I’ll start with the name.  Sometimes, one might quibble about the use of the word “International” as part of an airport name; for example, some little airport in the middle of the country with no international flights.  But let me tell you:  Whetstone International Airport is gosh by golly true to its name.  The grass runway is centered right on the border.  So, when a plane lands, one of its wheels might be in the US and one of its wheels might be in Canada!

Here’s a GE shot of the airport; the runway is the east-west strip between the fields in the middle of the photo.  You can also see the border crossing facilities for each country:

GE3

Here’s a shot (by Mike Quinn) of the border marker and the runway:

runway on border

Here’s a “just for the heck of it” moment:  I stumbled on the “Airport Parking Assistant” website that purports to address parking issues at the airport.  These folks have obviously created a website for every airport in the US, and simply inserted the airport name into a bunch of canned language.  Here’s a little verbiage lifted from the site:

Getting away, whether for business or pleasure, can be stressful enough without having to worry about your auto. Port of Del Bonita Whetstone International Airport parking can be difficult or it can be easy, depending on the information you get prior to any flight. Knowing when and where to park can save you time, money, and inconvenience. Most of the parking near Port of Del Bonita Whetstone International Airport is run by the Parking Authority and offers on-site airport parking. There are short-term and economy lots, as well as garages for long-term stays . . .

Yea, right.

Anyway, I’ll close with this shot taken from Remington Ranch (a cattle ranch), located about 7 miles west of Del Bonita AB.  We’re obviously looking west towards the Rockies.

Remington Ranch, looking west

That’ll do it.

KS

Greg

© 2013 A Landing A Day

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