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Archive for July, 2013

Fort Pierre, South Dakota (revisited)

Posted by graywacke on July 28, 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 2039; A Landing A Day blog post number 457.

Dan –  Oh well – now I’m 0/3 & 1/4, thanks to this OSer landing in  . . . SD; 55/51; 3/10; 5; 151.8.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 pierre landing 1

Here’s my closer-in landing map, showing my proximity to the State capital of Pierre, the more historic Fort Pierre, and Lake Oahe (a dammed up portion of the Missouri River):

 pierre landing 2

It turns out that I landed not far from here (Feb 2009, landing # 1655).  Here’s a landing map with both:

 pierre landing 3

This occurrence is close on the heels of my Vernal UT landing, where I landed a measly 6 miles away from a previous A Landing A Day landing (and had to use Vernal as my titular town twice).

 I don’t want any of my readers to get the idea that this will be a regular occurrence.  Bear with me while I do a little math.  There have been 457 ALAD posts.  The area of the lower 48 is a little over three million square miles.  Dividing by 457, I end up with one landing per 6,700 square miles.  Taking the square root:   that’s about an 80 mile square for each landing.  In other words, on the average, my landings should be 80 miles apart. 

 So, will I get some landings pretty close to previous landings?  Sure enough, but (hopefully), not too frequently.  One other factor –  when it happens out west (where the towns are so far apart), it’s more likely that I’ll be referencing the same town. . .

 So, what do here?  Well, I spent a little time looking for a Pierre hook, and couldn’t really find one (just like last time).  That’s why this landing is a Fort Pierre, revisited landing (which makes this my second “Fort” landing in a row, after Fort Wakashie).

 Here’s some important information from my first Ft. Pierre landing post:

 Right out of the gate, I must make sure that all of my readers are pronouncing Pierre correctly.  I’m sure, Dan that you know the correct pronunciation, but some in the Landing Nation may not.  So, for those who might pronounce Pierre like the French name for Peter –  “Pee-air”, I have to tell you, “Pee-air” it ain’t.  It’s simply “Peer.”

 I spent much of that post focused on the origin of the name “Bad River,” which, of course, was my watershed.  This landing was just a little north of my previous landing, but it nudged me over a watershed divide, into the Cheyenne R watershed.  Here’s a map:

 watershed divide

On a more local level, I landed in the watershed of the East Fork of Minneconjou Creek, on to the Minneconjou (you can see it just north of my landing) which flows due north into the Cheyenne R (18th hit); to the Missouri, of course (374th hit); to them MM (802nd hit).

 My Google Earth (GE) shot shows what looks like a wide open semi-arid agricultural landscape:

 ge 1

Stepping back quite a ways, you can see the regional landscape around the lower portion of Lake Oahe.  The arm of the Lake extending to the west is in the Cheyenne River valley:

 ge 2

About Ft. Pierre, from the town’s website:

rotating1-web fromtown website

Old Fort Pierre was built on the historical site believed to be the first spot visited by Europeans on South Dakota soil.

[Now hold on!  We’re smack dab in the middle of the state!  The Europeans must have been airlifted in!]

Its claim is based on the uncovering of the Verendrye plate. The plate was engraved by Peter de La Verendrye with his name and date, 1741 and then buried. The plate remained undiscovered for 170 years until it was accidentally found by school children playing in the area in 1913.

The original Fort Pierre, built at the confluence of the Missouri and Bad Rivers in 1817, was a fur trading post and was called Fort Teton.  The Fort was rebuilt in 1822 as Fort Tecumseh and in 1832 it was rebuilt again in its present location, as Fort Pierre Choteau (after a local fur trader who was instrumental in getting the fort built), later shortened to Fort Pierre.

So, it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that the capital of South Dakota could be Choteau instead of Pierre.  I wonder how the locals would pronounce “Choteau?”

 Anyway, what about the Verendrye Plate?  This, from the National Park Service (NPS.org):

The Verendrye Site, on Verendrye Hill overlooking the city of Fort Pierre just northwest of where the Bad and Missouri Rivers come together, is one of only a few verifiable sites associated with the first Europeans to explore the northern Great Plains region.

Frenchman Pierre Gaultier De La Verendrye and his sons explored the interior of North America in the 18th century, looking for a water route to the Pacific Ocean. Though the Verendryes’ epic achievements were dismissed as a failure in their time because they found no Northwest Passage to the Pacific, this site documents their undisputed role in the French effort to achieve colonial dominance in North America.

They reached the area in South Dakota where Pierre and Fort Pierre are now located 61 years before Meriwether Lewis and William Clark first arrived in the area.  At the end of March, 1743, they buried a lead plate at the site to lay the basis for French sovereignty on the upper Missouri, seeking to establish French control of the entire Mississippi River drainage.


 The inscription on the plate translates: “In the twenty-sixth year of the reign of Louis XV, the most illustrious Lord, the Lord Marquis of Beauharnios, 1741, Pierre Gaultier De La Verendrye placed this.” Scratched on the back are the words: “Placed by the Chevalier Verendrye, Louis La Londette, and A. Miotte. 30 March 1743.”

This is a nice segue to my previous post, with a a picture taken near where the Verendrye Plate was found.  The words in italics are from that post:

Here’s a nice picture of the City of Ft. Pierre, looking south over the Missouri River:


And check out this painting (by Mick Harrison), which certainly appears to be from precisely the same vantage point!  It shows a frontier scene from the 1870s (from fortpierredeadwoodtrail.com).  The caption for the painting is below:


This oil painting portrays one of the Evans Transportation Company’s freight wagon trains making an early morning departure from Fort Pierre, Dakota Territory in the late 1870′s by way of the Fort Pierre-Deadwood Trail. Owner Fred Evans is the point rider with Winchester in hand.

 I’ll close with withsome fabulous Panoramio shots taken by SD photographer Scott Shephard (scottshephard.com), taken north and northwest of my landing along Lake Oahe.  Interestingly, Scott’s website is called “A Photo A Day.”  It looks like he lives up to his monicker, unlike yours truly.  Anyway, here are some of the amazingpictures that he posted on Panoramio:

pano sshephard 12

pano sshephard 11

pano sshephard 10

pano sshephard 9

That’ll do it.



© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Fort Wakashie, Wyoming

Posted by graywacke on July 25, 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 2038; A Landing A Day blog post number 456.

 Dan –  Another OSer (dropping me to 3/10), with this landing in. . . WY; 72/65; 3/10; 4; 151.4.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1 - Copy

My closer-in map shows my proximity to Fort Washakie (way off to the left) and the Little Wind River:

 landing 2 - Copy

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows what looks like a richly green agricultural area:

 ge 1 - Copy

Stepping back, you can the green is associated with stream valleys; the uplands have that more usual semi-arid look:

 ge 2 - Copy

Speaking of valleys, I landed in the watershed of the Sharp Nose Drain, on to the Little Wind R (3rd hit); to the Wind R (9th hit); to the Big Horn R (18th hit); to the Yellowstone R (51st hit); to the Missouri R (373rd hit); and of course, finally on to the MM (801st hit).

 Here’s a GE StreetView shot, looking down into the Little Wind R valley (just east of my landing), in one of the green areas (although it doesn’t look all that green):

 looking into the little wind river valley - Copy

Moving just a mile east, I’m in the semi-arid zone, as shown on this StreetView shot:

 looking into the little wind river valley (just down the road) - Copy

I’m now going to move right along to an absolutely wonderful A Landing A Day moment.  Here’s what happened.  I decided that I wanted one of my usual StreetView shots off a bridge, looking at a local stream.  The local stream in this case is the Little Wind River.  Here’s a shot showing the road with the blue line (indicating availability of StreetView), and the approximate location of the bridge over the Little Wind (where the little orange guy is standing):

 ge sv setup shot - Copy

Here’s a StreetView shot showing the bridge.  See the wooden guard rail?

 ge sv setup shot 2 - Copy

Well, here’s my StreetView shot of the river.  I was in the middle of doing the usual “print screen”, when I noticed a word on the guard rail.  Could it be “Welcome?”  Yes, it could!

 ge sv little wind just downstream  Welcome! - Copy

Are you kidding me?   Who in the world would take the time to write or etch the word “Welcome” on a guardrail of an obscure bridge?  And it’s located at the very spot that I happened to select for my look upstream.  Thanks be to the landing god, and I do indeed feel very welcome visiting this particular spot in Wyoming!!!

 OK.  Moving right along to Fort Washakie.  From Wiki:

 Fort Washakie was a U.S Army fort that was established in 1869.  It was named after Chief Washakie of the Shoshone tribe making the fort the only U.S military outpost named after a Native American.

 The fort remained a military outpost until 1909 when it was decommissioned and turned over to the Shoshone Indian Agency. The graves of Washakie and Lewis and Clark Expedition guide Sacajawea are located on the grounds of the fort. The site lies within the present-day Wind River Indian Reservation.

 From ShoshoneIndians.com about the Chief:

Chief Washakie, c.1804-1900, a chief of the Eastern Shoshone Indians of Wyoming, was noted for his exploits in fighting and also for his friendship with the white pioneers. When wagon trains were passing through Shoshone country in the 1850s, Washakie and his people aided the overland travelers in fording streams and recovering strayed cattle.   He was also a scout for the U.S. Army.

 Here’s a quote attributed to Chief Washakie.  DO NOT SKIM.  READ ENTIRE QUOTE!

“The white man, who possesses this whole vast country from sea to sea, who roams over it at pleasure and lives where he likes, cannot know the cramp we feel in this little spot, with the underlying remembrance of the fact, which you know as well as we, that every foot of what you proudly call America not very long ago belonged to the red man. The Great Spirit gave it to us. There was room for all His many tribes, and all were happy in their freedom.”

“The white man’s government promised that if we, the Shoshones, would be content with the little patch allowed us, it would keep us well supplied with everything necessary to comfortable living, and would see that no white man should cross our borders for our game or anything that is ours. But it has not kept its word!

“The white man kills our game, captures our furs, and sometimes feeds his herds upon our meadows. And your great and mighty government–oh sir, I hesitate, for I cannot tell the half! It does not protect our rights. It leaves us without the promised seed, without tools for cultivating the land, without implements for harvesting our crops, without good quality breeding animals, without the food we still lack, without the comforts we cannot produce and without the schools we so much need for our children.”

“I say again, the government does not keep its word!”

Powerful words.

Just for heck of it, here are the English translations of the names of several of Washakie’s relatives.  There’s a story behind every name, if only we could ask the various parents:

 Mother:  Lost Woman

Father:  Crooked Leg

Maternal Grandfather:  Weasel Lung

Maternal Grandmother:  Bluebird

Aunt:  Little Striped Squirrel

First Cousin:  Has No Horse

Washakie’s given name: Smells of Sugar

It was changed to:  Shoots the Buffalo Running

Given to him by friends (and what Washakie means):  Gourd Rattler

 So, Sacajawea is buried at the Fort.  This, about her (towards the end of a very long Wiki article), starting out with a picture of a Bismark ND statue:


 While Sacagawea has been depicted as a guide for the expedition, she is recorded as providing direction in only a few instances.  Her work as an interpreter certainly helped the party to negotiate with the Shoshone.  However, her greatest value to the mission may have been simply her presence during the arduous journey – she was able to effectively demonstrate their peaceful intent.

While traveling through what is now Franklin County, Washington, Clark noted, “The Indian woman confirmed those people of our friendly intentions, as no woman ever accompanies a war party of Indians in this quarter,” and, “the wife of Shabono our interpreter [actually Charbonneau] we find reconciles all the Indians, as to our friendly intentions.  A woman with a party of men is token of peace.”

Here’s a Panoramio picture (by mal10587) showing that Fort Wakashie is a real town, with a real Main Street:

 mal10587  pano main st ft wash - Copy

Just south of town is Ray Lake. Here’s a lovely Pano shot by John Drew2 of the lake:

 ray lake pano john drew2 - Copy

I’ll close with this shot of a group of cacti watching the sunset, taken in the town of Fort Wakashie (on Dead Horse Road).  I can just hear the oohs and aahs:

sunset on dead horse road, ft wash by piqueen pano - Copy 

That’ll do it.



 © 2013 A Landing A Day

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Hemingford, Nebraska

Posted by graywacke on July 22, 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 2037; A Landing A Day blog post number 455.

 Dan –  Drifting away from 150 with this OSer landing in . . . NE; 57/51; 4/10; 3; 151.  Here’s my regional landing map:

  landing 1

My closer-in landing map shows that (for the second landing in a row!) I landed right in a town (as opposed to the usual countryside landing):

landing 2


For some reason, the quality of the Google Earth (GE) photos isn’t up to par (I guess NW NE doesn’t rate; I wonder if NE NE is any better), but here’s my GE shot.   It’s hard to see, but I might have landed right on top of a garage:

ge 1

GE StreetView coverage is available for the main east-west drag only – Niobrara Street.  Here’s a shot looking north on Laramie (the way you’d go if you were driving to my landing spot):

 sv a block from landing niobrara & laramie

GE put the word “landing,” to show the way to my landing.

I landed in the watershed of the Box Butte Creek, on to the Niobrara River (10th hit); to the Missouri (372nd hit); to the MM (the momentous 800th hit!)

 Since I landed right in town, I have no choice but to feature Hemingford.  From the town’s website:

Hemingford was first settled by Canadian immigrants in the summer of 1885. The cluster of frame and sod buildings was named in honor of Hemmingford, Canada, the settlers’ former home.

For some reason, it seems as though the Americans dropped one of the m’s.  Had to be a little different, eh?  Anyway, Hemmingford Quebec is south of Montreal, right on the New York border:

 landing 3

I looked for some interesting Panoramio shots in Hemmingford QC, and I found a couple.  First this by Pegase1972 of the old firehouse:

 pegase1972 old fire house quebec

And then this, by Gueco8288 of a wonderful statue in a park:

 gueco8288 birds zen parc pano

For some Hemmingford history (remember, we’re in Quebec now), I found this from the town’s “unofficial” website:

Hemmingford Township QC was named for a pair of small villages, Hemingford Grey and Hemingford Abbotts in Huntingdonshire located in Cambridgeshire, England.

Interesting.  It looks like maybe the town fathers of Hemingford NE wanted to go back to the real roots of the name.  So why did the Canadians add an extra “m?”  I guess they had to be different . . .

Anyway, here’s a GE shot showing the two English villages:

 ge 4

Here’s a Google Maps view showing the villages from a broader perspective:

 landing 5

And here’s some history; first, this from the Hemingford Abbots village website:

There have been settlements in Hemingford Abbots from earliest times; archaeological finds of flints and stone tools indicate stone-age peoples, and a Roman sarcophagus was uncovered close to the A14 – today’s road follows the route of a Roman military road.

The name ‘Hemingford’ dates from the 8th century; it means ‘the ford of Hema’s people’ and describes a settlement around a river crossing. ‘Abbots’ refers to Ramsey Abbey’s ownership of the manor from 974 A.D until 1539.

By 1250 the village had 96 holdings but numbers declined a century later when the village suffered the ravages of the Black Death.

 And this, from the Hemingford Grey village website:

In Roman and Saxon times the two Hemingfords were part of one estate. The name means “the ford of the people of Hemma or Hemmi”, presumably a Saxon chief.  In the ninth century the estate was split into two.

In 1276 the village acquired its modern name from the de Grey family, the new owners of the manor.

 By the way, the “ford” of Hemingford must be a crossing of the Ouse River (which you can see on the above GE shot).

To give you a feel for the area, here are a series of Panoramio shots from the two villages.  Starting with Abbotts, first this by Traveling Crow (which certainly lets you know we’re not in America).  You gotta love the cat up on the roof:

pano traveling crow in abbots

Traveling Crow has another (a close-up of the chimney of the house on the right).  Is this cool, or what?

abbots traveling crow abbots

Here’s a shot by Azurian looking across the River Ouse:

abbots azurian pano

And this, looking down (up?) the Ouse from Abbotts towards Grey, by Ade Smith:

ade smith pano looking towards grey from abbotts

Moving over to Grey, here’s a shot along the river (from the village website):

from grey page

Here’s a Panoramio shot by JohnTic1 of a street scene in Grey:

church street grey johntic1pano

Back to Traveling Crow, here’s another quintessential British house:

grey pano traveling crow

So fundamentally, Hemingford NE is named for a Saxon Chief.  Interesting, eh?  This, about Saxons, from Wiki:

The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes on the North German Plain, some of whom conquered large parts of Great Britain (after first entering Roman Britain in the 4th century).  They were part of the merged group of Anglo-Saxons that would eventually carve out the first United Kingdom of England.

As a NJ guy, I was interested when I stumbled on very familiar placenames while reading the following in Wiki:

Four separate Saxon realms emerged:

  1. East Saxons: created the Kingdom of Essex.
  2. Middle Saxons: created the province of Middlesex
  3. South Saxons: created the Kingdom of Sussex
  4. West Saxons: created the Kingdom of Wessex

NJ has an Essex County (as does NY and VA), a Sussex County (as does DE and VA) and a Middlesex County (as does VA, MA and CT).  No Wessex anything that I know of.  Wessex must have been the smallest, or least populous, or least successful of the Saxon realms.  At any rate, it was likely the least sexy.

Poor old Hemingford NE got a little short shrifted in this post.  The only Panoramio shots in town are of churches; I’ll close with this, by Pylodet, of the Congregational Church:

pylodet pano

That’ll do it.



© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Kannapolis, North Carolina

Posted by graywacke on July 19, 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 2036; A Landing A Day blog post number 454.

Dan –  Staying within striking distance of 150 with this USer landing in . . . NC; 35/36; 4/10; 2; 150.6.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 3

My close-in landing map shows that I landed right in the city of Kannapolis:

 landing 1

Kannopolis isn’t far from Charlotte.  Here’s an expanded landing map:

 landing 2

Back to Kannopolis, here’s a very close-in Google Earth (GE) shot, showing that I landed right along the front edge of a house in a neighborhood!

 ge 1

You can only imagine my excitement, when I clicked on the StreetView tool (hoping that McLain Road, next to my landing, had coverage).  Come on, come on . . . drat!  No StreetView near my landing.  Here’s an expanded GE view, with the StreetView coverage in blue:

 lack of streetview coverage

Oh, well.

 I landed near an unnamed tributary of Cold Creek.  This tributary (which probably has a local name that I just couldn’t find) runs under a road near my landing.  Here’s a StreetView shot:

 ge sv creek s little texas rd

The tributary continues on to flow into Lake Concord (see landing map – it’s the nearby unnamed lake).  See Center Grove Road?   Here’s a StreetView shot looking northwest from the bridge over the lake:

 ge sv lake concorn centergrove rd

Anyway, the tributary flows into Cold Creek, which flows into a new river (for me), the Rocky, which flows to the Pee Dee (9th hit).

 As you know, I keep track of all things landing, especially related to the watersheds.  OK, here we go:  1)  The Rocky is my 1122nd river; 2) This was my 35th stream or river named Rock or Rocky; 3) Cold Water Creek was my 6th stream or river with the word “Cold” in it; 4) Cold Water Creek was also my 28th “Blank Water” stream, with Cold Water joining such dignitaries as Sweetwater, Saltwater, Freshwater, Bitterwater, Stillwater, Clearwater, Whitewater, Redwater, Blackwater, Highwater, Fallingwater, Runningwater, and (my all-time favorites), Badwater and Stinkingwater.

 So, what about Kannapolis?  Undoubtedly, its main claim to fame is that it’s the hometown of the Earnhardt clan of NASCAR fame.  Grandfather Ralph, father Dale Sr. and grandson Dale Jr. 

 Dale Jr. is quite famous & well known in his own right (and quite the NASCAR driver and entrepreneur).  But his late father Dale Sr. is the really famous one.  From Wiki:

Considered one of the best NASCAR drivers of all time, Earnhardt won a total of 76 races over the course of his career, including one Daytona 500 victory in 1998. He earned 7 NASCAR Winston Cup Championships, which is tied for the most all time with Richard Petty. His aggressive driving style earned him the nickname “The Intimidator”.

While driving in the 2001 Daytona 500, Earnhardt died of a basilar skull fracture in a last-lap crash.  He has been inducted into the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Check out my closer-in landing map again, and look just south of my landing.  See Dale Earnhardt Blvd?

Of course, the Boulevard isn’t the only Dale Earnhardt tribute in town.  There’s a minor league baseball team with an Earnhardt connection, as explained by Wiki:

The Intimidators franchise moved to Kannapolis in 1995 from Spartanburg, South Carolina, where they had been a Class A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.  Debate raged in the Kannapolis area over what to name the team, with team officials finally decided to call the team the Piedmont Phillies for the 1995 season.

[Bad choice, in my opinion. Nothing wrong with the “Phillies” part of it, but Piedmont?  I don’t think so.  I’ll have a little more to say about Piedmont later.]

A name-the-team contest in the fall of 1995 drew thousands of entries, and team officials settled on the Kannapolis Boll Weevils as the team’s new name, indicative of Kannapolis’ history as a textile mill town (Kannapolis natives are even called “lintheads”).

[Boll Weevils is an improvement over Piedmont, I think.  More about boll weevils in a bit.  But I really love “lintheads.”  Too bad they didn’t name the team The Lintheads!]

After the 2000 season (when NASCAR racing legend Dale Earnhardt purchased a share in the team’s ownership), the name was changed to the Kannapolis Intimidators, in honor of Earnhardt’s legendary nickname (and the team switch affiliation from the Phillies to theWhite Sox).

Earnhardt, who drove the #3 car in NASCAR, was killed in an accident at the Daytona 500 in February 2001.   The team officially retired jersey number 3 on May 15, 2002, in memory of their former co-owner.

As some of my readers are aware (and as I have mentioned once before when I landed near Fitzgerald GA, in Ben Hill County), my son Ben Hill is a writer for MLB.com, covering minor league baseball.  He writes a light-hearted blog, “Ben’s Biz Blog” that emphasizes the business of running a Minor League franchise, covering items like whacky promotions, team logos and new stadiums.  Ben goes on frequent road trips, visiting Minor League ballparks all around the country, which he, of course, writes about.  Just Google Ben’s Biz Blog to find his site (or click HERE).

Anyway, I searched his blog for Kannapolis, and sure enough, Ben has covered the team on numerous occasions.

And, the big story on Action News. . . er, Ben’s Biz Blog . . . is Daniel Wagner and the bat attack.  One might think (this being baseball and all) that the “bat” would be of the hardwood variety designed for hitting baseballs.  But no . . .

Ben was visiting the Winston-Salem Dash, when he saw the following scoreboard announcement of the next batter, one Daniel Wagner:

ben scoreboard bat

Now, I’ll proceed to Ben’s story, from his blog:

Yes, [Wagner] was attacked by a bat and somehow lived to tell the tale. During our interview yesterday I couldn’t resist asking about this incident, and what follows is a Ben’s Biz Blog exclusive:

Said Wagner:

I remember it like it was yesterday. We were in Kannapolis; I was playing second base and Sally [Tyler Saladino] was at shortstop. There were all these bats swooping down and flying around, and I looked over at Sally, like “Do you see these bats? They’re getting really close!”

ben  crimescene3

Scene of the Crime

Two or three pitches later, two bats landed on the second base side of the pitcher’s mound. I said to Sally, “Dude, they’re right there!” He was just laughing. So then Ryan Buch threw a pitch, and as soon as it popped in the catcher’s mitt both bats take off and start flying right at me. I thought one of them was going to hit me in the face, but I dodged it. I forget who the runner on second base was, but I turned to him and asked “Did you see that?”

He just said “Bro, there’s one on your leg!”

ben the perp

The Perpetrator?

And it was! It was clamped on my leg, so I swiped it off with my glove and it ended up on the ground opening and closing its mouth at me. I could see the fangs. It was super-creepy, worse than a spider or a rat, just nasty. I took off running, and that’s when I think the fans noticed what was happening.  A lot of them were laughing, and from then on sometimes people would call me ‘Batman.’ It was just wild. 

I think I do have a [bat] phobia now, those things creep me out. Of all the strange things that I’ve seen happen on a baseball field, having a bat land on me was obviously number one.

For the record, a fear of bats is officially known as “chiroptophobia.” That would be a mighty strange reason to have to go on the disabled list, but fortunately Wagner has been able to persevere. I thank him for sharing his story.

I would love to be able to provide additional animal attack tales from the Minor League trenches, as well as strange stories in general. If you’ve got something to share, well, you know where to find me.

 Ben also blogged about the roll-out of a new Intimadators logo:


Here’s what he had to say:

Players will only sport the logo during what the team refers to as “Dale Earnhardt-related occasions”. But given Earnhardt’s legendary status among NASCAR’s huge legion of fans, this is a mark that should resonate far outside of the local market.

Here, Earnhardt’s son Kerry (himself a race car driver) models the new look:


As promised (threatened?), here’s a little about the piedmont (which is technically known by geologists as a physiographic province).  Here’s a map, showing the extent of the Piedmont:


Basically, the Piedmont is a geologic region between the low-lying coastal plain and the Appalachian Mountains.  It’s a hodge-podge geologically speaking, but is dominated by two geologic features:

 (1)  the highly-weathered remains of ancient mountain ranges (with rocks between 500 million and a billion years old), and

 (2) much younger rocks composed of sediments that were deposited in basins formed as the ancestral Atlantic Ocean was opening up (a mere 250 million years ago). 

 For the record, I live in and amongst the NJ version of Piedmont rocks, type (2).  Anyway, Piedmont was a bad name for an airline (the precursor to U.S. Airways) and it’s a bad name for a North Carolina baseball team. 

 OK, I can’t resist this little factoid.  As you can imagine, there must be spots in the Piedmont where the really old rocks butt up against the much younger rocks.  Well, just 20 or so miles northwest of where I live in NJ, along the Delaware River in PA is a very cool spot.  You stand along the river road (Route 611), with your back to the river.  To the right, you see a large outcropping of gray rocks, (Cambrian-aged dolomites, about 600 million years old).  In front of you is a small valley, which runs along a fault.  To the left is a large outcropping of red rocks (Triassic-aged), about 250 million years old.  The fault represents a time gap of 350 million years!

 Here’s a map from the PA Geologic survey, showing the location of the fault that separates the two rock formations:

 border fault

The green stuff is Triassic; the purple is Cambrian.  The fault (known as the Monroe Border Fault) moved pretty much vertically more than 5 miles!  Here’s a geologic cross-section, showing the rocks near the fault.  The Triassic side of the fault moved downward as the Triassic sediments were deposited:

 border fault x-section

Erosion (that great equalizer), acting through millions of years, made the topography pretty much the same on either side of the fault.  

Enough Piedmont geology!  Moving right along to Boll Weevils.  From Wiki:


The boll weevil is a small beetle that feeds on cotton buds and flowers. Thought to be native to Central America, it migrated into the United States from Mexico in the late 19th century and had infested all U.S. cotton-growing areas by the 1920s, devastating the industry and the people working in the American south.  Beginning in1978, the Boll Weevil Eradication Program in the U.S. allowed full-scale cultivation to resume in many regions.

 A peculiar name for a baseball team, but I like it!

 Moving right along . . . here’s a shot of the old-school Gem Theater in downtown Kannapolis (Panoramio photo by Kevin Childress):

 pano kevin childress

I’ll close with a photo of the warmly human Dale Earnhardt statue right in town (GE Panoramio, by jtdancy):

pano jtdancy


 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Calhoun City and Bruce, Mississippi

Posted by graywacke on July 16, 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 2034; A Landing A Day blog post number 452.

Dan –  I landed in a “perfectly-subscribed” (PSer) state that is now an OSer . . . MS; was 32/32, now 33/32; 4/10; 1; 151.2.   And yes, Jordan, my Score went up (from 150.9 to 151.2).  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My local landing map shows that I landed in the midst of nothing but small towns:

 landing 2

I didn’t find much of interest in any of the towns, but at least I found something in Calhoun City & Bruce (thus the post title).

 I landed in the watershed of the Anderson Ck; on to the Yalobusha R (2nd hit); to the Tallahatchie (8th hit); to the Yazoo (11th hit); to the MM (799th hit).  Interesting name, “Yalobusha.”  I wonder what it means?  From Wiki:

 The name “Yalobusha” comes from the Choctaw word yalooboshi, meaning “little tadpole”, from yalooba, “tadpole”, and -ushi, “diminutive

 Perhaps even more interesting would be the answer to the question, “Why did the Choctaw name the river Yaloobashi?”

 My Google Earth shot shows that landed in the woods:

 ge 1

Zooming out a little, I saw a system of dirt roads and little clearings that looks suspiciously like an oil field:

 ge 2

Oil in Mississippi?  Evidently so …

 I traveled south (via GE) a few miles to take a look at the mighty Yalobusha River.  Here’s a StreetView shot showing a portion of the Yalobusha that has been straightened, and is referred to as the Yalobusha Canal:

 ge sv yalobusha just downstream from confluence with duncan ck

Interestingly, the above StreetView shot is older than the actual GE aerial photography.  This GE aerial shot shows that the bridge is being replaced.  Obviously, the above StreetView shot is the old bridge . . .

 ge 3 - bridge now under construction

Don’t worry – the sag in the bridge is an artifact of the way GE represents topography.

So, as mentioned above, I landed in Calhoun County, which happens to be right next door to Chickasaw County.  Chickasaw County has gained recent notoriety because Django Unchained takes place (partially) in Chickasaw County (although it wasn’t filmed here).  I didn’t see the movie, but I read that Django was a slave in the county who was freed, and went out seeking revenge.

 Moving right along . . . but move right along where?  I looked at every one of the towns shown on the landing map above (like 20 or so), looking for my hook.  Man, I hardly got a bite, but a couple of nibbles.  First, Calhoun City is the home of one fine saxophone player, name of Ace Cannon.  Ace has been around for a long time, playing a very melodic sax.  From Ace’s website:

 In 1959 he started with the BILL BLACK COMBO, (which was one of the most popular instrumental groups of their era,) in the U.S. and the Bahamas, where he played the lead saxophone on all the original recordings. They appeared on the most prominent TV shows of that era, including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Merv Griffin Show and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.

Click HERE for a You Tube version of “Peace in the Valley,” Ace’s rendition of an old-school gospel song.

Moving along to Bruce, it turns out that Ron Lundy (who, coincidentally worked with Cousin Brucie) is from Bruce.  Ron Lundy?  Cousin Brucie?   Well, first, some background:  believe it or not, when I was in high school in the 1960s in Zanesville OH, we routinely listened to top 40 radio on WABC, New York!  For some strange reason, it came in better on our AM car radios than the Cleveland stations, and stations in towns like Columbus or Wheeling weren’t strong enough for us to get.

 So, Ron Lundy was part of the WABC DJ line-up that included Dan Ingram and the aforementioned Cousin Brucie.  I really don’t have anything significant to say about Ron Lundy, except that his name takes me way back to the days when everybody (and I mean everybody) listened to top 40.  Cool variety back in 1966, for example:  the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle, the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Mamas and Papas, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Donovan, the Association, the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Monkees . . . and on and on.  Ready to add a little weight, Jimi Hendrix and Creme were right around the corner.

 Enough Boomer reminiscing!

 Back on GE, I was looking for some pretty Panoramio pictures (as is my custom).  Come on, Calhoun County!!  There’s only Panoramio shot in the entire county!  Entitled “Tin Roof House” by RidgeRider.  Maybe it’s the Love Shack.  Anyway, here it is:

tin roof home by ridgerider

Please comment on this post if you understood the “Love Shack” reference . . . 

 Over in Chickasaw County, I found this nice shot of a cotton field, by Matthew N (good enough for my closing):

 matthew N pano

That’ll do it.





© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Oran, Missouri

Posted by graywacke on July 13, 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 2034; A Landing A Day blog post number 452.

 Dan –  Phew.  I avoided an 0/4 with this USer landing in . . . MO; 44/46; 5/10; 1; 150.9.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

So, I landed in that very crowded corner of the country, where MO, AR, IL, KY & TN all converge.  Here’s my closer-in landing map, showing that I landed close to three little towns:  Morley, Benton and Oran:

 landing 2

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows an expected agricultural setting.   (And are those chicken coops just south of my landing?  Probably).

 ge 1

A wider-view GE shot shows the Mississippi R, the Ohio R, and the largest town in the general vicinity, Cairo IL:

 ge 2

I landed in the “watershed” of the St. John’s Ditch, which flows into St. John’s Bayou (not big enough to be a river); on to the MM (798th hit). 

Of course, I perused the internet, looking for my proverbial hook.  Not much there, but the winner was the titular town, Oran.

 First, congrats to Oran High School, where the baseball team won their first Class I State Baseball title ever!!  They had a huge 5th inning (scoring all 8 of their runs) in beating defending champs Sante Fe, 8 – 5 (coming back from an 0-4 deficit).

 This, from the Scott County website about the origin of the name “Oran,” caught my eye:

Previously known as Sylvania and then St. Cloud, Oran was named by a sea captain who had spent time in Oran, Algeria, during the Crimean War. It was founded in 1869.

 I hate to admit it, but I can find nothing of particular interest about Oran, Missouri.  But how about Oran, Algeria?  


This about Oran, from Wiki:

Oran was founded in 903 by Moorish Andalusi traders but was captured by the Spanish under Cardinal Cisneros in 1509.

So the Moors had it for a mere 606 years before the Spaniards moved in . . .

Spanish sovereignty lasted until 1708 . . .

. . . after only 199 years . . .

when the city was conquered by the Ottomans. Spain recaptured the city in 1732.

A lousy 24 years for the Ottoman Turks!  And then back to the Spaniards . .

However, its value as a trading post had decreased greatly, so King Charles IV of Spain sold the city to the Turks in 1792.

After 60 years for the Spaniards, back to the Turks.

Ottoman rule lasted until 1831, when it fell to the French.

So, the Turks held it for 39 years, and then the French grabbed it.

So, it turns out the French kept it (with a few bumps in the road during WWII).  But then came the Algerian war for independence, 1954–1962 (which resulted in Algerian independence).   Here’s some detail about what went on in Oran at the end of war:

Shortly after the end of the war, most of the Europeans and Sephardic Jews living in Oran fled to France.  A massacre of Europeans, four days after the vote for Algerian independence, triggered the exodus to France.  In less than three months Oran lost about half its population.

Man.  Now that’s a lot of history!  And there’s also the 1992 civil war (mentioned a little later).

Today, the Oran metro area has about 1.5 million people; it’s a major port city with three universities.  They are actively promoting tourism there.

Here’s a cool Panoramio photo of an old fort on the Mediterranean, west of Oran (with Oran in the background).

majidov1 pano old fort east ofthe city, in thebackground

Check out this cool video (intended to draw western tourists) entitled “Oran in Colour.”  It has great visuals, good music, and gives you a feel for the city and the people (and keeps you watching).   Now I want to go there.  Click HERE to see the video.  It is mandatory viewing for all readers of this post!

Given all of the unrest in the Islamic Middle East, I was wondering how Algeria is doing (it hasn’t been in the news much, eh?)

Here’s a little political background from Wiki:

Algeria is aauthoritarian regime, according to the Democracy Index 2010.  The Freedom of the Press 2009 report gives it rating “Not Free”.

Elected politicians are considered to have relatively little sway over Algeria. Instead, a group of unelected civilian and military “décideurs”, known as “le pouvoir” (“the power”), actually rule the country, even deciding who should be president.  The most powerful man may be Mohamed Mediène, head of the military intelligence.[

From a June 6th Reuters article, by Myra MacDonald:

BOUMERDES, Algeria (Reuters) – With its president in a French hospital for over a month and the surrounding region in turmoil, Algeria looks from the outside to be on course for a period of unrest.

The reality on the ground is different.  The state has $200 billion in reserves from oil and gas revenues to spend placating the population with jobs and subsidies and a powerful and secretive security service.

Combined with the memory of civil war, this has led to political inertia that is expected to continue with or without President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has not been seen since travelling to France for treatment for a stroke on April 27.

“It is not going to be a political change that triggers violence here. People are more concerned with economic justice in this society,” said one western diplomat in Algiers.

The “Arab spring” revolts toppled dictators in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt in 2011.

But Algerians say they had their Arab spring in the late 1980s when the country was opened up to multi-party elections. With Islamists poised to win, Algeria’s generals intervened in a 1992 coup, triggering a civil war – known as “the black years” – in which an estimated 200,000 died.

Since then the state has expanded into every area of public and economic life, ensuring stability among people who fear a return to conflict and the personal consequences of challenging the system too aggressively.

“We suffered in the black years,” said Toufiq, a young Salafist chatting at a plastic table next to a fast-food stall selling pizzas in the coastal university town of Boumerdes.

“Muslims shouldn’t fight with other Muslims,” said his friend Tariq.

The article goes on.  Click HERE if you’re interested reading the whole thing.  But it appears that the current government (far from a free Western society), is managing to maintain stability.  Tricky issue, eh?  And hey, the people in the tourist video (which you all saw, right?) sure seem happy!

Do we root for stability with a lack of democracy and freedoms, or do we root for full democracy with the uncertainty inherent in that?

Ahem.   A bit of a detour from the usual ALAD fare.  I’ll get back to Missouri, and close with this GE Panoramio shot by RiverBoaters of a sunset at the I-5 bridge over the Mighty Mississippi:

pano riverboaters I-5 bridge over the MM at sunrise

That’ll do it.



© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Vernal, Utah (once again)

Posted by graywacke on July 10, 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 2033; A Landing A Day blog post number 451.

 Dan –  There I was, poised to go below 150, but here I am, getting my third OSer in a row with this landing in . . . UT; 72/56; 4/10; 3; 151.5.  Nothing against Utah, but of my last seven landings, this is my third in UT!  Enough already!   Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My closer-in landing map shows my proximity to Vernal:

 landing 2

Vernal?  Sounds familiar.  Let me see . . . yup, I landed near Vernal back in November of 2009, so I have an ALAD Vernal post.  I’ll have to come up with something different this time . . .

 Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot looking north, showing that I landed in an arid landscape, up on a ridge between two valleys:

 ge 1

In this next GE shot, you can see my landing off to the right.  The valleys near my landing (which coalesce to form Garden Creek), flow into the Green River (30th hit).  The Green flows right to left, passing through the mountain gap known as Split Mountain. 

 ge 3

Here’s another GE shot, looking upstream:

 ge 4

You can see that the Green has carved quite the canyon just upstream from my landing (you’re looking at Whirlpool Canyon; more about that later).

 Anyway, the Green flows south through Utah, eventually finding its way to the Colorado (126th hit).

 I mentioned above that this was my second Vernal landing.  Here’s a GE shot showing both landings:

 ge 2

I just know I’m going to have beautiful pictures to show you, but I need a little something before plunging into the low-hanging fruit known as some of the most gorgeous scenery in the country . . .

 Speaking of low-hanging fruit, I think I’ll quote a little from the earlier post.  Here goes:

 So, on to Vernal, from Wiki:

The population of Vernal was 7,714 at the 2000 census.  Vernal is one of the largest cities in the United States without a railway. One was proposed in the past, with a railway station being built.  The closest railway is approximately 60 miles away.

From OnlineUtah.com:

Vernal, unlike the majority of Utah towns, was not settled initially by Mormon pioneers.  Brigham Young sent a scouting party to Uinta Basin in 1861 and received word back the area was good for nothing but nomad purposes, hunting grounds for Indians and “to hold the world together.”  That same year, President Abraham Lincoln set the area aside as the Uintah Indian Reservation.

I like what the scouting party said about the region . . .

White settlers arrived in 1873 and settled on Ashley Creek, about four miles northwest of present day Vernal. Many single men–trappers, prospectors, home seekers, and drifters–arrived in Ashley Valley, and some stayed. However, there wasn’t a woman in the area until 1876.

Three years without a woman!  Shades of Brokeback Mountain . . .”

Given all of my recent Mormon references, I think it’s good that the only Mormon story is that there isn’t a Mormon story.  But as I commented above, I really like the quote saying that the area wasn’t good for much except “to hold the world together.” 

 The lack of Mormon influence in the founding of Vernal seems odd, considering all the trouble the Mormons put up with in order to settle SE Utah (my recent Blanding landing), which is also in a very desolate region (and much further from the mother ship).

 Anyway, although I mentioned nearby Dinosaur National Monument in my previous post, I think I’ll emphasize it a little more here.  What a wonderful park!  Even without dinosaur fossils, it’d be a great place to visit just because of the scenery.  Check out how big it is:

 dinosar nm

It’s about 35 miles from east to west; the northern and western portions of the park follow the Green River and the eastern part of the park follows the Yampa River.  I landed just south of the words “Diamond Mountain Plateau.”  Vernal is right on the western edge of the map.

Making my job easier, I stumbled on a geology blog by a gentleman who led a rafting trip down the Green River through the park.  Great pictures, discussions of the geology – who could ask for more.  The blog is “Earthly Musings” by Wayne Ranney (a geologist, of course) and his post is about rafting through Lodore Canyon (well upstream from my landing, see map above), Whirlpool Canyon (just upstream) and Split Mountain Canyon (mentioned earlier, and just downstream). 

 Anyway, you must, simply must, click HERE and check out the post.

 Mr. Ranney leads geologically-based raft trips and hikes all over the Colorado Plateau.  Man, would I love to join him one of these days . . .

 Anyway, I’m going to give up and just post some GE Panoramio pictures.  I’ll stay within three or four miles of where I landed.   David Herberg has several shots.  Here’s one looking upstream into Whirlpool Canyon:

 david herberg looking upstream into whirlpool canyon

And another, closer view of the same canyon:

 david herberg whirlpool

And here’s one he entitled “Cottonwoods in Fall:”

 david herberg cottonwoods in fall

Remember L Sessions?  I posted one of his Panoramio shots in my Blanding Landing post. He has one here as well:

 L Sessions just south of my landing

I’m going to close with a couple of pictures from the Dinosaur National Monument website.  The pictures were taken from hiking trailers that are shown above on my closer-in landing map.  First this one, from the “Sounds of Silence” trail:

 Sound_of_Silence_Trail natl park service dinosau national monument

Looks like wild ‘n crazy geology, eh?  Where’s Mr. Ranney when I need him?   Anyway, I’ll close with this one from the Harpers Corner Nature Trail (of none other than Whirlpool Canyon):

 WhirlpoolCanyon_1 from hapers corner national park service

 That’ll do it.





© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Gaston, Oregon

Posted by graywacke on July 7, 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 2032; A Landing A Day blog post number 450.

Dan –  Drifting away from150 with this OSer landing in . . .OR; 77/65; 4/10; 2; 151.2.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

Here’s my closer in landing map, showing that I landed about 8 miles from Gaston (and not far from Forest Grove & Cornelius, which are actually Portland suburbs):

landing 2

 Although Forest Grove & Cornelius are much bigger, I’m sticking with Gaston for the post.

 Speaking of Portland, here’s a broader landing map, where you can see Portland and my previous Gladstone landing (near Clackamas) – remember Scuba RX?:

 landing 4

For some reason, StreetAtlas has excellent stream coverage near my landing.  Check out this streams-only shot:

 landing 3

As you can see (sort of), I landed in the watershed of the Sain Creek (crazy name, eh?), on to Scoggins Creek; on to the Tualatin R (2nd hit). What you can’t see is that the Tualatin flows on to the Willamette R (11th hit) and on to the Columbia (143rd hit).  Imagine if I had landed right in the creek . . . that would be in Sain.

 Here’s an oblique GE shot, showing that I landed in hilly terrain, mixed agricultural and woodlands:

 ge 1

Backing way the heck out and looking north – here’s a broader view showing the greater Portland area and the Columbia with its majestic turn to the west on its way to the Pacific Ocean:

 ge 2

So, while perusing internet information about Gaston, I found that there are some wineries nearby.  I was having trouble finding my hook, so I figured that maybe it’s time for a wine post.  I couldn’t remember featuring wine before, and I know I haven’t landed in the Napa or Sonoma Valleys.  Perusing way back in ALAD archives, I found that my fifth post (landing number 1587, December 1, 2008) was near Elkton Oregon (about 160 miles south of this landing).  In that post I mentioned the River’s Edge Winery (in the Umpqua Valley wine region).  In fact, I posted a picture of a label of a 2002 Pinot Noir:

 Rivers Edge 2002 Pinot Noir

It turns out that Pinot Noir is the featured wine in the greater Gaston area.  The two closest vineyards to my landing are the Elk Cove Vineyard, and Patton Valley Vineyards.  Here’s a GE map:

 ge 3

 This, about Pinot Noir, from Wiki:

Pinot Noir is a black wine grape. The name is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black” alluding to the grape variety’s tightly clustered dark purple pine-cone shaped bunches of fruit.

Chehalem_pinot_noir_grape    wiki s

Pinot Noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France.  It is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, but is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine.

 I consulted with my friend Bob Prewitt who has taught wine appreciation courses and really knows the ins and outs of the wine industry (he used to work in Napa and currently provides marketing advice to the hospitality industry, including resorts, hotels and wineries).  I told Prewitt (he goes by “Prewitt” more than “Bob”) about my landing, mentioned the two nearby wineries, and he emailed back:  

The two wineries are highly regarded and make a variety of Pinot Noir that sell around $50+. Great appellation.  Elk Cove makes a reserve that sells out at $100.  I don’t know the back stories except that the vintners are highly regarded as true artisans making some of Oregon’s finest Pinot Noir which are regarded in a class almost at the premier Cru Burgundy level.  Hugh Johnson once said, “I’ll drink anything as long as it’s red and as long as it’s Burgundy . . .”

OK, OK.  Prewitt’s a good friend, but I can’t keep up with him on all things wine.  “Appellation?”  “Cru Burgundy?”  I don’t have a clue.  And who the heck is Hugh Johnson, and why is he talking about a Burgundy (which I remember back in my college days as a super cheap Gallo jug wine)?

 Well, the Burgundy question  isn’t hard.  I mean, just forget Burgundy jug wine.  That’s not even on the radar for the wine crowd.  Burgundy is a region in France, and pinot noir is a primary grape of the Burgundy region.  Therefore, a pinot noir is by definition, a burgundy.  Get it, Gregoire?   Oui.

 To confirm, here are some words fromWiki about Burgundy Wines:

The most famous wines produced here—those commonly referred to as “Burgundies”—are dry red wines made from Pinot noir grapes and white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. 

Whoa!  A Chardonnay is a “Burgundy???”   Live and learn.  So, what about Cru Burgundy?  Well, this about “Grand Cru”:

Burgundy has a higher number of appellations d’origine contrôlée (AOCs) than any other French region, and is often seen as the most terroir-conscious of the French wine regions. The various Burgundy AOCs are classified from carefully delineated Grand Cru vineyards down to more nonspecific regional appellations. The practice of delineating vineyards by their terroir in Burgundy goes back to medieval times, when various monasteries played a key role in developing the Burgundy wine industry.

 Oh man, this is getting deep.  But Wiki gave me a link to Grand Cru, which actually directed me to simply “Cru.”  Under Cru, I found “premier Cru Burgundy,” which is the term Prewitt used.  Here’s what Wiki has to say about it:

Premier cru is a French language wine term corresponding to “First Growth” [so “cru” = “growth”], and which can be used to refer to classified vineyardswineries and wines, with different meanings in different wine regions. For Burgundy wine, the term is applied to classified vineyards, with Premier cru being the second-highest classification level, below that of Grand cru

OK, but now I have to circle back to “terroir.”  As a geologist (and someone who knows just a little Francais), this word has some substance, some …  je ne sais quoi.

From Wiki:

Terroir (French pronunciation: ​[tɛʁwaʁ] from terre, “land”) is the set of special characteristics that the geographygeology and climate of a certain place, interacts with a grape vine’s genetics.

Wait a second!!  I’ve got to break in here.  Let me focus on how Wiki tells us to pronounce this word:  tɛʁwaʁ.   Are you kidding me?  One person in a thousand has a clue what that means!  Here’s my attempt:  tare – whah.  Make your mouth all Frenchy when you say “whah” – you know, a little throat, a little breathy, a little accent.  Anyway, back to Wiki:

 Terroir can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the wine.  Terroir is often italicized in English writing to show that it is a French loanword.

The concept of terroir is at the base of the French wine Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system that has been the model for appellation and wine laws across the globe. At its core is the assumption that the land from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that growing site. The amount of influence and the scope that falls under the description of terroir has been a controversial topic in the wine industry.

So, what about appellation (a term Prewitt also used)?  From Miriam-Webster:

A geographical name (as of a region, village, or vineyard) under which a winegrower is authorized to identify and market wine; also : the area designated by such a name.

OK, fair enough.  But how about  Appelation d’origine controlee (which came up twice)?   I can guess that this has to do with the authorization mentioned in the above definition.  Well, here’s what Wiki has to say:

The phrase translates as “controlled designation of origin” and is the French certification granted to French geographical names for wine.   These geographical names are under the auspices of the French government bureau Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité.

Those French take their wine seriously.  One more thing:  Prewitt quoted Hugh Johnson.  This, about Hugh from Wiki:

Hugh Johnson (born 1939) is a British author and expert on wine.  He is considered the world’s best-selling wine writer.  His vintage work – The Story of Wine – was a 13-part TV series for Channel 4 and Boston P.B.S., first airing in 1989. Since 1977 he has compiled his annual Pocket Wine Book, selling many million copies in up to 14 languages.  He was selected Decanter Man of the Year in 1995, was promoted Officer in the French Order Nationale du Mérite in 2004 and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2007 ‘for services to wine-making and horticulture’.

I suspect that old Hugh would be a fan of the top-shelf Pinot Noirs from Elk Cove & Patton Valley . . .

Well, enough about wine already!  Ca suffit!  

Here’s a closer-in GE view of the Elk Cove Vineyard (the more scenic of the two local vineyards):

ge 4 elk

Here’s  an even closer-in GE shot:

ge 5 elk

And, yet closer-in:

ge 6 elk

So, I just happened to be checking out the NBA finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs and I bumped into Oregon Pinot noir again!  Here are excerpts from an LA Times article by Ben Bolch (who thinks the Spurs will beat the Heat) and here’s why (pay particular attention to item #3):

[Side Note:  I wrote the draft of this post a while back, before the series concluded with the Heat winning in seven games.]

1. The Spurs are a more complete, cohesive and consistent team. They don’t sell as many jerseys  . . .but, the steadier team wins this race.

2. The Gregg Popovich factor.  Popovich could easily be the best coach in NBA  . . .

3. Duncan > Bosh. At 37, Duncan seems to be aging like one of the top-shelf Pinot Noirs from Popovich’s Oregon-based A to Z Wineworks. . .

4. The emergence of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. . . .

5. San Antonio’s improved defense. . . San Antonio figures out a way to minimize an opponent’s strength as well as anyone in the league. Yes, we’re talking about you, LeBron James.

OK.  Obviously, what caught my attention is the fact that the coach, Gregg Popovich is an owner at a vineyard in Oregon.  Hmmmm.   It turns out, it’s only 10 miles south of Gaston.  From the website of the A to Z Wineworks, this about Popovich:

While best known for coaching the San Antonio Spurs to four NBA titles, Greg Popovich enjoys a rich life away from basketball. Well-read, he was a professor at Pomona-Pitzer from 1979 to 1986, and is an authority on Soviet history.  He has applied his thirst for knowledge equally to wine as a collector for over thirty years.  Not only is Gregg an expert in the provenance of his collection but he also has a superb palate and is conversant with winemaking techniques.  His eclectic 3,000 bottle above-ground cellar sits apart from the house as a retreat where he can, as he puts it, “sip wine and work out x’s and o’s.”

 [Recently-added comment:  I wonder if Greg took some solace in wine after losing the NBA championship . . .]

I’ll close with some Panoramio shots of the Elk Cove Winery.  First this, by  KYoung55:


And then this, by Brent Muno:

Brent Muno

And this, by Gregg Child:

Gregg Child

I’ll close with this shot (looking west) also by Brent Muno:

 brent muno 2

That’ll do it.





© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Blanding, Utah

Posted by graywacke on July 2, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now moving towards  an every-other-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 2031; A Landing A Day blog post number 449.

NOTE!!!    This is the “Blanding Landing” special edition!

 Dan –  Yet again, my advance down to a Score of 150 has been thwarted by an OSer landing in . . . UT; 71/56; 4/10; 1; 150.6.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 blanding landing 1

And yes, my closer-in landing map shows that the closest town to my landing is Blanding!  I can’t tell you how excited I am, having a Blanding Landing!

 blanding landing 2

I landed in the watershed of Recapture Creek, which flows south to the San Juan R (18th hit); on to the Colorado (161st hit).

 Not only is this my first rhyming landing spot, but it’s also my first landing spot to be obscured by clouds on Google Earth (GE).  Check this out:

 blanding ge 1

Zooming back a little, you can see that this isn’t a small cloud:

 blanding ge 2

And give me a break!  This isn’t some rainy location (like Seattle or New Jersey), but the semi-arid Four Corners region.  So, here’s another first.  GE, you are forsaken!  Bring on Bing Maps (the “1” marks my landing, of course):

 blanding bing 1

And zooming out a little more, here’s another Bing Map:

 blanding bing 2

I landed in a valley, which heads south (part of the Recapture Creek watershed).

Here’s a little background on Blanding, from Wiki:

Blanding (pop 3,200) was settled in the late 19th century by Mormon settlers, predominantly from the famed Hole-In-The-Rock expedition.

More about Hole-in-the-Rock Mormon expedition in a minute, but first this from Wiki about how the town’s name came to be:

 First known as Grayson (after Nellie Grayson Lyman, wife of settler Joseph Lyman), the town changed its name in 1914 when a wealthy easterner, Thomas W. Bicknell, offered a thousand-volume library to any town that would adopt his name.  Grayson competed with Thurber, Utah for the prize.  Thurber got the name Bicknell (along with 500 books) and Grayson was renamed Blanding after the maiden name of Bicknell’s wife (and also received 500 books).

Back to the Hole-in-the-Rock expedition, from Wiki:

Hole in the Rock is a narrow and steep crevice in the western rim of Glen Canyon, in southern Utah.  The hole provided a route to the Colorado River valley, through what would otherwise be a large area of impassible terrain.

In the fall of 1879, the Mormon San Juan Expedition was seeking a route from south-central Utah to their proposed colony in the far southeastern corner of the state [the general vicinity of my landing].  Rejecting two longer routes, they chose a more direct path that initially took them through relatively benign terrain in Glen Canyon.  However, when they were confronted by the 1200-foot sandstone cliffs that surround Glen Canyon, they needed a way to cross to the eastern rim.

They found (and named) Hole in the Rock, a narrow, steep, and rocky crevice and sandy slope that led down to the Colorado River.  Directly across the river was Cottonwood Canyon, a tempting route up to Wilson Mesa on the other side.

They worked for months to prepare the road, using blasting powder to widen the upper section and hand chisels to carve anchor points directly into the sandstone. On January 26, 1880 the expedition (250 people, 83 full-sized wagons, and over 1000 head of livestock) began their descent to the river. Wagons were heavily roped, and teams of men and oxen used to lower them down  slopes approaching 45°.  Posts in drilled holes supported horizontal beams to allow passage of the wagons.

 Here’s a GE shot showing the location of the Hole relative to my landing:

 blanding hole in the rock ge 3

Here’s a low-altitude oblique GE shot looking east toward the Hole, with the Colorado (actually Lake Powell) beyond:

blanding hole in the rock ge

 Here’s a GE shot looking the other way.

 blanding hole in the rock ge 2

From Wiki, here’s a shot of the narrowest part of the Hole:

 blanding wiki HoleInTheRock

 Phew.  Yet another Mormon story in ALAD.  So anyway, the Mormons founded Bluff (south of my landing) as well as Grayson (Blanding) to the north of my landing.

 Being in the Canyonland region of SE Utah, the entire landscape is eye candy.  I began perusing GE Panoramio shots, of which there are plenty.  I decided not to stray more than about 15 miles from my landing (so no shots of Monument Valley).  Here comes a series of GE Panoramio shots . . .

 I’ll start with this shot (about 15 mi S of my landing by Kirill Krylov), of the Valley of the Gods:

 blanding pano   10 mi s kirill krylov  valley of the gods

Henry Scoggin took this one, about 10 mi S of my landing:

 blanding pano henry scoggin 10 mi s

Here’s one by Dondry of the Abajo Mountains, taken about 5 mi SE of my landing:

blanding pano dondry abajo mtns

Here’s one of Comb Ridge by LSessions, about 15 mi West:

blanding pano 15 mi w  lsessions comb ridge

I’ll close with this one by adoverboy2, of Sleeping Ute Mountain, taken about 5 mi SW:

blanding pano adoverboy2 sleeping ute mtn  5 mi s

 That’ll do it.



© 2013 A Landing A Day

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