Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cycling Along the Cape Cod Canal

Cape Cod is widely known as a famous vacation destination in eastern Massachusetts. Known for ocean beaches, sand dunes, and cranberry bogs, the Cape is an arm-shaped sand bar left behind by the glacial recession about 12,000 years ago. The Cape became a popular vacation spot in the late 1800s, when the industrial revolution filled the cities with smoke and coal soot. Urbanites yearning to breathe free flocked to places like Cape Cod, arriving by rail.

In the 20th century, the Cape became synonymous with summer vacation. Perhaps, this fame is best illustrated in the lyrics of "Old Cape Cod," a 1957 hit by Pattie Page. The song (written by Claire Rothrock, Milton Yakus, and Allan Jeffrey) could have been sponsored by the tourist bureau, praising the Cape for its “sand dunes and salty air, quaint little villages here and there.”

Today, the Cape remains popular with tourists seeking beaches and boating. The gateways to the Cape are two bridges that span 135 feet above the Cape Cod Canal. The Sagamore and Bourne Bridges, opened on June 22, 1935, are also known as the pinch points that back up traffic for miles on summer weekends.

Despite the traffic, the bridges afford picturesque views of the canal. But to see more than a fleeting view of the canal, one needs to spend some times on the banks of the waterway. Perhaps the best way to do that is to bike the pathways that parallel the canal.

Last weekend, as part of our summer hike-and-bike “stay-cation,” we took the bikes to the mainline side of the canal and biked the 7 miles (each way) along the canal. The warm sun was mixed with cool breezes along the canal, at times providing a stiff headwind for the westbound ride.

But overall it was a nice day and a pleasant ride. And an opportunity to mix this with a little photography of engineering structures captured in the scenic backdrop of the cape.

Below: Looking up at the Sagamore Bridge towering above the canal and bike path.

Above: a power plant on the "cape" side of the canal.

Below: the canal meets Cape Cod Bay.

Above: typical view along the canal. With all the trees, you feel far away from the traffic and development.

Below: looking up on the massive tower of the railroad bridge.

Below: the quait railroad station at Buzzards Bay. It was a busy station before the auto surpassed the train as the popular way of traveling to the Cape. Now, only one train a week leaves from Buzzards Bay to Hyannis.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

View from the Mountaintop

With a height of 3,165 feet (965 meters), Mount Monadnock is said to be the second most frequently climbed mountain in the world, after Mount Fuji in Japan. Located in southwestern New Hampshire (USA), on a clear day, one can see 100 miles (160 km) from the mountaintop. What makes the views so spectacular is the bare rock summit above the treeline and in the midst of unique alpine vegetation.

It’s been years since we climbed, so we returned to Mt. Monadnock on July 5th. It was a perfect summer day, sunny and not too hot. But the climb (1,000 feet or 305 meters) and descent were a little tougher than we remembered. Come to think of it, it was probably about 20 years since our last climb! That could be why.

Well, the views and pictures were worth the wear and tear on our leg muscles!

The path to the peak starts out as an easy walk through the woods:

Hikers climing with the summit in sight. This was about 1.5 hours after we started hiking.

Near the summit, a view of miles around:

A disc markes the top of Mount Monadnock:

Hikers rest from their climb at the mountaintop. A nice breeze kept the temperature perfect.

View of vegitation near mountaintop:

Views from the mountaintop:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

O for a Sunny Day

o, for a sunny day in a month lost,
obscured in clouds,
with nearly perpetual precipitation
washing away the joy of solar radiance.

o great orb that rules the day:
can i remember how you feel?
your warmth upon my face,
my body bathed in summer heat
as I stroll the city streets
enjoying the leisure of the unhurried pace
that your warmness imposes.

how can we endure the grayness of another day
where the subtlety of colors is diluted
in such dull diffused daylight?
where an autumnal chill in my bones and
a film of mist coat over our flesh
left my soul in a joyless limbo.

o new month of Julius,
will you restore what we lost last month?
the simple joy of a warm summer day
bathed in sunlight.