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Algodones, Bernallilo and Placitas, New Mexico

Posted by graywacke on April 15, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days 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 recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2338; A Landing A Day blog post number 769.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long 35o 27.830’N, 106o 30.472’W) puts me in Cen-N New Mexico:

My local landing map:

I’ll zoom out a little to let you know that I actually landing in the greater Albuquerque area:

On my local map, you may have noticed that the Rio Grande runs past my landing.  But before I codify my watershed, let’s look at my streams-only map:

So . . . I landed in the watershed of “Wide Stream Intermittent” (known as WSI by the locals), which discharges (rarely, I suspect) to the Rio Grande (50th hit).  Congratulations, Rio Grande, on your 50th hit milestone!

I want to look at the WSI on Google Earth (GE), but first we’ll need to strap in for my GE spaceflight.  Click HERE, enjoy, and then hit your back button.

So here’s my drainage pathway, down the WSI to the Rio Grande:


And an oblique GE shot looking up the WSI towards my landing:


There’s no Street View coverage anywhere close to the WSI – let alone my landing.  The best I can do is have the Orange Dude look across the Rio Grande towards the break in the distant bluff that was carved out by the WSI:


Here’s what he sees:


I spent some time looking at USGS maps of the area, hoping to find a name for the WSI.  No luck.  I found a great map, which clearly shows the WSI valley:


Here’s a closer look at the same map; believe me there’s no label for the thin blue line that is the Wide Stream Intermittent:


Of course, I did get Street View coverage of the Rio Grande:

And here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

But here’s a better picture of the Rio Grande (from Bernalillo), a GE Pano shot by Alex Tucker:

So what about Algodones?  It is truly hookless.  The only thing I have to go on is the name itself.  In Spanish, Algodone means cotton.  “Algodones” by itself doesn’t really make sense, it should be “los algodones,” which would be translated as “the cottons.” 

From TheRoute-66.com, about the origin of the name:

The name is a Spanish word that means “cotton.”  The name may be derived from the fact that cotton was grown in this area and sold to the other pueblos in the 1700s. But drought and less land available for cultivation plus the raids of the Apaches led to its demise.

I stumbled on this expression:  “vivir entre los algodones.”  In Spanish, this idiomatic expression means to be spoiled and overprotected.  Literally, it means, “live between the cottons.”  Maybe live between the sheets?  One may wonder why I brought this up, since the chance that this expression has anything to do with the town is practically nil. . .

About 15 miles SE of my landing are the Sandia Mountains.  Here’s a view (from a real estate website) that shows the view from 8 Via Sole Drive in Algodones, looking SE:

Moving to Bernalillo.  Here’s a screen shot of the “History” section of the city’s website:

You’ll have to trust me on two points:  First, this is, in fact, the top of the “History” section on the website (even though the word “history” is no where to be seen).  Second, the word “Coronado” doesn’t appear in the fairly extensive write-up after the title. 

Say what?  If “The City of Coronado” has nothing to do with history, what does it have to do with?  Well, a little bit of research, shows that there is, in fact, a Coronado connection.

I stumbled on some local information about Coronado, after seeing the title of this GE Pano shot:

It wasn’t a great shot of the Sandias, but I dug a little deeper into Kuaua, and found this, from NMHistoricSites.com:

The Coronado Historic Site and the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo are located in Bernalillo.  In 1540, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado—with 500 soldiers and 2,000 Indian allies from New Spain—entered the Rio Grande valley somewhere near this site.

Coronado was searching for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold.  Instead of treasure, he found a dozen villages inhabited by prosperous native farmers.  These newly “discovered” people spoke Tiwa, and their ancestors had already been living in this area for thousands of years.

Coronado called them “Los Indios de los Pueblos” or Pueblo Indians.  He and his men visited all twelve Tiwa villages during the course of the next two years.  They weren’t only looking for gold; they survived on food and other supplies that they obtained from them.  Without the assistance of the Tiwas (willing or unwilling), Coronado and his men very likely would have starved to death.

Kuaua was the northernmost of the twelve villages.  Its name means “evergreen” in Tiwa.  It was first settled around AD 1325 and was occupied by approximately 1,200 people when Coronado arrived.  Conflict with Coronado and later Spanish explorers led to the abandonment of this site within a century of first contact.  Today, the descendants of the people of Kuaua live in the surviving Tiwa-speaking villages of Taos, Picuris, Sandia, and Isleta.

From a Coronado perspective, it is interesting that back in June 2016 I landed near Lochiel, Arizona, which is more-or-less where Coronado entered the United States as he began his mission to find the 7 cities of gold.

Even more interestingly, in October 2016 I landed near Gypsum, Kansas, which is more-or-less where Coronado ended his mission.  Here’s a map:

So now I landed more-or-less where Coronado crossed the Rio Grande . . .

Moving right along to Placitas.  Let me go back a couple of days when I first landed here in the desert northwest of Algodones.  As has happened before, I was sitting at my kitchen table, using a website to select my random lat/long landing location.

My wife Jody was sitting across the table, and I let her know that I was landing.  Sometimes she’ll ask what I’m doing at my computer, and I’ll say I’m “landing,” even when I’m doing research/writing.  But when I’m actually coming up with a new landing location, I’ll let her know that now, I’m “really landing.”

So, this was one of those real landing moments, and I told her that I just landed in New Mexico.  Knowing that she used to live in New Mexico, I asked her if she knew Algodones.

“Algodones?  Yea, I’ve heard of it, but I’m not sure where it is.”

I zoomed back a little more, and I asked her if she knew Bernalillo.  Of course, I mispronounced it, and she corrected me (bern – a – LEE- o), and let me know that it was in Bernalillo County.  She was paying attention now.

When I zoomed back a little on my local landing map, I caught my breath.  Here’s our dialogue (more-or-less):

“Jody – you’ll never guess where I just landed.”

“You landed near Placitas, right?”

I turned my computer around so she could see:

“Yup – Placitas.”

Oh my.  Jody used to live in Placitas.  To this day, she uses the word “placitas” (along with some miscellaneous letters and numbers) as several of her standard passwords.

She didn’t just “live” in Placitas.  While a student at the University of New Mexico, for about 8 months she lived in a non-functioning school bus that she and her then boyfriend bought for $300 and towed out to a piece of vacant land in Placitas (rent free, but with owner’s permission).  A school bus with no electricity, no water, no toilet.

They dug a pit and put an outhouse over it; they brought in two wood stoves – one for cooking and one for heat.  They used kerosene lanterns for light.  They built a chicken coop, and kept chickens for eggs.

As you might expect, this whole episode in Jody’s life has become one of our family legends.

About 20 years ago, she and I visited some friends who lived in Albuquerque, so of course we cruised around Placitas.  Things had changed so much, she couldn’t figure out where her school bus had been.  But while interviewing Jody for this post (and thanks to Google Earth), we pretty much nailed it.

Let me start with this GE shot of Placitas today:

She lived west of town, and the more she thought about it, she was able to say that she lived south of the main drag and just west of road with word “tunnel” in it. Hmmmm . . .

And there it is, Tunnel Springs road.  Zeroing in, she also remembered “the arroyo,” a little further west.  That nailed it.  I’ll put the magic yellow oval on this gotta-be-it zone:

“By jove, Sherman, I think we’ve found it!  All we need to do is crank up the Way Back Machine – let me see, let’s set it for April 23rd, 1971.  We’ll put the Orange Dude out on the main drag, and take a look:”

“The bus!   And yes, that’s Jody!  Good job, Mr. Peabody!”

Not a bad view from the bus – those are the Sandia Mountains in the background.

A quick detour on the Sandias:

Sandía means watermelon in Spanish, and is popularly believed to be a reference to the reddish color of the mountains at sunset.  [This is what Jody told me].  However, as Robert Julyan notes, “the most likely explanation is the one believed by the Sandia Indians: the Spaniards, when they encountered the Pueblo in 1540, called it Sandia, because they thought the squash gourds growing there were watermelons, and the name Sandia soon was transferred to the mountains east of the pueblo.”

Here’s a lovely shot (from Wiki) of the Sandias over the Rio Grande:

Back to Placitas.  No surprise, Placitas was quite the hippie community back in 1971.  From PlacitasSage.org:

In the 1960s, Placitas was an alternative to nearby urban areas which offered employment but little space. Improved roads allowed a reasonable commute, and the population of Placitas began to grow gradually.

Some moved here to write, to make art and music, to enjoy life at a slower pace. Some wanted to “live off the land,” a movement which gained strength in the 1970s. Some of these folks gathered in communes, others simply built their own homes on acreage that was affordable and available.

One of the Placitas communes was “Lower Farm,” which Jody remembers visiting.  Here’s a classic hippie photo by Roberta Price (check out the guitar player’s pants!).  She wrote a book on communes in the west (Across the Great Divide – A Photo Chronicle of the Counterculture) which includes this photo (with the caption below):

Placitas was the southern point of our commune explorations in the summer of 1969 and again in the early winter of 1970, and though we spent a short time there, we caught a glimpse of the vibrant counter-cultural life at that time.

But the real center of Placitas life was the Thunderbird Bar.  Jody remembers it well, and occasionally went there to hear some live music.  I googled the Thunderbird, and came across a facebook page belonging to Larry Goodell, the Placitas “poet-in-residence.”  Back in the day, he performed at the Thunderbird and has collected Thunderbird memorabilia and posted it on his page. 

Here are some posters, mostly from the early 1970s when the Thunderbird was at its prime (it burned down in the mid-70s).  Note REO Speedwagon, Tim Buckley, Mason Williams, Albert King, John Lee Hooker and Freddie King – some pretty big names . . .

(I really enjoyed perusing these.  If you’re not so inclined, you can scroll down quickly.)

Fifteen cent beers!

Here are a couple of inside shots from the same era (I don’t see Jody):

And, this, showing the outside (featuring, I think, Dolly from “Dolly and the Lama Mountain Boys):

From SandovalSignPost, this, by Bill Pearlman, relating a Thunderbird Bar conversation with Joe Gonzalez:

Old days that run the gamut. How the myriad conversations came and went, the goodwill exchanged in language. The strange creatures that appeared here, the wild days at the old Thunderbird Bar of Placitas.  Joe reminds me that the Thunderbird was our center, our forum, our symposium— where ideas were explored, where stories were told, and where laughter surged from friendly voices and passed beyond us. The camaraderie of those days, what we did with our energies, our affections, our vehemence. Lived out a youth, a Volks camper, a bad war, a skyrocketing high, a refugee’s sense of distance.

In one of those JFTHOI* moments, here’s Mason Williams performing Classical Gas in 1968.  Great song.  He was a pretty big name to be playing the little ‘ol Thunderbird Bar!  This is skippable, but this song was a huge hit, and I enjoyed seeing him play it.

*Just for the heck of it


And in another JFTHOI moments, here’s Tommy Emmanuel (who I’ve seen four or five times) also performing Classical Gas.  In my humble opinion, if you don’t know Tommy, you should really check this out.  And if you do know Tommy, you’ll enjoy it.


For the record:  Even though I’m sure it was going on all around her, Jody was a non-drinker, non-druggie during her days in Placitas. . .

I came across a YouTube video of a 1970 BB King concert in Placitas, the “Medicine Ball Caravan” festival.  I wasn’t going to bother posting it, but I realized it’s a great performance with good sound quality, and well worth your time (and it has some classic hippie shots):


That’ll do it for Placitas; now I’m going to cycle all the way back to my when-I-was-really-landing moment.  As most readers probably know, I often “land” outside of the lower 48, because of the roughly rectangular landing area I have to identify when coming up with my random lat/long.  Anyway, this was one of those times when I first “landed” in the Atlantic Ocean, and then Mexico.  And Mexico again.  And (AYKM?) Mexico again. 

I was blown away when Mexico came up for the fourth straight time!  But this one was special.  So special, that I’m going to let you see the special place I landed.  Click HERE (and don’t skip this trip!).

Here’s a static shot of the Isla San Jose (and the yellow push-pin that was my landing location):

The island is about 18 miles long and 5 miles wide, and is uninhabited.  But it (along with the much smaller San Francisco Island just south) is incredibly beautiful.  Here are some GE Pano shots.  I’ll start with this, by Samir Gonzalez:

Rodriguez 324:

Also, Rodriguez 324:

And yes, another by Rod:

And again:

By you-know-who:

Geez.  Enough already . . .

Hold on to your hats, this is by KNBStover (of San Francisco Island):

Same beach, another angle, by Jack Bennett:


I’ll close this segment with this, by Bacamacari:

I’ll circle back to Placitas, and close with this lovely GE Pano shot of the Sandia by NMGuy:

That’ll do it . . .



© 2017 A Landing A Day



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Drakesboro, Kentucky

Posted by graywacke on February 16, 2015

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 2156; A Landing A Day blog post number 584.

Dan:  Today’s landing marks the 44th straight western / midwestern landing (but at least it’s a USer). . . KY; 22/28; 3/10; 22; 150.2.

OK, I have to spend a little time on this lack-of-eastern-landings thing.  Check out this Google Earth (GE) shot:

GE US map

See the north-south yellow line I drew?  Believe it or not, there are 181 landings shown on the map.  How many are east of the yellow line?   A measly 14.  14 out of 181 is only 7.7%.

Now let’s look at the area east of the line vs. west of the line.  This is a pretty easy exercise for me (since all of the state areas are of course in my landing spreadsheet).  Note that I split both Kentucky and Tennessee in half (close enough). 

So, the area east of the line is 561,549 square miles, and the area of the lower 48 is 3,119,994 square miles.  Doing the percentages:  18% of the area is east of the line.

Another way of looking at it:

The landing density for the east is 561,549 square miles divided by 14 landings = 1 landing per 40,110 square miles.

The landing density for the west is 2,558,445 square miles divided by 167 landings = 1 landing per 15,320 square miles.

7.7% of landings in 18% of the area?  Landing densities of 15,000 vs. 40,000? What gives?  Well, I can certainly tell you that over the last 181 landings, the entire eastern U.S. is severely US (Under Subscribed).

And how about 44 landings in a row that haven’t touched the east?  I’ll do the statistics:  Each landing, I have a 0.82 chance of a western / midwestern landing.  Raise that number to the 44th power (and then take the inverse) and I get one chance in 6,197 that I would not land east of the yellow line for 44 straight landings!!!   Phew. . .

So, what do you think?  Since I spent all of this time and effort, my next landing will be in the east?  Maybe . . .

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

 landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2

Wow.  Kind of looks like I landed right in Pond Creek!   I think I’m going to need to look a little closer via Google Earth (GE) to see if I actually landed in the creek.  First, I’ll start with my GE spaceflight in:


Now, I’ll zoom in very closely, and son-of-a-gun, if I didn’t actually land in Pond Creek!  So, here’s my watershed analysis:

 GE Pond Creek

I landed in Pond Creek; on to the Green River (9th hit); on to the Ohio R (133rd hit); to the MM (846th hit).

I found a GE Panoramio shot (by RD Anthony) of a car ferry on the Green River about five miles east of my landing.  The ferry is docked on the far side of the river:

pano RDAnthony

So.  I checked out Drakesboro, and found this in Wiki:

Drakesboro is a 5th-class city in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.  [I wonder if they have an inferiority complex, wishing that one day they’ll be a fourth class city . .  ]  The population was 627 at the 2000 census. Incorporated in 1888, the city was named for early pioneer William Drake.

Nothing much there.  But then, it went on to say this:

The Four Legends Fountain

Constructed in 1992, the Four Legends Fountain honors four pioneers of the “thumb picking” style of guitar playing often associated with Bluegrass music: Kennedy Jones, Ike Everly, Mose Rager, and Merle Travis.  All four have close ties to Muhlenberg County.  Merle Travis is considered a native son of Drakesboro.

FYI, “thumb picking” involves the use of a plastic guitar pick that fits on the thumb.  Besides the thumb, most of the other picking is done by the index finger.  

After a fairly extensive search, I could find one and only one picture of the Four Legends Fountain.  Here it is, a photo by Carey Gough, from Institute193.org:

 institute 193.org foundtain

See the four guitars on the four poles?

Merle Travis is far and away the most famous of the four (and he’s Drakesboro’s own).  Ike Everly is the father of the famous Everly Brothers (featured in my Central City & Rockport KY post of June 2014).  Kennedy Jones actually pioneered the thumb picking style; the other three legends all claimed to have been strongly influenced by “Jonesey.”  Mose Rager gets more attention shortly. 

So, here’s a short video of Merle where he really shows off his thumb picking style:


One of my favorite musicians is an acoustic guitar player name of Tommy Emmanuel.  I’ve seen Tommy in concert maybe 5 or 6 times (including a road trip to Ottawa!).  Anyway, Tommy is a great admirer of Chet Atkins and Merle Travis. 

Here’s a You Tube video of Tommy playing Merle Travis’ Guitar Rag.  In Tommy’s intro (which I’ve transcribed below), get this:  he talks about Merle Travis, Mose Rager and Drakesboro Kentucky!!


The guy that inspired Chet Atkins was a man named Merle Travis.  And he had a great style; he wrote great songs.  This is one of my favorites of Merle’s.  It’s written about a guy named Mose Rager who opened a barber shop in Kentucky – Drakesboro Kentucky.  And he didn’t cut much hair because he used to sit and play the guitar all day and draw a big crowd, his shop was always full, but no one was getting a haircut.  And legend has it that Mose was a lady killer, and the ones he didn’t kill he crippled up pretty bad.  And so, (laughter) and he had this uh, magnetic attraction; and the people couldn’t resist him.  And he played with a great groove.  Anyway, this is a song about him.  It’s called The Guitar Rag written by Merle Travis.

Well, way down in ol’ Kentucky
There’s a fella mighty lucky
By the way he makes a guitar moan
Hangin’ round, singin’ round a country store
Just pickin’ like a chicken, or pickin’ up corn

And every gal in the county, gathers all around him
Well he’s got rhythm in his bones, yea
My feet start scootin’, the shuffle and drag
Every time I hear the rhythm of the guitar rag

He gets a moanin’ tone, he gets grumble and groan
When he gets pickin’ and pluckin’ the thing
He can make a deacon do the buck-and-wing

All the fat and skinny does a little shimmy
And their heads starts wiggle and wag
My feet start scootin’with the shuffle and drag
Every time I hear the rhythm of the guitar rag

He gets a moanin’ tone, he gets a grumble and groan
Well, he can make a jackrabbit run in the ground
And he can make the Deacon lay the good book down

All the fat and skinny does a little shimmy
And their heads start to wiggle and wag
My feet start scootin’with the shuffle and drag
Every time I hear the rhythm of the guitar rag

My feet start scootin’with the shuffle and drag
Every time I hear the rhythm of the guitar rag

So good ol’ Mose had a barbershop in Drakesboro.  Anyway, I found this short Mose Rager You Tube video:


Almost always, I close my post with some GE Pano photos.  Not this time (I could really find any pretty shots any place close to my landing, except the Green River ferry shot).  So I’m close this post a little differently.

A little research showed me that Merle Travis recorded a number of albums with Tex Ritter.  I featured Tex on my 2013 Carthage TX post.  For that post, I found Tex’s version of “Froggy Went A-Courtin,” and painstakingly transcribed the words.  As I said in that post “I LOVE THIS SONG.”



Froggy went a-courtin’ an-a he did ride, uh, huh
Froggy went a-courtin’ an-a he did ride, oh, hoh
Froggy went a-courtin’ an-a he did ride
Sword and a pistol by his side
Uh, huh . . . hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm

Well he went up to Miss-a Mousie’s door and a hoh and a hey and a hoh and a hey
Went up to Miss-a Mousie’s door, hoh
Went up-a to Miss-a Mousie’s door
She said get away you been here before,
Uh, huh . . . ohmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm

Fee Fime Oh in the land of fear of Pharaoh
Come a rattrap, pennywinkle, tom o’doodle, rattle bugger rattrap
Penny won’t you kime be, oh.

Took a-Missa Mousie on his knee, uh, huh
Took a-Missa Mousie on his knee, oh
Took a-Missa Mousie on his knee
Well he said Miss Mousie, ‘Will you marry me’
Uh, huh,  hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm.

Little piece of corn bread a-lyin’ on the shelf and a hoh and a hey and a hoh and a hey
Little piece of corn bread a-lyin’ on the shelf, uh, huh
Little piece of corn bread a-lyin’ on the shelf
If you want anymore you can sing it yourself
Uh, huh, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm

Fee Fime Oh in the land of fear of Pharaoh
Come a rattrap, pennywinkle, tom o’doodle, rattle bugger rattrap
Penny won’t you kime be, oh.

Kimbo kymbo hey-ho gee-roh
Hey come a rattrap, pollywinkle lolly bugger rattrap
Penny won’t you kime be, oh.


That’ll do it.



© 2015 A Landing A Day




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