The Smartest Horse That Ever Lived – Beautiful Jim Key

I love horses. Never ridden seriously. Used to walk racehorses from the stables in Lewes to the gallops on top of the South Downs, Lost pots of gold as a punter. Became a bookies clerk and ran the “book.” Never bet again.

When I moved here in 2000 I was mega surprised to find that Seabiscuit (of whom I was already a fan) was buried not too far from Fort Bragg. Films and books on horses – I have read/seen ’em all.  I thought I knew/had heard of all the “famous” horses till I saw this vid:

And yes, I have the book!

A LONG train journey across Iran

I have never been to Iran. Never had any real interest in going absent going to 3,000 year old ruins. I do have Iranian relatives so when this vid came up on the radar I decided I could spend 42 minutes of my waning years visiting Iran – provided I could sit at my desk and go and I could go by train. So, here is the next installment of my around the world visits to places/railroads that I don’t think I’ll ever get to go to see.

Sit back and relax ……..

Great Train Graveyard just outside Uyuni, Bolivia, near the world’s largest salt flat.

In my last blog I regaled you poor souls with one of the places I “visited” on my internet world tour of trains. Here’s another one – Uyuni, Bolivia.

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Just outside the city of Uyuni, in southwestern Bolivia, dozens of abandoned steam trains are scattered around as if a giant child dropped them there. The “cemetery” marked only by a small sign that explains very little, has become a minor attraction for tourists visiting the nearby Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. The trains have been buffeted by wind for decades. The salt laden wind, in part, emanates from flowing over an enormous natural stockpile of salt. They’re rusted out, long ago stripped for useful parts. Covered in graffiti—some of it pretty good—they’re strangely beautiful relics of an industry left behind.

Take a tour as I did:

Did you like the eerie music? I did.

Mines and Minerals in Mendocino County

When we came here in 2000I was very surprised to find that tourism and logging/sawmilling provided most of the jobs. I wondered aloud(?) several times that it was odd that in a County as big as Mendocino, 3,800 square miles, there was no discernible mining. Whilst perusing the Anderson Valley Advertiser, I came across an essay by my good friend Katy Tahja that explained what little mineral excavation there was in Mendocino. Katy writes:

“While working on the Mendocino County history I was thrilled to pick up “Mineral Commodities of California” (1957) for $1. In it were 736 slightly musty pages of geology and geography and references to Mendocino County.

Even with college classes in geology and geography in my past I wanted interesting LOCAL facts for my book. I discovered there is asbestos within the serpentine rock in the county. Graphite was mined 15 miles east of Point Arena. Chromite was mined near Leggett. On Salt Creek near Dos Rios was a coal vein mined for decades. Yorkville had a copper mine and the miners named their cluster of houses Little Penny.

Ever heard of Leech Lake, northeast of Covelo? There was a photograph in the book of jade mining there in the 1950s. If the claim is still there it is behind the locked gates of the Middle Eel-Yolla Bolly Wilderness area now.”

As you can see not a whole lot of activity so I am putting my pick and shovel in the back of the garage.

Rotterdam Model Train

One block from Rotterdam Railway Station is the biggest model railroad layout in the Netherlands. This miniature world is built in HO scale and covers an area of more than 650 square feet. Wife Sarah and I went there on our last visit to Holland. Sarah didn’t want to go in but was seduced to enter by an offer of a pastry and a coffee. After she finished gobbling she wandered in and was entranced by the layout.

Rotterdam was destroyed in WWII. The model recreates the city as it was before the bombing. As you move along there are a plethora of very informative  placards with photos of what was there. The trains are a mere adornment to the fabulous modelling. You can see the staff/volunteers building the models. The medium used is cardstock. I had a very interesting conversation with a staff member on how to do it.

Turn the sound OFF – it’s awful.  The vid lasts an hour so don’t be afraid to skip sections.


700 Mile Railway across the Sahara

As I mentioned in an earlies post I have been reading a lot about the people who came to Egypt and built the pyramids. In one of the many “things” I have read was a reference to a railway that runs more than 400 miles across the Sahara in Mauritania.  Mauritania is a huge country in Northwest Africa. It is the eleventh largest sovereign state in Africa and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara to the north and northwest, Algeria to the northeast, Mali to the east and southeast, and Senegal to the southwest. At more than 430 miles long, the Mauritania Railway has been transporting iron ore across the blistering heat of the Sahara Desert since 1963.

I have NO wish to ride this railroad. You’ll see why when you watch the vid: []Click on the vid ro read the “script.]