Monday, October 19, 2009

To The Possible Disappointment of Karen Brewer

As I may have mentioned, I'm a huge fan of the great Baby-Sitters Club series (which shall hereafter be abbreviated with the usual BSC). Part of the vision here at Travel Rambling involves writing about travel books or books that are somehow related to travel. With that in mind, I've been thinking about one of the best/worst BSC books out there, a perfect one for this blog: BSC in the USA. At some point, I'll get to a full-on snark/recap/rant about my experiences at the places visited by the BSC but that's for later. For now, I'll just hate on Karen Brewer, which is something I really enjoy.

In BSC in the USA, each person chooses a place to visit somewhere in the continental US, between CT and CA, north-ish or south-ish depending on with whom they're traveling. Basically. Karen (step-sister of BSC president Kristy for anyone not in the know) chooses Four Corners, the place where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet. As it happens, her choosing of this particular place isn't exactly presented well... there's this idea that they won't be able to find the spot which makes no sense. After all, if it isn't a monument, how does Karen know to call it Four Corners? That is an official name after all. All stupidity aside, they actually do go there. Well, I too have been to Four Corners. Noting that the title of the post indicates disappointment, here's what's sort of wrong-ish with visiting Four Corners.

The Four Corners monument is in the wrong place. Well, kind of. The location of Four Corners has in recent months brought the monument into the spotlight and sparked a lot of discussion. I believe the official answer/solution is that the monument is in the right place although the location may technically be slightly off, though less than originally thought. The real explanation is waaaaay too technical and I'm not even going to go into it. Now that I've gone on about pretty much nothing, I realize this post doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. To bring things back to the BSC and obnoxious Karen, the character of Karen likes accuracy and insists on things being correct. If she were real, I would expect this location discrepancy to really bother her. (Oh dear, I'm putting way too much thought into what a fictional character might think...)

Anyway, all issues with location aside, Four Corners is a fun place to visit. In addition to the four states, two Native American Nations (Ute and Navajo) have boundaries at the monument. The monument is, I believe, maintained by the Navajo Nation and there are souvenirs available since nothing completes a monument visit like a little shopping.

The best thing about visiting Four Corners is the opportunity to be in all four states at one time. It's so much fun, people wait in line to do it (leaving someone back in the picture-taking area of course). A marker stands on the spot, listing each state with crossing lines marking the exact boundaries (I think that's the case... that's how I remember it!) To once again mention BSC in the USA, Karen wanted to stand in all four states and wave toward Connecticut which seemed to be somewhat difficult as she expected to need all hands and feet on the ground. However, she thought of the same thing I did (to my great shame): put half a foot in each state. In my defense, I hadn't read the book then. In fact, it may not have even been published when I visited Four Corners. I certainly hope that's the case.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Jennifer's Body Made Me Do It

Okay, I admit it. I went to see Jennifer's Body and I paid for it. More than that, I actually kind of enjoyed it! So, slight spoilers ahead for anyone who may read this and hasn't seen the movie.

Jennifer's Body takes place in a town in Minnesota called Devil's Kettle. The town is named for a waterfall that drops into a pothole and ends somewhere unknown. Since I happen to really like waterfalls, I naturally wanted to find out if this one was for real. As it turns out, it is. There actually is a waterfall called Devil's Kettle located in very northeastern Minnesota. (The town is fake.) Although judging by the pictures I saw and my memory of the movie, the waterfall used in the movie isn't the real one. That doesn't surprise me since visiting the waterfall requires a hike with lots of stairs. In addition, the actual waterfall is really two: one flows on as a river and one disappears. Since I've never been there, I dont have any pictures. I could probably, uh, borrow some... but there are lots out there. Anyway, from what I've read, it seems like the general thought is that the water from the waterfall eventually flows into nearby Lake Superior.


That isn't the case in the movie. Okay, it's not that major a spoiler. And anyway, this whole thing just makes me wonder if they couldn't just throw some kind of tracking device down the waterfall or something. If they really care. And if it would work underwater.


Anyway, thinking about this waterfall got me thinking about the concept of a waterfall where no one knows where the water goes. As it turns out, I've had a couple experiences with waterfalls somewhat like that. One was at a state park in Florida (yes, that Florida, the one most people seem to think is completely flat) and one (sort of) in a cave in upstate New York.

First up is Falling Waters State Park, which is located on Florida's panhandle. Northern Florida, unlike the rest of the state, actually has some hills. In my recollection, a lot of the changes in elevation are due to sinkholes (created by the gradual wearing away of rock) that are very common in that part of the state. Some of these sinkholes are dry, some have water in the bottom, and some are basically lakes. And then there's Falling Waters. Falling about 73 feet into a 100 foot deep pit, Falling Waters is Florida's highest waterfall. The waterfall flows over some rocks and into what is basically a bottomless pit. In my memory, it really isn't possible to see where the water flows meaning not all 70 feet are visible. And as with Devil's Kettle, no one knows where the water eventually ends up. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of Falling Waters. However, more information can be found here:

The second waterfall I thought of as somewhat similar to the movie is in Secret Caverns, a cave near Cobleskill, NY. Secret Caverns is the less commercial, darker in atmosphere, and more natural neighbor of the more famous (well, in NY at least and maybe beyond) Howe Caverns. Someday I'll do a post on caves... Moving on. Secret Caverns has a few draws (such as a natural entrance rather than an elevator) but its biggest and most famous draw is the 100 foot underground waterfall. Unlike the previous falls, everyone knows where this water flows. If I'm remembering correctly, a tour of the cave basically ends at the pool of water into which the waterfall flows. Although they say the waterfall is (over) 100 feet, you certainly can't see that far up. After all, caves are dark.

While I'd love to say that the origin of the waterfall is unknown, that isn't the case. I don't remember if it's a lake or river or what and I don't really remember the process of how it gets underground, but I do know that the water's origin is known. In fact, there have been experiments to determine how long the water takes to get from basically where it starts to the pool (or river or whatever) in the cave. I seem to remember it being about 20 minutes but I'm not sure about that. Hey, give me a break, I visited this place about seven years ago.

Once again, I have no pictures. And besides, it's apparently very difficult to take good pictures of the falls. Here's the website with more information (obviously) and some pictures:

The conclusion? Waterfalls are very cool and sometimes really mysterious. Since I'm posting about waterfalls, I may as well post a picture of one. This waterfall is located in Ein Gedi which is an oasis in Israel. Although the falls isn't very high, it's a great place to visit. It's possible (and extremely relaxing) to lean against the rock over which the water flows. Plus, it really cools you off.

Somewhere I have a very short video of a waterfall in Scotland. If I find it, I'll post it.