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A town of 1!

“One is the Loneliest Number You’ll Ever Do . . .” although first written and recorded by Harry Nilsson, it was recorded a number of times by different artists, including the LA band, Three Dog Night, in 1969.  I heard this song the other day and it spurred my interest in the number one (1), so a new blog was born . .

A Town of 1 - Wikimedia image

Lost Springs [Converse County], Wyoming was listed in the 2002 census as having only 1 resident, however, the mayor disputes this, saying there are four (4) Lost Springs residents.  The town was incorporated in 1911, although it was first inhabited in the 1880’s.  Its population actually grew to 200 until the Rosin coal mine closed in 1930.  In 1960 the population had dwindled down to five residents when the State of Wyoming and the Bi-centennial Commission designated it as the smallest incorporated town in America.

California Mule Deer at Yosemite Nat. Park, Flickr image by Alan Vernon

Why would you want to visit Lost Springs?  The question should be why not? The semi-arid town is located in the High Plains of the southeastern part of Wyoming, an area that receives between 10-20 inches of precipitation annually.  Cattle ranching, growing wheat and sunflowers, as well as cotton (not all cotton is grown in the South it seems) and wind power are the key economic factors for the region.  Some areas also have significant natural gas and petroleum deposits. 

According to http://conversecounty.org/community/recreation there is a great deal more to the county than the town of one [or four] residents call home. 

Dinosaur Flickr image by IvanWalsh

“The location is superb for year round recreation including a free Recreation Center, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, and rafting,” among other tourism attractions like Glenrock’s Paleontological Museum, where you can view a collection of Jurassic-age dinosaur bones.  Admission is free, and you can even go on a dinosaur dig as well.   You may wish to visit http://www.paleon.org/ to learn more about this Paleon Museum.

Hunters and photographers alike enjoy the four-seasons, as do elk, antelope and mule deer that roam free in the grasslands; much as they have since 1886. 

From the wide-open spaces we travel across the country to Hibberts Gore, Maine, where 1.28% of its location is water [wetlands], where the 2010 census recorded 1 resident.  Little is found about the town itself, but Lincoln County, Maine, offers a bit of history, going all the way back to 1760. 

Damariscotta River Wikimedia Commons image

The area abounds in scenic areas such as Boothbay Harbor, the Damariscotta River near Whaleback Shell Midden historic site and Wiscasset, the county seat and well known tourist destination known for its early architecture.  Wiscasset was also placed in the Guinness Book of World Records for “having the smallest church in the world,” with an interior of 7’ by 4.5’. 

Wiscasset Jail & Museum Wikimedia Commons

There are many historical buildings still standing today, such as the 1811 Lincoln County Museum and Old Jail.

How about a town of 0 population?  That’s exactly what neighboring state New Hampshire’s township of Erving’s Location can claim, according to the 2010 census.

Erving’s Location is located on a slope of Mount Kelsey where access is by dirt road, or by hiking up the mountain.

Covered bridge over upper Ammonoosuc River

Not much is noted about Erving’s Location itself, but visitors to the county might want to visit nearby Northumberland, a very scenic town built by the New Hampshire militia in 1755 during the French and Indian War; and, also an area once known for its corn and potato crops as well as starch mills.  Several mountains make up the area, where the Connecticut and Upper Ammonoosuc Rivers flow.

Then there is New Amsterdam, Indiana, a [hamlet] listed with a population of ‘1’ , which is also host to an annual festival in April, called “Remembrance Days” held at Shaffer’s General Store. 

According to the 1860 census, New Amsterdam was the largest waterfront town in Harrison County, but its proximity to the Ohio River, which accounted for its early growth was also it demise with floods playing a large part in its decline. Fact is the Great Flood of 1937 destroyed 75% of all the hamlet’s structures.

Shaffer's General Store, Wikimedia image

 If you attend the Remembrance Days Festival you can still see how high the water got during the Great Flood, as it is marked on the second floor of the General Store.

America was founded on small towns with many growing to become large cities.  Why not take a trip back in history where you can discover places like Erving’s Location, New Amsterdam, Lost Springs and Hibberts Gore.  Small as they may be, they still played a part of the overall growth of America.

Info about the song One can be found here: http://www.allmusic.com/song/t2668211

I never know where I’ll go next or what I’ll blog about, but I hope you’ll join me,  from my ‘arm-chair’ or from been there, done that and 68 years of living!

Eagles Nest Wikimedia commons image

We’re not just talking about a popular term ‘Empty Nest’ . . . which is something many seniors can relate to.  Nope: we’re going to explore nests in general and end up at Eagles Nest, high in the Bavarian Alps.

Wikipedia defines Empty Nest syndrome as “a general feeling of loneliness that parents or guardians may feel when one or more of their children leave home.”  The syndrome [or saying] takes its name from bird nesting habits, which brings me to this interesting tidbit: “According to a 2001 national survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are 46 million bird watchers in the United States,” or about 1 of every 6 persons is a bird watcher.”  Get more stats on this site: http://www.birding.com/  

Big Bend National Park Flickr image by littlemoresunshine

Fact is it is not only a popular pastime and hobby, but bird watching can be very lucrative for many businesses, including tour and travel.  For a quick reference check out this website: http://www.birding.com/tourcompanies.asp.  There are even bird watching hot spots, such as Big Bend National Park, Texas where, according to http://www.birding.com/wheretobird.asp, you can spot the Colima Warbler, a rare bird indeed. This bird also forms a loose cup shaped nest made up of leaves, grass and moss and hides its nest among the mountain rocks instead of in tree limbs. To learn more about this New World Warbler, you might want to visit: http://ibc.lynxeds.com/species/colima-warbler-vermivora-crissalis

Wikimedia commons image of a Puerto Rican Nightjar

In researching this topic I learned a great deal about birds as builders and their habitats [nests] as well as the fascination we have with birds.  Rather than to feature all 12 nest categories I’ll just select a few and point you to the website featuring bird nests in detail. 

How about birds who don’t build any nest at all, such as the Nightjar? There are 86 species worldwide with 5 from Puerto Rico, including the Puerto Rican Nightjar, “a very rare bird found in the coastal dry scrub forests in localized areas of southwestern Puerto Rico.” But, the master of the no nest category is the Emperor Penguin, unless you call the top of the male’s feet and under the folds of his skin a nest. 

What do Chinese chefs and a species of Swiftlet have in common?  Why, a bird nest made “almost entirely, or entirely, out of saliva.”  While the Swiftlet often nest in pitch dark caves, Chinese chefs use their nests to prepare bird nest soup, “considered one of the most expensive and tasteless dishes in the world,” and therefore this is an edible nest.

The hanging,or woven, nest requires great skill for the bird to build and is perhaps the “most admirable of bird architecture.”  The Hummingbird (Planato Hermit) weaves an interesting variation of the hanging ‘cup’ nest, which has only one single support cable.  Nearly all weavers make their nests out of grass and truly weave them, going from side to side poking strands of grass into one side and pulling them out on the opposite side.  To learn more about this fascinating nest and others checkout this site: http://www.earthlife.net/birds/nests.html

 This brings me to Eagles Nest, which isn’t a nest at all. 

A Wikimedia commons image shows the town of Berchtesgaden flanked by Mount Watzman

Although I had not specifically chosen to visit this attraction its history piqued my interest while in Berchestgaden [Germany]. I rode in a bereisen sie bus up the winding road of Kehlstein Mountain to the Kehlsteinhaus (Eagles Nest). To reach the Kehlsteinhaus, which has a  notorious past, one has to trek upward 6,017 feet, via a winding 6.5 mile road that is only 13 feet wide.  Before you reach your final destination you enter a tunnel and board a large elevator car to take you the last 407 feet. 

1945 photo courtesy Wikimedia commons shows entryway to tunnel to Eagles Nest

Although, the frightening ride up and my hesitation to go into the tunnel and board the elevator car turned out to be well worth it.  The view is spectacular, and you feel as though you can reach the sky.  We watched a number of hang gliders float from the mountain peaks downward, reminiscent of feathers floating in the air.

 The history of Bavaria, the mountain range and the abundance of outdoor recreation in Berchestgaden and surrounding areas, along with Eagles Nest attracts tourists by the thousands, and is especially popular for World War II history buffs.

 So there you have it: Nests made from saliva, straw, grass clippings and such, nests you can eat, and an historic Eagle’s Nest, high atop a mountain cliff.

I never know where I’ll go next or what I’ll blog about, but I hope you’ll join me,  from my ‘arm-chair’ or from been there, done that and 68 years of living!

There is no one to credit for this ‘wise old saying’ as the author is unknown, but surely there is wisdom in heeding this recommendation; after all, you may need to cross over them again . . .

Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, Shandong Province, China, Wikimedia Commons image

I’ve always had a fascination, as well as a fear of [some] bridges.  Reading an article recently about the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge in China, touted as the “world’s longest over-water bridge at 26.4 miles,” reminded me of several bridges that I have crossed over; especially the Chapel Bridge, spanning the Reuss River in Lucerne, Switzerland. 

Chapel Bridge, Lucerne Switzerland, Flickr image by bigbirdz

I was indeed fortunate to have seen the original bridge in 1992 before it nearly met its demise in a fire the following year.  Imagine walking atop timbers that were nearly 1,000 years old and viewing original paintings depicting history from the 17th century.  This medieval style bridge, built in 1333, is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe and still a popular tourist attraction.  The almost blue-green waters of the Reuss River were calm and the sun was shining brightly, so my leisurely trek across the 670’ long bridge was a delight.  Now, if I could only find where I placed those photos of my sojourn in Lucerne my memory would be complete.

I vividly remembered another bridge crossing and my trepidation to complete the journey when I was barely several miles into the 23.73 mile length of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana.  It is entirely possible that the strong winds and driving rain added to my overall horrific experience.  Little did I know that this bridge was the world’s longest over-water bridge until China’s Jiaozhou Bay Bridge opened recently.  I learned first hand what it was to be knock-kneed, when I disembarked from my car at the end of the crossing.  Although I know that Paul Simon’s record “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was related to the film Bridge on the River Kwai, I personally felt it was apropos to my trip over Lake Pontchartrain.

Covered bridges, such as those displayed in the banner above are indeed romantic, but they cannot hold a candle to famous bridges like the Golden Gate Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was completed in 1937.  The day I crossed it had been raining, but then again we are speaking of San Francisco – the fog was eerily lovely though and it seemed as though the world stood still but for a moment. 

Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge is reflected in the East River, Wikimedia Commons image

No so with my next bridge crossing: the Brooklyn Bridge, not only an engineering marvel of its time, but a masterpiece of art in steel.  Bright sunshine, blue skies peeking through drifting cloud puffs and a kaleidoscope of noises echoing throughout my drive across the East River have left me with an indelible memory.  I only wish I had been able to cross at night to experience the rainbow of colors reflected off the East River, similar to what is seen in the photo above.

Wikimedia Commons image of Grand Canyon Skywalk Bridge

The Grand Canyon Skywalk deck is definitely not a bridge for the fainthearted!  This partial glass bottom cantilever bridge can support up to 822 people weighing in at 200 pounds each, but only 120 people are allowed on the bridge at any given time.   I visited the Grand Canyon as a teen, but never in my wildest of dreams could I have envisioned a platform jutting out from the canyon wall where one could realistically walk above the canyon.  Talk about a rush, without any sugar.  Whoah!

Engineers with a vision in artistry can surely account for the 10 most unusual and creative bridges in the world.  Here are but a few, but to see them all, visit: http://www.toxel.com/inspiration/2009/06/17/10-unusual-and-creative-bridges/

Henderson Waves Bridge, Flickr image by Schristia

Two of my favorites, which I hope to visit in my lifetime, are the Henderson Waves Bridge, which is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore, with its unique wave-form made up of seven “undulating curved steel “ribs” that alternately rise over and under its deck.  The wave forms glow at night with LED lighting.

But, the blue hue [at night] of the Aiola Island Bridge in Austria, and its breathtaking futuristic design is the one bridge I believe I could cross over and over again.  Why not visit this website to see for yourself: http://www.ricarch.com/2010/12/futuristic-aiola-island-bridge-in-austria/

What the Bridge On the River Kwai looks like today, Wikimedia Commons image

Perhaps what stands out most in my memory of bridges is a piece of fiction, “loosely based on the building in 1943 of one of the railway bridges over the Mae Klong – renamed Khwae Yai in the 1960’s” and an award winning movie.  The Bridge On the River Kwai was “deemed culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant and selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry, and why not; it is still one of the greatest movies ever made.

I never know where I’ll go next or what I’ll blog about, but I hope you’ll join me,  from my ‘arm-chair’ or from been there, done that and 68 years of living!