Tens (or possibly hundreds) of thousands of avatars have found themselves here since these regions were first added to the Grid on March 31, 2003. Even though the Welcome Area in Ritch was still shown on the April 1 map…
Starting today, the newbies will be arriving in the new welcome area on the border of Ahern and Morris – the new regions west of Lusk. (Until today they were arriving in Ritch.) Please come out and welcome them and point them in the right direction.
[source: SL Forum Archive, 3/31/03]”
And so was forged the reputation of these sims as a breeding ground for harassment (sexual and otherwise), griefing, scamming, distributing ripped content as freebies, recruitment by Bloodlines “spampires”, and general picking-on the bewildered noobs who had just finished doing the hula to appease a volcano god. So also was forged the tradition of well-meaning volunteers (such as the now-defunct Mentors) genuinely trying to help those same bewildered noobs.
This is what the Ahern Welcome Area looked like for its first two years:
|Photo credit: Oz Spade, SL Wikia|
And this, in case you need reminding, is what it has looked like since March 2005:
Even though referred to universally as “Ahern”, only one wing of that pavilion complex (lower right) is in the region by that name. The other three are (clockwise) in Morris, Bonfacio, and Dore. The buildings are by Alexandre Alexander, who worked under contract to the Lab for this project; he also built the walls which subdivide Morris (one of the first public sandbox sims):
Morris, by the way, shares a terraforming oddity with Oak Grove to its immediate south (and which we visited last time), though at opposite ends of the spectrum, so to speak. Morris’s water was raised above “mean sea level” (Z = 20 meters) to create the ponds or marshes; Oak Grove’s was lowered to allow the desert canyon to stay “dry”. Up in Morris’ northeast corner are a couple of spots where the edge of the sim’s “system water” layer protrudes through the ground like a badly-placed prim.
Morris also contains the first of the Archery Ranges (another can be found in DeHaro). This one fell victim to neglect over the years, and pieces went missing. It was restored last year with the help of Marianne McCann, who retrieved a copy of the original sign, and the hay bale that dispenses the bow, from the twilight zone known as the Aditi grid.
Rizal was conceived as a game area — in fact, the region was also known as “Rizal|Sports” for a while. The only activity that remains from its earliest days is the Hedge Maze, which was built by Lee Linden in June 2003:
The cannon-equipped Bumper Boats (as well as the water to run them in) were added later, and have since gone the Way of All Prims. There was also an arena in which to play a game called Jetball, just to the south of the Maze (to its left in the above photo).
|Photo credit: AltWithA Cleanslate, Snapzilla|
You can find a nice shot of its interior at Snapzilla, too, taken by Steve Steed. The uniforms to wear to play the game can still be had at the Free Bazaar in Stillman, but the game itself doesn’t even get a mention in either of the Wikis.
The good news (which I get from Ms McCann): The SL Department of Public Works (a.k.a. the Linden Moles) have two islands in their restricted-access complex: Mole Island Rizal and Mole Island Oak Grove. You can find them on the World Map, even though you can’t go there; there seems to be some evidence of reconstruction of builds missing from the original sims of which they’re faithful copies… which builds may even show up in their rightful place, one day.
Late addition: A SL related photo gallery nobody seems to have used since 2008, but which still displays its collections — 2nd Look Image Gallery — has seven anonymously-uploaded photos (March 26, 2004) of Jetball being played.