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Archive for August, 2014

Seeley Lake, Montana

Posted by graywacke on August 29, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or 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 2117; A Landing A Day blog post number 545.

 Dan –  Here we go.  I had three USer landings in a row for a new record low Score.  But then what?  Three OSers in a row, thanks to this landing in the granddaddy of all OSers . . . MT; 120/102; 3/10; 148.5.

As I’m sure you recall, my last two landings were both in Michigan.  Not surprisingly, the lat/longs were pretty close:

Landing 2115:  W83.4952;  N45.9880
Landing 2116:  W85.1582;  N45.1925

Here’s my first attempt at Landing 2117:

Landing 2117:  W86.3826;  N47.0072

Look how close!  I was excited, thinking that perhaps this would be my first-ever three-in-a-row triple landing.  But ‘twas not to be.  Here’s what I saw:

 landing 0

My next landing attempt took me quite a ways west.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My local landing map shows my proximity to my titular town (plus a couple of other towns mentioned in good time):

 landing 2

What the heck – I’ll jump right to my Google Earth (GE) trip from my last landing (Charlevoix Lake):


Here’s a static GE shot looking north past my landing:

 GE 1

Note that I add the landing number to the push pin label.  I mean, really, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time, and don’t know why it took me so long to do it!

Looks like I landed right on a ridge, making my watershed analysis a little tricky.  Here’s a closer-in GE shot looking south from my landing:

 GE 2 ground view looking south

The GE elevation tool allowed me to chart the path of a drop of water leaving my landing (it went to the left on the above shot).  Here’s a map showing the drainage:

 GE 3 drainage

You can see I landed in the Danaher Creek Watershed.  More watershed info is shown on this map:

 landing 3

Danaher Creek discharges to the South Fork of the Flathead River (new watershed for me!); on to the Flathead (11th hit); on to the Clark Fork (19th hit).  Although not on the map, trust me when I tell you that the Clark Fork discharges to the Pend Oreille (21st hit) and then on to the Columbia (150th hit).

I landed in an incredibly beautiful area, so I’m looking forward to the Panoramio show coming up soon.  But first, I had to check out Seeley Lake.  Wiki?  Nothing.  Chamber of Commerce, not much, but this:

The vibrant and charming small towns of Seeley Lake and Condon lie between the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Mission Mountain Wilderness, while the historic ranching community of Ovando is on the Lewis and Clark Trail.

The communities of Seeley Lake, Condon and Ovando serve as gateways to these natural wonders.

You will find more spectacular unspoiled nature here, than anywhere else in the lower 48 states providing breath taking experiences by day and relaxing hospitality by night. The Big Blackfoot River, location of Norman McLean’s A River Runs Through It, is a world class fishery [emphasis added by me].

The waterways, to the prairies, to the peaked vistas . . .  offer all of the scenery, wildlife and recreation that anyone can imagine.

OK, OK, so I never saw the movie A River Runs Through It.  But thanks to A Landing A Day, I’ve now seen the trailer:


OK, OK, so I never read the book.  But thanks to A Landing A Day, I’ve now read some of the best quotes from the book by Normal Maclean:


“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”

Here’s another:

“Ahead and to the west was our ranger station – and the mountains of Idaho, poems of geology stretching beyond any boundaries and seemingly even beyond the world.”

And another:

“As a Scot and a Presbyterian, my father believed that man by nature was a mess and had fallen from an original state of grace. Somehow, I early developed the notion that he had done this by falling from a tree. As for my father, I never knew whether he believed God was a mathematician but he certainly believed God could count and that only by picking up God’s rhythms were we able to regain power and beauty. Unlike many Presbyterians, he often used the word “beautiful.”

The closing:

“Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters.”

Quite the poet, eh?  I guess so, but I’m a left-brained literalist, so I have a problem with language like that in the above two paragraphs (starting with “Eventually”).  But what the heck, I’ll give a shot at my interpretation (which will be lame for two reasons:  one, I’m so left-brained, and two, I didn’t read the book).  But this is my blog and if I want to (at least attempt to) suddenly veer to the right (brainwise, not politically), then I can.  Here goes:

OK, so all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.  I’m going to leave that alone, having not read the book.  But basically, I have no problem with it.  Then,  the river “runs over rocks from the basement of time.”  I’m a geologist.  I get that.  “On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops.”  I’m sort of with him; after all, I’m tracing the paths of timeless raindrops on every one of my landing posts.

“Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.”   I’ve got to veer right here.  But remember, my geologic specialty is groundwater, so I’ve been tracking (and thinking about) groundwater throughout my professional career.

Breaking it down a little, “Under the rocks are the words.” Thinking of the raindrops on top of the rocks, I think of groundwater under the rocks. The raindrops might be letters that come together under the rocks to become words (representing the wisdom of the natural world) and “some of the words are theirs,” so the words of the raindrops join the infinity of words (timeless, infinite wisdom) represented by the interconnected subsurface waters.

Oh man.  I’ll say this is outside my comfort zone.

“I am haunted by waters.”  While I probably wouldn’t use the word “haunted,” I get it in the sense that waters represent something much larger, much grander, much more timeless, than me.

I found a chat-room type of website discussing the above quote –  “The Floating Library.”  Someone put out the quote (beginning with “Eventually . . .” and ending with “I am haunted by waters.”)  Several people waxed somewhat vaguely (in my opinion) about why they were so moved by the quote.  And then, Dianne (bless her heart), had the following to say in response to a comment by Jerry:

hello jerry,

it seems from your comment that you really enjoyed this book, however after reading it, I am still somewhat confused as to what the whole meaning/main point of this novel was.

I know it’s supposed to be an amazing book, however it’s hard for me to enjoy it when i can’t seem to make sense of any of it….especially how the last line pertains to the whole book.

would love if you could clarify it.



Dianne and I are soul-mates!  There’s no way I’m going to read the book!

And, I really doubt Diane was totally satisfied with Jerry’s heartfelt response:


My take on the book is one of a painfully open admission by Norman Maclean of his perceived weaknesses and failures during his life. The loss of his brother, the emotional distancing from his father, the physical distancing from Montana for much of his life, all weigh on his spirit, but despite that there’s a quiet nobility in his acceptance of it, all done with the Big Blackfoot as the backdrop.

I live on the Blackfoot, not too far upriver from where his brother Paul in real life hooked that last monster trout. Norman was friends with the man who owned my property at the time, and they would often sit on the porch sipping whisky and generally being curmudgeonly.

While I felt the draw to this story long before I moved here, what I’ve since learned from the older locals about Norman’s personality help to fill out my mental canvas of his persona.

Do you see how I dissected the paragraph sentence by sentence?  That’s a left-brained approach that probably Diane would better relate to.  Notice that Jerry didn’t really explain the quote.  He gave a typically-lame (in my opinion) right-brained  response to Dianne.  Are there any surprises that I got bachelors degrees in both Civil Engineering and Geology, and a Masters degree in Geology (and not in English Lit)?  

Time to move on to Panoramio!  I’m going to stay as close as possible to my landing:

Here’s the shot closest to my landing, by BCHiker, about 10 miles NW of my landing.  It’s a shot of my river – the South Fork of the Flathead:

 pano bchiker s fk flathead

And this, by Tharwell (about 15 mi W of my landing):

 pano tharwell

And this, by mttrainwreck (also about 15 mi W of my landing):

 pano mttrainwreck

I’ll close with this by PhotoCop, about 15 mi NW of my landing:

 pano photocop

This is an exquisitely beautiful part of the world (and my left brain tells me that loud and clear . . . )

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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Charlevoix, Michigan

Posted by graywacke on August 24, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or 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 2116; A Landing A Day blog post number 544.

Dan –  Not just two OSers in a row, but the same state twice in a row, thanks to this return landing to . . . MI; 50/40; 3/10; 148.1.

Because I keep track of all things landing, I want you to know that this was my 52nd “double” landing (Michigan twice in a row), and the second double for Michigan.  My last double was CA, about a year ago, with my Mount Shasta and Clear Lake landings.  My only other Michigan double was in September 2008, before I began my blog.

Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My more local map shows that I actually landing in Lake Charlevoix!

 landing 2

Here’s my streams-only map:

 landing 3

I included the Jordan River and the Boyne River just for the heck of it, since they’re not part of “my” watershed.  A drop of water that falls on my landing is obviously in Lake Charlevoix, then on to Pine River (first hit!); to Lake Michigan (33rd hit); to the St. Lawrence River (95th hit).

Wow – look how short the Pine River is!  I couldn’t help myself, so I Googled “shortest river in Michigan.”  I found a blog “Twelve Mile Circle” that actually addresses the issue.  Here’s an excerpt:

I’ve seen some short rivers during my journeys. I once traveled down the entire length of the Pine River in Charlevoix, Michigan:

The Pine River connects Lake Charlevoix to Lake Michigan. If one considers Round Lake to be a separate body of water from the Pine River (which appears to be the case according to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names) then this “river” stretches no more than about 1,500 feet (457 metres). I sailed along this diminutive river while taking the ferry to Beaver Island.

The post goes on to discuss other contenders to the title of “World’s Shortest River.”  It’s a fascinating read (really!), and I highly recommend it.  Click HERE.

By the way, here’s the description of the blog, which hits a sweet spot for me:

This site is dedicated to the many unusual places that can be found on maps that just don’t seem to make sense.  State highpoints, non-contiguous boundaries, latitude/longitude confluences, and other trivial geographic facts are all fair game here. [Although I must admit I’m puzzled about “latitude/longitude confluences”. . . ]

By the way, “Twelve Mile Circle” refers to the arcuate border between Delaware and Pennsylvania which is a segment of a circle with a 12-mile radius centered on the spire of the New Castle, Delaware courthouse.  And, (by the way)2, I have never landed in Delaware!  After 2116 landings, one might think I would have landed in Delaware at least once.  I mean, really, I’ve landed in Rhode Island twice!

Moving right along . . . it’s time for the relatively short Google Earth (GE) trip from Drummond Island (my last landing) down to Lake Charlevoix:

I couldn’t find a good Street View shot of my landing; the clearest shot was from about a mile south, looking north up the lake towards my landing:

 GE SV 1.3 miles away

Of course, I checked out East Jordan (as the closest town) as well as Boyne City.  But I’ll tell you, I couldn’t really find a hook for either town.  The town of Charlevoix appealed to me more, just based on its wonderful location, perched between Lake Charlevoix and Lake Michigan, and bisected by the Pine River.  Right out of the gate, we all must make sure that we pronounce it correctly.  According to “Emma Saying”:

Anyway, here’s a GE shot of Charlevoix:

 GE Charlevoix

See the bridge over the Pine River?  It sure doesn’t look like a bridge high enough to allow anything but little boats under it, so a drawbridge it must be.  After a quick check, its status was confirmed.  Here’s a short You Tube video of a sail boat going under the drawbridge (heading in towards Round Lake):

Quite the busy little channel!

Checking out the history of Charlevoix onWiki, a short paragraph caught my attention:

Soon after its formation in the 1850s, Charlevoix entered into a short lived conflict with James Strang, leader and namesake of the Strangite Mormons, and then king of Beaver Island.

Say what!?!  This sounds interesting!  Real quick, here’s a GE shot of Beaver Island:

GE Beaver island - charlevoix

Continuing on Wiki:

Relations between Charlevoix residents and the Strangites were often tense. In 1853, a gunfight broke out between the two groups as the townspeople refused to hand over a man who was called for jury duty on the island, an event known locally as The Battle of Pine River.

When Strang was assassinated on June 20, 1856, many believed residents from Charlevoix to be responsible.

As regular ALAD readers know, I have stumbled on (and featured) the Mormons on numerous posts.  Phew!  I just checked, and I’ve used the word “Mormon” at least once in 29 posts (13 of which were in Utah)!

But this doesn’t look like the typical Mormon story!  Here we go . . .

From BeaverIsland.net (and please take a deep breath and read this carefully!):

James Strang, who would create America’s only kingdom on Beaver Island, was born in New York in 1813.  He expected great things of himself.  He established a law practice at the age of 23, but it failed to satisfy his ambition. When he met Joseph Smith in 1844, he converted to his new evangelical religion as a way of improving his position.

Strang’s debating skills impressed the Mormon leader, who assigned him to found a branch in Burlington, Wisconsin. While Strang was away, Smith was killed. Shortly thereafter Strang produced a letter (written by Smith) naming him as Smith’s chosen heir. He was challenged by Brigham Young, who was more solidly entrenched.  Strang led those who accepted him to Nauvoo, Illinois, and then Voree, Wisconsin, before deciding that God wanted him to bring his flock to Beaver Island.

Producing mysterious brass plates from the ground, and receiving directives from God, Strang formed a colony on Beaver Island in 1848.  It grew year by year, and soon had the numbers to elect Strang to the state legislature. Trouble with the “gentiles” led to the “War of Whiskey Point”, which the Mormons won by firing a canon at the unruly gang gathered at the trading post.

By the early 1850s, most of the non-Mormons had left the Island.  The ensuing degree of absolute power went to Strang’s head, and rumors spread about Mormon attrocities. Strang had himself crowned king, and began taking additional wives. Attempts to oust him by legal means failed, and in 1856 he was assassinated by two disgruntled followers [or two angry Charveloixians, as speculated in the Wiki entry I quoted earlier].

His people [Wiki says there were 2,600] were driven off the Island by an unruly mob from Mackinac Island, which was instigated by speculators eager to grab the land.  [My research says that the hapless Strangites were unceremoniously herded onto commandeered steamships and dumped onto docks in Milwaukee and Chicago.]  During their 8-year occupancy, the Mormons cleared and cultivated the ground, built roads and houses, and changed the Island from a wilderness to a moderate outpost of civilization.  But fate conspired to keep them from reaping the benefits of their toil.

What an amazing story, on several fronts.  James Strang joined Joseph Smith as a martyred church leader whose murderers were never convicted – and, in neither case does it appear that anyone made much effort to bring the murderers to justice.  And how about commandeering steamships, rounding up 2,600 people off of their land, and just dumping them penniless on a dock?  Amazing.  And then there’s the very fact that someone like James Strang could convince 2,600 people to follow him to Beaver Island (let alone the 70,000 who followed Brigham Young to Salt Lake City . . .)

Here’s a Wiki shot of Mr. Strang (taken not long before he was assassinated):

 320px-James_Strang_daguerreotype_(1856) Wiki

By the way, there are still some Strangites around Voree, Wisconsin (300 or so at last count).  And also, the northern end of Beaver Island is today St. James Township.  That would be St. James Strang Township . . .

Before leaving Beaver Island, check out this YouTube video posted by BTidmore.  I found it mesmerizing . . . and check out the boat and barge across the way . . .

Moving along to some Panoramio shots (trying to stay as close to my landing as possible).  Here’s a red barn about a half mile southwest of my landing (by Chaos901):

pano chaos901 red barn

Not to be outdone, I heard from the black barn contingent (about 2 miles northeast of my landing, also taken by Chaos901):

 pano chaos901 black barn

I can’t help but make this comment:  I’m relieved that someone with a handle as menacing as Chaos901 seems content to take pictures of barns . . .

I’ll close with this sunset shot of the lake, taken about a mile south of my landing by JRuhlman:

 pano JRuhlman sunset

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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Drummond Island, Michigan

Posted by graywacke on August 19, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or 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 2115; A Landing A Day blog post number 543.

Dan –  The LG (Landing God)  wasn’t comfortable with two record low Scores in a row, so He sent along this OSer . . . MI; 49/40; 4/10; 147.8. 

Here’s a verrrry interesting regional landing map:

 landing 1

Looks like I landed right on the border, eh?  Well, let’s take a closer look:

landing 1a

 Just made it. Oh, what the heck, how about a closer look?

 landing 1b

You can see that the international boundary takes some interesting jigs and jags, but that Drummond Island is on the U.S. side (barely).

Here’s my more local landing map:

 landing 2

So, I landed on the deserted east end of Drummond Island!  Here’s the flight from my last landing (Vega & Wildorado TX):

Let’s look at a static Google Earth shot:

 GE 1

I’ll say, it’s deserted.  Looks like my watershed analysis won’t be much.  See the little bay northwest of my landing (part of the larger bay)?  Using the GE elevation tool, I figured out that my drainage heads in that direction.  Here’s a closer look:

 GE 2

It turns out there’s a GE Panoramio shot (by Jeeper2002) that almost shows the little bay.  Here’s a screen shot of Jeeper’s picture that shows just where he took it from . . .

pano jeeper2002 looking east towards where the drainage ends up

Speaking of Pano shots, check this out – there’s a Pano shot on the “road” just east of my landing, by Repoman.  First, here’s a GE shot showing the photo’s location:

 GE 5 shows nearest Pano shot

And here’s the shot.

pano repoman close to landing 

Continuing with Pano pictures, here’s one of “Marblehead,” a cliff at the end of the road just east of my landing (by Greg Tipton):

 pano greg tipton marblehead

Also by Greg, here’s a shot of the view towards Cockburn Island (Canada) from Marblehead:

 pano greg tipton view from marblehead

See the international boundary line out in the water between Drummond & Cockburn?  Me neither . . .

As a geologist, I was very excited to learn that the cliff at Marblehead is part of the same cliff that is the raison d’etre of Niagara Falls!  Who’d a thunk?  From Wiki:

The Niagara Escarpment is a topographical feature that stretches from New York to Wisconsin.  It is typically marked by a cliff that separates an extensive upland area from an extensive lowland area.

There is no displacement of the rock layers at the escarpment: this is not a fault line but the result of unequal erosion. The escarpment’s high side is dolomite, which is more resistant than the low side of the escarpment, which is underlain by more easily eroded shale. The escarpment thus formed over millions of years through the process of erosion of rocks of different hardnesses.

Through time the soft rocks weather away or erode by the action of streams. The gradual removal of the soft rocks undercuts the resistant caprock, leaving a cliff or escarpment. The erosional process is most readily seen at Niagara Falls, where the river has quickened the process, carving a lengthy notch in the escarpment.

Here’s a map:

 Niagara_Escarpment_map wiki

Back to Drummond – zooming back a little on GE, here’s the entire island, showing Cockburn Island (to the east) and mainland Upper Peninsula Michigan (to the west):

 GE 3

Notice the two big white spots?  They are dolomite mines.  By the way, the entire island is underlain by dolomite (the rock described as the “high side” of the Niagara Escarpment).  Here’s what the Drummond Island C of C has to say:

Dolomite’s chief use is in the steel industry, where it is used in blast furnaces as a flux, and in open hearth furnaces and foundries as a refractory material. It also is an important source of the metal, magnesium. Its toughness and hardness, as well as its structural soundness, make it an ideal aggregate for construction, including asphalt and concrete pavements.

Dolomite’s high magnesium and calcium carbonate content gives it great value as a soil neutralizer, therefore it also hold an important place in agriculture.

In 1968 Drummond Dolomite Incorporated was sold to Bethlehem Steel Corporation and continued to ship Dolomite in excess of 2.5 million tons per year. This was done with personnel of approximately 160 people.

In 1987, because of economic downturns and competition from foreign steel makers, Bethlehem Steel decided to sell its quarries and mines. In the spring of 1988 Drummond Dolomite was taken over by Osborne Materials Company of Grand River, Ohio. Osborne is now producing 1.3 million tons per year with approximately 30 people.

Dolomite is prepared for market by crushing, washing, and screening at the processing plant that is seen from the Ferry as you approach the Drummond shore.

The ferry, eh?  Here’s a picture of the ferry that runs back and forth between the mainland and Drummond Island all year long, carrying cars, trucks and people:


So, Drummond Island has about 1000 permanent residents.  Phew.  Strange place to live.  There’s no real town there, so I imagine that there’s a lot of use of the ferry by people who keep a car on the mainland (as well as one on the island), and who hop on the ferry to go to Home Depot or the supermarket to buy a couple of weeks’ worth of groceries.

A funny aside.  Check out this 9-hole golf course.  While playing, you actually have to cross the runway of the only airport on the island!

 golf at airport

As mentioned early, Cockburn Island Canada is just east of Drummond.  East of Cockburn is Manitoulin Island.

From MSN Travel:

Canada’s aptly named Great Lakes are so large, in fact, that one of them, Huron, is home to the world’s largest freshwater island – Manitoulin. This bucolic collection of farms, villages and First Nations settlements draws cyclists and hikers to its quiet country roads and trails. And in an amusing twist, Manitoulin itself has 108 freshwater lakes, some of which have their own islands, which in turn contain ponds. Lake Manitou, for instance, is the largest lake on a freshwater island in the world, and Treasure Island in Lake Mindemoya is the largest island in a lake on an island in a lake in the world.

Wow. Very cool!  If we call the little ponds “lakes,” we’d have a lake on an island in a lake on an island in a lake!

So, off I went to Google Earth to look for a pond on an island in a lake on Manitoulin Island.  I spent quite a while, but to no avail. I was hampered by poor quality aerial photos.  Knowing that Bing Maps uses different aerials, I checked it out.  Bing-o!  Better photos (although still pretty lousy, as you’ll see).  Bing-o! A pond on a lake (I think).  Here is the Bing Maps aerial of Mud Island (in Mud Lake), and a small unnamed pond:

 bing pond on an island in a lake on an island in a lake - mud lake

Moving right along . . . I came across a lovely moon shot over Cockburn Island, taken a little ways east of my landing.  The photographer (NailHed) titled his photo “Monoominike-giizis moonrise over Cockburn Island.”  This requires some research.  First off, the phrase comes from the Indian Ojibwe language.  The Ojibwe were also known as the Chippewa; a large Indian Tribe in the Lake Superior Region.  It turns out that the Odawa were the prominent Tribe on both sides of Lake Huron, including the islands, as shown on this Wiki map:


An Odawa expression would probably be more appropriate.  Oh, well . . ..

Anyway, from the Oijbwe dictionary, “monoominike” means:

She/he rices, goes ricing, makes rice, picks rice, harvests wild rice.

From the same dictionary, giizis means:

Sun; moon; a month.

Together, manoominike-giizis means:

the moon of ricing occuring in August or September

There you have it, and I’ll close with the lovely picture, once again, entitled “Manoominike-giizis moonrise over Cockburn Island,” by NailHed:

pano nailhed manoominike-giizis moonrise over cockburn island

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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Vega and Wildorado, Texas

Posted by graywacke on August 14, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or 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 2114; A Landing A Day blog post number 542.

Dan –  Oh my.  After all of my complaining about 5 OSers in a row, along comes 3 USers and then a new record low Score, thanks to this landing in . . . TX; 156/185; 5/10; 147.4.  FYI, here’s what a small portion of my landing spreadsheet looks like (with some of the more esoteric columns hidden):

landing spreadsheet


Left-Most column:       Landing Number
Column A:                       Landing date
Column B:                        Score
Column C:                        Delta Score
Column D:                       0 = OSer;  1 = USer
Columns L,M:                Lat & Long
Column N:                      Landing description

My record low Scores are marked in red and bold . .

Moving right along, here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

And my local landing map with my two titular towns:

 landing 2

Here’s the Google Earth (GE) trip from my last landing (Mackay ID):

A static GE shot shows an irrigated agricultural area:

 GE 1

Just outside of the above shot is a north-south road about a mile west of my landing.  And yes, it has Street View.  Here ‘tis:


Here’s a streams-only shot:

 landing 3

Using the GE elevation tool, I could see that the land basically sloped to the east-southeast.  After my hypothetical drop of rain made it around all of the little depressions shown in blue on my local landing map (including the one I landed in), it would make it to the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River (4th hit); on to the Red River of the South (56th hit); on to the Atchafalaya (63rd hit).

Moving right along to my titular towns, I’ll start with Vega (pop 1000).  From Wiki:

The name Vega, which is Spanish for “meadow,” was chosen because it reflected the vast prairie and surrounding countryside of the area.

I couldn’t find much of particular interest about Vega, except that it’s a Route 66 town.  Route 66 has pretty much been hijacked by I-40, but you can see on the following map that the Interstate spared the town:

 landing 4 (vega)

Business I-40 (40CB and Vega Blvd) is the old original Route 66.  Here’s a Panoramio shot (by Fred Henstridge) heading west into Vega:

 pano fred henstridge old route 66 sign, vega

Here’s Route 66 before the Interstate System supplanted it (this landing is just west of Amarillo):


Route 66 conjures images of the Joad family on their journey from the Depression-era Oklahoma Dustbowl to California.  They would have passed right through here.  (More about the Joad’s trip later).

Moving east to Wildorado (pop 200).  From Wiki:

Named for nearby Wildorado Creek, the community was founded in 1900 as a railway town along the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad.

“Named for nearby Wildorado Creek” doesn’t do much for me.  “Wildorado” is such a cool name.  Where did it come from?  After an inordinate amount of time searching, I gave up.  Obviously, the name origin is shrouded in mystery.

But get this.  When I did a Google search for “name origin wildorado,” a crazy thing happened.  I captured the sequence on this You Tube piece:

That’s crazy!  Google, in its near-infinite wisdom, figured that I’d be satisfied with the name origin of Vega!!  Are you kidding me?? 

I had to put Wildorado in quotes to make Google understand that I really cared about Wildorado, and not Vega.  Of course, as discussed above, I could find nothing.

I mentioned Wildorado to my wife Jody.  She did a quick search on her phone, and let me know that “dorado” means “golden” in Spanish.  So maybe a bilingual Texas pioneer was checking out the area and he gazed upon a wild, beautiful scene of the creek bathed in golden sunset light.  It was certainly wild and it was certainly golden . . .

Unless anyone else can come up with something better, that’s going to have to do as the official explanation of the origin of the name “Wildorado.”

From Oldham County Chamber of Commerce site, I found this about Wildorado:

The highway through Wildorado has metamorphosed from the Ozark Trail to Will Rogers Highway to Route 66, and now Interstate 40.  Traffic increased on Route 66 and by the early 1960’s a new super highway was needed.  The new interstate required a 300 foot right-of-way through Wildorado’s Main Street making it necessary for businesses on the south side of Rt. 66 to be destroyed.  These businesses included:  Wildorado Bank, Rodeo Café, Pop Well’s Station & Café, Dee McDade’s Texaco, Davis Mercantile/Post Office, A.F. Moore’s 66 Dealership, and Tapscott Mobil Station.

Now wait a second.  We’re out in the middle of gosh-by-golly nowhere, with miles of nothing north and south of Wildorado.  The powers-that-be couldn’t manage to push the Interstate just a little north or little south of town and save all of those businesses?

It’s amazing how people just rolled over back in the 1960s when most of the Interstate highway system was built.  “So, the government wants to put a highway through the town and I’ve got to close down my business?  Well, if that’s what the government wants, then I guess I’ll have to go along.”

Those days are gone.

OK, OK.  I featured my old friend (and primo musician) Frank Sugrue in my Watertown NY post.  Here are some lyrics from his song about growing up in the late 1950s and early 1960s, entitled, appropriately enough,  “Those Days Are Gone”.   Here, Frank is talking about his father enjoying “taking a drive” on Sundays:

Pull in and fill up the tank
“Hey buddy, check under the hood”
Give God and Washington thanks
For all that is good

Those days are gone

This song features great music & great lyrics.  Go to FrankSugrue.com to check out Frank’s music . . .

So, I mentioned the Joad family earlier.  I’m sure that most of my readers know who I’m speaking of, but just in case:  The Joad family are are the central characters in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, an incredibly powerful book that I read back in college and haven’t reread since.  You know what?  I’m going to have to do that. 

Anyway, the Joads are Oklahoma farmers and have lost everything due to the Depression and the dust storms and terrible droughts that plagued the central plains during the 1930s.  The book chronicles their journey from Oklahoma to California on Route 66.  Here’s what may be the original jacket (from Wiki):


Chapter 12 (or at least a portion of Chapter 12) discusses Route 66.  Here’s the excerpt, with the towns that I’ve featured in A Landing A Day highlighted in bold italics:

Highway 66 is the main migrant road. 66–the long concrete path across the country, waving gently, up and down on the map, from the Mississippi to Bakersfield–over the red lands and the gray lands, twisting up into the mountains, crossing the Divide and down into the bright and terrible desert, and across the desert to the mountains again, and into the rich California valleys.

66 is the path of a people in flight, refugees from dust and shrinking land, from the thunder of tractors and shrinking ownership, from the desert’s slow northward invasion, from the twisting winds that howl up out of Texas, from floods that bring no richness to the land and steal what little richness is there. From all of these the people are in flight, and they come into 66 from the tributary side roads, from the wagon tracks and the rutted country roads. 66 is the mother road, the road of flight.

Clarksville and Ozark and Van Buren and Fort Smith on 64, and there’s an end of Arkansas. And all the roads into Oklahoma City, 66 down from Tulsa, 270 up from McAlester. 81 from Wichita Falls south, from Enid north. Edmond, McLoud, Purcell. 66 out of Oklahoma City; El Reno and Clinton, going west on 66. Hydro, Elk City, and Texola; and there’s an end to Oklahoma. 66 across the Panhandle of Texas. Shamrock and McLean, Conway and Amarillo, the yellow. Wildorado and Vega and Boise, and there’s an end of Texas. Tucumcari and Santa Rosa and into the New Mexican mountains to Albuquerque, where the road comes down from Santa Fe. Then down the gorged Rio Grande to Los Lunas and west again on 66 to Gallup, and there’s the border of New Mexico.

And now the high mountains. Holbrook and Winslow and Flagstaff in the high mountains of Arizona. Then the great plateau rolling like a ground swell. Ashfork and Kingman, and stone mountains again, where water must be hauled and sold. Then out of the broken sun-rotted mountains of Arizona to the Colorado, with green reeds on its banks, and that’s the end of Arizona. There’s California just over the river, and a pretty town to start it. Needles, on the river. But the river is a stranger in this place. Up from Needles and over a burned range, and there’s the desert. And 66 goes on over the terrible desert, where the distance shimmers and the black center mountains hang unbearably in the distance. At last there’s Barstow, and more desert until at last the mountains rise up again, the good mountains, and 66 winds through them. Then suddenly a pass, and below the beautiful valley, below orchards and vineyards and little houses, and in the distance a city. And, oh, my God, it’s over.

True confessions.  I landed in Needles CA  just before I began posting, but was sending Dan full-fledged landing emails.  Here’s a little bit from my October 18, 2008 email to Dan about Route 66 in Needles:

Here’s a shot of Rt 66 in Needles back in the day.  The picture was taken in 1940, not many years after the Dust Bowl Okies made the trip through town.  In fact, in The Grapes of Wrath, the Joads stop for a while in Needles:


In my Holbrook AZ post, I included a 1931 Grapes of Wrath-era shot of Route 66:


And then, this:

I’ll close with this shot, just off Rt 66 outside of Holbrook, of a car that just couldn’t go any further west . . .


Speaking of closing, I’ll close this post with a picture of an old Magnolia Oil gas station in Vega, which was restored to its 1924 glory.  This picture is from urbex.50megs.com (urbex = urban exploration), which includes a whole section of Route 66 pics (click HERE for their Route 66 travelogue):

 USA - Vega TX - Restored 1926 Magnolia Gasoline Station (21 Apr 2009) Full

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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Mackay, Idaho

Posted by graywacke on August 9, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a once or 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 2113; A Landing A Day blog post number 541.

Dan –  After five OSers in a row, it’s nice to have two USers in a row, thanks to this landing in . . . ID; 49/58; 4/10; 148.0.

Note to casual blog readers:  Feel free to skip down to my regional landing map!  Hard core fans, keep reading:

Good ol’ Idaho has been a USer forever.  In fact, it was my number one USer more or less from early on in my landing enterprise (beginning in the spring of 1999) all the way through landing 697 (on 6/21/2005).  It was on that date when I landed in Idaho (3 miles east of Lorenzo).  Anyway, that landing allowed Texas to overtake Idaho as my number one USer, a position that Texas has held ever since.

OK, now that I’ve started, here’s a current list of my top 10 USers and OSers, with the scale factor I use to rate them:

          USers                                                                OSers

Texas                14                                            Montana            8
Florida               7                                            Minnesota        8
California          7                                            Utah                   8
Alabama            7                                            Oregon              7
Virginia             6                                            North Dakota   6
New Mexico     5                                            Oklahoma         4
Idaho                 5                                            Michigan           4
Arkansas           4                                            Wyoming          3
Kentucky          3                                            New York         3
Georgia             2                                            Arizona             3

Just in case a casual reader has ventured this far:  whenever I landed on a USer, the state ends up with a smaller number.  When I land on a OSer, the state ends up with a larger number.  I add these scale factors together to get my Score; that’s why my Score goes down when I land on a USer and goes up when I land on an OSer.

Enough landing minutiae . . . 

Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My local landing map shows my proximity to my titular town:

 landing 2

Here’s a new feature on A Landing A Day.  Fly with me via Google Earth (GE) from the Pine Barrens of NJ (last landing) to 10 miles SW of Mackay Idaho:

See all of the landings scattered across the country?  All of my landings since January 2013 (138 of them) are saved on GE.  (Did you notice zero landings in Ohio?  Just one of those things.  Checking back, landing 1809 was my last landing in Ohio, 304 landings ago.  Strangely, landing 1806 was also in Ohio.  Like I said, just one of those things. . . .)

Staying with GE (and getting back to Idaho), I have an absolutely incredible series of shots.  Here, we’re looking north:

GE 1

Here’s a “ground view” shot looking downhill past my landing:

GE 2

Here’s a “ground view” shot looking uphill:

GE 3

Here’s a shot showing the four named mountain peaks just east of my landing (Cabin, Lime, Redbird & Shelly):

GE 4

Here’s a GE shot looking west down past my landing from Cabin Mountain:

GE 5 from cabin mtn

Google Earth never ceases to amaze me . . .

Anyway, I found some cool GE Panoramio shots by Josh Irwin.  Refer to the GE shot above that shows the named mountain peaks.  Here’s Redbird Mountain and Shelly Mountain from Lime Mountain:

pano josh irwin redbird & shelly from lime

He also took one of Cabin Mountain, also from Lime Mountain (I guess he just turned around):

pano josh irwin cabin from lime

Here’s my local streams-only map:

 landing 3

You can see that I landed in the watershed of Cabin Creek, on to the East Fk of the Big Lost River (1st hit!).  Zooming back a little:

 landing 4

The East Fk of the Big Lost River discharges into the Big Lost River (also 1st hit!).  See where the Big Lost heads north and then seems to dead end in a little lake?  Well, that’s exactly what it does (except it’s not a little lake, it’s the “Big Lost River Sinks”).  

Here’s a GE shot showing my drainage pathway:

GE 6 big lost river & sinks

Based on this close-up GE shot of the “sinks” it looks like they’ve been dry for quite some time:

big lost river sinks

Here’s a Panoramio Shot by GameBrad that shows the general vicinity of the sinks:

pano game brad the sinks

Wiki has something to say about the Big Lost River:

The Big Lost River is a major Idaho river, about 135 miles long.  It rises at the confluence of the North Fork and East Fork Big Lost River deep in the Pioneer Mountains.

It flows northeast then turns sharply southeast. The river is dammed to form Mackay Reservoir near the town of Mackay, then continues south through an agricultural valley, passing Arco. After Arco the river begins flowing east, then northeast, and finally due north.

True to its name, the Big Lost River’s surface flow does not reach any larger river, but vanishes into the Snake River Aquifer at the Big Lost River Sinks, giving the river its name.  The river is one of the Lost streams of Idaho, several streams that flow into the plain and disappear into the ground.

So, what’s the Snake River Aquifer?  It’s a huge hunk of basalt bedrock, several thousand feet thick, about 400 miles long and 75 miles wide.  What makes it an aquifer is that it’s permeable, which means that it’s not solid rock; it’s chock full of passageways and fractures that readily allow water to flow through it.

So the water of the Big Lost River sinks into the ground and enters the Snake River Aquifer system.  Here’s a map that shows where the water goes after it gets in the aquifer (note that the Lost River Sinks are labeled):

 idaho state aquifer map

Here’s a cross-section that is a cut away view of the aquifer:

 cross section from idaho state

You can see on both the map and the cross section that the water ends up in “Thousand Springs” near Hagerman Idaho.  These springs are spectacular.  Here’s a series of Panoramio pictures of the springs, starting with one by B Lyon:

 pano 1000 BLyon

Here’s another, this one by Chris Sanfino

pano 1000 sanfino

 This is second post in a row with a Chris Sanfino Pano shot ( NJ Pine Barrens is my previous post). As mentioned in that post, I’ve used his pictures in my Colchester CT and Twin Falls ID post.  This guy gets around.

Here’s one by Tom Askew (aka HazMat):

 pano 1000 HazMat Tom Askew

And one more, this one by Scott Fischer:

 pano 1000 Scott Fischer

So, imagine you’re a drop of water that falls on my landing.  You make your way to Cabin Creek, to the East Fork of the Big Lost River, to the Big Lost River, and then (if you’re not sucked into an irrigation pump), you simply sink into the ground.  Eventually you travel about 125 miles in total darkness, slithering along through cracks and fissures until you break out the side of the Snake River Valley (unless, of course, you get sucked up by an irrigation well!).

It seems I’ve forgotten my titular town of Mackay.  Wiki doesn’t have much to say:

Mackay is a city in Custer County, Idaho. The population was 517 at the 2010 census.  The town is pronounced “Mackie” with the accent on the first syllable.

The only other information is about a 1983 earthquake (mag 6.9) which caused some damage to the town, but no injuries or deaths.

I found an extensive article from the Sun Valley Magazine (by Mike McKenna) about Mackay (remember to pronounce it correctly).  Here’s a Main Street shot from the article.

 mackay main street sun valley magazine

Here’s the intro paragraph:

Mackay is one of those small Idaho towns where everyone waves to one another when passing by. It can actually make it a bit challenging for locals to drive, seeing as how they always have to be ready to wave.

That’s because to not return a wave is about the most egregious thing you can do. It’s almost as bad as simply nodding, but still better than the wave usually offered to people with California license plates.

Click HERE for the entire article (it’s good, and worth the read).

While doing some general internet research on Mackay, what caught my eye is an annual barbeque held the third weekend in September.  It’s called “TONS OF MEAT – MACKAY’S TREAT.’

That’s right, there’s tons of beef, and a beef sandwich with an exquisite (but secret) barbeque sauce is given free to everyone who shows up!  I suspect that some wily folks are able to get more than one sandwich . . .

There’s a Mackay Idaho blog that posted a feature on the barbeque.   Of particular interest to me is the huge stone oven where the beef is cooked.  Here are some pictures (and some slightly edited text) from a 2012 blog post that describe the whole affair:

Wood was delivered from the Forest Service by Pat Powers from the Lost River Highway District to the Mackay Tourist Park to be fed in to the barbecue oven all night beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday, September 13, 2012. Wood will be continuously added for 24 hours.

BBQ wood deivery

The above shot is a 2008 photo showing Pat Powers delivering the wood for the barbecue.  Jake Drussel and Manny Guerrero are in the foreground.

Terry Ulhenhopp and Manny Guerrero have loaded wood in the barbecue oven for years. Here they are on Thursday:

BBQ dudes

After the oven is full of wood, Terry lights the fire with a propane torch.

BBQ lighting

Manny and Terry placed a metal shield up at the top of the barbecue oven door and will feed the fires ALL NIGHT from the bottom. The burning wood will heat up the barbecue oven. Before the meat roasts are added to the barbecue oven Fridaty night, all of the wood and ash will be removed.

BBQ lighting 2

Terry and Manny stoked the barbecue with firewood.  As the fire burned, Terry used a metal tripod with a long metal pole to stir the embers frequently; he also added more wood.  This is done continually until approximately 6 PM Friday night to ensure the bricks of the oven are thoroughly heated.  Workers stoking the fire in the oven wear a fire suit borrowed from the Mackay Fire Department due to the intense heat.

BBQ lit

These four young men fed wood in the barbecue oven at the Mackay Tourist Park all night and continued throughout Friday until the beef roasts are prepared Friday night at the Mackay Fire Hall. The oven should be the PERFECT temperature when the meat is put in!

BBQ 4 young men

L to R Standing: Nate Yowell and Nate Laib – L to R Sitting: Terry Uhlenhopp and Dennis aka Wally Wallin – September 14 2012

For the whole article, click HERE.  You can learn all the work it took to make the secret BBQ sauce!  By the way, I’d love to go to Mackay in September, eat some free beef (and most importantly), meet Terry & Manny!

I’ll close with two lovely Panoramio shots by AGS83642 (catchy name), of our very own East Fork of the Big Lost River.  First, this broad view:

 pano ags83642 e fk big lost (2)

And then, this close-up:

 pano ags83642 e fk big lost

Lovely, lovely place, eh?

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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New Jersey Pine Barrens

Posted by graywacke on August 4, 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 2112; A Landing A Day blog post number 540.

Dan –  After five OSers in a row, it took a landing in our home state (a USer) to right the ship.  That’s right, Dan.  I landed in good ol’  . . . NJ; 4/6; 4/10; 148.6.

For those readers less knowledgeable than you, Dan, I’d like to discuss the 4/6 fraction reported above.  Based on NJ’s puny area, after 2112 landings, I should have landed there a measly 6 times.  But I’m well under-subscribed (US), and today’s landing was only my fourth there, taking me from 3/6 all the way to 4/6 . .

Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

My more local landing map shows some dots on the map labeled Atsion, Chatsworth and Tabernacle (which you’ll note did not become titular towns):

landing 2

More to the point, take a look at my Google Earth (GE) shot, which obviously shows that I landed in the woods:

GE 1


Zooming back a little, here’s another GE shot.  More woods:

GE 2

Zooming back a little more, here’s yet another.  Wow.  Even more woods!

GE 3

Zooming back quite a bit more:

GE 4

Not many people know that they can walk 30 miles in a straight line, and stay in the woods the entire time.  In New Jersey!

So, this post isn’t about a town (note that Alsion, Chatsworth and Tabernacle aren’t really towns).  This post is about the woods.  The Piney Woods.  The Pinelands.  The New Jersey Pine Barrens.

Here’s my watershed analysis:

landing 3

I landed in the Batsto River watershed (1st hit); on to the Mullica River (1st hit).  The Mullica flows into Great Bay, which is directly connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Beach Haven inlet. 

Quick aside:  See the route that one would take if one were in a boat, traveling from Great Bay to Little Egg Harbor?  Well, my wife Jody and I were in a small (18.5’) sailboat, attempting to do just that.  We had nice sailing breeze (probably blowing 10 knots), but it was out of the north, right into our face.  The channel just north of inlet was rather narrow, so we had to tack back and forth to make headway.

Normally, no big deal.  You tack back and forth, but of course, you make decent forward progress on each tack (especially if you’re a good sailor, which Jody is).  But here’s the kicker:  the tide was going out.  That means that not only was the wind in our face, but we were sailing upstream against a strong tidal current.

Funny thing about being in a boat.  Relative to the water, we were making great progress.  Kicking up some spray, plowing through some turbulent water; feeling great.

But there was this red channel marker buoy.  It was off to our right side, up ahead maybe 20 yards when we first noticed it.  We were on a port tack (heading to the right towards the buoy) when we noticed it.  Then we did a starboard tack, headed away from the buoy.  On the port tack (as we headed back towards the buoy) there it was.  Trouble is, it was still 20 yards away.  All of our senses told us that we should be zooming past the buoy, but no.  There it was, taunting us.  Starboard tack, port tack.  Starboard tack, port tack, etc. etc.  The buoy was always 20 yards away.  Jody called it the “bad buoy.”

We talked about starting the motor, but decided not to.  We were actually enjoying our battle with the bad buoy (and obviously we were in no particular hurry to get anywhere).  We knew this could go on for quite a while, until the tide turned.  Well, it did go on for quite a while (at least an hour, as I recall), and the tide did begin to turn and we finally did make our way past the buoy.  Further personifying the red hunk of metal, we sing-song taunted  “naahh  naahh  nah-nah  naahh” as we made our way by. . . 

So, the Pine Barrens.  Of course, I’ll start out with a map to put things into perspective:

Pinelands-save H2Onj.org

Here’s some background from the Pinelands Preservation Alliance:

The Pine Barrens is not barren at all, but is a complex mosaic of forests, wetlands, streams and ponds.

Why, then, the name Pine Barrens? The answer lies in a certain cultural bias that European settlers brought with them to America: that if land did not support the raising of their traditional farm crops, then it was “barren.”  The dominant soils of the Pine Barrens are porous sands – acidic and low in humus and nutrient content – poor conditions for row crop farming. Indeed, the Pine Barrens forests have only survived because their soils are so “poor.” The edges of the Pine Barrens can still be easily made out simply by the noting the boundary where forest gives way to farmland and, increasingly, the housing subdivisions  into which farmland is being converted.

So, why aren’t the Pinelands (given their proximity to Philadelphia and New York) being developed willy-nilly?  From Wiki:

Despite rapid urbanization of surrounding areas, the Pine Barrens remained largely untouched because its sandy soil was unsuitable for growing most crops. Its iron and charcoal deposits did not compete with more readily accessible deposits elsewhere. In 1969, the Pine Barrens averaged a density of 15 people per square mile, compared with 1000 people per square mile in the lands bordering it. With rising environmental concerns at the time, people became alerted to the possible destruction of the Pine Barrens and its aquifer by urban sprawl.

Congress created the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, the country’s first National Reserve, to protect the area under the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978. The New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve contains approximately 1,100,000 acres of land, and occupies 22% of New Jersey’s land area.

The reserve contains Wharton State Forest, Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, Bass River State Forest, and Penn State Forest.  The Pinelands was designated a U.S. Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1983 and an International Biosphere Reserve in 1988.

In addition, the NJ Pinelands Commission, the NJ Pinelands Preservation Alliance and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection keep watch over all things Pine Barrens.  Speaking of the NJDEP, one thing I haven’t mentioned (which is peculiar considering my environmental background):  the sandy soils of the Pine Barrens soak up rainfall and snowmelt, feeding it to underlying aquifers.  These aquifers contain bazillions of gallons of clean water (which supply millions of people their drinking water), so the NJDEP has all sorts of rules and regulations that are specifically designed to maintain the pristene quality of the groundwater.

Moving right along:  as is commonly my wont, I’ll talk about the Indians’ relationship to my landing.  The most important information I received about the topic was maybe 30 years ago when I went to a lecture by Tom Brown, Jr., in Beach Haven.  (Beach Haven is north of Beach Haven Inlet on the island shown on the landing map, above (Long Beach Island.)

So, who is Tom Brown?  One fascinating Jersey guy.  He’s a prolific author, having written some 18 books, including his first “The Tracker,” which sets the stage for all of his subsequent books.  As told in The Tracker, he graduated from high school in 1968 (same year as me).  But then (unlike me), he stripped down to the bare minimals (basically, some clothes and knife) and proceeded to live in the Pine Barrens for a year with no interactions with the civilized world.

He’s quite the tracker, stalker and survivalist (although somewhat controversial, as a quick Google search confirms).  Anyway, I went to hear him in Beach Haven back in the day.  His whole talk was about the Lenni-Lenape Indians, and their relationship with the Pine Barrens.  He described how the Indians didn’t chose the Pine Barrens as a place to live; for basically the same reasons that the white folk pretty much ignored the joint.  The Indians were up in North Jersey, and along the Delaware River in West Jersey and Pennsylvania.  There, they had more wildlife, bedrock for tool-making, and better soils for agriculture.

But the Jersey Shore appealed to the Lenni-Lenapes, in a way as it appeals to millions of Jersey & Pennsylvania folks today:  They loved to frolic in the surf and eat seafood.  So, imagine this.  They lived in Philadelphia (OK, somewhere along the Delaware River).  It’s summer time.  It’s time for a trip to the shore.

And just like Philadelphians today, the Pine Barrens stands between home and their vacation destination.  Folks from Philly just cruise on through, traveling Route 70 or the Atlantic City Expressway, mindlessly sliding through that huge patch of pine trees that stands between home & the shore.

The Lenni-Lenapes also had to pass through the Pine Barrens.  But rest assured that they didn’t do it mindlessly.  First, they had to walk (and/or paddle) through it, which is intrinsically more intimate then cruising through in air-conditioned comfort.   Plus, because they couldn’t carry all of the provisions they needed for the trip, they needed to hunt and forage their way through the Barrens.

As recently as the early 20th century, remnants of the old Lenni-Lenape trails through the Pine Barrens were evident.  Anyway, they’d spend a month or so having a great summer vacation.  If they didn’t take canoes with them, they probably made them when they got there (so they could paddle out to Long Beach Island).  I can imagine that the kids and the wives loved it and wanted to stay longer.  I can just hear the conversations:  “Aw, honey, can’t we stay a few more weeks?”  “Sorry sweetheart, but we have to get back.  We need to do some serious hunting and begin to lay in supplies for the winter.  We’re leaving now. . .”

I found a You Tube video (posted by ChellyPro)  that discusses the modern NJ roadways that follow ancient Lenni-Lenape trails.  It’s a little on the amateur side, but I loved it.  

All righty now.  Time for some pictures.  Wiki has a lovely collection of Pine Barren photos.  Here they are.  First, Lake Atsion, just southwest of my landing:


Here’s a shot of my watershed river, the Batsto:


Here are a couple Mullica River shots:




Just northeast of my landing is Apple Pie hill, which has a fire tower.  Here’s a shot from the tower:


Moving over to GE Panoramio shots, here’s one of the Batsto by Chris Sanfino:

pano chris sanfino

By the way, Mr. Sanfino is one of those prolific Panoramio contributors.  I’ve used his pictures in my Twin Falls ID post and my Colchester CT post!

Within a few hundred yards of my landing is the Batano Trail.  It’s a 50-mile long trail that wends its way through the Pine Barrens.  Bob Engelbart has posted numerous Pano pictures on the trail very close to my landing.  Here’s one entitled “From Fires Past:”

pano from fires past

By the way, regular fires are an important part of the Pine Barrens eco system.  If you’re curious about this, just Google “NJ Pine Barrens,” and you can read all about it.

And another, entitled “Moss and Lichen on the Trail”:

pano moss and lichen on the trail


I’ll close with another Bob Engelbart shot, this of a bog southeast of my landing:

pano  engelbart final shot, southeast of landing

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day




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