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When I was last in California, I went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with my daughter and her husband and daughter.  I shared some pictures from it before, but what I captured in today’s photo bears some explaining.

We were almost out of time on the parking meter and were soon going to have to leave the Boardwalk when I wondered if my grand daughter wanted to go on a ride.  I thought she was interested in one in particular, and when I asked her if she wanted to ride on it and that I’d pay for it, she said, no, but she loved to ride on the overhead cable cars that move people from one end of the Boardwalk to the other.  So, I told her I’d buy her a ticket and that I’d ride with her.

Now, sitting in an open bucket about 35 feel above the ground isn’t my idea of fun because I don’t like heights (but it is something I’ll do for my grand kids!), so we bought out tickets and headed up the stairs to the platform.  We climbed in and started the ride.  Then, part way through the ride, I noticed this fellow approaching us in one of the buckets from the other direction.  The goofy look on his face reminded me of some of my friends (who will go unnamed), but he looked like he was posing, so I shot him…with my camera, of course!  Kinda reminded me of Homer Simpson…doh!!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1542, on the banks of the Mississippi River in present-day Louisiana, Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto died, ending a three-year journey for gold that took him halfway across what is now the US. So the Indians would not learn of his death and discover that de Soto’s claims of divinity were false, his men buried him in the Mississippi River.

In late May 1539, de Soto landed on the west coast of Florida with 600 troops, servants, staff, 200 horses, and a pack of bloodhounds. They immediately set about subduing the natives, seizing any valuables and preparing the region for Spanish colonization. Traveling through Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, the Appalachians, and back to Alabama, de Soto failed to find the gold and silver he desired, but he did seize a valuable collection of pearls at Cofitachequi, in present-day Georgia. Decisive conquest also eluded the Spaniards, as what would become the United States lacked the large, centralized civilizations of Mexico and Peru.

As was the method of Spanish conquest in the Americas, de Soto mis-treated and enslaved the natives. For the most part, the Indian warriors they encountered were intimidated by the Spanish horsemen and kept their distance. In October 1540, however, a confederation of Indians attacked the Spaniards at the Indian town of Mabila, near present-day Mobile, Alabama. All the Indians were killed, along with 20 of de Soto’s men. Several hundred Spaniards were wounded. In addition, the Indian conscripts they had come to depend on to bear their supplies had all fled with baggage.

De Soto could have marched south to reconvene with his ships along the Gulf Coast, but instead he ordered his expedition north-westward in search of America’s elusive riches. In May 1541, the army reached and crossed the Mississippi River, probably the first Europeans ever to do so. From there, they traveled through Arkansas and Louisiana. Turning back to the Mississippi, de Soto died of a fever on its banks on May 21, 1542.

The Spaniards, now under the command of Luis de Moscoso, traveled west again, crossing into north Texas before returning to the Mississippi. With nearly half of the original expedition dead, the Spaniards built rafts and traveled down the river to the sea, and then made their way down the Texas coast to New Spain, finally reaching Veracruz, Mexico, in late 1543.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: During the past 400 years, nearly a quarter of a million people have been killed as a direct result of volcanic eruptions. Indirect aftereffects such as famine, climate change, and disease most likely have tripled that number.


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