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A supernatural romantic comedy. Dark Storm Rising by Mairemor reviews The second fiction of the Northmen saga is an epic tale of love, passion, vendetta, battle, and destiny. Journey with the Northman clan as they seek to overcome a great evil that threatens the world as we know it. Today, the Salton Sea is the largest body of water in California.
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Sometime in the mid 19th century, a Cahuilla chief named Cabazon told a white visitor the story — already several hundred years old — of a great white bird sailing there from afar. This could be a reference to a Spanish ship. Grasson pointed to the striated rock that rose all around us. A map showing California as an island, an common misconception even into the early 18th Century.
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The legend includes a history of California from Cortez to Born in Cleveland in , Grasson enlisted in the U. Army after high school and worked as a cook. After his discharge, he went to Los Angeles in , hoping to become a comedian. He once met Jay Leno, but asked me not to repeat the story of that encounter because he thought it was salacious. I fear, also, that Grasson was too nice and too Midwestern for the likes of the Comedy Store. Audiences appeared to agree. To make a living, Grasson sold carpet.
In , Grasson moved out to Orange County, because it was cheaper to live there. Then, that became too expensive. Like many others who lived in or near Los Angeles, Grasson found real-estate prices pushing him East, into Riverside County and beyond, ever deeper into the desert, until he ended up in Banning, where he has lived for the last 11 years. About 10 years ago, one of his co-workers told Grasson he was too intense and needed a hobby. Here, in the creosote wilderness, he found a tranquility he had never known before: Hundreds of thousands of people visit the deserts of California each year—Death Valley National Park alone attracts more than a million tourists.
Most of these do not return to search for ancient treasure ships. Two factors drove Grasson into the realm of obsession. He became an avid visitor to TreasureNet. He also read Philip A. That tribe, he says, is concerned only with self-enrichment, willing to abuse property rights and historical artifacts in the pursuit of some long-lost trove.
It is enough for Grasson to live inside the legend, the way a believer lives inside a religion, never questioning its outer bounds. He is also driven by a slight sense of grievance, a conviction that academics are errant in their near-unanimous assertion that there is no desert ship.
He knows they look down on him, but he also thinks he knows more than they do. At the same time, he spends more time pouring over documents than trekking through the desert. In the parking lot of a small Indian casino where we stopped for lunch, Grasson pulled from the back of his Jeep a copy of The Last of the Seris , a book by Dane Coolidge about the indigenous people of Tiburon Island, in the Gulf of California. Grasson also had Golden Mirages , the book that first inspired him a decade ago.
Bailey might not have many more facts than Grasson, but he has does have the force of conviction, annealed by the passage of time. We cannot subsist on faith alone, but can we subsist without any faith? Are we ready to become mere aggregations of lifehacks, corporate efficiency our only goal? But even so, there has always been just enough to keep going. Like Bailey many years before, he refuses to consign the desert ship entirely to the realm of fiction.
Promising leads have vanished like a cactus mouse in the undergrowth. The desert ship is buoyed by legend, but scuttled by facts. And if there was a ship on the desert floor, where did it go? Myrtle Botts, the librarian who said she saw it, claimed it was buried by an earthquake.
Even Grasson concedes that a part of it should have remained above ground. The desert is a changeable place, but not so changeable that an entire ship can disappear from view overnight. Brian Dunning, who hosts the popular Skeptoid podcast, investigated claims about the lost desert ship in He concluded that no Norsemen sailed up the Gulf of California: A 16th-century Spanish ship seemed the most plausible to Dunning, but he discounted this as well, largely on the grounds of paleo-hydrology: Given the course and depth of the Colorado River, it could not have deposited a ship in some of its more popular mythological locations in the Colorado Desert.
Others have reached more or less the same conclusion as Dunning. In , the Los Angeles Times concluded there were plenty of craft lost to the saline depths of the Salton Sea, but these belonged to the U. Navy, which had a test site nearby.
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Confronted with facts that pummel his theories—or the lack of facts to back up his beliefs—Grasson retreats into an uncertainty he thinks benefits his cause. Death Valley Jim, who has written a dozen books about desert lore, agrees. And whatever he made was hard-won. In other words, Grasson has plenty in common with the WWCs—i.
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Yet never once did I hear him air any grievances. He had given himself to a greater faith and, like all devoted believers who do so, he could not be bothered by the petty inconveniences of everyday life. His faith may be strange, but it meets several hallmarks of a religion, right down to the prolonged sojourn in the desert, as well as a convoluted and improbable origin story whose artifacts are at once valuable and irrecoverable. You believe in a burial shroud supposedly worn by the Son of God, who ascended to heaven after crucifixion; he believes in a Viking shield turned into a baking implement.
Which is the more fantastic tale?
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Some time ago, he listened to a recording made by a farmhand named Elmer Carver. In it, he claims, Carver describes an incident in , when he was invited to work on the farm of Niles Jacobsen in Imperial, a town about 15 miles north of the U. While inspecting the property, Carver noticed that the fence posts were oddly shaped.
Carver asked her about the ship. It took Jakie quite some time to get through all the sand, but when he did he found a small chest full of gems. But when he tried to lift the chest out it fell completely apart. On that recording, Carver says he saw the ship protruding from the ground. The Jacobsons eventually divorced and left Imperial. Grasson does not think the desert ship is in Canebrake Canyon, where Myrtle Botts claimed to have seen it in More likely, Grasson has concluded, the ship is closer to the Mexican border, where the land is dusty and flat, where the dry riverbeds have names like Coyote Wash and the irrigation canals have names like Wistaria Lateral Eight.
Here, your sense of wonder dissipates and is replaced by dread. To get to Imperial, you skirt the western edge of the Salton Sea and head through the unnaturally fertile Imperial Valley. This was all once desert, but irrigation has turned it into a breadbasket producing vegetables like potatoes and spinach and onions, as well as alfalfa, Bermuda grass and hay. There are date groves everywhere, disconcerting green rectangles carved out the desert, tattoos of our weird civilization.
Most of the hunting that goes on here has nothing to do with Spanish galleons or Viking longboats. I will say this in defense of John Grasson: If catfish farms are possible in the desert, so are ancient treasure ships. The Los Angeles Times concluded there are plenty of craft at the bottom of the Salton Sea, but it reported that they were all attached to the nearby U.
Imperial is a sad, low town eternally under a hot, low sun. The land is featureless except for the brown jags of mountains that squat on the horizon. We pulled off the highway, drove through town and toward a farmhouse shaded by a line of trees.