Tag Archives: desert

Cannabis Stash (2700 Years Old)

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Cannabis Stash (2700 Years Old)
Cannabis Stash (2700 Years Old)

The world’s oldest weed stash was found in a 2,700-year-old grave in the Gobi Desert in 2008.

Nearly two pounds of the still-green plant material was found. A barrage of tests proved the marijuana possessed potent psychoactive properties and casts doubt on the theory that the ancients only grew the plant for hemp in order to make clothing, rope and other objects.

Yes, they used it for getting high too.

The stash was found lightly pounded in a wooden bowl in a leather basket near the head of a blue-eyed Caucasian man who died when he was about 45. Researchers believe he was a shaman from the Gushi people, who spoke a now-extinct language called Tocharian that was similar to Celtic.

What is still in question is how the marijuana was administered, since no pipes or other objects associated with smoking were found in the grave. It is currently believed it was ingested orally or fumigated. (Source)

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HIWAY AMERICA – The Little Desert That Grew in Maine

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The Little Desert That Grew in Maine

 

http://youtu.be/3SfEcntKSH8

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Herb Swanson for The New York Times

Exposed glacial silt has created an unlikely diversion for tourists in coastal Maine: a desert tour.

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On a clear late-summer morning with temperatures in the low 70’s, the “desert,” which emerges incongruously from the surrounding green hills, shimmered at 90 degrees from the reflected heat of its shifting dunes. Walking to the middle of this silent expanse, you’ll find it difficult to believe you are anywhere in the eastern United States, let alone Maine.

Most visitors tour this otherworldly landscape — which takes up most of the Desert of Maine tourist attraction’s 47 acres — on 30-minute tram tours. But there are also easy hiking trails, and visitors can wander on their own. In places, dunes tower high above the trails, kept at bay by trees — the surrounding forest is the natural fence that keeps the sand from spreading.

The Desert of Maine is well known locally, according to Robert Doyle, a retired head of the Maine Geological Survey and former associate professor at the University of Maine at Augusta. “My father took me there when I was 10,” he said.

The story of this strange place began more than 10,000 years ago, Mr. Doyle explained, when the glaciers of the last Ice Age slowly scraped the soil and ground rocks into pebbles and then to a sandy substance known as glacial silt, forming a layer up to 80 feet deep in places in southern Maine. Then, over the centuries, topsoil formed a cap, concealing the “desert,” enabling forest to grow and, when settlers came to North America, supporting agriculture.

Enter William Tuttle, a farmer who bought 300 acres of prime farmland in 1797. Tuttle built a large post-and-beam barn on the site and operated a successful farm for decades, raising cattle and crops. His descendants added sheep to sell wool to textile mills. Poor crop rotation and overgrazing by sheep, which tear the plants out of the soil by the roots, resulted in soil erosion and something eerily beyond.

One day, a patch of sand the size of a dinner plate became exposed. It grew until the family became alarmed. But it was too late. The “desert” had made its entrance, and the more the soil eroded, the more the sand underneath was exposed.

THE Tuttles didn’t give up right away, and tried for years to fight the inevitable. But slowly the sand claimed the farm, swallowing buildings and pasture. By the early 20th century they abandoned the place. Proving that one person’s disaster is another’s gold mine, Henry Goldrup bought the farm in 1919 for $300 and opened it as a tourist attraction in 1925. It now attracts 30,000 visitors a year, according to Mary and Bob Kaschub, who work as tour guides.

The tram tour travels through the starkest portions of the desolate landscape, like the site of a springhouse, built in 1935, that was overtaken by sand by 1962 and is now invisible under eight feet of sand. Pine trees have adapted to the sand and seem healthy, with only their tops exposed and their trunks buried as much as 50 feet deep. The contrast is vivid between the brightness of the dunes and the surrounding forest.

Mica in the silt sparkles in the Maine sun. It also reflects heat, explaining the high temperatures in the middle of the sandy expanse. Readings of more than 100 degrees are not uncommon, Ms. Kaschub said.

Over several years as a tour guide, she has learned to respect the power of the sand. On one tour, a powerful gust of wind suddenly made it impossible to see and nearly impossible to breathe, she said. Visitors and staff had to cover their eyes, noses and mouths until the swirling sandstorm subsided several minutes later. Ms. Kaschub also pointed out trees that had been stripped of much of their bark, essentially sandblasted smooth from the wind. “Every year, I wonder, will the desert win, or will the forest win?” she mused.

On the day of our visit the air was still, making it easy to admire the area’s odd beauty and to feel sorry for the hapless Tuttles. They tried to make bricks out of the sand swallowing their farm, but because of the high mica content, the bricks just crumbled and fell apart. So the sparkling quality that helped make the place a tourist attraction essentially prevented its practical use.

Once the touring and hiking are done, there are more activities for children. A staff artist gives free lessons in fashioning art from the sand, which varies in color. For the purchase of a bottle for a few dollars and a quick lesson in shaping a sand creation, visitors can spend an absorbing hour creating a piece of the “desert” to bring home.

Also on the site are a museum with agricultural implements and a play area where children can search for colored stones that the staff has scattered on the sand.

In the 1950’s, the Desert of Maine kept a camel named Sarah to add to the desert atmosphere. It developed the unfortunate habit of biting and spitting at the tourists and was eventually sent to a zoo. Taking its place now are two life-size statues of camels, one lying down and the other standing. They are not nearly as interactive as Sarah was, but at least tourists who want a souvenir picture won’t have to worry about fending off a dromedary with anger management issues.

HIWAY AMERICA -RENO NEVADA- about, and THE ELEPHANT FOOT TRASH CANS

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 TO SET THE MOOD-A SONG ABOUT RENO BY DOUimages (3)SUPERNAW

 http://youtu.be/0GmbEn6iza8

History of Reno

In 1859, Charles Fuller built a log bridge across the Truckee River and charged a fee to those who passed over it on their way to Virginia City and the gold recently discovered there.  Fuller also provided gold-seekers with a place to rest, purchase a meal, and exchange information with other prospectors.  In 1861, Myron Lake purchased Fuller’s bridge, and with the money from the tolls, bought more land, and constructed a gristmill, livery stable, and kiln. When the Central Pacific Railroad reached Nevada from Sacramento in 1868, Lake made sure that his crossing was included in its path by deeding a portion of his land to Charles Crocker (an organizer of the Central Pacific Railroad Company), who promised to build a depot at Lake’s Crossing.  On May 9, 1868, the town site of Reno (named after Civil War General Jesse Reno) was officially established.  Lake’s remaining land was divided into lots and auctioned off to businessmen and homebuilders.

The Lake Mansion is one of Reno’s oldest surviving homes.  Built in 1877 by William Marsh and purchased by Lake in 1879, the Lake Mansion originally stood at the corner of California and Virginia Streets.  In 1971, it was moved to save it from demolition and today the Lake Mansion serves as a small museum on the corner of Arlington Avenue and Court Street.

At the turn of the century, Nevada Senator Francis Newlands played a prominent role in the passage of the Reclamation Act of 1902.  The Newlands Reclamation Project diverted Truckee River water to farmland east of Reno, prompting the growth of the town of Fallon.

The residence of Francis Newlands, built in 1889, is one five National Historic Landmarks in Nevada.

Because Nevada’s economy was tied to the mining industry and its inevitable ups and downs, the state had to find other means of economic support during the down times.  Reno earned the title “Sin City” because it hosted several legal brothels, was the scene of illegal underground gambling, and offered quick and easy divorces.

Nystrom House, built in 1875 for Washoe County Clerk John Shoemaker, is also significant for its role as a boardinghouse during Reno’s divorce trade in the 1920s.  The Riverside Hotel, designed by Frederic DeLongchamps, was built in 1927 specifically for divorce-seekers and boasted an international reputation.

In 1927, in celebration of the completion of the Lincoln Highway (Highway 50) and the Victory Highway (Highway 40), the state of California built the California Building as a gift for the Transcontinental Exposition, held at Idlewild Park.

The Mapes Hotel was built in 1947 and opened for business on December 17th of that year.  It was the first high-rise built to combine a hotel and casino, providing the prototype for modern hotel/casinos. The building went vacant on December 17, 1982, 35 years to the day after it opened.  The Reno Redevelopment Agency acquired the property in 1996, and sought a developer to revitalize the building.  After four years of failed attempts to find a cost-effective way to save the structure, the Mapes was demolished on January 30, 2000.

This brief history of Reno highlights only a few of the many treasures that make up the unique history of “The Biggest Little City in the World.”  To own an historic property is to own a piece of a shared history.  Because the craftsmanship and fabrication processes that created them are no longer available, historic structures are nonrenewable resources and rely upon the efforts of their owners to ensure they survive into the future.

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Museum with Elephant Foot Trash Cans

Field review by the editors.

Reno, Nevada

NVRENmaymus_0095

Wilbur May was born rich. He was the youngest son of the owner of the world’s largest department store chain. Dad wanted him to manage his stores, and Wilbur tried to, occasionally. But then he’d vanish for months, off on pleasure trips to China or South America.

That’s what he really liked to do.

When dad died, Wilbur left on a year-long safari and had the dumb luck to cash in all of his company stock for government bonds. The stock market crashed while Wilbur was away, and when he returned he was able to buy 20 times more stock than he’d had when he’d left.

Reconstructed living room with big game trophies.

Wilbur took his new millions and moved to Nevada to escape California’s personal income tax. He bought a multi-thousand-acre ranch south of Reno. He kept traveling and killing things. When he died in 1982, the stuff that he’d collected and killed became the Wilbur D. May Museum.

Wilbur had a bottomless appetite for souvenirs. Cases in the museum are crammed with Navajo rugs, Eskimo scrimshaw, African spears, Japanese swords. “Many artifacts that he collected resulted from trades with native people,” reads one sign. “Often, payment was an object that he possessed which the natives coveted.” A quick glance at Wilbur’s booty — Egyptian scarabs, New Guinean masks, T’ang Dynasty pottery — shows who got the better end of those deals.

Shrunken human head.

Wilbur’s prize collectible has to be hishuman shrunken head, a specimen from Ecuador, impaled on a stick, and “used in elaborate cannibalistic rites” according to its sign. Wilbur called the head “Susie” and paid his ranch foreman an extra $5.00 a month to keep its long hair neatly brushed.

Several rooms from Wilbur’s home have been recreated in the museum. The trophy room displays a zoo’s worth of dead animals on its walls: tigers, hippos, rhinos, lions. Ashtrays are made of animal parts, trash cans from elephant’s feet, rifle racks from the upturned legs of gazelles. The furniture is upholstered in zebra, the lamps in giraffe, with bases made of elephant feet and shades probably made of something we’d rather not think about.

“Hunters on safari in Africa were welcomed,” a sign explains, “because the trophies that they collected provided food for hundreds of people.”

Wilbur the Sportsman.

The walls of Wilbur’s rebuilt living room showcase his attempts at oil painting, his honorary awards from the Boy Scouts, and a plaque from the staff at one of the May stores, telling Wilbur what a great boss he was. A video about his life loops continually.

On the baby grand piano’s music rack is Wilbur’s proudest creative achievement, the lyrics for “Pass a Piece of Pizza Please,” a 1948 novelty song. A recording of it by Jerry Colonna plays on the room’s old floor model radio:

I don’t want salami, or red meat pastrami
But please won’t you pass a piece of pizza…

Photos on the wall shows bug-eyed Jerry wearing a chef’s hat, hamming it up for the camera with Wilbur.

Wilbur D. May was married four times. Unlike his father, he had no sons to disappoint him. We’d guess, from his museum, that he died a happy man.

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