A Landing a Day

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Archive for October, 2019

Zzyzx, California

Posted by graywacke on October 20, 2019

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2461; A Landing A Day blog post number 897.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N34o 59.506’, W116o 17.208’) puts me in southwest California:

Here’s the graph mentioned in ALADus Obscurus:

 

And here’s my local landing map:

 

You don’t see Zzyzx.  But I did highlight what looks like an airstrip.  Let’s take a much closer look at that airstrip:

And there it is!  And check out this roadsign on I-15 (posted on Google Earth by Veronique Derouet):

Here’s a Google Earth (GE) shot, showing my landing as well as Zzyzx:

Obviously, there’ll be more about Zzyzx in a bit.

Even though I landed out in the boonies, I was able to position the Orange Dude to get a peek at my landing location:

And here’s what he sees:

I landed out in the desert, and StreetAtlas doesn’t show anything on its “streams-only” map.  But I realized that back in June of 2016, I landed nearby (landing 2277).  I thought that I’d be able to steal the watershed analysis from that post, and I did.  I discovered that I landed in the Mojave River watershed (3rd hit).  I stole a map from that post, and added today’s landing:

The Mojave is internally drained (i.e., it doesn’t make it to the ocean).  Occasionally it flows all the way to Soda Lake, and thence to Silver Lake.  The last time Soda Lake and Silver Lake contained water was during the very wet winter of 2004-2005.

I also stole this GE shot from landing 2277:

And this historic shot of the Mojave during a flood:

Moving on to Zzyzx.  Let’s take a closer look on GE:

It looks like there’s some sort of a facility there, and indeed there is.  A little bit of research reveals that the Desert Studies Center (DSC) is there.  The DSC is a “field station” associated with the California State University. 

But much more interesting is the rectangular lake that you can see on the GE shot.  Here’s a photo posted on GE by Eric Mansoor:

And a close-up of what appears to be a now-defunct fountain in the middle of the lake (by Adam Parkzer):

I found a Roadside America piece about Zzyzx.  Here it is, just slightly edited:

On the edge of a dry lake bed, you’ll find a bizarre pseudo-town: “Zzyzx” (pronounced “Zye – Zex,” rhyming with Isaac’s).

[I love rhyming it with “Isaac’s!”]

Travelers between Las Vegas and Los Angeles sometimes stop in the Mojave Desert along I-15 to pose next to the novel highway sign for Zzyzx Road. But few realize that heading several miles down a narrow, mostly paved route will deliver them to an oasis with an oddball history.

We headed south to Zzyzx. It looks exactly like one might expect of an oasis — a clump of tall palm trees and a riot of green and water, out of place in the wasteland.

Before it became Zzyzx, “Soda Springs” was a popular stop for Indians in search of fresh water. Then came Spanish explorers, then a US Army outpost — Camp Soda Springs — a godforsaken posting in the 1860s, protecting government supplies from the (thirsty) Indians. Later there were miners who harvested lake minerals, and then the railroad passed through.

The Z’s arrived in 1944. LA radio evangelist Curtis H. Springer, self-proclaimed minister (and quack doctor), decided the mineral springs were the ideal location for a health resort. He and his wife filed a mining claim on a 12,800 acre parcel of what were public lands.

He named it “Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Resort,” touted as “the last word in health” and the last word in the English language — a gimmick so it would be the last listing in any directory.

Springer made a fortune promoting his useless medical products, shipping them all over the world to cure various ailments, even cancers and baldness. He and his wife had failed in a string of earlier health spa attempts, but Zzyzx was a concept whose time had come. The charismatic Springer recruited skid row bums from his Los Angeles mission to live in a tent encampment to help build Zzyzx. He planted rows of palm trees to enhance the oasis atmosphere.

In its heyday, Zzyzx must have been a great destination. The “natural” hot springs feeding the cross-shaped mineral baths were artificially heated by a hidden boiler. The enterprise grew to include a 60-room hotel, church, a private airstrip (the Zzyport), and even a castle built along streets with names such as the “Boulevard of Dreams.” Springer added a radio station that provided his syndicated program of music, scripture, and rantings nationwide.

Senior citizens came to Zzyzx for decades seeking the healing waters, with attendance peaking in the 1960s.

Inevitably, Dr. Springer went too far with his nutty utopia — even pulling money into his coffers from gullible followers who wanted to build homes in Zzyzx. In 1974, the government woke up and realized the “King of Quacks” (a name bestowed on him by the American Medical Association) had no legit claim to the land.  He and his followers were summarily evicted from the property. Federal marshals arrested Springer, who spent a short stint in jail for FDA laws he’d broken with his bogus medicine claims.

Springer retired to Las Vegas and died in 1985. The kingdom of Zzzyzx was taken over by the Bureau of Land Management.

Most of the old concrete buildings still stand. You’ll find a mix of well-maintained structures run by Cal State U, and then completely derelict buildings along the shore of the old lake, including the old (and now roofless) old pool house.

Here’s a shot of the old pool house from allthatsinteresting.com:

Well, there you have it. 

I’ll close with some nearby photos posted on GE.  First this of the Mojave by Christopher Trott:

And then another Mojave shot by Christopher Price:

I’ll close with this lovely Soda Lake shot by g edwards:

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

© 2019 A Landing A Day

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ashtola, Clarendon, Goodnight and Lelia Lake, Texas

Posted by graywacke on October 12, 2019

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2460; A Landing A Day blog post number 896.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N34o 59.188’, W100o 58.035’) puts me in the Texas Panhandle:

Wait a second!  Breaking news!  After 2459 landings, something just happened that has never happened before!  And here’s the news:

For the first time ever, I have landed in the same state three times in a row!  I know, I know.  You, dear reader, are not nearly as excited as I am.  Well, ne’er the less, bear with me . . . . 

Let’s approach this rare event with some math.  Texas’ area is 8.8% (0.088) of the area of the lower 48.  Because 1/0.088 =  11.4, there’s a one in 11.4 chance that I would land in Texas for any given landing.

Just for heck of it, let’s see how many Texas landings I “should” have had.  2460 landings divided by 11.4 is 216.  It just so happens that I’ve landed in Texas a mere 189 times.  So, in the big picture, Texas is way undersubscribed (US), and is therefore a USer (as opposed to being oversubscribed (OS), or an OSer).

Unless you care about my bizarrely nerdy OSer vs. USer stuff, skip the next paragraph . . .

As my regular ALADus Obscurus readers know, the whole scene changed when I found out that my method of calculating “random” landing locations was not quite random.  So, 244 landings ago, I began using a more accurate method to determine how I picked my “random” locations.  At that point, I started doing all of my USer / OSer calcs from scratch and based on these 244 landings (as my regulars know), Texas is an OSer, so my “new” Score went up once again.  My “old” Score is going down with these Texas landings, to 145.0, a mere 0.3 above my all-time low Score.

Moving right along, let’s see how many Texas “doubles” I should have.  The math is easy; there’s one chance in (11.4 x 11.4) =  130 that I should land in Texas twice in a row.  So, with 2460 landings, I should have had 2460/130 = 19 Texas doubles.  The actual number?  Only 11.  Oh, well.

Moving on to triples.  Once again, the math is easy:  one chance in 11.4 x 11.4 x 11.4 = 1481.  Whatever.  With 2460 landings, I “should” have hit this triple a while back.  Once again:  oh, well.  This may have something to do with Texas’ USer status . . .

So, here’s my local landing map:

My local streams-only map looks like this:

I landed in the watershed of Kelly Creek; on to the Greenbelt Reservoir; and thence to the Salt Fork of the Red River (only my 2nd hit).  Zooming back:

The Salt Fork discharges to the Red River (68th hit).  Although not shown, the Red discharges (more-or-less) to the Atchafalaya (75th hit), which ends up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Looking at Google Earth (GE), let’s see how close the Orange Dude can get to my landing:

Not bad.  Here’s what he sees:

 The OD could not get a look at Kelly Creek.  But he could get a look at the Salt Fork, just below the dam that formed the Greenbelt Reservoir:

The OD was a little disappointed that he didn’t get a better look at the river per se:

Thanks (as usual) to the Texas DOT for the road sign!

The OD took a little road trip about 20 miles east (downstream) where he found a bridge over the Salt Fork.  Here’s what he sees:

Let’s do the post alphabetically for the titular cities.  So, we’ll start with Ashtola, and this from Texas Escapes:

History in a Pecan Shell

Ashtola began life as a simple railroad section house in 1906. The site was known as Southard and a post office was applied for and was granted that same year. Within two years the community had a school and two stores.

Southard may have caused some confusion with similarly spelled towns and in 1916 a change of name was requested by the post office department. A man named W. A. Poovey was asked for a new name. After he modestly suggested Poovieville [not “Pooveyville?”], the postal authorities chose Ashtola – a name with no known origin, but with considerably more dignity than Poovieville.

[I agree that Ashtola is more dignified than Poovieville, but where did the name Ashtola come from?  The internet is entirely silent on this.  Maybe one of the founding ranchers was named Ash and he spent some time in the British Virgin Island Tortola.  But then again, would you leave Tortola for the Texas Panhandle?]

The population was estimated at a whopping [my words] 25 people when the Great Depression hit. Ashtola had a gristmill which remained in operation until the early 1970s, but the post office closed in the mid-1950s. From 1949 through the mid-1960s the estimated population had soared [my word] to 50 – dropping to back to a more modest [my words] 25 in the late 1960s. From 1970 to 1990 the population was given as 20.  What it is today is anybody’s guess. [Not my words!]

Here’s a picture of Ashtola the same website (caption below).

“Not much here, but here is some of it.”  Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, July 2006

Next comes Clarendon:  From the town’s website:

In 1878, a charismatic preacher led a group of Methodists to the frontier of the Texas Panhandle to settle at the junction of Carroll Creek and the Salt Fork of the Red River. Rev. L.H. Carhart set out to establish a Christian colony built on the values of temperance and education, and he named it Clarendon in honor of his wife, Clara. [Hmmm.  Why not Claratola?]

As the third settlement in the Panhandle, Clarendon stood apart from the wilder towns of Mobeetie and Tascosa, which were known for saloons and rowdy cowboys. The colony strictly forbade alcohol and built a church as one of its first landmarks. The neighbors said Clarendon was where the saints roosted, and soon the nickname stuck… Saints’ Roost.

The railroad had the audacity [my word] to bypass the town; the town was therefore moved 6 miles south.  The railroad brought people and commerce; but it also brought new lifestyles with saloons and other “vices.”  [I wonder what vices?  Ladies of ill-repute?  I also wonder – why is “vices” in “quotes”?]

Donley County eventually re-established prohibition in 1902, and Saints’ Roost remained dry until 2013 when voters reversed the 111-year-old tradition.

Continuing down the alphabet, it’s time for Goodnight.  Believe it or not, the town was named after local rancher by the name of Charles Goodnight.  From Texas Escapes:

Named for famed cattleman Charles Goodnight, who settled here in 1887.  The railroad soon came through and established a depot. The post office opened in 1888.  Charles and Mary Ann Goodnight, with the help of the Goodnight Baptist Church, opened Goodnight College (1898 until 1917).

Charles Goodnight died in 1929, but up until his death, he was, for all intents and purposes, the town of Goodnight. His house and his buffalo herd remain.

Herd of Buffalo, Good Night Ranch, Goodnight, Texas
Postcard courtesy http://www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

From Wiki:

A folk rock band called Goodnight, Texas was named for the town of Goodnight, located 1415 miles directly between their hometowns of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and San Francisco, California. The band has performed in town 3 times as of 2017.

If you know me at all, you know that I would check out the “fact” that Goodnight is halfway between (and 1415 miles from both) Chapel Hill and San Francisco.  Well, here’s my map:

Whatever.  I wonder where they got 1415 miles?  Duh.  Most people don’t have access to a mapping program that can easily calculate the actual distance between two cities.  But most people do have access to Google Maps.  And low and behold, Google Maps shows approximately equal mileage (by car) to Goodnight from both cities (about 1415 miles).  

So, here’s a video of Goodnight, Texas with the lyrics to follow.  There’s a fairly lengthy instrumental section to begin the piece.  Be patient:

 

run run run with the railroad
when their backs are tuned

run for the fences Riley
when their backs are turned
follow the railroad Riley
when their backs are turned
run for the mountains Riley
when their backs are turned
you find the place you’re promised
when their backs are turned
run run run with the railroad
when their backs are turned
run run run with the railroad
when their backs are turned
run run run with the railroad
get outta their sight
when the engine turns and you gotta move on
(and u gotta move on at night)
oh oh oh oh oh oh, etc.
not a sound, etc.

So here are the two original guys:

I wonder which one is from San Francisco?

It seems as though they generally perform as a four-man band these days:

Time to move a little further down the alphabet – all the way to “L,” and Lelia Lake.

Right out of the gate, I must confess that when I saw “Lelia Lake” on the map, I read “Leila Lake.”  I then Googled “Leila Lake,” but didn’t even notice when Google translated that as Lelia Lake.  I read the Google entry, not noticing that it was all about Lelia, not Leila.  But when I read the Texas Escapes “History in a Pecan Shell” article, it didn’t help the situation (emphasis mine):

Gyp Brown is regarded as Leila Lake’s founder; the town was named after Brown’s sister-in-law, Leila Payne.

So I’m not the only one!  But then the Texas Historical Society said this:

It was originally named Lelia after Lelia Payne, the sister-in-law of G. A. (Gyp) Brown, the town’s founder. When the community’s post office was established in December 1906, however, the word Lake was added to its name to distinguish it from Lela, Texas, in Wheeler County.

And here’s a GE shot of the actual “lake:”

 

I suspect more than one person has wondered why would the town be named after a dry depression that I suspect only fills up after a big rain?

Wiki lets me know that one Ace Reid (1925 – 1991), the creator of the cartoon “Cowpokes,” (that at one time ran in 400 newspapers across the US), was born in Lelia Lakes.  Here’s a teeny sampling of his work:

“Well sir, this old $100-a-month cowpoke is at your service, sir!”

 

“What’s the matter with you?  Haven’t you ever seen a real cowboy?”

 

‘Looking to close out my post with the usual scenic photo lifted off of GE, I couldn’t come up with much.  But I did see this fine picture of a fine courthouse (the Donley County courthouse in Clarendon) by Rick Roberson:

 

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

© 2019 A Landing A Day

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Hebbronville and Falfurrias, Texas

Posted by graywacke on October 4, 2019

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2459; A Landing A Day blog post number 895.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N27o 6.275’, W98o 34.066’) puts me in South Texas:

 

My local landing map:

I spent some time on Google Earth (GE), trying to figure out my drainage pathway across this arid, stream-less landscape.  More-or-less, I figured that I landed in the watershed of Los Olmos Creek.  Here’s my streams-only map:

So the Los Olmos (which means “the elms”) discharges to Laguna Salada (not labeled, the small bay into which the Los Olmos discharges); on to Baffin Bay (sounds veritably Canadian), to Laguna Madre, the bay behind Padre Island.

Even though I landed out in the boonies, I did have decent GE Street View coverage of my landing:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I had to send the OD about 50 miles east to get a look at the Los Olmos Creek:

And here ‘tis:

And was I sure that this was Los Olmos Creek?  Thanks to the Texas State DOT (as usual), yes I was:

I suspect that it’s tidal – I don’t think that much water would be flowing out of the desert . . .

While checking out my landing on GE, I noticed a peculiar pattern of paths or roads:

I zoomed in to get a better look:

And looked in close nearby:

I could see no hint of these “roads” using Street View.  Bottom line:  I have no idea what they are!  The South Texas version of the Nazca Lines?  Maybe . . . 

I suspect that this is a shot in the dark, but any local readers who have a clue would be welcome to post a comment!

So, Hebbronville (pop 4600) is close to my landing, but it had no decent hook that I could find.  But I did find this video, which gives a little history and the flavor of the area:

 

Moving 30 miles east of Hebbronville, we hit Falfurrias.  Not unexpectedly, this town shares a distinction with Hebbronville:  both are the only place in the entire world with their respective names.

Falfurrias (pop 5,000) was named by Edward Lasater (the town’s founding father), after his ranch.  So how did his ranch get its name?  From Wiki:

Town founder Edward C. Lasater stated that Falfurrias was derived from a Lipan word meaning “the land of heart’s delight”. Others believed that it was the Spanish name for a native desert flower known as the heart’s delight. [Who cares what “others believed?”]

Another theory [and who needs another theory?] is that Falfurrias is a misspelling of one or another Spanish or French word. Still another [yet another??] theorizes that the name refers to a local shepherd named Don Filfarrias. The term filfarrias is Mexican slang for “dirty and untidy”.  [Sure, sure.  Of course, Mr. Lasater would name his ranch after some dirty and untidy shepherd . . .]

Falfurrias is known as the home to a shrine honoring Don Pedro Jaramillo (?? – 1907).  From Wiki:

Don Pedro Jaramillo, was a curandero, faith healer, and folk saint from the South Texas Valley region. He is known as “the healer of Los Olmos creek [hey!  That’s my watershed!] and “el mero jefe” (the real chief) of the curanderos.

“Curanderos” has its own Wiki entry (and it mentions our Don Pedro):

A curandero is a traditional native healer/shaman found in Latin America, the United States and Southern Europe. The curandero’s life is dedicated to the administration of remedies for mental, emotional, physical and spiritual illnesses.

The role of a curandero can also incorporate the roles of psychiatrist along with that of doctor and healer. Some curanderos, such as Don Pedro, the Healer of Los Olmos, make use of simple herbs, waters, and even mud to effect their cures.

Others add Catholic elements, often found alongside native religious elements. Many curanderos emphasize their native spirituality in healing while being practicing Roman Catholics.

Curanderos are often respected members of the community. Believers consider their powers to be supernatural and think that many illnesses are caused by lost malevolent spirits, a lesson from God, or a curse.

Want to learn more about SeñorJaramillo and learn a little about Falfurrias, as well?  Check this out:

 

Time to close out this post with a photo posted on GE.  About 20 miles SE of my landing is this shot of the “Tacubaya Truck Waterfall,” by Bob Chavez:

I couldn’t help myself.  I found out that the cool truck waterfall is at the “The Barn at Tacubaya Ranch,” an event venue owned and operated by the Chavez family.  From their website:

That’ll do it . . .

KS

Greg

 

© 2019 A Landing A Day

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »