A special welcome to DOMAI.COM visitors (this link features tasteful nudity).
The article we did about DOMAI is now available as a separate feature, or on the current page at the Aug 15 entry. We suggest that a feature about a photographer from the early 20th century New Orleans red light district of Storyville, E.J. Bellocq, may interest you, also available on the current page at the Aug 26 entry.
The homepage symbol on the left will always take you to our current issue, which features a daily update of pictures from around the world. Enjoy your visit!
Saturday 31 August 2002
One of the things I noticed when I came to live in the desert, or at least in this desert, was the occasional profligate use of water. The state governor Mike Leavitt sometimes appears on TV in public service advertisements extolling the virtues, necessities even, of water conservation. Many people seem to take the attitude that they are paying for it, so what the heck (a common local expression). This produces some environmental absurdities, such as lush green lawns surrounding fountains and cascades. Others practise 'desert gardening' with rocks, gravel, and the native plant species.
One garden nearby has an interesting assortment of skulls, and the skeletal remains of trees as well as animals. All this is laid out on a rockery of local stone laid over red volcanic gravel, edged by petrified wood. The picture was taken just outside the Star Nursery garden centre in the nearby town of St. George, UT. Nice to see them setting such a good example to their customers. Their star notes #215 has tips on growing herbs in the desert… I'm sure even Mike Leavitt would approve of a little water for something like borage, which they say to "give deep, infrequent water when established". Mmmmm! Some roasted garlic bread with cold Ligurian lettuce and borage soup, hard goat cheese, and a well breathed bottle of Cabernet Franc Lison-Pramaggiore D.O.C. Santa Margherita. Buono Appetito!
Friday 30 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Topless in Hurricane
This old buggy stands in the Heritage Park in Hurricane, Utah. The tale goes that when Erastus Snow arrived to check out the area for settlement, a sudden wind blew the top off his buggy. This seems a more likely tale than the version that mentions his top hat blowing away. Reportedly he said, "That thar sure was some hurricane!", which was a mild retort under the circumstances, and the name stuck. I doubt if this was the same buggy, and the story seems a bit unlikely, but its a gift for those people who write the teaser boards outside news agents' shops, hahaha! No need for you to feel cheated though, Monday's entry has a sultry seductress who will link you to a whole gallery of naughty delights from old time New Orleans.
Thursday 29 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Snowy Kolob
Kolob is the western side of Zion National Park. It was named by the Mormon Pioneers after the planet described by Abraham. The earthly version is usually as hot as hell, though. This picture was taken in January 2002 when the Park received a light shower of snow, so the burning blue skies usually seen are missing from this picture. Away to the right the trail leads to Kolob Arch, which at nearly 400ft of span is possibly the longest natural arch in the world. If you want to hike there it's 7 miles in and 7 miles back over rough terrain. There is a more familiar picture of the Kolob Fingers to be seen at www.americansouthwest.com and www.naturalarches.org. has a piece on the Arch. Dale Meier has some closeup pictures of the Fingers and details of the hike to the Arch, can be found at www.onedayhikes.com along with other hikes in the area. Y'all come and visit sometime!
Wednesday 28 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Photo Tour de Force
I featured French photographer Francis Toussaint back in May 2002 since when he has added considerably to his galleries at the PBase photo hosting service. Francis now has 1,720 images in 47 galleries, so I thought I would feature a set of three to show his versatility. The galleries have lots of variety even within the different themes. A tour de force indeed, if you will pardon my French. Enjoy!
Tuesday 27 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Mountain Madness Maid
Mountain Madness Maid Ann Bowker, accompanied by her swain Roland if my eyes do not deceive me, recently camped on top of Haystacks. This delightful mountain in the English Lake District was beloved of Alfred Wainwright, the author of the 'A.W. Guides'. It was also the place he chose to have his ashed scattered. Ann brought back this moody sunset, though I regret to say that the dawn the following morning was less spectacular. The lakes in view from there are Buttermere, and Crummock Water, with the Irish Sea away beyond the coast of West Cumberland. You may visit Ann for more mountains than you knew existed on the Sceptered Isle, and beyond.
Monday 26 August 2002
Pix of the Day: E.J. Bellocq's Women
This is an untitled picture by E.J. Bellocq taken around 1912, available in the Masters of Photography Bellocq gallery. Only 89 of Bellocq's images in this series have survived and Masters of Photography has 13 of them. Professor James R. Beniger of the University of Southern California has another, which is also available for viewing on ◊ larger monitors. Masters of Photography has an articles page and a resources page if you want more background on this interesting man and his pictures. The webgalleries.com people are the ones who have provided this rich resource for anyone interested in the great photographs and photographers of the past. They also have a site called The Artchive, which is dedicated to art and artists.
Sunday 25 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Roof Park and Launch
I saw this rooftop eye catcher in Missouri. That front end really needs a propeller to complete the look. Perhaps one day the car will be fitted with that prop, and then it will launch itself into the better life that it surely deserves. That's what America's all about. It's all down to your conceptualization of what are your oportunities, and what are your limitations. At least I hope that's what it's all about!
Saturday 24 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Cool Kid in Shades
What is it that kids find so fascinating about sunglasses? Same thing that keeps dogs happy for hours hanging out of car windows I suppose. My own favourite displacement activity is sitting on the patio in the evenings as the birds and bats swoop after the dragonflies as the sun goes down. Clint Eastwood was once asked what he intended to do after a film was completed. He replied in that menacingly terse drawl, "Drink a little wine; watch some sunsets". Tonight the only thing I can think to add is, "Watch the moon come up over the mountains."
Friday 23 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Snow Canyon Desert
Snow Canyon might seem a strange name for a physical feature that is clearly a desert environment. I have yet to come across a web page that saw fit to explain where the name came from, but as 'Snow' was a common Pioneer family name hereabouts, I imagine that's the derivation. The canyon is a kind of geological shopping basket: sand dunes, solidified lava flows over sandstone, geologically recent volcanic cones, and other features. If you visit I doubt that you will be able to go through the 'less than ten items' checkout with so many delights on offer. The area is a State Park just a few miles from the town of St. George, in the very southwest corner of Utah. There is easy access from Interstate-15, and plenty of accommodation and services locally. More details on The American Southwest web site, which also has a good photo gallery. If you want to see an atmospheric picture of the park, check out Bert Sirkin's web site.
Thursday 22 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Steel Arch Elegance
Today's picture of the Taos Gorge Bridge over the Rio Grande in New Mexico comes from John H. Farr's website at www.FotoFeed.com (links to other Farr features in the sidebar). When it was completed in 1965 it was known as 'The Bridge to Nowhere' because funds ran out to link the bridge to the existing highway system. It now carries US64 from Taos, NM, to Farmington, NM. When we passed this way we were taken completely by surprise. One moment we were driving across an enormous flat high altitude plain, the next moment we were winging across an airy bridge crossing a river whose name is legendary. The structure is claimed to be 'The World's Most Beautiful Steel Span Bridge'. More objectively it is claimed to be the second highest bridge in the USA, though figures for the drop to the river below seem to vary widely between 600 and 800 feet.
Geologically the Rio Grande is unusual, because rather than running in a gorge that it has cut itself, it runs in a ready made tear in the earth's crust riven by another form of arching on an even grander scale. Steven Wade Veatch has a page with all the details. The always impressive Virtual Guidebooks website has a 360 degree VR panorama of the gorge, and other sights in the Pueblo Country.
There was an appalling murder here on 23 November 1998, when Erik Sanchez, 18, from nearby Espanola was thrown from the bridge. The following information has been garnered from many web sources, so its accuracy is questionable. Indeed one newspaper archive I searched had the date of the murder as 1997 and 1998 in consecutive search results. Reports I read suggest that Luis Acosta, 19, of Ranchos de Taos and David Sandoval, 24, of Taos were charged with 1st-degree murder, 2 counts of armed robbery and single counts of conspiracy to commit a felony and first-degree kidnapping, with the death penalty sought.
It was alleged that the accused killed Sanchez for his customized car, which they allegedly planned to sell in Mexico for money to buy drugs and Christmas presents. It was also alleged that Sanchez was beaten, strangled with a shoelace and stripped of his clothing, then driven to the Rio Grande Gorge bridge, where he regained consciousness and tried to escape but was overpowered, according to Sheriff Charlie Martinez. Sanchez clung to the railing as his hands were kicked until he fell to the bottom of the gorge, Martinez said.
Defence attorneys Carmen Garza and Gary Mitchell claimed that although the idea might sound ludicrous, Acosta thought Sanchez could fly. They alleged their client had used an extensive amount of cocaine, and was under the influence of either drugs or alcohol at the time the killing occurred. As best as I have been able to ascertain from reports it seems that Acosta and Sandoval eventually pleaded guilty, and were sentenced to life plus 71 years, and life plus 75 years respectively.
Wednesday 21 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Riotous Colour
After yesterday's Antarctic monochromes, today I have splurged on a riot of colour from Charles Winpenny at www.CornwallCAM.co.uk, where Charles often seems to follow the old adage, 'Take time to smell the roses'. If you check out Charles' update for today there is a fine selection including Penzance promenade, Cornish beaches, and even an industrial landscape. Even when photographing factories Charles' eye doesn't miss the flowers!
Tuesday 20 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Antarctic Odyssey
Marcel Ban is Romanian by birth, but now lives in Toronto, Canada, where he owns The Bans Consulting Group Inc., a computer software house. More pertinent to this weblog, he is also a keen photographer. After a period of hard work he gave himself a month off, and took his wife Diana for a little jaunt. What better place for a few interesting photo opportunities than Antarctica, the Seventh Continent? Better yet, he built a miniwebsite to display his pictures for all to enjoy. There's even more: Argentina; Chile; Uruguay; and no Antarctic photosite would be complete without a penguin gallery! There are over three hundred pictures to choose from on the page devoted to a thumbnail gallery. The featured picture is Port Lockroy, British post office. If you have a ◊ larger monitor there is a bigger version of the picture (please allow time for it to download). Marcel's site is one of those you may either keep returning for a dip (brrr!) or spend a long session reading about somewhere that few of us will be lucky enough to visit ourselves. Highly recommended, whichever way you decide to visit to enjoy what is on offer.
Monday 19 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Gnawed by the Wind
Alexander Todorenko runs the almost-daily picture web site New Zealand, which has sections for daily pictures, scenic shots for desktop wallpaper in two sizes, and galleries with themed images. This picture is from the Karekare Beach section of Galleries, entitled 'Gnawed by the Wind'. If you have a ◊ bigger monitor there is a slightly larger version of the picture (please allow time for it to download). Although the site has many excellent landscape pictures there are also many featuring urban life in the antipodes. Alexander modestly gives little information about himself, but one might reasonably assume that he is Russian by birth, but now living in New Zealand. All the pictures are of high quality, and Alexander says he is planning to expand the site with photo tips, and maybe even tutorials on making web photo galleries. The site also has Russian language pages, which are gradually being translated into English by Alexander, though one might think that English was his first language.
Sunday 18 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Man and Mountains
Tony Richards was in Wasdale in the English Lake District for his
ww.LakelandCAM.co.uk website and took this picture. This is one of the classic views of the area, which boasts the English record for the smallest church, the highest mountain, the deepest lake, and the biggest liar, Wil Ritson.
If you have a ◊ larger monitor there is a slightly larger version of the picture (please allow time for it to download). Wasdale is also home to Jos Naylor the 'King of the Fells' (the local word for mountains), and Tony stopped for a chat. There is a
recent item on Jos in the archives. It still blows me away that a man with no cartilage in his knees runs up and down mountains for fun. Nice to see that at the usual retirement age, Jos seems to have no plans to slow down.
Saturday 17 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Tehran 24 Hours
Fancy visiting the Tajrish Bazar in Tehran? Then pop along to the 3D Virtual Tours page, which you will find if you go to the www.Tehran24.com website. When I visited just now that was the free download. The featured picture also comes from www.Tehran24.com, and I think that it makes a nice counterpoint to yesterday's picture from a rather less exotic location. If you have a ◊ larger monitor there is a bigger version of the picture (please allow time for it to download). Am I being too woo-woo if I suggest that bridges have personalities of their own? There is a certain bridge across the M6 near Lancaster in the north of England that seems to me to be making a statement at very least. For all things concerning bridges visit Derek Locke at Bridge Building - Art and Science.
The www.Tehran24.com website features daily pictures, 3D virtual tours, and computer wallpapers. Their purpose is best expressed by this quotation from their mission statement, 'We saw the Internet as a global community center, a place where people with different ethnic backgrounds could share their cultural pride and experiences. Everything we do, from the design of our site to the selection of our photographs, reflects that philosophy.' Maybe if we were all a little more familiar with each the other's culture we might be less fearful. Much of the content is free, spread across different galleries. The site supports itself by contributions from visitors, which you may check out on the membership signup page. [Thanks to Sina T.]
On Monday there will be an exceptional picture from New Zealand on this weblog. That will be followed by an equally splendid picture from Antarctica, as the blog tries to range further afield to bring you the best images from the web.
Friday 16 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Urbanscapes Revisited
Don Burluraux' North York Moors CAM has a page where Don explores the urban landscapes along the River Tees at Stockton, in the north east of England. In times gone by I drove a car transporter, regularly passing through Stockton and many of the surrounding towns. This structure, the Newport Bridge was instantly recognisable to me like some familiar icon on my computer desktop. You may follow Don as he wanders past several other equally famous and special bridges, The Tees Barrage, and the explorer Captain Cook's sailing ship. What a treat! Thanks Don, for the walk down memory lane.
The Noble Sport of Conkers
In the UK the fruits of the Horse Chesnut trees are ripening, and small boys will soon be hurling sticks aloft to knock them down. When the outer shell is broken open the gorgeous brown chestnuts within are revealed, and are known as 'conkers'. These are strung, often on boot laces, and the first competitor holds his nut aloft, dangling by its string. The opponent then swings his nut with a mighty blow, to crash the two nuts together. Last person with something left on his string wins. Known as 'cheggies' in the part of England where I was born and dragged up, there were all sorts of dark, sinister treatments that might be administered to the cheggies to make them more durable. Vinegar and unmentionable alkaline fluids were commonly discussed. "Cheesers', nuts with a sharp edge formed when there were two nuts within the same shell, were highly prized for their ability to cleave deep into the opponents nut. Thick leather boot laces were generally agreed to prevent damage from within, an early form of today's Homeland Defence, no doubt. Successful nuts became 'oncers', 'twosers', and 'threesers'. Persons claiming 'foursers' were usually ridiculed for their outrageous mendacity. The surviving cheggie inherited the score of its vanquished opponent. Ah, times were simpler in those sunlit, far off halcyon days. My American born wife thinks I am making all this up. Girls! What are they like? Thanks to Tony Richards at www.lakelandcam.co.uk for the memories.
Thursday 15 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Ageless Beauty
Although I look at a huge number of images, I rarely want to own any of them. I am not given to decorating the walls of my living space, so whenever an image does stir the sin of covetousness in me I ask myself if it is "wallspaceworthy". To find two that pass the test in two consecutive days must rank as a personal best: yesterday's 'Geometrical Manhattan' and today's 'Ageless Beauty' qualify with ease.
The photographer for today's picture is Eolake Stobblehouse, who must be one of the most diligent creators on the web. A Google search for 'stobblehouse' returned 458 results, but even this belies the size and popularity of his output. Today's featured picture came from his personal website at
www.stobblehouse.com. The source page for that picture was Women pictures, which for those of you for whom such things matter does contain tasteful female nudity, though the thumbnails should be sufficient distancing.
Eolake's most visited site is www.domai.com, a humorous reference to the 'Dirty Old Men's Association International', an organisation founded by Eolake, and I guess he is the major member. The site offers 'simple nudes of pretty girls', and there is a generous free sampling with a membership option. Your intrepid reporter was allowed access to the members' area, and can assure you that what is there is fairly represented outside: if you're looking for pornography then look elsewhere. Founded in 1996 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Domai is now in the top 0.2 percentile of the web's most popular sites according to Alexa. The site's gravitas might be discerned from the quotation I saw on the home page when I visited while writing this: "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite." - John Kenneth Galbraith.
Eolake's third site is www.maccreator.com, which will be a familiar destination for users of Apple Computer's awesome products. The site has articles that will interest non Macintosh users, however. I particularly enjoyed Eolake's interview with famous 'technomad' Steven K. Roberts, the man who has equipped both a bicycle and a boat as computing centres, then travelled around while using them for real. The last of the quartet of websites is www.WhatMeArtist.com, which offers 37 succinct but thought provoking lessons 'designed to work for painters, musicians, writers, sculptors, filmmakers... anybody working creatively, professionally or not. The lesson plan is free, though if you want some additional support that too is available by email at the modest cost of $50.00 for one year.
Wednesday 14 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Geometrical Manhattan
Today's picture by William Irvine comes from his www.MacroNYC.com website. William's digital eye takes a fresh look at the familiar New York City urbanscape, usually homing in on the parts that make up the whole. There are six beautifully presented galleries on the website. The one featured here is the penultimate entry in gallery six. As you page through the galleries keep a lookout for favourites of mine, 'Wet Sphere', 'Door', and 'Canal Street 2'.
By profession William is a digital brand marketing guru, and he has a weblog called 'dBrand: The Digital Brand Marketing Blog' to share his expertise. I thought his well argued rejection of 'media convergence' invigorating after all the trendy gobbledegook and jabberwocky that is peddled as the current reality. Just remember what they did to Socrates, William! [Thanks to Eolake Stobblehouse.]
Tuesday 13 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Humpback Tail
NOAA (the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) have put online, and into the public domain, over 20,000 photographs. This one entitled 'Humpback Tail' is also available at that link as a high resolution file. The atrribution details are Image ID: sanc0114, Sanctuary Collection, Location: Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, Photographer: Ken Balcomb. If you have a ◊ 19" or larger monitor there is a bigger version of the picture (please allow time for it to download).
The Month of the Perseid Meteor Showers
In August the Earth enters the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle, which then showers our planet with tiny debris. As the particles enter our gravitational field they heat up from friction with the atmosphere, and produce light tracks in the night sky. Since 1995 Robert Nemiroff & Jerry Bonnell have authored and edited APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day). Their update for 11 August 2002 has a full size version of this thumbnail image, with links to webpages containing background information on the meteor showers, including details of how and when they are best observed.
Quote of the Day: Mark Hostetler
...when I presented it to my Ph.D. committee, they said, "Nope. It's too tongue in cheek and it isn't scholarly enough." My real dissertation is called, 'Scale, Landscape Structure and Suburban Habitats: How Do We Affect Avian Communities?' I don't think it'll be as big a seller as, 'That Gunk on Your Car'.
Author Mark Hostetler spent years scraping bugs off windshields, and photographing the grisly microminiature exoskeletal remains. The result is a book, 'That Gunk on Your Car: A Unique Guide to Insects in The United States'. You may read an interview with him on Car Talk, the website of one of the most entertaining shows on the wireless. The show's hosts, 'Click & Clack, The Tappet Brothers' (otherwise known as Tom & Ray Magliozzi), have even set up a bugsplat recognition game. Mark Hostetler's webpage has examples of bugs and their splats along with details about how to obtain the book, which received a 1977 IG Nobel award from the Annals of Improbable Research.
Monday 12 August 2002
Who Was M. Montbret?
The picture of Pendower Beach in Cornwall, England was taken on a recent visit by Charles Winpenny for his CornwallCAM website. The red/orange plant in the foreground is Montbretia Crocosmia named after Antoine Francois Ernest Conquebert de Montbret, a botanist who accompanied Napoleon on the Egyptian Campaign, though the plant is a native of South Africa. The plant name is sometimes spelled 'Monbretia', which most authorities list as an acceptable alternative. Just how Monsieur Conquebert de Montbret might feel about that is open to debate.
My own picture of Montbretia was taken on an abandoned railway running past a heavily industrialised area of Whitehaven on the coast of West Cumbria, England. I went in search of this 18C botanist after whom such a lovely plant was named. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Squat. Nothing to be found on the web. The search continues: any information will be welcome from visitors. If my own quest reveals anything I will post an update. The white flowers in Charles' picture might be Convulvulus: after the time spent trying to track down Conquebert de Montbret I dare not even think about them, or what they are named, or who might have discovered them.
Sunday 11 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Head of the Rocks
The US Dept. of Transportation Federal Highway Administration is developing the brand 'America's Byways', which they describe thus, 'America's Byways are a two-tiered designation consisting of the All-American Roads and the National Scenic Byways. All-American Roads are our country's finest byways: the best of the best. They are destinations unto themselves and an exciting adventure for all ages. National Scenic Byways possess outstanding qualities that exemplify the regional characteristics of our nation.' I counted 115 of these roads: for sure if you drove all of them you would have a pretty good picture of the grandeur of American landscape. Utah has 27 Byways. The National Scenic Byways program website has a growing image library, which contains some public domain pictures, plus others that may be used under certain licence conditions.
The picture I chose is 'Head of the Rocks Overlook' by A.E. Crane of NSBO © 2001, which is on the 112 mile drive Highway 12-A 'Journey Through Time Scenic Byway', which passes through the Grand Staircase - Escalante area. Visit the webpage for more details, a map, and photogallery. This splendid route has been designated as an 'All-American Road'. If you have a ◊ 19" or larger monitor there is a bigger version of the picture (please allow time for it to download).
Saturday 10 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Water Margins
It has been a while since I featured one of Tony Richards' photographs. The one that took my fancy was this picture of Elterwater, which is one of the smaller lakes in the region that feeds the larger lake of Windermere from the west. Local artist Judy Boyes has her studio in Elterwater. Her website shows many of her delightful prints of Lake District landscapes, which may be easily purchased from the site or the studio. The website has a clear wayfinding map.
Friday 9 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Two Faces of War
LEFT: 'A U.S. Army member from the 95th Chemical Company Ft. Richardson, Alaska, waits to take off his protective mask during Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical decontamination training at the Valdez, Alaska city terminal on April 27, 2002. Personnel from the 95th Chemical Company and the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobil Unit 11 Whidbey Island, Washington provided joint Personal Protective Ensemble training during Northern Edge 2002. Northern Edge is a combined, joint exercises hosted by the U.S. Alaskan Command that incorporates theater missile defense, force protection, air to air fighter aircraft exercises, combat search and rescue, and harbor defense and maritime operations.'
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Hannen) (Released)
Photo by: SRA MATTHEW HANNEN, 1CTCS
Record ID No. (VIRIN): 020425-F-9528H-017
LEFT: 'Senior Airman Megan Moriarity of the 128th Air Refueling Wing Personell Flight, Wisconsin Air National Guard, prepares for a feild [sic] training exercise utilizing the M.I.L.E.S system while deployed at Volk Feild CRTC, Wis., on June 12, 2002.'
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Dries) (Released)
Photo by: MSGT CHRISTOPHER DRIES, 128TH ARW
Record ID No. (VIRIN): 020612-F-5042D-001
The quoted captions, and their annotations, are verbatim as they appeared on the Department of Defense website, but with IDs made into links to the original pages. I have no comment to make, preferring that the pictures and captions should speak for themselves. There are 70 pictures in the DoD images gallery, which may be emailed as electronic postcards.
Thursday 8 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Wilderness
Alright, people! Enough lounging about on British beaches. We're off back to the USA, and to this picture from John H. Farr's FotoFeed.com website. This is Wheeler Peak Wilderness Area, Taos, New Mexico. The Wilderness is almost 20,000 acres of land east of the Rio Grande, and just north of Santa Fe (map). Wheeler Peak, at 13,161 feet of altitude, is the highest point in the state. There are 644 wilderness areas, which in total cover over 100 million acres, and together make up the National Wilderness Preservation System. Only Kansas and Iowa are lacking in designated wilderness. What is a wilderness? 'Areas where humans are only visitors who do not remain.' What a nice thought to mull over as you drive along congested roads. John has also covered the Wilderness in one of his regular 'Grack' columns.
If you like his work then you can get yourself a daily dose by visiting John's new weblog www.FarrFeed.com, where today there were digital fairies, skulls, and all kinds of other spooky things. Oh, hush my mouth! He asked that we keep that quiet.
Wednesday 7 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Southwest Beach
While we are at the beach I thought we may as well pop down to see Charles Winpenny whose CornwallCAM.co.uk visited Portreath on the first Saturday in August. Charles also visited Rosewarne, near Camborne, on the following Monday when he was in Marazion and Penzance (the page at this URL changes so you may find updated content). There he photographed some ◊ beautiful wild poppies. Sight of these always stirs me to write poetry, but as a recent entry in the Guest Book suggests, I am somewhat of a "little hinkey". Ach well, it's just something that I will have to learn to live with, because it's too late to learn new tricks for this old dog.
Tuesday 6 August 2002
I have a great fondness for visiting Don Burluraux' North York Moors CAM web site, where Don is currently showing the last stage of his Cleveland Way walk. This section runs ten miles from Scarborough to Filey. The picture tells you everything you need to know about the British Seaside. If you have been there as a child the memories may well be rushing back. Can you remember the feel of the donkey's dusty coat, and their smell? Certainly takes me back! An old Irish builder in Gloucester, England once referred to a braying donkey that was annoying him, calling it "A Bloody Jerusalem Two Stroke', which I remember every time I see one.
Monday 5 August 2002
Pix of the Day: King of the Mountains
After several days spent digitally surfing up and down the Missouri River in search of the 'Mountain Men' of the Old West, I decided to look to my homeland for some modern mountain men. The man in the picture is Jos Naylor, who is known as 'The King of the Fells', the latter being the local word for mountains. This picture was taken by Andrew Leaney as 66 year old Jos stormed past, while competing in the 'Wasdale Fell Race' around the hills of his home valley. You may see the sort of terrain that the course runs over on Andrew's page on Leaney's Lakeland Fells, in the entry Saturday for 13 July 2002.
The Wasdale 21 miles, with 9,000 feet of ascent over rough country, is just a stroll for Jos Naylor, however. To celebrate his 60th birthday, Jos ran the 60 highest Lakeland peaks in aid of Multiple Sclerosis research. The run was almost 110 miles long and involved nearly 40,000 feet of ascent - the equivalent of running from sea level to the summit of Everest one and a half times non-stop! StridingEdge have an extended video of an ITV documentary, which uses both spectacular aerial photography and action taken by film crews deployed on the high summits, to record the historic run. When Jos was younger at the age of 35, and 'lisher' as they say in those parts, he set a record of 63 peaks, 92 miles, and 35,000 feet of ascent in inclement weather. There can be few athletes, if any, who in their sixties have broken the records they made in their thirties.
The Karrimor International Mountain Marathon (KIMM.com) website has a photo gallery of fell runners in action: Jos appears in one of the shots. Some members of the band 'Chumbawamba' (appearing as a one recording band called 'Sportchestra') even recorded a song in homage (see Track 69 'Jos'). Jos is a member of the Cumberland Fell Runners club. Another runner to take up a challenge is Steve Vickers with his 'Project244', which is turning into a good photo gallery of many of the Lakeland fell tops. My informants tell me that if you hang out in the bar at the Santon Bridge Inn at Wasdale, you may come across 'The King of the Fells', and if you are lucky you might even get to buy him a glass of the amber nectar!
Saturday 3 August 2002
Pix of the Day: Jim Bridger Biography
Picture credits: the portrait of Jim Bridger from Utah State Historical Society; the Ashley-Henry advertisement from the Missouri Historical Society (to comply with the requirements of the copyright holders we regret that we had to remove this resource, but it can be seen courtesy of Earl Cook on his William Henry Ashley page; and the drawing of Jim Bridger as a trapper from The Kansas City Star.
James Bridger (17 March 1804 - 17 July 1881) Bridger was born in Richmond, Virginia and soon after moved with his family to the American Bottoms, on the opposite bank of the river to St. Louis. In 1817, after both parents died, Bridger supported himself and his sister by operating a ferry boat across the Mississippi. Later he was apprenticed to a local blacksmith. In those days St. Louis, then later Independence, and by 1840 Westport were 'The Frontier', for reasons explained on the Westport Historical Society website.
Tiring of his apprenticeship, in 1822 Bridger signed on with other legendary 'Mountain Men' Hugh Glass, Jedediah Smith, and Thomas Fitzpatrick to be a member of General William Henry Ashley's Upper Missouri expedition. At the age of 17, he was the youngest member of the expedition.
Lewis and Clark had followed the Missouri as far as they could, presumably in the hope of finding a trans–continental route that was, as far as possible, by water to make for the easiest method of transport. This route, however, goes far north almost to the modern Canadian border, which means the high passes were only open for a short late-summer season. Even today the passes used by Lewis and Clark make a very difficult passage. The key to crossing the Rockies was South Pass.
Who discovered the Pass depends on whom you read. The invaluable Mountain Men and the Fur Trade website contains an important letter among its library of historical source documents, dating the discovery to 1812. Certainly by 1822 Ashley, with Bridger in the party, was headed that way. Ashley is credited with instigating the 'Rendezvous System', whereby his trappers would work in the field for a whole year, then meet at a predetermined time and place to trade their stash of pelts for supplies. The Green River Rendezvous was reckoned to be the biggest of these meets. William Earl Cook has several photo webpages on the Green River Rendezvous re–enactment near Pinedale, which will give you modern visualisations of those times. Bridger's rifle can be seen on the Museum of the Mountain Man website, and his binocular and Hawken rifle from c. 1850 on the Montana Historical website.
At the Rendezvous Bridger was noted for the tall stories told around the campfire. Once, when pressed by a British journalist to describe how he'd escaped from a box canyon, penned in by attacking Indians, he explained, "Oh, that time I never did. They killed us right there." Bridger had a Blackfoot arrowhead stuck in his back from an Indian battle. It had been there three years. At one Rendezvous Dr. Whitman did surgery on Bridger's back to get the arrowhead out. Dr. Whitman asked Bridger how he lived so long and Jim said, "Meat does not spoil fast in the Rockies."
To settle a bet in the winter camp of his trapping party of 1824, Bridger set out to find the exact course of the Bear River from the Cache Valley. On his return he told that it emptied into a vast lake of salt water. People were convinced he had found an arm of the Pacific Ocean, but we now know that he was the first white man to view The Great Salt Lake.
In the summer of 1842, aware that the market for beaver was waning and anticipating America's westward migration, he and fellow trapper Louis Vasquez founded a trading post on Black's Fork of the Green River, in what is now southwest Wyoming. Fort Bridger quickly evolved into an important way station on the Oregon Trail. He described it thus in his approaches to suppliers: "I have established a small store, with a Black Smith Shop, and a supply of Iron on the road of the Emigrants on Black's Fork Green River, which promises fairly, they in coming out are generally well supplied with money, but by the time they get there are in want of all kinds of supplies. Horses, Provisions, Smith work etc brings ready Cash from them and should I receive the goods hereby ordered will do a considerable business in that way with them. The same establishment trades with the Indians in the neighborhood, who have mostly a good number of Beaver amongst them."
Bridger's most important discovery came in 1850. Captain Howard Stanbury stopped at Fort Bridger and inquired about the possibility of a shorter route across the Rockies than the South Pass. Bridger guided him through a pass that ran south from the Great Basin. This pass would soon be rightfully called Bridger's Pass and would be the route for overland mail, the Union Pacific Railroad, and finally Interstate 80.
Fort Bridger grew in importance as emigration westward increased on what became known as the 'Oregon Trail'. The wagon trains carried people bound for the gold fields of California, the lands and forests of the northwest, and the Mormons escaping religious persecution to found the 'Desert Empire' in the Salt Lake Valley. In 1859 the Lander Cutoff opened, between the South Pass and the Snake River valleys, and that year 13,000 emigrants used the route. Many of them scratched their names on Names Hill where you may still see Bridger's 'signature', scratched when he passed that way in 1844. In 1847 Bridger met Brigham Young, president of the LDS church. At first relations between the owners of Fort bridger and the Mormons were good, but later frictions resulted in the sale of Fort Bridger to the Mormons for $8,000 (the LDS website says $18,000) in 1855, though the second half of the payment was not made until 1858 when Vasquez collected the debt in Salt lake City. Eventually the federal army occupied the Fort, even paying Bridger's widow for improvements made by the Mormons during their occupation. The full story of those times may be read on a highly recommended website www.utahhistorytogo.org, where there is a detailed page dedicated to Bridger, containing many interesting facts.
By 1855 Bridger had 'retired' to a farm in Independence, MO in the old community of Dallas on State Line Road, running from 103rd to 107th Street and east to Wornall Road, presumably bought with the earnings from the sale of Fort Bridger to the LDS Church. On the crest of the hill south of Indian Creek he built a stone farmhouse. He was revered by his contempories as 'Old Gabe', and must have been a very colourful member of his local community. In 1866 he bought Chouteau's store, 504 Westport Road, one of the oldest buildings still standing in Westport. He never ran a Westport dance hall and saloon, as has been claimed. His eyesight failed and he died there aged 77 years.
He was buried about 200 yards northwest of 101st and Jefferson Streets on the Stubbins Watts Farm, north of Watts Mill, in the old community of Dallas, MO where he lay for almost 25 years. In 1904 Major General Grenville Dodge, the Union Pacific's engineer who had consulted with Bridger on the railway's route through the Rockies, had Bridger's remains moved to Mt. Washington Cemetery in Independence. A suitably modest memorial marks the place, recording Bridger's achievements, and with an engaging sculpture of his head set below the plinth. Recently a bronze sculpture with larger than life figures, was unveiled at the new Pioneer Park, Broadway and Westport Road. It depicts the full figures of James Bridger, John Calvin McCoy, "Father of Kansas" and Alexander Majors, "The Great Freighter", sculpted by Tom Beard.
Bridger had three Indian wives: Flathead, Ute and Snake. He was not a 'squaw-man', however, marrying all the women, and when they died sending his children east to Missouri to be educated. Bridger himself, although illiterate was highly intelligent, and once employed a German boy at $40 a month to read Shakespeare to him, which he would later quote extensively. There was a First Day of Issue 29 cent US Postal Service stamp on 18 October 1994. Beer, a hat, and even a power generating plant have been named after Bridger. More than 20 places, including a wilderness area, carry Bridger's name: the most fitting memorials to this legendary explorer.
My interest in finding out more about James Bridger stems from a tale my father told me as a small boy in the UK: he said that Bridger once claimed that on his wanderings in uncharted territory, "Often I didn't know where I was, but I was never lost". That's a fair summary of my own life.
This was the last of three parts, all now available in the Jim Bridger archive.
Friday 2 August 2002
Pix of the Day: American Spirit
Before looking at the life of James Bridger, I thought it worthwhile to look at the historical context of his achievements. Three important factors were 'Manifest Destiny', the demand for Top Hats, and 'American Spirit'. As the nineteenth century dawned the newly created nation of America was looking west beyond the frontier of white civilization to the unknown, but potentially exploitable, lands beyond. Thomas Jefferson, pictured above left, sent Merriwether Lewis and William Clark on the famous expedition. It was not until 1845 that John L. O'Sullivan would use the expression 'Manifest Destiny' when he wrote "".... the right of our manifest destiny to over spread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federaltive development of self government entrusted to us. It is right such as that of the tree to the space of air and the earth suitable for the full expansion of its principle and destiny of growth." The idea had clearly taken a firm hold long before. The expedition failed to achieve the intended goal of establishing an easy route from the Atlantic to the Pacific, but imaginations were fired.
As they returned downriver to the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississipi, there were already trappers following the trail blazed by the Corps of Discovery. The prize they sought was the pelt of the beaver, to supply the European demand for Top Hats. The thing that ties all this together is the 'American Spirit' of people prepared to be highly mobile in pursuit of opportunity. The lady pictured is Sandi Browne: with her husband Stan, the tradition of "American Spirit' continues as they explore America together in their motorhome. Sandi's bio records her life in the airshows when "I also waved at the crowd from the top wing of a huge Stearman bi-plane while it flew upside down close to the ground." Stan's bio records his life in the electronic components industry. 'Average' Americans if such a thing exists. In the picture Sandi models a real beaver pelt top hat in the factor's house at Fort Vancouver, WA the regional headquarters for the Hudson Bay Company.
To follow up on these three threads I recommend the following links: Thomas Jefferson's brief biography on the White House website; Manifest Destiny on the Revolution to Reconstruction website; Lewis and Clark on the PBS website and on the VIAs website; Beaver Fur Hats on the White Oak website (which provides 'living history' interpretations of the fur trade era within the Great Lakes region), and The Fur Trade: Beaver Powered Mountaineering on the Mountain Men: 1810-1860 website; an excellent (worthwhile 1Mb download -- scrollable graphic) map of the Westward Explorations 1800-20 from the University of Texas online library; and Sandi and Stan Browne's website, with picture galleries of their travels.
This was the second of three parts, all now available in the Jim Bridger archive.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)