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Archive for May, 2014

Royalton and Little Falls, Minnesota

Posted by graywacke on May 28, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less 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 2100; A Landing A Day blog post number 528.

 Dan –  Here we go, with four OSers in a row, the latest being . . . MN; 74/58; 4/10; 149.2.  Here’s my regional landing map (one of those smack-dab-in-the-middle type of landings):

landing 1

My more local landing map shows my titular towns (connected by the Mississippi River, locally dammed up and termed the Zebulon Pike Lake):

landing 2

Drainage is pretty simple; the Little Rock Creek flows right to the Mississippi (826th hit):

 landing 3

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows a pleasant-looking farmscape:


Backing out a little, you can see the generally-rural nature of the vicinity.


The north-south swath of trees west of my landing is the Little Rock Creek valley.

Of course, I first checked out Royalton, it being so close and all.  I couldn’t find out anything of particular interest about the town, but noted that it was named after Royalton, Vermont.  OK, OK, so I looked at Royalton VT and found out that it was the birthplace of one Joseph Smith. 

Oh no!  No offense to the Mormons, but I’m going to pass on Joe this post, considering how many past posts I’ve featured Mormons!

Royalton has a nice water tower (Panoramio photo by kefartist):

 royalton water tank pano kefartist

(I assume the photographer is KEF Artist, not KE Fartist).

Little Falls (a much more substantial town than Royalton; pop 8,300 vs. 1,250) also has a nice water tower (kefartist strikes again):

little falls water tank pano kefartist

Wiki let me know that Little Falls is the hometown of one Charles A. Lindbergh.  How about that.  Just for the record, the “A” stands for Augustus.  Chuck’s father (also Charles A. Lindbergh) was a local big shot, a U.S. Congressman from MN (1907 – 1917).  Interestingly, the elder Chuck was one of only fifty congressmen to vote against the US entry into WW I.

Another interesting fact about Dad –  you’ll note that the famous Charles A. Lindbergh is not a “Junior.”  That’s because Dad’s middle name was August, not Augustus. 

Just across from the Lindbergh home in Little Falls is the Charles A. Lindbergh State Park.  That’s the Charles August Lindbergh State Park.  (Paying attention?)

Here’s a Pano shot of the Lindbergh house in Little Falls (courtesy McGheiver):

mn lindbergh house

And the entrance to the park (Pano by Bob19):

park entrance bob 19

And this, by McGheiver of some cool old WPA buildings in the park:

wpa buildings

Moving right along to Charles the aviator.  I have a mild interest in the man (beyond common knowledge) because I live very close to the Lindbergh house in NJ where tragically, Lindbergh’s infant son was kidnapped (and then murdered).  I’ll start with this iconic Lindbergh photo:


I live in Hopewell Township, which surrounds the quaint boroughs of Pennington and Hopewell.  My father was raised just outside of Hopewell Borough, on his grandparent’s farm.  Here’s a GE shot showing the set-up:

 GE hopewell lindbergh


The kidnapping happened in 1932, when my Dad was 12.  I can only imagine the hype.  My Dad died way back in 1967 – I was a stupid 17-year old kid.  I never had the chance (bothered?) to ask him about his recollections of the kidnapping.

This GE shot shows that the Lindbergh house is, to this day, truly in the middle of the woods.

 GE lindbergh a little further back

Doesn’t fit the classic image of New Jersey, eh?  Here’s a GE close-up of the house today:

 GE lindbergh closeup

Here’s what the Wiki article on Lindbergh has to say about the kidnapping:

In what came to be referred to sensationally by the press of the time as “The Crime of the Century”, on the evening of March 1, 1932, 20-month-old Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was abducted from his crib by an intruder.  The kidnapping took place in the second-story nursery of his family’s rural home near the town of Hopewell.  While a 10-week nationwide search for the child was being undertaken, ransom negotiations were also conducted simultaneously with a self-identified kidnapper.

These resulted in the payment on April 2 of $50,000 in traceable cash. The child’s remains were found by chance by a passing truck driver six weeks later on May 12 in roadside woodlands near Mount Rose, New Jersey.

The assiduous tracing of the serial numbers of $10 and $20 Gold certificates found in the New York City area over the next year and a half eventually led police to Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a 34-year-old German immigrant carpenter, who was arrested near his home in The Bronx.

A stash containing $13,760 of the ransom money was subsequently found hidden in his garage. Charged with kidnapping, extortion, and first-degree murder, Hauptmann went on trial in a circus-like atmosphere in Flemington, New Jersey, in January 1935. Six weeks later he was convicted on all counts.  The trial judge (Thomas Trenchard) immediately sentenced Hauptmann to death.

Although he continued to adamantly maintain his innocence, all of Hauptmann’s appeals and petitions for clemency were rejected.   Despite a last-minute attempt by New Jersey Governor Harold G. Hoffman (who believed Hauptmann was guilty but had always expressed doubts that he could have acted alone) to convince him to confess to the crimes in exchange for getting his sentence commuted to life imprisonment, Hauptmann refused and was electrocuted at Trenton State Prison on April 3, 1936.

 Here’s the wanted poster (from Wiki):


FYI, I’ve never driven by Lindbergh’s house.  (As is obvious from the GE shot, it’s way out in the boonies, up in the Sourland Mountains).  However, I’ve driven through Mt. Rose (where the body was found), dozens if not hundreds of times.

The kidnapping story is not a simple one.  Wiki has a lengthy article on the kidnapping (as opposed to the relatively short piece about the kidnapping that I quoted, found in the general Charles LIndbergh write-up).  Many books have been written, and numerous conspiracy theories abound. 

By the way – I mentioned this post to a friend of mine, Bob (he’s a local real estate attorney).  I asked him if he had heard any local color about the kidnapping.  He told me that a number of years ago, he was handling a property sale for an elderly gentleman who lived up on Sourland Mountain near the Lindbergh place.  The gentleman recalled that on the night of the kidnapping, he saw headlights on the road headed for the LIndbergh’s.  He thought “That’s strange; I never see any traffic up here this late at night.”

I stumbled on a blog post (“House Crazy”) that has a nice write-up (with lots of pictures) about the kidnapping.  I recommend a perusal; it also contains clickable sources to get additional info.  Click HERE for the blog.

As usual, I’ll close with some Pano shots.  First this, of a bridge over the Mississippi, by Maria Bo:

bridge over the MM Maria Bo pano

Way up here in central MN, it’s not quite the Mighty Mississippi . . . 

Here’s a sunrise shot over a lake taken just south of my landing, by Jair65:

 sunrise S of landing Jair65 pano

And, finally, a sunset over Royalton, also by Maria Bo:

 sunset over royalton Maria Bo pano

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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Hackberry, Cameron and Holly Beach, Louisiana

Posted by graywacke on May 12, 2014

First timer? In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less 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 2099; A Landing A Day blog post number 527.

Dan – Oh oh. My third OSer in a row, thanks to this landing in . . . LA; 37/36; 5/10; 148.8. Note that LA has been a long time USer that recently slipped to a PSer and is now an OSer. Nothing like five landings in LA since landing 2065  (i.e., 5 out of the last 34 landings) . . .

Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows my proximity to the titular towns, Calcasieu Lake, and the Gulf of Mexico:

My watershed analysis is straightforward:  obviously, a drop of water at my landing ends up in the Lake. The Calcasieu River (3rd hit) flows into and out of the Lake.

Backing out some, here’s a landing map that shows my proximity to I-10, Beaumont TX, Port Arthur TX and Lake Charles LA:


By the way, I’ve been to all three cities: Beaumont many times thanks to my work at Mobil and the fact that there’s a Mobil refinery (uh, I mean ExxonMobil refinery)  in Beaumont; Lake Charles thanks to a friend (Sean Ardoin, a top-flight Zydeco musician who lives there) and Port Arthur, also thanks to Sean when we accompanied him there for a Mardi Gras gig (more about Sean later).

My Google Earth shot shows a watery, uninhabited piece of presumably-soggy landscape:

Backing out a little, you can see the lake and the Gulf:

Of course, I went to Wiki to check out each of the towns. There was a chilling common theme. I’ll start with Cameron:

In 1957, Cameron was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Audrey.  A storm surge of 12 feet (3.6 m) and 150 mile per hour winds caused the death of more than 300 residents of the town.

Nearly fifty years later, in late September 2005, Hurricane Rita hit the town. This time, however, virtually everyone evacuated, and only one man was reported killed in the town. He is said to have been sick and decided to stay in town for the storm. His body was found in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

On September 14, 2008, Hurricane Ike leveled Cameron with a 22-foot storm surge just as it was recovering from Rita. Ike destroyed over 90 percent of the homes in the parish seat and caused catastrophic flooding in every part of the parish. Damage due to storm surge and winds was far worse than what was seen with Hurricane Rita.  A 2010 report on the damage sustained from the effects of Rita and Ike states that few people returned to the town after the hurricanes, due to stricter building codes and high insurance costs that increased the cost of living dramatically. None of the stores have been rebuilt – only a gas station, bank, post office, and a restaurant remain (the latter two of which are still housed in trailers); most of the residents still live in mobile homes.

Here’s a Wiki shot of some of the Rita damage in Cameron:

800px-FEMA_-_39194_-_Aerial_of_storm_damange_Ike Cameron Wiki
Next, Holly Beach (where I’ll skip Wiki and go right to TheCajunRiviera.com, a property rental website):

The Perfect Cajun Getaway

Welcome to “The Cajun Riviera” a nickname given to Holly Beach, Louisiana by locals and visitors alike. Located along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico in Southwest Louisiana, the beach-front community as undergone a new birth. A natural disaster on September 24, 2005 changed the quality of life as we knew it. Hurricane Rita totally destroyed all of what was a great vacation get-a-way for people from all parts of the country.

Then just as Holly Beach was trying to rebuild, Hurricane Ike came ashore on September 13, 2008 re-destroyed all the hard work done after Hurricane Rita.

[I skipped some of the write-up, but much rebuilding has been done and RV rentals are also available].

So, once again, you can experience the roar of the crashing of the Gulf of Mexico waves and the pleasures of shell collecting, fishing, crabbing, swimming, people watching, and most of all just relaxing with a cold beverage. Whether you are seeking a peaceful retreat, a romantic getaway, or simply want to experience a natural wonder, you will find what you are looking for at The Cajun Riviera rentals.

Come stay with us and you will understand why Holly Beach should to be rebuilt to help preserve our Real Cajun Heritage. Check out Google Maps Street view for a real look at Holly Beach.

Of course, I went to GE and checked out StreetView.  Here’s a shot showing some of the rebuilding discussed above:

GE Holly Beach SV
Moving right along to Hackbeerry, here’s some of the Wiki piece:

The community of Hackberry was essentially destroyed by Hurricane Ike in September 2008.  Hurricane Ike’s 22-foot storm surge crawled 60 miles inland and devastated Hackberry. The small community was heavily flooded and all structures (houses, churches, buildings, etc.) were totally gutted. Flooding caused by the hurricane killed many cattle and other farm animals.

Just FTHOI (for the heck of it), here are the storm tracks of Katrina and Rita:

clean energy dot org katrina & rita

Ike’s track was a little further west than Rita’s, but Ike was a larger, more powerful storm that built up a huge storm surge to the east of landfall (obviously including SW LA):

Moving right along (from weather to music), it turns out that one of the long-time classic Cajun music groups is from Hackberry, and, appropriately-enough, is known as the Hackberry Ramblers. They were formed in 1933, and (with several personnel changes) are still around today.

Here’s a back-in-the-day video of the group singing “Grand Texas.” The song’s in French, and it’ll give you a feel for old-time Cajun music:

Keeping with the music theme, but moving much closer to my musical tastes (and my personal experiences), I’m going to head on over to Zydeco, a musical genre also centered in SW LA. Here’s just a little about Zydeco from Wiki:

Zydeco is a musical genre evolved in southwest Louisiana by French Creole speakers which blends Cajun music, blues and rhythm and blues.

Interestingly, Wiki doesn’t mention that the music is part of the African-American Creole culture. While there are certainly white musicians who play Zydeco (I have known several), it’s basically a black musical genre (as opposed to Cajun music, which is generally white).

OK, OK. I have a bit of a story to tell. It all begins in 2002. My wife Jody, my youngest son Jordan and I went to New Orleans to visit our friend Susan and also to attend Jazz Fest, New Orlean’s annual premier music event.

So, I was hanging out with Jordan, wandering around from stage to stage trying to figure out what music we wanted to listen to. We were passing by the Fais Do Do stage (the venue that features Cajun & Zydeco music), and we could hear an awesome bass player warming up. I told Jordan that we’re hanging out here, ‘cause this bass player was going to be worth our time.

The bass player (one of the white Zydeco musicians I mentioned) was Trip Walmsley. The front man of the band was Sean Ardoin. The name of the band was Zydekool.

Sean’s set at the Fais Do Do stage was just great (Sean is the lead singer and accordion player), and the bass player ripped. I had a smile on my face the entire set, and declared that far and away, this was my favorite Jazz Fest musical act.

A year goes by . . .

Jazz Fest is played over consecutive weekends, and we were headed back to New Orleans to see Susan again and to see Jazz Fest again. Susan let us know which weekend as best for her. Anxiously, I looked at the schedule for that weekend to see if we’d be lucky enough to see Sean again. Bingo!

He was playing at the same time Bonnie Raitt was playing. Ouch. Jody & I would have loved to see Bonnie Raitt, but it was no contest (plus, there weren’t the huge crowds at the Fais Do Do stage). Once again, Sean put on a memorable performance. This time, Jody was part of it, and after the performance, she declared that we’d have to hang out and talk to Sean. So we did.

Keeping this as short as possible, we saw Sean again in 2003:

  • In New Orleans a month later when he played at Tipitina’s (a famous New Orleans music venue);
  • In Rhode Island later that summer when he played at a music festival
  • In New Jersey at our company’s 10th-anniversary party (he was in the northeast doing several gigs).
  • In Rio De Janeiro at a musical festival (Sean invited us, and we figured what-the-heck).

In the four or five years after that, we saw Sean many times (when he toured the Northeast, he’d stay at our house); and as previously-mentioned, we traveled to Lake Charles to see Sean during Mardi Gras.  We stay in touch; Sean & his wife Vanessa came up to visit us in Jersey just last year . . .

Just so you can see who I’m talking about, here’s one of Sean’s album covers:


I could go on and on with some more stories, but I won’t . . .

Here’s a video of Sean playing one of his early favorites, “Two Fingers in the Air.”

Here’s a great video of some two-step dancers dancing to one of Sean’s songs.  Of course, Sean & Vanessa are excellent two-steppers.  Of course, they tried to teach Jody & me how to two step.  Let me tell you, even the simplest of two step steps turned out to be beyond our capabilities. . . 

Moving right along . . . just south of my landing spot is the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge Area.  Here’s a GE Panoramio shot of a gator by Tom Dudones:

tom dudones pano gator

Also in the wildlife area, here’s a Pano shot by “On^ste82”:

pano On^ste82

I’ll close with yet another Pano shot, this of Cameron Bayou by Durian Mac:

pano DurianMac sunset over Cameron Bayou



That’ll do it.



© 2014 A Landing A Day



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Marshall, North Dakota

Posted by graywacke on May 5, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less 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 2098; A Landing A Day blog post number 526.

Dan –  After setting a record low Score (of 147.7) a couple of landings ago, I’ve rebounded thanks to two OSers in a row, the latest being . . . ND; 61/48; 6/10; 148.5.

Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows I landed about 3 miles from the town of Marshall:


My Google Earth (GE) shot shows an interesting, but puzzling pattern:


It looks like cultivated land is nearby, but for some reason, the patch I landed on is not. Using the GE elevation tool, I see that the land gently slopes from upper right to the lower left.  Without talking to the landowner, I’ll never know.

Zooming back, you can see that I landed not far from some sort of presumably agricultural operation:


Zooming in, this doesn’t look like a traditional farm.  I’m not sure what I’m looking at:


OK, zooming in even further, and I’m still baffled:


I can only assume that all of this is part of some agricultural operation . . .

Moving right along . . . I idly searched my landing spreadsheet to see if I had landed near Marshall before, and I found that indeed I had.  Landing 1264 (Oct 16, 2007) was just a few miles southwest of Marshall, just like today’s landing.  Strangely, I then noted that just three landings later, landing 1267 (Oct 19th), was just east of Marshall.  Here’s a landing map showing these old landings:

landing with old landings nearby

Note that landing 1267 was three days after landing 1264.  How about that!  See – there was a time when “A Landing a Day” was literally true . . .

And here’s how close my two landings are.  The lat/long of today’s landing:

47.1209 N; 102.3940 W

And here’s the lat/long of landing 1264:

47.1064 N; 102.3650 W

On my local landing map (a ways up), you can see that I landed near the Knife River.  This was my 5th landing in the Knife R watershed, making the Knife the 154th river on my list of rivers with 5 or more landings).  The Knife flows on to the Missouri (382nd hit); on to the MM (825th hit).

I could find essentially nothing about Marshall ND.  But looking around GE, I saw a Panaramio shot about 3 miles ENE of my landing, just north of Marshall.  Of course, I clicked on it.  Here’s what I saw (posted by “Center for Heritage”):

pano center for heritage

The photo was entitled “Gjermundson Profile.”  I assumed that Gjermundson was the artist.  Wrong.  It turns out that Gjermundson is the guy on the horse!  More about that in a minute, but first, this StreetView shot on Route 8 headed north out of Marshall:

ge streetview n on rt 8 gjermundson

Is that cool or what?  Almost worth a trip . . .

So, here’s a quick word on Mr. Gjermundson and why he is worthy of a cool silhouette sculpture (excerpts from a Bismark Tribune article from January 2012 entitled “A Champion Looks Back,” by Brian Gehring):

MARSHALL – If you met Brad Gjermundson on the street or in a cafe and didn’t know better, you probably wouldn’t guess he’s a world champion.

The 52-year-old is that kind of man – soft-spoken, a tad bit on the shy side and humble.

The fact is Gjermundson is a four-time professional world champion saddle bronc rider who won his first professional championship at age 22.

Gjermundson arguably is the most famous cowboy from North Dakota. He even had a day named for him back in the ’80s, although he said he doesn’t exactly remember when.

“I should keep better track of things like that,” he said over a cup of coffee in his kitchen recently.

His home, fittingly [in Marshall], is at the end of a stretch of gravel road in Dunn County – Rodeo Road West, to be precise.

The road was named when his mother, Sharon, was postmistress at Marshall.

Gjermundson’s road to the top of the ranks of professional rodeo is about as North Dakota as it gets.

Growing up on the family ranch near Halliday, Gjermundson did what other kids in western North Dakota took part in; show-dee-os, saddle club and later competed in local rodeos in Killdeer, Dodge, Richardton and the surrounding area.

He turned that experience (and a lot of practice) into a pair of North Dakota High School Rodeo Association saddle bronc titles in 1976 and 1977 and the all-around championship in 1977.

He earned the rookie of the year honor in the North Dakota Rodeo Association during his freshman year in college and turned pro in 1980.

In 1981, the same year he won the college championship, Gjermundson won his first world title in his rookie year. Gjermundson led the saddle bronc from start to finish in 1981, riding in 130 rodeos.

“I won Houston, that was $8,000 … back in 1981, that was a year’s wages,” he said.

In 1982, Gjermundson competed in 155 events and came in second in what may have been his best year, at least money-wise, he said, earning about $95,000.

Gjermundson won his last three titles in consecutive years, 1983-85, and said maybe the most rewarding win came in 1984.

“I won it by $500 and it came to the last horse and the last ride at the finals,” he said.

That season, Gjermundson said, he finished strong, winning 15 rodeos in a row down the stretch.

Baird [from the ND Cowboy Hall of fame] said technically, Gjermundson maybe had the soundest fundamentals of anyone he has seen before, or since.

“He had the fastest feet in the business,” Baird said. He said Gjermundson also had some of the best reaction and instinct skills of anyone.

“Everyone said you have to watch this kid,” Baird said.

In 1984, he married Jackie Brown, a school teacher, and lived on her family’s ranch near Keene. In 1987, he bought his ranch near Marshall.

He was inducted into the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame in 1995, the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1995 and the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1990 in the modern-era rodeo category.

Baird said young cowboys learn a lot from the likes of Gjermundson not only in the saddle, but out of it as well.

“He put North Dakota on the map and cleared a path. Future champions can look to him, he’s set the mold,” Baird said.

“You have to be yourself. There are good days and bad days … once you think you have things figured out, things change,” Gjermundson said.

“When you’re successful, it’s easy to keep doing what you’re doing … I was lucky enough to make a living at what I loved doing.”

Here’s a picture of Brad the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame:


By the way, I tried to find out who produced the silhouette, but strangely, I couldn’t. . .  

As my regular readers could likely guess, I’m not a westerner and have no particular connection to the sport of rodeo.  But reading about Brad makes me realize that rodeo is like any sport:  incredible hours of practice plus special physical capabilities plus the right mental make-up . . .  equals success.

I’ll close with a couple of shots taken from the location of the Brad Silhouette, both from the ND State University Center for Heritage Renewal:  First, this view looking down on Marshall (and the bridge over the Knife River):

ndsu center for heritage renewal

Here’s another, looking a little more towards the west, showing the Knife cutting like a, uh, knife, through a hillside:

ndsu center for heritage renewal (2)

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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