Freeway exit sign to Zzyzx Road off Interstate 15.
Image Credit: Photograph by Christopher Mann McKay.
Zzyzx is located in California. It is the former site of the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa and now the site of the Desert Studies Center.
The nearest town is Baker, California and Las Vegas, Nevada, is the nearest major city.
Soda Springs, a natural spring, has long seen human activity. The area was a prehistoric quarry site.
The Mojave Road ran past the spring, as did the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad.
The made-up name Zzyzx was given to the area in 1944 by Curtis Howe Springer, claiming it to be the last word in the English language.
He established the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Spa in 1944 at the spot, which was federal land, after filing mining claims for 12,000 acres surrounding the springs. He used the springs to bottle his water and provide drinks for travelers through the hot desert.
Springer also imported animals from around the country to attract more families to visit his ranch. He used Zzyzx until 1974, when he was arrested by the United States Marshals for misuse of the land.
Since 1976, the Bureau of Land Management has allowed California State University to manage the land in and around Zzyzx. A consortium of CSU campuses use it as their Desert Studies Center.
Founded in the 10th century, the ornate religious complex known as Fountains Abbey remained in active use for over 400 years and miraculously continues to stand in much its original form despite being denounced in the 1500’s.
The 70-acre site known collectively as Fountains Abbey was originally nothing more than some wooden church buildings resting on a verdant field.
The abbey was slowly expanded and converted to stone materials across its centuries of use, experiencing fires and destruction from religious opponents, each time rebuilding the abbey a bit greater.
At its height, the church complex was the largest and richest abbey in all of England, yet it was so large that it was also known to be in varied states of disrepair as no one seemed to be able to keep up the maintenance of the aging complex.
It wasn’t until Henry the VIII ordered the dissolution of all monasteries in the 1500’s that the abbey finally shut down.
After the mandated abandonment, portions of the site were destroyed, but the majority remained and over the ensuing centuries, a water garden was built around the ruins which would become almost as famous.
Despite the abandonment, the ruins ended up being fairly well maintained thanks to the care of the garden in which is was now simply a massive feature.
Thanks to this, the Fountains Abbey is the largest remaining abbey from its time and also the most well preserved.
While it is a popular tourist spot, it is also often used in television and film projects.
“El Caminito del Rey”, in English, (“The King’s little pathway”) was initially built as an access route.
It enabled workers at the hydroelectric power plants of El Chorro Gorge and Gaitanes Gorge with an easier way to transport materials, maintain and inspect the workings of the two power plants.
Construction of the “walkway” began in 1901 and was finished in 1905 and in 1921 King Alfonso XIII visited and walked along the path for the inauguration of the Conde del Guadalhorce dam and since that time it became known as the “Kings path”
The Kings Path – Photo Credit Diputacion de Malaga.
The original walkway was just 1 metre (3.3 ft) wide and in places more than 100 metres (330 ft) above the river below.
From one end to the other is about 3 kilometres. The path for many years was in a highly deteriorated state with numerous sections collapsed and large open air gaps bridged only by the narrow steel rails.
Very few of the original handrails existed but a safety-wire placed by climbers ran the length of the path.
The area is a mecca for climbers and the Caminito del Rey became known as one of the most impressive and dangerous mountain trails in the world.
But, after several people lost their lives on the walkway (in 1999 and 2000) both access points were demolished by local authorities and access prohibited.
In June 2011 the regional government of Andalusia and the local government of Málaga agreed to share the costs of a restoration project (including car parking and a museum) but even with a budget of €9 million euros,the project took approximately three years to start and only in March 2014 the restoration work began.
In its new upgraded and repaired state the Camino del Rey will have wooden and concrete flooring, glass-bottomed viewing and safety rails along the whole length.
How the Camino del Rey looks in 2014 – Photo Credit Diputacion de Malaga
Fur seals on Kangaroo Island (Photo: Mitch Reardon)
The island also has a fascinating human history.
Evidence of stone tools and campsites indicate that Aboriginal people inhabited the Island as early as 16,000 years ago and as recently as 2,000 years ago.
Why the Aboriginal people abandoned Kangaroo Island, or when they last lived there, remains a mystery.
The first non-Aboriginal people to live on Kangaroo Island were sealers, escaped convicts and runaway sailors, seeking refuge in the early 1800s, and leading a self-sufficient life trading salt and skins for spirits and tobacco.
Surf fishermen on the beach at Hanson Bay, Cape Bouguer Wilderness Protection Area, south coast of Kangaroo Island.
A month after Captain Flinders made the first recorded European sighting of the Island, the French ship, Le Geographe, under the command of Nicolas Baudin, also arrived.
Baudin mapped much of the rugged south and west coastlines and many of the features along the coastline still bear French names.
Reeves Point became the first formal settlement in South Australia in the mid-1800s.
Historic sites include the first European cemetery, post office, early houses, the original jetty remains, and an ancient mulberry tree that grew from a cutting brought out from England.
Grasstree (Xanthorrhoea semiplana tateana) and sugar gums (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) dot the landscape in this post-bushfire regrowth area near Western River, north central coast, Kangaroo Island.
Panorámica de Teotihuacan (image via José Luis Ruiz / Flickr)
Archaeologists may be a bit closer to solving one of the greatest ancient Mesoamerican mysteries:
Who ruled the ancient city of Teotihuacán, and where are they buried?
Small remote-controlled robots have led the team excavating the ruins to a cache of around 50,000 objects — from intricately carved sculptures to obsidian blades to jewelry — in a tunnel underneath the Temple of the Feathered Serpent that is now believed to lead to the royal tombs.
One of the feathered serpent heads that decorated the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (image via Jami Dwyer / Wikimedia)
Although Teotihuacán was once one of the largest cities in the world, with an estimated 125,000 residents at its peak, little is known about it.
It was established around 100 BCE and is believed to have lasted until the 7th century CE, when it was abandoned.
The city was an industrial hub and achieved great wealth as a center for the obsidian trade, and the ruins now cover 32 square miles of temples, pyramids, and residences.
It is not known what the city was called by those who built and lived in it; the Aztecs gave it the name Teotihuacán, which means something like “The Place Where Men Become Gods.”