Sunday, July 31, 2016

Toolbox Explodes In Olympic Stadium

In Maracanã Stadium, where the opening ceremonies for the Rio Olympics are to take place, authorities discovered a suspicious toolbox.  When it was contacted by a robot sent to investigate, the toolbox blew up.  The incident has been called a "controlled explosion".  No injuries have been reported.

Read more at the Express, Yahoo! 7News, the Daily Mail and The Courier Mail.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Turkish Cleric's Birthplace To Become Restroom

Fethullah Gulen is a Turkish cleric currently living in Pennsylvania.  Called an "arch-nemesis" of President Erdogan, he has been accused of being involved in the failed coup attempt on July 15.  While Gulen does not yet face extradition, some people back in Turkey have found a way to torment him.  From Russia Today:
The birthplace of Gulen in the village of Korucuk is going to be turned into a public toilet, according to a report from local outlet Beyaz Gazete. 
The lavatory is to be built from materials coming from the house Gulen was born in. The outlet claimed the villagers themselves asked authorities for the unusual construction project in the central province of Erzurum. 
If you're a Turk and you don't like Gulen, you might soon get a chance to literally dump on him.  Read the full story.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Seven Tubs

Seven Tubs Nature Area, a.k.a. Seven Tubs Recreation Area, is publicly accessible area owned by the Pennsylvania state government, which may be reached via a side road connecting to Pennsylvania highway 115 a few miles south of Wilkes Barre.  I wanted to check the place out before returning to Maryland.  I parked in a small lot along the side road, which was closed further down, and found an unmarked trail leading to a creek.  Some exploration led me to what used to be a road along the same creek.  I never found any marked trails, so I don't believe I ever saw the natural features for which the place is named.  Although I took this hike in the morning, when it was not too hot out, I still got very sweaty from the humidity, and soon decided to head homeward.

There was one pool along the creek I found.  I suppose you could call it a tub, or maybe just a basin.

Here's a not-very-well-focused shot down the creek.

Here's the old road.  The creek is to the left.

If I ever return, maybe the road won't be closed, and I'll get to see if there are any trailheads beyond where I parked.

Wednesday Links

Now that I've been back in Maryland for a day, here are some things in the news:

From CBS News, one presidential candidate's daughter has a challenge for the other one's daughter.  (via The Hill)

From the Daily Mail, Donald Trump (R-NY) has some harsh words for the prosecutor of the Freddie Gray case.

From ABC News, Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who was officially nominated by her party yesterday, gets the endorsement of a former New York mayor.

From The Daily Wire,  after the Clinton nomination came the walkout.

From FrontpageMag, the Democrats put on their Mr. Bill Show.

From the Miami Herald, Trump asks Russia to find Clinton's emails.

From the New York Post, Trump criticizes Clinton's running mate, but gets confused.

From World Net Daily, a black man is shot for supporting Trump.  He is now recovering in a hospital.

From Middle East Eye, over 3,000 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean this year.  (via Zero Hedge)

From the Express, in Germany, a refugee from Eritrea allegedly rapes a 79-year-old woman in a cemetery.

From the Evening Standard, the two Muslims who killed a French priest used nuns as human shields.

From Russia Today, the French are upset that the authorities missed the two.

From the Mirror, a children's TV show generates outrage by showing a fireman tripping over a page from the Koran.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a Richmond man who started out delivering milk in a horse-drawn wagon dies at age 103.

From USA Today, the man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 will be allowed to go home to his mother.

From The Next Web, Snapchat finds an interesting way to promote itself.

From The Jerusalem Post, an editorial in favor of Kurdish statehood.

And from CNN, something that I think I'll decline.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mark Twain's Study

The legendary American writer Samuel Clemens, known as Mark Twain, is famous for writing novels and short stories set in places along the Mississippi River, and in other parts of America.  Many of his most famous works, however, were written in a small octagonal building in Elmira, New York.  The story of its origins goes back to 1870, when Clemens married Olivia Langdon, an early graduate of Elmira College.  While the Clemens family lived in Redding, Connecticut, they would spend their summers in Elmira at the property of Olivia's sister Susan Crane and her husband Theodore, which they called Quarry Farm.  In 1874, the Cranes built the study on a hill about 100 yards from their house, in part to provide Clemens with a space in which to work, and in part to avoid his cigar smoke.  At the time, the Chemung River could be seen from the study, which reminded Clemens of his childhood in Hannibal, Missouri, which was on the Mississippi.  Today, Quarry Farm is gone and the study has been incorporated into the campus of Mrs. Clemens's alma mater.

Before my family moved to Virginia, most of my childhood was spent in western New York.  I vaguely recall seeing Mark Twain's study while riding through Elmira with my father, but I don't remember ever stopping to take a closer look.  Thus, you might say that this stop on my road trip was long overdue.  The first photo is from the south, and looking uphill.

The entrance is from the west.  Through the open doorway, you can see the fireplace that forms the eastern face of the study.

On nearby College Avenue is this sign.

As seen in this shot from the southwest, the study is surrounded by trees and a light pole.

A short walk from the study brings you to a statue of Mark Twain, and one of Olivia.  As for the function of the conical sheath around the nearby tree, I have no idea.

The sidewalks of the Elmira College campus have been interspersed with bits of wisdom from Samuel Clemens, such as this one near where I parked, which these days seems more relevant than ever.

More on Mark Twain's study may be found at Atlas Obscura, The Constant Rambler and Mark Twain Country.

Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls State Park is home to its namesake waterfall, along its namesake creek.  The park is located along New York highway 89 and the west shore of Cayuga Lake, about seven miles northwest of Ithaca.  As anyone who read this blog last month might recall, I was recently in Ithaca visiting three of its waterfalls, so you could say that I was back in the area to see one more.  During that earlier trip, however, I had not yet learned about this particular waterfall.

Getting to the Ithaca area was more hazardous than I had anticipated.  Although TV reports indicated that western New York was experiencing a drought, as I got ready to check out of a hotel in Auburn, NY, a pretty intense rain was falling.  As I drove westward on U.S. highway 20, and then southward on NY-89, the rain continued, varying in intensity between light and torrential, occasionally providing some large puddles in the road.  On US-20, I passed a line of about 12 bicyclists, who were fortunately decked out in weather-appropriate outerwear.

As I came upon the park, the rain was pretty intense, so I headed into Ithaca for refueling and a quick lunch.  The rain subsided as I drove back to the park.  I even caught a few glimpses of blue sky.  By the time I arrived, the sun was out.  I was soon hiking the park's Gorge Trail toward the falls, about 3/4 mile from the parking lot.  Early in the hike, I saw this pool of water, fed by a few small cascades.

Further up the trail, I saw this step in the creek bed.  It was as if a layer of rock had been chopped away.

Here is a section of the cliff that forms the north side of the gorge.

This view shows the gorge curving toward the left.

Here's the falls, with a viewing area to the right.  The flow was rather meager, most likely due to the above-mentioned drought.  See the Democrat & Chronicle for a related story.

Near the falls was this section of the north side of the gorge.

I reached the viewing area, seen above, and took a shot of the bridge I had just crossed.  The apparent rectangular slot in the trees above the cliff is an overlook.

I took this telephoto shot of the top of the falls.

After I hiked back to the parking lot, I saw these two bridges, over which passes NY-89.  Taughannock Creek passes under the left bridge.  Under the right bridge, you can see a bit of Cayuga Lake in the background.

The name "Taughannock" looks like it could be a variant of "Tunkhannock", the name of a place in Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River, but I don't know if the two names are related.  For more information, go to Taughannock Falls and NY Falls.

Again, I headed back to Ithaca and then went southward on NY-13.  Unlike Taughannock Falls, my next destination was a place I that had previously known about and seen at least once a long time ago.


Located within Victor, New York, Ganondagan was one place I visited in 2010 while on a historical and archaeological tour.  During my New York childhood, I had pretty much grown up learning about the Iroquois and their dealings with European colonists.  The 2010 tour was a pretty good refresher course.

I decided that Ganondagan would be a stop on my recent road trip.  As I approached the place, I noticed that there were cars parked along the nearby roads.  After I did the same with my car, I walked into the visitors center (and through its full parking lot) and learned that there was a festival going on.  I payed the admission fee and then walked around the site and learned (or maybe re-learned) that it had been inhabited by people of the Seneca tribe, the westernmost of the five founding tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, until it was destroyed in 1687 by a French army invading from Canada.

I soon recognized the reconstructed long house, which had been there in 2010.  Here's its south side and east end.

Here's the north side and some visitors walking out of the west end.

These statues of a Seneca family, and the visitors center, in the background, were not there in 2010.

A mile or so west of the main site is Fort Hill.  Once used to store corn, this place was called Gadayanduk, which means "there was a fort here".  A trail leads from a small parking lot to the top of the hill, where it meets a trail extending back to the main site.  The top is a relatively flat area of about 40 acres, of which the next picture shows merely a part.

Here's part of the trail leading up from the parking lot.

For more about Ganondaga, go to Visit Finger Lakes and New York State Parks.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Kinzua Bridge

The Kinzua Bridge was a railroad viaduct that spanned Kinzua Creek and its canyon, a few miles northeast of Mt. Jewett, Pennsylvania.  It was first built in 1882, taken out of service in 1959, sold to the Pennsylvania government in 1963, and used as the feature attraction of a state park.  In 2003, after restoration had begun, much of it was ripped down by a tornado.  In 2011, the remaining portion, still connecting to the south side of the canyon, was converted into a pedestrian skywalk.  Here's the south end of the skywalk.

The next shot shows the whole length of the skywalk, and a still-standing trestle on the north side of the creek.

The skywalk includes these tracks.  The reason for two sets of rails is that if a traincar were to derail from the outer rail, its wheels might be caught be the inner rail, thus preventing it from going over the side.  Yes, I did walk to the end.

In this shot, you can see a collapsed trestle below the end of the skywalk.

Collapsed girders extend between the skywalk and the remainder of the bridge on the north side of the canyon.

After I took the above pictures, it was time to get sweaty.  The park includes a trail down to the creek, and a wooden bridge to the other side.  From there, I looked back up at the skywalk, where I had walked a few minutes earlier.

A collapsed trestle looms above Kinzua Creek.

More collapsed trestles lie in front of the remainder of the bridge to the north.

These collapsed trestles are on the north side of the creek, but I'm looking south.  The standing trestles seen here support the skywalk.

For more on the Kinzua Bridge, go to Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau and Smethport History.  Smethport is a town about 10 miles northeast of the bridge.

My latest road trip, like several earlier ones, took me through Pennsylvania into New York, and then back into Pennsylvania.  The next few posts will show some places in New York.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Seldom Seen Coal Mine

Sometime last fall, I spotted Seldom Seen Coal Mine on a map, but haven't gotten around to visiting the place until today.  It's located near Patton, PA and is reached via a side road connecting to state highway 36.  Before taking the tour into the mine, I walked around the topside facilities.  We visitors rode into the mine on railcars similar to the yellow ones in this picture.

This is the hoist house, which houses this hoist.

Behind the hoist house was this machine.

As you can tell from the "high voltage" signs, this is the power house.

I didn't try to take any pictures inside the mine, due to the relative darkness.  After riding on a small train of railcars (as seen in the first picture), we put on our hardhats and walked some distance with the tour guide up to the "face", where coal was exposed.  There was quite a bit of equipment in the adjacent area, called the "room", which the guide then explained.  Several young members of the entourage were allowed to take a small pick ax, strike the "face", and take home a souvenir piece of coal.  In a way, I envied these youngsters, not because they got to mine some coal, but because young small people don't have to worry about low ceilings.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Terrorists Strike Mall In Munich, Germany

In Munich, eight people have been killed in an apparent terror attack at the Olympia shopping mall and a nearby McDonalds.  Three suspected gunmen are at large.  Authorities have locked down various transit lines, such as commuter trains and trams.  No group has yet claimed responsibility.

Read more at The TelegraphBBC News, Reuters, Deutsche Welle and Russia Today.

UPDATE:  According to BBC, DW and RT, a ninth person has been found dead.  Authorities are trying to determine if this person was one of the perpetrators.

UPDATE 2:  There is now reported to have been only one gunman, an 18-year-old Iranian who had been living in Munich for two years.  Ten people have been killed, including the gunman, who reportedly shot himself.  Read more at the Daily Mail.

Bulls Run In Baltimore

In West Baltimore, two bulls escaped from a slaughterhouse and then ran around a residential neighborhood, before being captured by police at around 10:20 a.m.  Fortunately, Baltimore's version of "The Running Of The Bulls" did not result in any injuries, either bovine or human.  I wonder, though, how much literal bull[bleep] was left behind by the two escapees.

Read more at CBS Baltimore, the North Baltimore Patch, WBAL, The Baltimore Sun and Fox45.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Writer Behind The Speech

In the wake of accusations that would-be FLOTUS Melania Trump plagiarized from a speech by current FLOTUS Michelle Obama, the writer of Trump's speech has gotten into the public eye.  Various media sources have tracked down and reported information about Meredith McIver, who served as Trump's speechwriter.  Among the details:

She has been a member of the "Trump Organization" since 2001.

She has co-written five books with Donald Trump, and has written her own poems and short stories.

She was a ballet dancer, attending ballet school on a Ford Foundation scholarship.

She graduated with honors from University of Utah, majoring in English.

She is a registered Democrat.  Therefore, I'd say that Ms. McIver remembering words from Ms. Obama is not outside the realm of plausibility.

Read more at The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Daily News, and the Independent.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Beware The Polish Boar!

My ancestral country of Poland, whose king drove the Turks away from Vienna back in 1683, has been unwilling to accept any Muslim migrants from the Middle East.  It now appears that they might have inadvertently found a way to dissuade any from entering, if the scare given these beach-goers in the Baltic seaside town of Karwia is any indication.  The caption on the top left translates as "Boar attacks people on the beach!"

Read more about this strange incident at UPI, the Metro and the Daily Mail.

The GOP Convention And Other Stories

The Republican National Convention started last night, with appearances by a number of featured speakers.  Here are some related stories, and other things in the news:

Former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani defends Donald Trump's character.

Sheriff David Clarke's speech included a swipe at Trump's presumptive opponent.

After giving his speech, Antonio Sabato calls President Obama "absolutely" a Muslim.

A politician who shares his name with a species of amphibian claims to have suggested Mike Pence as Trump's running mate.

Victor David Hanson sets forth "ten reasons why Trump could win".

Some people found parts of Melania Trump's speech vaguely familiar.

On the other hand, one person defends Mrs. Trump.

Another prominent Republican says that he might fire her speechwriter.

A Republican ad-maker criticizes the "cult of the stupid".

Indonesia's most wanted terrorist is killed in a gunfight.

In France, a man named Mohamed attacks a woman and her daughters for being "dressed too lightly".

In Pakistan, a Christian girl is forced into an Islamic marriage, and her father is killed.

Also in Pakistan, a man dies after his arms, nose and lips are chopped off.

In Gaza, 30,000 children attend military camps run by Hamas.

In Pennsylvania, a man uses a rock to smash a police car's window.

A member of the European Parliament wants to ban the EU's member countries from opting out of its rules.

In Europe, Google throws its money around.

The IDF will "re-examine" its relationship with an "anti-gay" rabbi.

Archaeologists say that African rock art is dying.

In the Rogue One poster, the Death Star is not impossibly large.

Weird Al will play at the Hollywood Bowl.

And last but not least, 24 sports photos.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Odds And Ends From The Road

To bring my latest travelogue to a close, here are some things I saw on the road in New Mexico, between places I stopped to visit.

A rest area on Interstate 25 included this stone marker for the Santa Fe Trail.

Just above a door in the building behind the marker, some birds had built their nest.

Just off New Mexico highway 68, near its junction with NM-75, is this stone hill with a shrine in front and two crosses on top.  NM-68 runs between Taos and Española.  I had to drive its entire length, about 44 miles, to arrive at Taos from Albuquerque, and to go between Taos and Bandelier.

Also along NM-68 was this marker, indicating that a U.S. Geological Survey station was nearby.  The hills behind it are on the far side of the Rio Grande.

Here's the station itself, which had the purpose of gauging the Rio Grande, which you can see a bit of below.

Finally, after passing this thing several times while driving on NM-68, I had to take a picture of what used to be a tractor, mounted on three metal poles, next to the whimsical intersection of This and That.  It's located between the above-mentioned junction of NM-68 and NM-75, and the town of Rinconada.

I took the last picture on my way back to the Albuquerque airport, after checking out of my accommodations in Taos.  Thus ends my travelogue of New Mexico and Colorado, but I know that sooner or later, I'll be back on the road again.

Kit Carson's Home

Christopher "Kit" Carson purchased a house in Taos in 1843, where he lived with his third wife, the former Josefa Jaramillo until 1867.  Today, it is a museum, located close to the center of Taos.  The first picture is from the house's bedroom, which includes a bench, a fireplace, and a cradle.

The house's parlor includes a sewing machine.  Josefa Carson had one of the first sewing machines in New Mexico territory.  This one is a more recent model.

The house's courtyard includes an adobe stove and a table with benches.

The courtyard also includes another bench and an old wheel.

Besides the museum's website, linked above, there's also some information at Taos(dot)org.

A Little Bit Of Taos

Since I stayed in Taos for a week, I would be remiss not to take some pictures of the place, especially since my accommodations were just a short walk from the town's center.  If I had otherwise had to drive to downtown Taos, here's one place where I would not have been allowed to park, because I am not a bear.

Taos Plaza, an open area surrounded mainly by shops, includes this veterans memorial and a statue of Padre Antonio Jose Martinez.

Off to one side of Taos Plaza is this sculpture.

I also walked through Kit Carson Park, which I would call a two-stage park.  Here's one stage, which appears to be suitable for rock concerts.

The other stage appears for suitable for plays, or as the artwork suggests, folk music and dances.

One of the local stores had this mural painted on one side.

Besides serving as commander of Fort Garland in Colorado, Kit Carson also lived in Taos, which is why the park is named after him.  About two years ago, there was an effort to rename the park, because like just about every other paleface, his conduct toward American Indians was not exactly saintly, but as far as I could tell, the park still bears his name.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


Tsankawi is a remote unit of Bandelier National Monument, located about 11 miles northeast of the main unit and about 2 miles north of the White Rock Visitors Center on New Mexico highway 4.  It includes a designated parking area on NM-4.  When parking there, putting your pass for Bandelier in your vehicle where it may be seen is recommended, but I didn't see any park officials in the area.  In fact, the only people I saw were two women who arrived as I was leaving.  From the parking area, a trail leads to a ranger station and restrooms, which have drinking fountains.  The trail continues into the unit and after taking you up a ladder, makes a loop over and around a mesa.  From part of the trail, you can look up and see your impending climb.

Much of the trail is a well-worn trench in the rock, but in one place there are several parallel grooves, forming what I call the "claw".

I eventually reached the top.

Someone had placed these cairns at the northern edge of the top.  In the background, I think that's the interchange between NM-4 and NM-502.

The ruins of the Tsankawi pueblo were also on top of the mesa.

The rock on the side of the mesa, near the center of this next shot, has some notches that look rectangular.  Were they carved into the rock?

The trail passes close to this rock, which includes numerous petroglyphs.

For more on Tsankawi, go to Santa Fe Travelers, All Trails and The American Southwest.

White Rock Overlook

In the eastern part of White Rock, New Mexico is a headland overlooking the Rio Grande and its valley.  This can be reached by going eastward a few blocks on NM-4 from the White Rock Visitor Center, turning onto Rover Boulevard, and following the signs.  From the end of Overlook Road, a short walk takes you to the overlook.  This first view looks generally southward.

This shot faces east, with the river coming close to the overlook toward the right.

Looking to the northeast, we see a mesa across the river.

To the north of the overlook is a side canyon, with a dirt road in the background.

For more on White Rock Overlook, go to 360 Cities, Take My Trip and Sangres(dot)com.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bandelier National Monument

With my new camera in hand, I returned to Bandelier National Monument.  In order to get there, I had to stop at White Rock Visitor Center in the town of White Rock.  This is because driving directly into the monument was not allowed.  Instead, visitors must buy their passes (good for seven days) at the WRVC and then ride a shuttle bus, which I did for the second consecutive day.  The bus makes two stops in the monument - first at its campgrounds and then at its visitor center in Frijoles Canyon.  (If you eat Mexican food, you know what frijoles means.)

Bandelier National Monument is named after Swiss-born American archaeologist Adolph Bandelier, who worked in the United States and Mexico.

From the visitor center in Frijoles Canyon, a hike on the Main Loop Trail leads to the Big Kiva.

The trail continues to a pueblo ruin named Tyuonyi, of which this is just a small section.

The trail then led upward to this structure built against the side of the canyon, which includes numerous caves.

Once up there, you can get a good look at Tyuonyi.  The semi-circular layout reminded me of some pueblos built by people of the Chaco culture.

The only two caves visitors are allowed into each have a ladder.

Technical Difficulties

This past Tuesday, I arrived at Bandelier National Monument and got ready to take some pictures.  Unfortunately, my camera decided not to cooperate.  After I turned it on, the zoom lens would not deploy, and the viewing screen gave me the message "System Error (Zoom)".  As I had done when previously experiencing problems with the camera, I removed and then reinserted the battery and the memory card, but to no avail.

I walked around and took a few pics with my cell phone, of the primitive flip-phone type, but I realized that any photo from the phone would not be as good as one from my camera.  I decided to leave the park and find a store that sold cameras, then return to Bandelier the next day.  That afternoon, I bought a new camera back in Taos.

Back at the resort where I was staying, I prepared my new camera for use, starting with charging its battery.  I still had one problem.  Unlike my old camera, the new one did not come with a USB adapter to connect it with a computer.  Also, the old camera's adapter could not connect to the new camera.  This would mean that while I could take pictures, I could not transfer them to the computer.  Back here at home, however, I have another USB adapter that can connect to the new camera, thus allowing me to put the rest of my pictures into my computer and onto the Internet.  The remainder of my travelogue, with accompanying photos, will soon be posted.  Stay tuned.

Attempted Military Coup In Turkey

Last night, a faction of the Turkish military unsuccessfully attempted a coup against President Tayyip Erdogan, leading to clashes in Ankara and Istanbul against forces loyal to Erdogan.  Up to 181 have been reported killed, with over 1,100 injured and more than 2,800 military personnel being arrested.

Read more at the Mirror, The Telegraph, Reuters, the National Post and Haaretz.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Links For Bastille Day

On July 14, 1789, a crowd of French citizens stormed the Bastille, which was a fortress and a prison.  This event is commemorated in France as La fête nationale every July 14, and is known as Bastille Day in English-speaking countries.  Meanwhile, as my stay in New Mexico winds down, here are some things going on more recently:

A Swedish island with 137 inhabitants might be getting an asylum center that could house up to 2,000 migrants.

The European Union offers members states 10,000 Euros for every migrant they house, and make the United Kingdom pay for it.

When it comes to expensive haircuts, former president Clinton has nothing on the current French president.

European leaders crap in their pants (figuratively, I hope) at the news of former London Mayor Boris Johnson being appointed the United Kingdom's new foreign secretary.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) will not allow a vote to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

A policeman in Fresno, California shoots an unarmed man after a traffic stop, but for some reason, I don't think BlackLivesMatter (or as I call them, FactsDon'tMatter) will have any concern about this particular incident.

Turkey imposes new military curfews in the region of Diyarbakir.

Turkey has detained 27 people in relation to the suicide attack at the Istanbul airport.

The president of Iran threatens to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action 

Classified material relating to alleged Saudi government ties to the 9/11 hijackers could soon be released.

Scientists in Argentina have discovered a dinosaur similar in appearance to, but not closely related to, the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Firefighters were told to stop feeding alligators at a Disney World pond, two months before one of the gators killed a 2-year-old boy.

In Great Britain, a woman appeals the suspended sentence of a woman who had attacked her with a stiletto shoe.

In Pakistan, a nurse succumbs to injuries she received three years ago when terrorists bombed her church.

Virginia Tech's indoor practice facility wins a national award.

To finish with a public service announcement, please do not play Pokemon Go while driving.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Near U.S. Capitol, Suspects Captured After One Fires "Machine Gun"

While I'm out here in New Mexico, stuff is still happening back in east.  For several hours today, the U.S. Capitol building was placed on lockdown due to reports of a nearby shooting and car chase by police.  After the car hit a barrier, police arrested two of its three occupants at the scene and the third after a chase on foot.  One of the suspects reportedly fired a "machine gun" before dropping it.  Police recovered the gun and a large amount of ammunition.  No one was injured.

Read more at ABC News, Fox News, NBC Washington, WJLA and Russia Today.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Chapel

About 20 miles east of Taos, near the resort town of Angel Fire, is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which includes a chapel and a visitors center.  It is also a state park, the only one solely dedicated to honoring Vietnam war veterans.  It was started by the parents of Marine Lt. Victor David Westphall III, known by his middle name, who was killed in an ambush in 1968 in Con Thien, South Vietnam.  The memorial is supported by the David Westphall Veterans Foundation.

The chapel includes a slightly elevated central area and rows of concentric benches for seating.

Near the parking lot is a statue of a soldier writing home.

This helicopter is a UH-1D, known as a "Huey".  But then, if you served in Vietnam, you already knew that.

The area outlined by these flags, downhill from the chapel, will be the location of a veteran's cemetery.

In front of one side of the chapel, at the end of a walkway, is a solitary bench.

There are several large trees within the memorial grounds, including one in the seating area.

Inside an iron fence are the graves of Lt. Westphall's parents, Victor (known as "Doc") and Jeanne.  The inscription on the bench reads, "WELCOME HOME VETERANS".

More about the memorial may be found at its own website, and at Angel Fire Memorial.

UPDATE:  After looking at the New Mexico's state parks website, I could not find this memorial.  It thus appears that it's no longer a state park.

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

In northern New Mexico, the Rio Grande doesn't seem to live up to its name, but it still carved out an impressive gorge, over which humans built an impressive bridge.  Going eastward on US-64 brings you to a rest area just before the bridge.  The rest area includes an overlook from which most of the bridge may be seen.

Here's the gorge, looking southeastward from the west end of the bridge.

I walked further out and took this shot of the gorge, looking generally south.

I got the impression that this bridge brings out some people's inner jerk (to use a mild term).  As I walked back to the rest area, one driver going over the bridge decided to honk at all the pedestrians he passed.  When I got back onto the road so I could go over the bridge, someone ahead of me insisted on crossing the bridge at only 20 miles per hour, well below the speed limit.  Sadly, the bridge has been the location of a large number of suicides.  It has also appeared in several films.  There's more about the bridge at Taos(dot)org and Highest Bridges.

Jack Dempsey Park

After leaving Fort Garland, I went back to San Luis and then turned westward to Manassa, the birthplace of heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey.  Colorado highway 142, running east to west, forms the town's main thoroughfare.  Jack Dempsey Park is on the south side of CO-142, where it intersects 4th Street.  This large sign stands in front of the fence which forms the park's southern edge.

This modern log cabin houses the Jack Dempsey Museum, which was closed.  The sign to the right says, "BIRTHPLACE OF JACK DEMPSEY".

The park includes this statue of Dempsey, and a bell.  The "BIRTHPLACE" sign is again in the background.

This wishing well has been filled with soil and is thus used as a flower bed.

On a hill to the south is the town's initial.  I walked a few blocks down 4th Street to get this shot.

More on the Jack Dempsey Museum may be found at Colorado Come To Life, Southern Colorado Guide, Roadside America and Museums of the San Luis Valley.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Fort Garland

After my stop in San Luis, I resumed my northward course on CO-159 to the town of Fort Garland and the fort itself, now a museum.  Fort Garland was built in 1858 as a replacement for Fort Massachusetts, built six miles further north in 1852.  It was named after the man who ordered its construction, Brigadier General John Garland.

During the Civil War, Colorado Volunteers trained at Fort Garland, before teaming up with New Mexico Volunteers to defeat Confederate troops at the Battle of Glorieta Pass.  After the war, Christopher "Kit" Carson commanded the fort for about 18 months.  During the late 1870's, the Ninth Cavalry Regiment, part of the Buffalo Soldiers, was stationed at Fort Garland.

This is the entrance to the museum.  To the right is a partially-unfurled Colorado state flag.

The fort consists mainly of a rectangular layout of buildings, some original and others reconstructed, around a central yard.  This is most of the north side of the rectangle, with the west officers' quarters to the left and the commandant's quarters in the center.  If you look closely, you can see water coming from the sprinklers that keep the yard green.

In the middle of the yard is this flagpole, similar to the one I saw at Fort Union.  In the background is the infantry barracks, which forms most of the west side of the rectangle.  The door farthest right is to the sergeant's room.

The cavalry barracks form most of the east side of the rectangle, and have been converted into museum rooms.  One of them, the soldier's theater, includes an exhibit to honor Japanese people who immigrated into the region during the 1920's.

There were two pianos, of which this is one, in the soldier's theater.  According to the mounted card toward right, this one was owned by a woman who came from back east, was allowed to take one piece of furniture with her when she moved out here, and chose the piano.  Unfortunately for me, visitors aren't allowed to touch it.

These foundations and the buildings behind them form the south side of the rectangle.  In the background to the right, again you can see the infantry barracks, the west officers' quarters, and the flagpole, partially obscured by trees.

Here is part of the interior of a room in the infantry barracks.

The building forming the south side included an exhibition to the Buffalo Soldiers.  This picture was mounted on one wall.  Unfortunately, its surface reflected some light from the lights in the room, which I could not avoid.  I took this photo without flash.  The one I took with flash came out worse.

What looks like an adobe oven sits just south of the cavalry barracks.

After my visit, I soon found a place to eat, and was back on the road again.

The Shrine In San Luis, Colorado

After yesterday's travels to the east and south, I decided today to go north - into Colorado.  I went west on US-64 and then north on NM-522, which became Colorado highway 159.  As I approached San Luis, the first town I came upon in Colorado, I noticed what looked like a Spanish-style church on a hill west of the town center.  After I parked and got out to investigate, it turned out to be a shrine to the Stations Of The Cross.  I decided to make a brief visit, which would include a climb up the hill.

Just after starting my walk, I looked up the hill to see a round structure on top, and some of the white stone letters that say, "SAN LUIS OLDEST TOWN IN COLO."

Going up the hill, I passed by this cross before coming to any of the Stations.  The walkway was part cement, as seen here, part dirt, and part black gravel.

In the First Station, Jesus (to the right) is condemned to death.  On top of the hill are the Twelfth Station, where Jesus dies on the cross, and La Capilla de Todos Los Santos (The Chapel of All Saints), the church I had seen from the road.

Further upward is the Fourth Station, where Jesus meets his mother.  The Twelfth Station and the chapel are again in the background, but closer.

In front of the chapel is the Eleventh Station, where Jesus is nailed to the cross.

A black gravel walkway and some stairs lead to the chapel.

Behind the chapel and even further up the hill is the Memorial to the Spanish Martyrs.  After taking this shot, I decided to descend back to my car.

As the hillside lettering above says, San Luis claims to be the oldest town in Colorado.  For more about San Luis, go to SLVUFO, History Colorado and Sangres(dot)com.

Fort Union

After leaving Capulin Volcano, I went back to Raton to find some food and continued southward on I-25 to Fort Union National Monument.  On the way, I stopped for gas and watched a fellow customer drive away from the pump with the nozzle still in his vehicle.  Fortunately, the hose was detachable from the pump, so there was no permanent damage.  I eventually reached Fort Union by way of New Mexico Highway 161.

Fort Union was active from 1851 to 1891, and during its lifetime was located in three places close to each other.  It was used to defend against both the Apache and the Confederacy, which included nearby Texas, and was a stop along the Santa Fe Trail.  The current ruins, made mostly of red adobe, are from the fort's third incarnation, but nearby earthworks are from its second phase.

After stopping in at the visitor's center, where I was told that there's no fee, I walked over to what was once the fort's hospital.  The white picket fence, yellow tape, and "keep off" signs are modern additions.

In this picture, the closer ruin was part of the laundresses' quarters, which were part of the perimeter of a corral.  The farther ruin may have been part of company quarters.

This was the military prison.

The ruins in the corner are from a bakery, which is part of the perimeter of another corral.  Similarly to the other corral above, the adjacent walls may have been part of another quarters for laundresses.  According to a sign, the walkway in the lower left was part of the Santa Fe trail.

This area was part of the mechanic's corral, and now includes these two old wagons.

These were part of the fort's storehouses.

This area, including fireplaces and chimneys, was the officers' quarters.

Near the officers' quarters are a flagpole and a cannon.  In the background are the prison, to the left and partially obscured by another structure, and the hospital, to the right.

Here's a closer shot of the cannon.  In the background are the hospital, in the center, and the visitor's center, to the right.

Pretty close to the visitor's center, and thus near the conclusion of my walk, are this covered wagon and some tents.  According to a sign, the wagon was pulled by mules.

For more on Fort Union, go to Legends Of America and City-Data.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Capulin Volcano

Capulin is the name of an extinct volcano in northeastern New Mexico, which is now a national monument, and of a small town about three miles to the south.  Because it's over 100 miles from Taos, just getting there was a pretty good ride.  I took U.S. Highway 64 east from Taos, which led through several mountain passes and the towns of Angel Fire, Eagle Nest and Cimarron.

In Cimarron, I stopped at a small roadside store to pick up some sunscreen, a snack, and a bottle of water, which I naturally intended to refill.  The cashier and one customer briefly talked about a place called Maloya, which sounds just like Maloja, the name of a town and adjacent pass in Switzerland through which I had traveled a year ago, so I told them about it.  After my purchase, I continued eastward on US-64, which at times joined up with I-25 and US-87.  The rest of the way to Capulin was relatively uneventful.  From the town, New Mexico 325 led northward toward the volcano.

I found a spot along NM-325 to take a shot of the volcano from a distance.  You can see a road spiraling up the side.

From the upper parking lot, I could see a group of hikers reaching the bottom of the volcano's crater.

I then began hiking the rim trail, going clockwise.  Looking toward the northwest, I could see this nearby mountain, which I believe is Robinson Peak.

Continuing on the rim trail, I could see the town of Folsom to the north, and what looks like another volcanic cone.

I eventually got around to the southeastern part of the rim, from which I could see Sierra Grande.  The road in front of it is both US-64 and US-87.

Along much of the rim trail, the view inward was obscured by trees, but I eventually found a place where I could again see the interior.  From this spot, I could see the trail from the upper parking lot down to the bottom.

From the southwestern part of the rim, I could see these natural walls of lava rock.

I completed my rim trail hike and then continued to the bottom of the crater, which included this display.

Here are some of the rocks at the bottom, along with some vegetation.

Having taken my last intended picture, I had one last chore - pulling myself back up to the parking lot.  But without too much further difficulty, I was soon back on the road again.  More about Capulin Volcano may be found at Encyclopædia Britannica, Desert USA and The American Southwest.

Hello From Taos

I spent yesterday flying and driving from Maryland to New Mexico.  After landing in Albuquerque, I got a rental car, and in honor of Bugs Bunny, took a left toyn somewhere between the airport and Interstate 25.  My only hassle was a traffic pileup on I-25 a few miles north of where it intersects I-40.  Same [bleep], different state.

Today, I'll be hitting the road to start my exploration of northern New Mexico and a maybe bit of southern Colorado.  Travel reports will be posted as time permits.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Links for 7/7

Today is the anniversary of the 7/7 terrorist attack in London.  As we look back, here's some of what's going on today:

From The New York Times, if Donald Trump (R-NY) wins the presidential election, is it possible that he will then not serve?

From The Washington Post, Trump has a "tense" meeting with GOP Senators.

From PoliZette, on the other hand, Trump's meeting with House GOP went well.

From Real Clear Politics, RNC chairman Reince Priebus says that his party will win "with or without" the anti-Trumpers.

From CBS News, an opinion that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is Trump's best VP choice.

From The Hill, Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was not put under oath during her recent interview with the FBI.

From Breitbart's Big Government, former Ambassador John Bolton says that he'd be in jail if he did what Hillary Clinton did, and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) says that Hillary would be referred to the FBI for a perjury investigation.

From FrontpageMag, why Hillary "must go to jail".

From Politico, FBI Director James Comey testifies to the House.

From the Washington Examiner, "11 takeaways" from Comey's testimony.

From Business Insider, the Pentagon asks for money to fight ISIS drones.

From The Washington Times, the CDC asks for money to fight the Zika virus.

From CNN, according to the CDC, the United States has the highest car crash death rate among high-income countries.

From The Telegraph, the Australian state of New South Wales bans greyhound racing, and Switzerland bans the burqa.

From the New York Post, Bill Cosby claims that he was denied his right to confront his accuser.

From AsiaNews, Muslims in Bangla Desh try to force Christians and Hindu merchants to observe Islamic rules.

From Arutz Sheva, an ISIS hit list includes synagogues in the United States.

From ZNews, a man from the UAE is charged with attempted murder against a U.S. judge who previously put him in jail.

From Wired, a fungus that kills mosquitoes.

From The New Reddit Journal Of Science, a planet with three suns.

And from the Daily Mail, a British teenage boy arrives at his high school prom in a helicopter.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Looks Like Hillary Skates

FBI Director James Comey announced today that his agency will not recommend indicting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her handling of emails.  Even so, he said that she and her aides were "extremely careless".  He also said there is "evidence of potential violations", but that "no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case".

I admit to being unaware of the meaning of the term "potential violation".  How does a potential violation differ from an actual one?  And why isn't being "extremely careless" a violation unto itself?  Aren't there offenses such as animal cruelty and traffic violations that can arise from carelessness or negligence rather than intent?  It seems that once again, for a Clinton, "bureaucratic SNAFU" is an acceptable defense.

Read more at The Verge, Breitbart, the Los Angeles Times, Fox News and ABC News.

UPDATE:  Mere minutes after putting up this post, I find something at National Review by Andrew McCarthy (who admits being a longtime friend of Director Comey) who makes my point in the second paragraph above better than I do.  Read it here.

Juno Enters Jovian Orbit

Either late last night or early today, depending on your earthbound time zone, the NASA spacecraft Juno went into orbit around Jupiter, after a five-year voyage from Earth.  The craft's main engine was fired for 35 minutes to make the necessary reduction in velocity.  Juno has become the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter since Galileo, which did so from 1995 to 2003.  The orbit will take Juno as close as 2,600 miles from Jupiter's cloud tops.  (Would that distance be called its "perijovion"?)

In Roman mythology, Juno was the wife of Jupiter.  They were the respective equivalents of the Greek deities Hera and Zeus.  There is also an asteroid named Juno.

Read more at CNN, USA Today, NBC News, BBC News and NASA's press release.