A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Ottumwa IA’

Kirkville and Ottumwa, Iowa

Posted by graywacke on September 16, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (then every-other-day blog and now a two-or-three-times 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), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  Well, it has been a while since I landed in today’s long time OSer.  In fact, last November was the last time I landed in . . . IA; 41/35; 5/10; 3; 155.4.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Kirkville:

Here’s a broader view:

For the fourth time, I landed in the watershed of the Skunk River, on to the MM (755th hit).  Speaking of the Skunk River, an Iowa State University biology professor by the name of Jim Colbert put something together called the Skunk River Navy:

Here’s one of the things they do:

Good for them!  Moving right along, here’s my GE shot, showing a predictably-agrarian scene:

Here’s a lousy StreetView shot looking east down 180th Street towards my landing (the dude or dudette that shot the pictures was out too early, catching the low-angle early-morning sun):

So, when one Googles Kirkville and finds the town’s website, it is apparent that the big news in Kirkville was the 2003 RAGBRAI event.  You might ask what in the heck is RAGBRAI.  Well, it stands for Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.  OK, but who or what is the Register?  And the answer is . . . the Des Moines Register newspaper.

So, here’s what the town’s website had to say about the fateful day in 2003 when the RAGBRAI passed through:

We survived RAGBRAI! 10,000 visitors to our tiny little town was a bit overwhelming at first, but everything turned out real good and we had a lot of fun!  It was really neat meeting all the people who passed through and stopped by for breakfast and a little entertainment. We all noticed how courteous the riders are. We also enjoyed looking at the many different kinds of bikes and various costumes. Please help us out! One of our guest books, with lots of signatures disappeared. If you were in town that day, please click the email link above and send us your name and where you are from so we can add it to our city museum. Thank you!

OK.  So, here’s a pictures of the event:

Here’s a little more general info, from the RABGRAI website:

RAGBRAI is a bicycle ride, not a race. It started in 1973 as a six-day ride across the state of Iowa by two Des Moines Register columnists who invited a few friends along. It is held the last full week in July. RAGBRAI is planned and coordinated by The Des Moines Register, and riders who participate in RAGBRAI understand that they do so at their own risk.

The RAGBRAI route averages 472 miles and is not necessarily flat. It begins somewhere along Iowa’s western border on the Missouri River and ends along the eastern border on the Mississippi River. We change the route each year and announce the overnight towns in late January/early February in The Des Moines Register and on our Web site.

This event has become a really big deal.  In fact, the organizers decided to limit the number of riders to a mere 8,500.  A couple of more factoids (from the website):

In 36 years, RAGBRAI has passed through 780 Iowa towns, spent the night in 125 different overnight towns and with completion of the 25th ride in 1997, has been in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. RAGBRAI has been through 80 percent of the incorporated towns in Iowa.

I landed not far from the much larger town of Ottumwa.  So, what does Otumwa have to say for itself?  Well, it’s the hometown of Tom Arnold.  But much more importantly (in my view), it’s the hometown of the fictional Radar O’Reilly.  From Wiki:

Corporal “Radar” O’Reilly is a fictional character in the M*A*S*H novels, the film, and the television series.  The character was portrayed by Gary Burghoff in both the film and on television — the only actor from the film to reprise his role on television.

While Radar’s full name is never given in the original novel or film, on the TV series it is Walter Eugene O’Reilly. The later novels by Richard Hooker and W.E.B. Griffin give his full name as J. Robespierre O’Reilly.

The novel establishes that Radar was from Ottumwa, Iowa and literally dreamed of joining the Army right after high school. (A first season TV episode (1/18), however, shows him receiving a high school diploma through a correspondence course. He seemed to have extra-sensory perception, appearing at his commander’s side before being called and finishing his sentences. He also had exceptionally good hearing, able to hear incoming helicopters before anyone else. It was these abilities that earned him the nickname “Radar.”

According to the beginning of the novel, Radar joined the Army in hopes of succeeding in the Signal Corps but was assigned to be an orderly at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M*A*S*H) in Korea instead. Before shipping out, he was assigned to a cleanup detail at Mount Rushmore.

Wiki has quite the robust article about Radar.  If you’re curious, check it out (plus the hundreds of other sites that pop up when you Google Radar O’Reilly.

Back to Ottumwa – here’s a blurb from the Ottumwa Public Library website:

Its name is of Native American origin, and was originally “Ottumwanoc” (“noc” being the suffix for “place.”) For a time in 1844, Ottumwa was called “Louisville,” a name suggested by the commissioners who presided over the opening of the territory to white settlers. The group of pioneers who laid out the town objected to this name change, however, and their opinion won out. Today Ottumwa bears its original name “Ottumwa” because of these pioneers.

There is some controversy over what the Native American name “Ottumwa” actually means. There are two opinions: place of swift water or rapids, and place of perseverance or self-will.

I’m all for perseverance.  Anyway, I’ll close with these shots of the beloved Radar:

That’ll do it. . .



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