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Archive for April, 2013

Grand Forks, North Dakota

Posted by graywacke on April 29, 2013

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

Landing number 2008; A Landing A Day post number 426.

 Dan –  Here we go.  After six USers, here’s three OSers in a row with this landing in . . . ND; 58/46; 6/10; 8; 153.0.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 gf landing1

And here’s my closer-in landing map, showing my proximity to Grand Forks and the Red River:

 gf landing2

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows a very tidy agricultural scene:

 gf ge1

Moving out a little, and son-of-a-gun if I’m not right next to a large (2.5 mile-long) runway, part of the North Forks Air Force Base:

 gf ge2

Strange, but I can see no airplanes at the base.  I read that operations were fairly recently scaled back at the base, but no planes at all??

Anyway, you can see a stream meandering its way across the landscape just north of my landing.  That’s the Turtle River (4th hit); on (of course)  to the Red (44th hit); on to the Nelson (62nd hit); on to the Hudson Bay.  The Nelson is in 9th place on my list of most-common Rivers (with little hope of catching number 8 on my list, the Snake, with 71 hits).

 While perusing GE, I couldn’t help but notice some linear features cutting through all of the farm fields (trending NW – SE) just west of my landing: 

gf ge3 glacial features

I immediately expected that these were geologic features of some sort; further, that they had to do with the glaciers.  Well, it didn’t take much research to stumble on the fact that Glacial Lake Agassiz was in the neighborhood just 10 or so thousand years ago.  Here’s a map of the lake, followed by an excerpt from Wiki:

 gf agassiz map

Lake Agassiz was an immense glacial lake located in the middle of the northern part of North America. Fed by glacial meltwater at the end of the last glacial period, its area was larger than all of the modern Great Lakes combined, and at times it held more freshwater than is contained by all lakes in the world today.

Wow.  Impressive, eh?  Back to Wiki:

First postulated in 1823 by William H. Keating, the glacial lake was named by Warren Upham in 1879 after Louis Agassiz.

Just a quick note on Louis Agassiz –  He was a 19th-century Swiss geologist (who ended up at Harvard).  He was the first person to figure out that glaciers were much more extensive in the past than now, and that there is extensive (and irrefutable) evidence of this glaciation all over the northern latitudes.

 So, a quick look at the map of the lake, and it looked to me like it was possible that the lines I could see on the GE shot might be shoreline features.   As is my wont, I scouted around the internet looking for a good reference, and bingo! I found a ND Geological Survey Report entitled “Geology and Ground Water Resources of Grand Forks County.”  Here’s a map from that report (see Arvilla  west of Grand Forks?  I landed just NE of there):

 gf geo

No doubt about it – those linear features represent ancient Lake Agassiz shorelines!  The 2013 edition of  A Landing A Day has turned into a grand tour of glacial lakes:  First, Mauston WI, featuring Glacial Lake Wisconsin; then Missoula MT, featuring Glacial Lake Missoula; and now, Glacial Lake Agassiz.  Very cool, indeed.

 Now, turning my attention to Grand Forks.  First, about the name.  The City is at the confluence (or “forks”) of the Red River and the Red Lake River (9 hits), which flows in from Minnesota to the east.  Here’s a GE shot showing the forks right near downtown:

 gf ge4 forks

So, at this time of year, I suspect that the good folks of Grand Forks are worried about flooding, since year in, year out, springtime flooding along the Red River is a threat. 

 Well, well, well.  What I suspected is fortunately not the case!  After typing the above sentence, I went on line, and check out what I found, from ValleyNewsLive.com (serving Greater Fargo & Grand Forks):

 Major Floods Now a Breeze for Greater Grand Forks

Posted March 26, 2013

Fargo is gearing up for a flood fight that will likely cost millions of dollars and require thousands of volunteers. Meanwhile, despite the forecast for major flood levels in the northern valley, city crews alone are handling everything that needs to be done in Greater Grand Forks.

Following the Grand Forks flood and fire of 1997, the political climate was right to relatively quickly secure funding for a 410-million dollar flood protection project.

So now, even with a major flood forecast, a system of flood walls and levees takes most of the work and worry out of high water here in Greater Grand Forks.  A single city crew can install the barriers in this flood wall within 8 hours, while Fargo is planning a flood fight with thousands of volunteers.

Kevin Dean, City of Grand Forks: “We fought this year after year after year. Then in 97 we had the catastrophe and realized we had to do something on a permanent basis.”

Right now, city crews aren’t really concerned with the river. They’re scraping the snow and ice from street drains to make sure they can get rid of the water in town, once the melt begins.  The water runs through drains to pumping stations all over town that pump it over the levees into the river.

Mark Aubol, GF Street Department: “Nobody notices what goes on too much as they did years ago, when we were dragging pumps all over and blocking roads with hoses. It’s a whole different animal now.”

So when the high water comes, most folks in Greater Grand Forks won’t even realize a flood is underway, except for the possibility of a bridge or two being temporarily closed.

How about that!  Good for Grand Forks.  Here are a couple of shots of the 1997 flood in Grand Forks, from the University of Montana website:

gfh tour 5

gf 1997 flood also from montana.edu 

Even though Grand Forks has done some serious engineering to deal with the flooding, the Red River Valley as a whole remains extremely flood prone.  This issue was addressed most ably by yours truly in my Doran Minnesota post.  In that post is very cool (if I don’t say so myself) discussion of why the Red River floods, along with an interesting tale of two water molecules who start out side by in the Little Minnesota River, but one ends up in Hudson Bay and one ends up in Gulf of Mexico.  For some fascinating reading, click HERE.

 I’ll close with this lovely shot of the Turtle River, just north of my landing (Panoramio by OMDahl):

 gf pan omdahl turtle r


That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Cedar Rapids and Belgrade, Nebraska

Posted by graywacke on April 26, 2013

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

Landing number 2007; A Landing A Day post number 425.

Dan –  Here we go, with two OSers in a row (after six USers) . . . NE; 56/51; 7/10; 7; 152.5.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 ced - landing 1

My closer-in landing map shows my proximity to Belgrade & Cedar Rapids:

 ced - landing 2

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows the expected rural landscape, although it seems rather arid:

 ced - GE1

To get a feel for the landscape, here’s a GE StreetView shot from a couple of miles away, but showing the same kind of terrain:

 ced - GE4

Looking back up at my landing map, you’ll see a river (the Cedar River) that flows by both Cedar Rapids and Belgrade.  It turns out that I didn’t land in the Cedar River watershed (it would’ve been my first); rather, drainage at my landing site heads southeast, where it joins up with Plum Creek.  Here’s a GE StreetView shot showing Plum Creek not far from my landing:

 ced - GE2

Doesn’t appear to be much of a creek, eh?  Anyway, here’s a low-altitude GE shot of the bridge shown above (with the creek looking somewhat more substantial):

 ced - GE3

 Anyway, Plum Ck flows into the Loup R (11th hit); on to the Platte (59th hit); to the Missouri (370th); to the MM (790th).  FYI, the Platte is 10th on my list of river hits . . .

 Search as I might, there just ain’t much out there about Cedar Rapids & Belgrade.  This’ll end up as a low-key post.

 I’ll start with Cedar Rapids.  On the town’s website (CedarRapidsNE.com), I found this poetic description of life here:

” Imagine lying on your back in lush green grass on the banks of the Cedar River fishing for the elusive catfish in unpolluted water.  An eagle soars overhead in a crystal clear blue sky as a turkey gobbles in the distance. A splash attracts your attention as a deer cautiously pauses for a drink.  In the shadows of a sprawling cottonwood tree, two fox pups playfully wrestle unconcerned, yet not too far from their den.  Pheasants abound in the fall among an array of gorgeous colored trees and sumac bushes.  Sandhill cranes, geese, ducks, and pelicans occasionally fly overhead and land in cornfields to feed and rest.

“The Cedar Valley offers bluffs for hiking and the Cedar River for canoeing; Cedar Rapids offers all of this and much, much, more. We offer a feeling of safety and security.  Cedar Rapids is a wonderful place to visit or live.”

Sounds nice, eh?

 From the “Virtual Nebraska” website associated with the University of Nebraska, here’s some info about Belgrade:

 There are a number of legends about the naming of our town:

 — one story claims that when the railroad was laid out and the grade for the rails was being built, the man in charge of construction was named Bell, so people referred to it as “Bell’s grade.” The name was revised to “Belgrade” by the post office. (A neat story, but probably not factual.)

— Perkey’s Nebraska Place Names says the town was named by James Main for Belgrade, Serbia, since it is located on a hill, much like a Serbian city by that name that overlooks the Danube and Sava Rivers.” (Locally this version is thought to be highly questionable.)

— and lastly, Daniel Strout, who purchased land from Robert Baxter in 1888, and he named the new town for his home in Maine — Belgrade. This version, found in a booklet printed in 1900, is most likely to be true.  [Note:  Belgrade ME was named after Belgrade, Serbia.]

The population reached its peak of 493 in 1920. Belgrade was then a thriving town with a Main Street filled with activity.

This poem, written by C.N.Philbrick, describes Belgrade during its hey-day:

We used to have two lumberyards and blacksmith shops galore.
A place for pool and playing cards and grocers — at least four.
There was, of course, a good hotel and rooming house so neat,
As well as two or three cafes where you could sit and eat.
There was a bank, or were two?  Three barber shops compete,
Where they would always welcome you.  Two drug stores down the street.
Implement and other stores, a ladies “ready-made”
Besides the splendid picture shows, made up the town…”Belgrade.”

Belgrade, like many Nebraska towns, began to diminish in the “terrible 30s” and many of the businesses, once the main-stay for every community, have simply faded away. Modern transportation has done much to alter the life-styles and the needs of the people.

A little more poetry:

As time passed by and changes made, our town is not the same.
But friendly people that have stayed, still call you by your name.

(The above from material submitted by the Belgrade historian.)

I’ll close with this shot of Cedar Rapids, from the town’s website:

 ced pix 

That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Gaylord, Michigan

Posted by graywacke on April 23, 2013

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

Landing number 2006; A Landing A Day post number 424.

 Dan –  I hope this is just a minor bump in my road to 150, but, after 6 USers in a row, along comes this long-time OSer . . . MI; 46/38; 8/10; 6; 152.1.

 Just seven landings ago, I landed near the town of West Branch MI, and said something like “ I landed between the index finger and the middle finger, hidden behind the mitten of this USer.”  This time, I landed up near the tip of the middle finger, hidden behind the same mitten:

 gay landing 1

A little closer in, and you can see that I landed in the boonies, east of Vanderbilt.  No offense meant, Vandy, but I picked Gaylord as my go-to town (it’s quite a bit bigger, and not that much farther away):

 gay landing 2

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows that, in fact, I did land in the boonies (more specifically, the woods):

 gay ge 1

Zooming back a little farther, you can see that there’s not much around in terms of roads or farms:

 gay ge 2

I landed in the watershed of the Black River (my first hit, making the Black my 1114th river); on to the Cheboygan R (2nd hit); to Lake Huron (just east of the Mackinaw Bridge; 16th hit); on to (of course), the St. Lawrence (90th hit).

 Of course, this particular Black River isn’t my first Black River; in fact, it’s my 11th Black River.  Get this:  There are seven – count ‘em – seven Black Rivers in Michigan alone!  This was only the second Black River in Michigan for me and I’ve landed in Michigan 46 times.  Interestingly, my very first landing (back in April 1999) was in Michigan (the UP), and I landed in a Black River watershed.  Anyway, through the next 44 Michigan landings, I’ve managed to miss all of those lower peninsula Black Rivers.  I see I have my work cut out for me as years of landing unfold into the future . . .

 Here’s a picture of this particular Black River (Panoramio shot by JeffP478):

 gay jeffp478 panoramio

Moving on to Gaylord.  From Wiki:

Gaylord is a city with a 2010 population of 3,645.  The city is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gaylord; it is by far the smallest settlement serving as the location of an active Roman Catholic cathedral in the United States.  [Who’d a thunk?]

Gaylord styles itself as an “Alpine Village” and the city center features many buildings with Tyrolean traverse style motifs. The city has a sister city: PontresinaSwitzerland. An annual event in July, Alpenfest, encourages participants to dress in traditional Swiss fashions. This event brings in numerous people from all around and provides a vast array of activities.

Gaylord is the childhood home of the “father of information theory“, Claude Shannon.

OK, so what to feature?  Well, first this about the Catholic Cathedral in Gaylord.  There are 193 dioceses in the U.S., each with its own cathedral.  Evidently, (according to Wiki), Gaylord is the smallest town (by far) that houses a Cathedral (cathedrals a cathedral?).  Here’s a shot of the cathedral:


I’ll admit I was expecting a more traditional old-style building . . .

 I’ll probably throw in a shot of sister city Pontresina (which I’m sure is a lovely Swiss city).  But, I had to check out Claude Shannon, and he turns out to be a very interesting fellow . . .

 Before I talk about Claude, I need to back up a little with a little background about a nineteenth-century mathematician, George Boole, from KerryR.net (an Australian website that’s for IT and web design students):

  . . . He [Boole] came up with a type of linguistic algebra, the three most basic operations of which were (and still are) AND, OR and NOT. It was these three functions that formed the basis of his premise, and were the only operations necessary to perform comparisons or basic mathematical functions.

Boole’s system was based on a binary approach, processing only two objects such as: yes-no, true-false, on-off, or zero-one. . . [hmmm. . . . sounds just like the way computers do their thing].

. . . unfortunately, Boole’s life was cut short when he died of a ‘feverish cold’ at the age of 49, after walking 2 miles through the rain to get to class and then lecturing in wet clothes (proving, once again, that genius and common sense sometimes have a less than nodding acquaintance).

Years later, an American named Charles Pierce picked up on the connection between Boole’s system and electrical on-off circuits, but he didn’t actually build circuits that could solve problems.  It wasn’t until a smart young man who was born in Gaylord Michigan picked up on the idea . .

 From Wiki:

Claude Elwood Shannon (1916 – 2001) was  born in Gaylord MI and is credited with founding both digital computer and digital circuit design theory in 1937, when, as a 21-year-old master’s degree student at MIT, he wrote his thesis demonstrating that electrical applications of boolean algebra could construct and resolve any logical, numerical relationship. It has been claimed that this was the most important master’s thesis of all time.

A little more detail from KerryR.net, starting with Mr. Shannon’s picture:

gay claude shannon

 . . . it dawned on Shannon that the boolean algebra he’d learned as an undergraduate was in fact very similar to an electric circuit. The next obvious step would be to lay out circuitry according to boolean principles, allowing the circuits to binary-test propositions as well as calculate problems.

Shannon incorporated his musings into his 1937 thesis.  The paper, and its author, were hailed as brilliant, and his ideas were almost immediately put into force in the design of telephone systems. Later, Shannon’s thesis came to be seen as a focal point in the development of modern computers.

A half-century later, Shannon laid it all at the feet of Lady Luck: “It just happened that no one else was familiar with both fields at the same time.”

So this guy from Gaylord can really be named the father (or at least one of the fathers) of the computer . . .

But he wasn’t just some dry, boring academic, not Claude Shannon!  From Wiki:

 Outside of his academic pursuits, Shannon was interested in jugglingunicycling, and chess.  He also invented many devices, including rocket-powered flying discs, a motorized pogo stick, and a flame-throwing trumpet.  One of his more humorous devices was a box kept on his desk called the “Ultimate Machine.”

More about the “Ultimate Machine” later.  But first, here’s some more about Claude, from nyu.edu:

Just a few miles from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was Shannon’s large house. The house is filled with musical instruments:  five pianos and 30 other instruments, from piccolos to trumpets. The chess-playing machines include one that moves the pieces with a three-fingered arm, and makes wry comments. He built a chair lift that took his three children 600 feet down to the lakeside. Shannon’s lifelong fascination with balance and controlled instability led him to design a unicycle with an off-center wheel to keep the rider steady while juggling.

Shannon love to juggle since he was a kid. In his toy room is a machine with soft beanbag hands that juggle steel balls. His juggling masterpiece is a tiny stage on which three clowns juggle 11 rings, 7 balls, and 5 clubs, all driven by an invisible mechanism of clockwork and rods.

Back to Wiki:

Shannon and his wife Betty also used to go on weekends to Las Vegas with M.I.T. mathematician Ed Thorp, and made very successful forays in blackjack using methods co-developed with fellow Bell Labs associate, physicist John L. Kelly Jr. based on principles of information theory.  They made a fortune, as detailed in the book Fortune’s Formula by William Poundstone.   Shannon and Thorp also applied the same theory, later known as the Kelly criterion, to the stock market with even better results. Over the decades, Kelly’s scientific formula has become a part of mainstream investment theory.

The theory was also exploited by the famous MIT Blackjack Team, which was a group of students and ex-students from MIT, Harvard Business SchoolHarvard University, and other leading colleges who used card-counting techniques and other sophisticated strategies to beat casinos at blackjack worldwide. The team and its successors operated successfully from 1979 through the beginning of the 21st century.

Claude Shannon’s card counting techniques were explained in Bringing Down the House, the best-selling book published in 2003 about the MIT Blackjack Team by Ben Mezrich. In 2008, the book was adapted into a drama film titled 21.

Back to KerryR.net:

Shannon retired at the age of 50, although he published papers sporadically over the next ten years. Until his death at the age of 84 in February of 2001, his formidable intellect was bent on more important things – inventing motorised pogo-sticks and generally enjoying life.

No surprise he “retired” at 50!  The guy must have been a bazillionaire by then.

 There are numerous commemorative statues of good ol’ Claude, including this one at Gaylord with the caption below, from umich.edu (his wife Betty in the foreground):


Claude Elwood Shannon
Father of Information Theory

Electrical engineer, mathematician, and native
son of Gaylord. His creation of information theory,
the mathematical theory of communication,
in the 1940s and 1950s inspired the revolutionary
advances in digital communications and
information storage that have
shaped the modern world.

This statue was donated by the
Information Theory Society of the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers,
whose members follow gratefully in his footsteps.

Dedicated October 6, 2000
Eugene Daub, Sculptor

Click HERE for a video (from Boston College) showing juggling machines built by Claude.

 As promised (getting back to the “Ultimate Machine,”) you gotta click HERE to check it out.

 You’ve noticed that I borrowed extensively from KerryR.net (as mentioned above, a site for IT and web design students).  There’s a wonderful quote on the homepage: 

This is an Australian site, and written in Australian English.
Any resemblance to American or Euro English is purely coincidental.

Also, as promised, here’s a picture of Gaylord’s sister city, Pontresina Switerzerland (from my-switzerland-travelguide.com):


I’ll close with a series of Panoramio shots.  First, this of a beaver dam, (by JShirey), taken just south of my landing:

gay unti


Then, this of some elk, taken just north of my landing (by SMartin108):

gay smartin 108 pano 1.5 NW

I’ll close with this, of some unfinished business that’ll never be finished (about 1.5 mi southwest of my landing), by JShirey:

gay pano jshirey saw in tree 1.5 mi sw

I love that the tree survived and evidently has flourished!

That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Pagosa Springs, Colorado

Posted by graywacke on April 20, 2013

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

Landing number 2005; A Landing A Day post number 423.

Dan –  It’s getting a little scary – the USers just keep on comin’ . . . CO; 67/68 (barely!); 8/10 (6/6); 151.7.  Here’s my landing map:

 pag landing 1

Looking more closely, I landed in the boonies, but not too far from the town of Pagosa Springs:

 pag landing 2

My Google Earth (GE) shot confirms that I landed in the boonies:

 pag GE 1

This oblique GE (looking north) shot shows a very cool landscape.  My landing’s not in the center (as it usually would be); the valley east of my landing was intriguing, so I skewed this shot towards the east.

 pag GE 2

Looks to me like a classic U-shaped valley carved by a glacier . . .

 Although I suspect that there’s a stream with a name in the east-west valley just south of my landing (along the road in the shot above), I don’t know what it is.  This forever-to-be-unnamed stream flows east and discharges into the San Juan R (17th hit); on to the Colorado (160th hit).

 Just upstream along the banks of the San Juan is my titular town – Pagosa Springs.  From ghostdepot.com (a website about the Denver & Rio Grande Railway), this about the town’s history:

The old western town of Pagosa Springs was named by the Ute Indians after the nearby hot springs, from the Ute words “pah” meaning “water”, and “gosa” meaning “boiling”.  A growing resort town, more and more tourists are drawn to the therapeutic benefits of Pagosa Springs each year, as they visit the mineral baths and pools which are found in many of the motels in town.

Pagosa Springs was the center of a dispute between the Navajos and the Utes.  For centuries, they fought each other over ownership, for both tribes used the springs.  Small battles between the two tribes were commonplace, but failed to solve anything.  In 1866 the tribes decided to choose one man from each of their tribes.   The two men were to have a one on one battle, and the tribe who’s man survived would be the owners of the springs.

The Utes chose Albert Henry Pfieffer to be their fighter.  [Wait a second, it sounds like they probably picked a ringer.]  A U.S. Indian agent in New Mexico, Pfieffer had been friends of the Utes for a while, but was not so well liked by the Navajo.  Pfieffer picked Bowie knives as the weapon for the fight, and won quickly, killing the Navajo.  [I’ll say he was a ringer!]  The Utes took ownership of the springs.  By 1880, the U. S. government claimed ownership of the springs, along with one square mile of surrounding property.  A few years later, the bathhouses were built and the town of Pagosa Springs was born.

In one of the accounts of the fight that I read, Pfieffer simply threw the knife at his opponent, killing him.  The last thought of the poor Navajo:  “Hey!  That’s not fair . . . .”

 I hope the Utes enjoyed their brief tenure as sole owners of the springs.  They probably didn’t.

 A second point of interest is that I landed less than a mile from a Buddhist temple, Tara Mandala.  This GE shot shows the proximity:

 pag GE 3 near tara mandala temple

From Tara Mandala’s website, here’s some info:

Tara Mandala is an international Vajrayana Buddhist community with its home base in Pagosa Springs at 7,500 feet altitude in Southwest Colorado.  It is guided by Lama Tsultrim Allione, author of Women of Wisdom and Feeding Your Demons. Lama Tsultrim has studied Tibetan Buddhism under traditional teachers for more than 45 years. Today, opportunities for quiet contemplation are rare, and places dedicated to long-term retreat are even more scarce. Meditation has a profound effect on the individual and its benefits emanate into the rest of the world.

In a chaotic and stressful world, Tara Mandala retreat center offers refuge, renewal and traditional Buddhist training through our residential Living Dharma program as well as group and solo retreats. Bordered by the San Juan National Forest and Southern Ute Tribal Land, the retreat center is on 700 acres of rolling hills and meadows adorned with many varieties of wild flowers, ponds, and forests. The land itself is a mandala with a stunning peak in the middle surrounded by four valleys. Retreat cabins are scattered across the landscape, and at its heart is the extraordinary three-story mandala Tara temple.

There you have it.  Click HERE to visit the website.

In this picture from the website, my landing would be just off the photo to the left.


I can imagine some folks out on the grounds meditating, when suddenly this huge yellow push pin drops down from the heavens.  I’m not sure how Buddhists would interpret this . . .

 I’ll close with this lovely shot of the San Juan river near Pagosa Springs (from TripAdvisor):


That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Port Gibson, Mississippi

Posted by graywacke on April 17, 2013

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

Landing number 2004; A Landing A Day blog post number 422.

Dan –  My hot streak continues (barely, as you’ll see) – I’m now 5/5 and 7/8.  My landing turned this USer into a PSer . . . MS; 32/32 (see?); 8/10; 4; 152.3.

 Here’s my regional landing map:

 port landing 1

A closer view shows that I landed near good ol’ U.S. Route 61; I figured I’d be in for a Delta Blues kind of landing (and I was right, as you’ll see).  The closest town of any size is Port Gibson:

 port landing 2

My GE shot shows that I landed in a lovely setting, along a pond, at the edge of the woods:

 port GE 1

Backing out a bit, you can see that I landed deep in an extended forest area:

 port GE2

Backing out even more – the woods stretch all the way to the Mississippi River!

 port GE 3

Here’s a GE StreetView shot from the road that passes just south of my landing.  Yup – there’s woods, all right . . .

 port GE 3 just south of landing

If you look back at the GE shot that shows the Mississippi, you can see streams north and south of my landing.  To the north is the Big Black River, and to the south is the Bayou Pierre.  It turns out that I landed in the Gunns Bayou watershed, which flows north to the Big Black (sixth hit); on, of course, to the MM (789th hit). 

 A quick word about Gunns Bayou.  Some streams named “Bayou” are included on my rivers list.  But I use discretion; Gunns Bayou would be just a creek in other more northern states.  Had I landed a little further south, I’d be in the Bayou Pierre watershed, which would have been substantial enough to make it to my rivers list . . .

 Moving right along –  if you look back up at my closer-in landing map, you’ll see the Natchez Trace Parkway just south of my landing.  Like the above StreetView shot, it’s also a two-lane ribbon of asphalt wending its way through the woods.

 Of course, I had to Google “Natchez Trace.”  From Wiki:

ThNatchez Trace is a historical path that extends roughly 440 miles from Natchez, Mississippi (located about 50 SW of my landing, along the Mississippi) to Nashville, Tennessee, linking the Tennessee and Mississippi rivers. It was created and used for centuries by Native Americans, and was later used by early European and American explorers, traders and emigrants in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Today, the trail is commemorated by the 444-mile  Natchez Trace Parkway, which follows the approximate path of the Trace.  Parts of the original trail are still accessible (see photo below, very close to where I landed).

 The first recorded European explorer to travel the Trace in its entirety was an unnamed Frenchman in 1742, who wrote of the trail and its “miserable conditions”.

Here’s a picture (Panoramio by Monc) of an old section of the Trace located just a few miles southeast of my landing:

port pano by monc old natchez trail

On to Port Gibson, from Wiki:

Chartered as a town in 1803, Port Gibson is Mississippi’s third-oldest European-American settlement, and was occupied in 1729 by French colonists.

Port Gibson was the site of several clashes during the American Civil War and figured in Ulysses S. Grant‘s Vicksburg Campaign. The Battle of Port Gibson occurred on May 1, 1863, and resulted in the deaths of over 200 Union and Confederate soldiers. The battle was a turning point in the Confederates’ ability to hold Mississippi and defend against an amphibious attack.

Port Gibson has many historic buildings, which survived the Civil War because Grant proclaimed the city to be “too beautiful to burn.” These words appear on the town’s city limits signs.

Although Port Gibson no longer has a Jewish community, it boasts the only Moorish Revival building in Mississippi and the oldest synagogue in the state, the Gemiluth Chessedsynagogue, built in 1892.

Here’s a picture of the synagogue from (of all places) TexasEscapes.com:

pg  from texas escapes  TempleGemiluthChassed709JT

While I’m at it, check out the classy Claiborne County courthouse in Port Gibson:


Back to Wiki:

A historic marker has been placed by the Mississippi Blues Commission in Port Gibson commemorating the contribution The Rabbit’s Foot Company has made to the development of the blues in Mississippi.  This places the site on the Mississippi Blues Trail.

As all of you regular followers of A Landing A Day know, I’ve had numerous posts that feature the blues, the Delta blues in particular.  Just for the heck of it, I did a quick review.  Here’s what I found:

Red Lick MS, featuring John Byrd

Durant MS, feature Elmore James

Smithville MS, featuring Lucille Bogan

Crockett TX, featuring Lightin’ Hopkins

Angola LA, featuring Lead Belly

Pickens MS, featuring Elmore James (once again)

Como MS, featuring Mississippi Fred McDowell

Duck Hill MS, featuring Magic Sam Maghett

A couple of these posts feature “Junior’s Juke Box” a great Delta Blues website.  Click HERE to check it out (it’s a hoot).

So, it turns out that no Delta Blues performer hails from Port Gibson, but the Rabbit’s Foot Company spent many years headquartered in Port Gibson.  From Wiki:

 The Rabbit’s Foot Company was a long running minstrel and variety troupe that toured as a tent show in the American South between 1900 and 1950. It provided a basis for the careers of many leading African American musicians and entertainers, including Ma RaineyIda CoxBessie SmithButterbeans and SusieTim MooreBig Joe WilliamsLouis JordanBrownie McGhee, Arthur “Happy” Howe, and Rufus Thomas.

Founded in 1900 by Pat Chapelle in Jacksonville FL, the show soon expanded to fill three railroad carriages, and was describing itself as “the leading Negro show in America”.

By 1906 Chappelle was able to maintain multiple tent shows on the road. However, growing competition from other companies took its toll, and Chappelle died in 1911. The company was then sold to a white carnival owner, Fred S. Wolcott, who continued with the touring show. 

By 1918, Wolcott had moved the show’s headquarters to Port Gibson, Mississippi.  Each spring, musicians from around the country assembled there to create a musical, comedy, and variety show to perform under canvas.  In his book  The Story of the BluesPaul Oliver wrote : “The ‘Foots’ travelled in two cars and had a 80′ x 110′ tent which was raised by the roustabouts and canvassmen, while a brass band would parade in town to advertise the coming of the show.  There were no microphones; the weaker voiced singers used a megaphone, but most of the featured women blues singers scorned such aids to volume…”

The company continued to tour among southern states until it disbanded around 1950.

A historic marker has been place by the Mississippi Blues Commission in Port GibsonMississippi, commemorating the enormous contribution the The Rabbit’s Foot Company has made to the development of the blues in Mississippi and placing them on the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Here’s a picture from aintnothinbut.com:



Here’s a picture of an old Rabbit Foot truck from Vimeo.com:


Seaking of Vimeo, here’s an excellent historical video that tells the Rabbit Foot story.  I highly recommended clicking HERE to view the video.  It certainly shows you a lost slice of Americana . . .

 I’ll close with this shot of the “Windsor Ruins” in Port Gibson.  The Windsor Plantation included a mansion built in 1826 that burned down in 1890, leaving only these columns:



 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Zuni, New Mexico

Posted by graywacke on April 14, 2013

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

Landing number 2003; A Landing A Day blog post number 421.

Dan –  With this USer landing (landing #2003), we’re flyin’ high at 4/4 & 6/7 . . . NM; 73/81; 6/10; 3; 152.6 (lowest Score since landing 1900 in June 2010).  My landing map shows I fortunately missed AZ (a longtime OSer) by just a few miles:

 zu - landing 1

Closer in, you can see I landed about 6 miles outside of Zuni:

 zu - landing 2

This is the Village of Zuni, which is part of Zuni Pueblo (more about this later).  Here’s just a little wider shot, showing that I landed way out in the boonies (note the few roads and lack of towns):

 zu - landing 3

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows an expected arid landscape, with no features of civilization:

 zu - GE1

Here’s a cool oblique GE shot (looking east) towards the Zuni Buttes:

 zu - GE2

You can see the valley near my landing; it can be followed generally west and south towards the Zuni River (first ever hit, my 1113th river); across the AZ line and on to the Little Colorado (16th hit); on to the Colorado (159th hit; 3rd on my river hits list behind the Mississippi and Missouri).  Interestingly (to me, anyway), none of my previous 15 Little Colorado landings involved a tributary river.

 From zunitourism.com, here’s some good background about the Zuni Pueblo:

Zuni Pueblo is the largest of the nineteen New Mexican Pueblos, covering more than 700 square miles and with a population of over 10,000.

We are considered the most traditional of all the New Mexico Pueblos, with a unique language, culture, and history that resulted in part from our geographic isolation. With perhaps 80% of our workforce involved in making arts, we are indeed an “artist colony.” Our main “industry” is the production of arts, including inlay silverwork, stone “fetish” carving, pottery, and others of which we are world famous.

Most of Zuni’s residents live in the main village of Zuni and the nearby “suburb” community of Blackrock.  Zuni is a sovereign, self-governed nation with our own constitutional government, courts, police force, school system, and economic base.  Our year is marked by a cycle of traditional ceremonial activities; the most sacred and perhaps the most recognized is the annual Sha’lak’o event.

Please be aware that there are restrictions in place for non-Zuni’s wishing to witness our religious activities. We ask that visitors respect our cultural privacy by following the appropriate etiquette and guidelines. Our ceremonial activities are what make the Zuni people unique.

Here are a couple of Zuni Pueblo shots.  First, this from back in the day (1931), from Northern Arizona University:

 zuni 1931 north az u

Here’s a back-in-the-day shot, with the caption below:


Euro-Americans visit Zuni Pueblo, between 1880 and 1900. Photo: Courtesy of Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library

The Zuni language is unique.  From Wiki:

The Zuni traditionally speak the Zuni language, a unique language (also called an “isolate”) which has no known relationship to any other Native American language.  Linguists believe that the Zuni have maintained the integrity of their language for at least 7,000 years.

Unlike most indigenous languages in the US, Zuni is still spoken by a significant number of children and, thus, is comparatively less threatened with language endangerment.

Want to learn how to count to 10 in Zuni?  Click HERE for a You Tube link.  It’s worth it – and six, seven, eight and nine are particularly cool.

 Here are a few Panoramio shots of the landscape north of Zuni.  First, this from Gosia & Martin:

 gosia and martin kurow panaramio N of Zuni

This kind of view while driving out west is so exhilarating (and so absent in NJ).

And then, this, from Glider John:

 glider john panoramio n of zuni

Here’s a shot of the Zuni Buttes, just east of where I landed:

 zuni twin buttes

I’ll close with this shot of a Zuni maiden, from the turn of the century:


 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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DeKalb, Texas

Posted by graywacke on April 10, 2013

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

Landing number 2002; A Landing A Day post number 420.

 Dan –  I’m on a bit of a roll – 3/3 & 5/6 – thanks to this landing in the granddady of USers . . . TX; 145/176; 6/10; 2; 153.1.  Here’s my landing map:

 dek landing 1

A little closer in, and you can see that I landed in the midst of a plethora of small towns:

 dek landing 2

While I like to select the closest town for my post, most of the “towns” (including the closest ones) are just cross-roads, with no side streets at all.  I ignored those, leaving Mt. Pleasant, DeKalb and Clarksville.  A quick Google search looking for hooks and you can see by the title of this post that the winner was . . . DeKalb.

 But before I move on to DeKalb, here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot, showing that I landed in the woods, right next to the Sulphur River, just south of my landing:

 dek GE 1

Zooming out a little, you can see that this is quite the patch of woods, about 2.5 miles wide and stretching along the Sulphur:

 dek GE 2

To give you a feel for the woods, here’s a GE StreetView shot, taken from a bridge over the Sulphur just east (downstream) from my landing:


dek GE 3

Swiveling 90 degrees, here’s a shot of the Sulphur itself:

dek GE 4 the sulphur 

It turns out that this was my first landing ever in the Sulphur River watershed.  The Sulphur heads east to join the Red River of the South (51st hit); on to the Atchafalaya (58th hit).  With its 58th hit, the Atchafalaya moves into a tie with the Platte for 10th place on my list of most frequent river landings . . .

 Now, back to DeKalb.  From the Texas State Historical Association website, check out this about the naming:

 According to some county histories a community had begun to take shape in the winter of 1835, when David Crockett visited the site on his way to the Alamo.  These sources claim that when Crockett inquired about the name of the town, residents told him it had none and then asked him to name it.  He suggested the name of the Prussian Baron de Kalb, a general of the American revolutionary army.

Wow – Davy Crockett on his way to the Alamo – so, one of his last acts was to name DeKalb Texas. . . 

 DeKalb has a notable Native Son, who those of my generation know well:  Dan Blocker.  He played good ol’ Hoss on “Bonanza” from 1959 to 1972 – for me, that’s from age 9 to age 22.   Throughout the 60s, our entire family gathered in front of the TV every Sunday night to watch Bonanza. 

 Hoss was the most lovable of the Cartwrights . . here’s an excerpt from imdb.com:

The character of Hoss was conceived as a stereotype: The Gentle Giant. The 6’4″, 300 lbs. Blocker filled Hoss’s cowboy boots and ten-gallon hat admirably but brought something extra to the role, a warmth and empathy that helped ground the show. Personal accounts of Blocker testify to the fact that the man was gregarious and friendly to everyone. He brought that upbeat personality to the character of Hoss.

Here’s a shot of Dan as Hoss:

 dek dan blocker

I can’t resist.  Here’s the whole clan, followed by the famous map that burst into flames at the beginning of every show.

 dek bonanza

dek bonan

Man, the Ponderosa was one heck of a piece of real estate (not far from my Truckee CA landing!)

I’m going to move on from one old-time TV show to another.  From Bonanza to “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”  It’s not the TV show per se that’ll be my focus, but Ozzie & Harriet’s youngest, Ricky.  That would be Ricky Nelson.  I remember him on the show, and I remember him as the heart throb early 60s rock n’ roller (from RickyNelson.com):

 from the rickynelsonwebsite

But I remember him best for two later items – first, my far-and-away favorite Ricky Nelson song “Garden Party,” (his last hit, in 1972)  and then, his tragic death in a plane crash (in 1985).  So what’s the Ricky Nelson connection with DeKalb?  That’s where his plane crashed . . .

 From Wiki:

 Nelson dreaded flying but refused to travel by bus. In May 1985, he decided he needed a private plane and leased a luxurious, fourteen-seat, 1944 Douglas DC-3 for private use that once belonged to the DuPont family and later to Jerry Lee Lewis. The plane’s history was plagued with mechanical issues.[102] In one incident, the band was forced to push the plane off the runway after an engine blew, and in another incident, a malfunctioning magneto prevented Nelson from participating in the first Farm Aid concert in Champaign, Illinois.

On 26 December 1985, Nelson and the band left for a three-stop tour of the Southern United States. Following shows in Orlando, Florida and Guntersville, Alabama, Nelson and band members boarded the DC-3 in Guntersville and took off for a New Year’s Eve extravaganza in Dallas, Texas.[103] The plane crash-landed northeast of Dallas in De Kalb, Texas less than 2 miles from a landing strip at approximately 5:14 p.m. CST on 31 December 1985, impacting trees as it came to earth. Seven of the nine occupants were killed: Nelson and his companion, Helen Blair; bass guitarist Patrick Woodward; drummer Rick Intveld; keyboardist Andy Chapin; guitarist Bobby Neal; and road manager/soundman Donald Clark Russell. Pilots Ken Ferguson and Brad Rank escaped via cockpit windows, though Ferguson was severely burned.

I’m taking this opportunity to look into “Garden Party.”  I think it’s a great song – a strong pop hook (while being musically simple), and some intriguing lyrics.  I’ll start with this shot of Ricky, more from the Garden Party era:

dek ricky

 Here’s an intro about the song, from Wiki:

 Garden Party” is a 1972 hit song for Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band from the album Garden Party.  The song tells the story of Nelson being booed off the stage at Madison Square Garden, seemingly because he was playing his newer, country-tinged music instead of the 1950s-era rock that he had been successful with earlier, and his realization that “you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself”.

Click HERE for a You Tube link to the song (aw, go ahead – it’s a great song!) 

 Here are the lyrics:

I went to a garden party, reminisced with my old friends
A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
When I got to the garden party they all knew my name
But no one recognized me I didn’t look the same


But it’s all right now
I learned my lesson well
You see you can’t please ev’ryone so
You got to please yourself

People came from miles around everyone was there
Yoko brought her walrus there was magic in the air
And over in the corner much to my surprise
Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise


I played them all the old songs I thought that’s why they came
No one heard the music, we didn’t look the same
I said hello to Mary Lou, she belongs to me
When I sang a song about a honky-tonk, it was time to leave


Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode
Playing guitar like a ring an’ a bell and lookin’ like he should
If you gotta play at garden parties I wish you a lot a’ luck
But if memories were all I sang I’d rather drive a truck


Most references are obvious – Yoko and her walrus (John Lennon), Johnny B. Goode and playin’ guitar like ringing a bell (Chuck Berry), and his own song, “Mary Lou.”  The reference to “honky tonk” is explained by Wiki:

On October 15, 1971, a Rock ‘n Roll Revival concert was given at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Nelson came on stage dressed in the then-current fashion, wearing bell-bottoms and a purple velvet shirt, with his hair hanging down to his shoulders. He started playing his older songs “Hello Mary Lou” and “She Belongs to Me”, but then he played The Rolling Stones‘ “Country Honk” (a country version of their hit song “Honky Tonk Women“) and the crowd began to boo. While some reports say that the booing was caused by police action in the back of the audience, Nelson took it personally and left the stage.  He watched the rest of the concert backstage and did not reappear on stage for the finale.

The most mysterious reference involves “Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes.”  From Wiki:

One more reference in the lyrics pertains to a particularly mysterious and legendary audience member: “Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes, wearing his disguise”.  The Mr. Hughes in question was not Howard Hughes, as is widely believed, but ex-Beatle George Harrison, who was a next-door neighbor and good friend of Nelson’s. Harrison used “Hughes” as his traveling alias, and “hid in Dylan’s shoes” most likely refers to an album of Bob Dylan covers that Harrison was planning but never recorded.

I’ll close with a shot of the Sulphur River from landandfarm.com:



 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Chowchilla, California

Posted by graywacke on April 7, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now an every-third-day 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 –  Since I’ve climbed back into the ALAD saddle and began landing regularly (today is my 26th landing since the beginning of 2013), I’ve landed twice in MT, WI, IN, OR and NM.  But, now, I’ve landed three times in this USer . . . CA; 93/107; 5/10; 1; 153.7.

 As you can see, I landed just about where you’d put an “X” if someone asked you to mark the geographic center of the state:

 chow landing 1

Zooming closer in, you can see that I landed just outside of Chowchilla:

 chow landing 2

No surprisingly (since I landed in the Central Valley), I find myself in the middle of a farm field, as you can see in my Google Earth (GE) shot:

 chow GE1

As I was hoping, there is GE StreetView coverage from the road just south of the field (24th Avenue).  Here’s a shot looking past a random truck and trailer (which don’t go together) parked in the southeast corner of the field:

 chow GE3

I happened to see a good view of the shadow of the Google Cameramobile:

 chow GE4

I landed in the watershed of the Berenda Slough (the stream that is just north of my landing).  Here’s a GE StreetView shot of the slough just upstream from my landing:

 chow GE7 berenda slough

Drainage in the Central Valley is a little random, but I think that the Berenda Slough eventually makes its way to the San Joaquin R (7th hit); on to the Sacramento (24th hit).  Of course, the Sacramento feeds the San Francisco Bay, so water from my landing (at least that portion that’s not sucked up for irrigation) makes its way under the Golden Gate Bridge . . .

 As I mentioned earlier, I landed in the Central Valley.  Here’s an expanded GE shot showing that the valley is about 40 miles wide near Chowchilla (about midway between Fresno & Modesto):

 chow GE5

I’m sure we’ve all partaken of produce that came from somewhere in the above photo . . .

 So, about Chowchilla, from Wiki:

 The name “Chowchilla” is derived from the indigenous American tribe of Chauchila Yokut Indians which once lived in the area. The name itself evidently translates as “Murderers” and is apparently a reference to the warlike nature of the Chauchila tribe. The Chauchila Indians were inadvertently responsible for the first white men “discovering” Yosemite Valley (about 80 miles west of Chowchilla), which occurred when they were being pursued by a band of whites.

Now wait a second.  I have trouble believing that the local Indians named themselves “murderers.”  Maybe “warlike” is better . . .

 Here’s a GE StreetView shot, looking northeast on the main drag in town, Robertson Blvd.  Wonderful palm trees . . .

 chow GE6

While Chowchilla is know for its palm trees, it’s saddled with a bit of a burden:  Chowchilla is the site of an infamous 1976 kidnapping (of 26 kids!).  Don’t worry – I wouldn’t feature this if it didn’t have a happy ending – but it’s very bizarre story.  From Wiki:

Chowchilla was launched into national headlines on July 15, 1976, when 26 children and an adult bus driver were kidnapped from their bus. The kidnappers hid the bus in a drainage slough, and drove the children and bus driver around in two vans for 11 hours before forcing them to climb into a hole in the ground. After passing through the hole, the children and their driver found themselves trapped in the interior of a buried moving van. Although they did not know it, their place of confinement was in a quarry located in Livermore, California.

Local farmer and part-time bus driver Ed Ray, with help from some of the boys, stacked the 14 mattresses that were in the van. This enabled Ray and some of the older children to reach the opening at the top of the truck, which had been covered with a metal lid and weighed down with two 100-pound industrial batteries. They wedged the lid open with a stick, moved the batteries, and then they removed the remainder of the debris blocking the entrance. After 16 hours underground, they emerged and walked to the guard shack at the entrance to the quarry. The guard alerted the authorities, all the victims were rescued and pronounced in good condition, and they returned home to find that the mass media had descended on the town.

Ray was able to remember the license plate number of one vehicle under hypnosis, which led to the capture of the kidnappers as they attempted to flee to Canada. A rough draft of a ransom note was found at the house of the owner of the quarry. The owner’s son, Frederick Newhall Woods, IV, and two friends, Richard and James Schoenfeld, were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

There is a good newspaper article (the San Francisco Chronicle, Feb 2011) that reviews the case and discusses parole issues for the convicted kidnappers.  The article includes many photos to help you get a feel for what really happened.   Click HERE to go to the article.

 I’ll close with one of the photos from the article (by Tomas Oville, special to the San Francisco Chronicle), which shows Ed Ray’s hand (when he was much older) holding a photo of him & the school bus.

 tomas oville special to the sf chronicle 

That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Lovington, New Mexico

Posted by graywacke on April 3, 2013

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

Dan –  Ten landings ago, I was in this USer, thinking about UFOs.  Here I am again, in the desert SE corner of . . . NM; 72/81; 4/10; 2; 154.3.  I’m just drifting along, as I have been either 4/10 or 5/10 for 18 straight landings (and my Score has hardly changed, varying from 154.0 to 155.9).

 And I must announce that this is my 2000th landing!  Of course, most of the landings were pre-blog (landing 1583 was my first A Landing A Day post, making this my 417th post). 

 So anyway, here’s my landing map:

 lov - landing1

Looking closer in, you can see my proximity to Lovington:

 lov - landing2

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows that I landed out in the middle of nowhere, near what I figured must be an oil drilling pad:

 lov GE1

Zooming out a little, you can see that I’m in the midst of many such pads:

 lov GE2

Zooming out even more, you can see that the pad density increases mightily to the southeast – this area must have (or had) good oil production.

 lov GE3

Fortunately, there was some GE StreetView coverage in and amongst the pads.  Here’s a shot of one of the pads, just northwest of my landing:

 lov GE streetview pad

I don’t know if this pad has yet to be drilled (less likely), or if drilling happened some time ago, and the pad is all that remains (more likely).  Not far from the above photo, I found an active drilling site:

 lov GE streetview drill site

You can just see the oil pump (aka pumpjack) sticking out from behind the tank.  Speaking of pumpjack, Wiki recognizes many names for this type of pump:

A pumpjack (also called nodding donkey, pumping unit, horsehead pump, rocking horse, beam pump, dinosaur, sucker rod pump, grasshopper pump, thirsty bird, jack pump, or popping johnny) is the aboveground drive for a reciprocating piston pump in an oil well.

Fundamentally, it’s a very simple pump.  Just for the heck of it, let’s say that the oil-producing geologic unit is between 4,000 and 4,500 feet below ground.  The well would be drilled to 4,500 feet, and the casing “slotted” from 4,500 to 4,000 feet.  The slots allow the oil (usually with associated salt water, or brine) to enter the well.

 There is steel piping (“tubing”) that extends all the way down to the target zone.  At the bottom is a “pump,” which is no more than a couple of check valves that operate very simply, as the motion of the pumpjack moves the tubing up and down.  On the upstroke, oil is sucked into the tubing, and on the downstroke, the oil gets forced up the tubing.  The check valves make sure that once the oil goes up the tubing, it doesn’t go back down. 

 If anybody really cares, here’s a diagram, from Wiki:

 lov wiki pump jack diagram

These are not high-production oil wells.  I found a reference that estimates that the average Texas pump jack (sorry about that, New Mexico) yields 6 barrels of oil per day.  With 42 gallons/barrel, that comes out to about 250 gallons of crude per day per well.  And then there’s the fact that most of what comes up is brine, with just a little oil mixed in.  So, there’s probably 1000+ gallons of brine per well to get rid of . . .

 Back in the day, the brine was just dumped in unlined pits (of course).  Now, it is collected and typically injected deep underground where it (hopefully) won’t hurt anything.  However, after decades of dumping, one heck of a lot of salty water seeped into the ground.  As you might imagine, this practice resulted in some fresh water aquifers becoming contaminated with salt. 

 In fact, back in my oil company days, I was involved with a project where a town’s water supply wells were near an old oilfield (note that oil company, town and state remain unnamed . . .).  Guess what?   Back in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, all of the brine was dumped in earthen pits, and then in 1950s, the town’s water supply became too salty to use.  In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, the town went through cycles of abandoning salty wells and drilling new ones.  Finally (in the 1990s), the town had to abandon their well field and hook up to a neighboring town’s water system drawing from surface water.

 I got a little distracted from my usual routine – I haven’t mentioned the watershed.  Well, it’s time for me to complain once again about the fact that StreetAtlas 2013 has lousy stream naming.  I had to use the elevation function on GE to track a consistent downhill from path from my landing.  I found a valley that headed southeast, and just kept on going, mile after mile.  I crossed the TX state line, and ended up in an internally-drained lake, Lake Shafter.  Here’s a map showing my landing and the lake:

 lov - landing3

With a closer-in view, you can see that the lake is over 63 miles from my landing:

 lov - landing4

Sixty-three miles, and nary a named arroyo, stream, or anything . . .

 So, here’s a picture of Lake Shafter (from lanabird.com):

 lov lanabird lake shafter

Lanabird herself has a nice little write-up about the Lake and the ghosttown on its shores.  Click HERE to check it out.

The Sibley Nature Center in Midland TX has a photo essay about the Lake, including this picture of a tarantula that wandered a little too close to the toxic brine:

 lov - spider

Click HERE to check out the site. 

All this about Lake Shafter (in TEXAS, for crying out loud), and so far, nothing about Lovington.  Well, as has been typical recently, I’m not finding anything much to write about.  Here’s a little history from the City website:

 Lovington was established at the turn of the century. The first store was built in 1908 and was named the “Jim B. Love Grocery Store”.  The first post office was also housed in the store, and Jim Love was appointed postmaster. In 1917 Lea County was formed from parts of Chaves and Eddy County, and Lovington was designated as the county seat.

 You have to love the name of the store.  “Jim B. Love.”  I’m trying to come up with something clever about the name, but I think I’ll just let it stand on its own . . .

 I’ll close with a couple of Panoramio shots by “by niro.”  First, this shot of a nodding donkey, horsehead pump, rocking horse, dinosaur, sucker rod pump, grasshopper pump, thirsty bird, pump jack, popping johnny, or whatever, located just a few miles from my landing:

 lov oil well by by niro

Also just a few miles from my landing, I’ll close with this shot showing a classic NM sky:

lov by same dude 

That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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