Monday, September 9, 2013

Strolling Along Trolley Line No. 9 Trail

Whenever I visit my relatives west of Baltimore, I always try to take a walk along the Trolley Line #9 Trail.

The trail follows the abandoned right-of-way of Baltimore's Route #9 trolley, which ran from downtown Baltimore at Charles and Lexington Street out following Edmonton Avenue until it ended.  From there, the trolley line when through the woods and a steep rock cut to its destination at Ellicott City.

Trains ran from the 1890s until the mid-1950s when it was partially replaced by buses. In the photo on the left, a car on the #9 line meets a car on the #14 line at the loop at Rolling Road. Today, there is no transit service along this route.

On the left below is a map of the tracks from Catonsville to Ellicott City.  The routes ran out Edmonson Avenue in Catonsville until its end.

The portion of the line beyond Edmonson Avenue became a rails-to-trails project in the 1990s, resulting in the present paved walking and biking trail, about a mile and a half in length.

The trail is builit on a boarwalk through the tall rock cut by Westchester Avenue.  The rocks were cut by hand.
The trolley line followed a stream for most of its run.  Today, the stream can be seen next to the path, adding to the scenic interest of the trail.
A trail through the woods connects Trolley Line #9 Trail with Banneker Park.

The Trolley Stop, a restaurant and bar we like to frequent is at the end of the trail.
Looking into Ellicott City.  The original Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (now operated by CSX Transportation) crosses the main street at the east end of Ellicott City.

The abutment and piers remain where Trolley Line #1 crossed Oella Avenue and the Patapsco river before entering Ellicott City.

Close-up of the stone block pier that once supported Trolley Line #9 just outside Ellicott City.

Dusk over Trolley Line #9 Trail where Westchester Avenue soars over the deep rock cut near Ellicott City.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Time and the Living Is Easy

And the livin' is easy ..."

This week the temperature hit the 90s (32 to 35 deg C).  While so many complain about the heat, I just love it!

The heat forces us to live differently.  We have to slow down.  We have to seek out the shade, and drinks some cool beverages.  We have to take it easy.  

The heat offers us the opportunity to get out of the run-around, over-committed lives we lead.    It offers us the opportunity to just sit there and take in the surroundings.  We can quiet our busy minds and rest our souls.  A good day in the 90s and the lyrics "and the livin' is easy" just clicked with me.

Having the week off with no travel plans, I left the air-conditioning inside and just sat out in the shade of the patio each day.  Just to enjoy the warmth and take in the surroundings, maybe do a little light reading.

Talking to my friend Gregg the other day, he echoed these thoughts, too.  Living without air-conditioning, he also finds he has to slow down in the heat.  He recommended just leaving all technology behind in the house, and just taking in the environment around me.

Then our pastor this morning, preaching on Luke 10 about sending out the 72 disciples in pairs, made not of how they were to travel simply, without excess baggage.  In the same we, he challenged us and himself to strip ourselves of the excess baggage of life, be it possessions, the ever-present technology (phones, tablets, laptops, always "con-nected" and always making demands of our attention), or the tyranny of so many demands and deadlines that often leave us with life living us instead of us living life.  (The last item describes my typical day at work, with multiple projects to manage, each with its own schedule, deadlines, and little "fire drills" that come up.)

Luckily, I have one more week before I return to work.  Another 7 days of opportunities to take the opportunity of summer, when the livin' is easy.

Happy summer!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Grief in Boston

Dusk settling on a city still in shock, as I walk home. Red and blue lights twinkle all around. Everywhere a strange hush has settled in. In the background of the quiet is the distant drone of helicopters hovering.

The feeling of the city is subdued. Conversations are hushed as though attending a wake.

In the park, spring beckons. Yet, we don’t notice the rebirth. Our minds are on the transience of life: in one moment we are here and filled with life. In a moment, we – any of us – could be gone. We are aware of that only a very thin portal separates life and death, and how easy one could pass.  And how in one blast, that portal is opened.

Today, we see again how evil work, how it embraces the specter of the netherworld.  How it consumes life.  This day, when the marathon runners remembered the horror of Newtowne and the children who were taken at too young, this day will itself come to be a memorial day.

We don’t know the how or the why of today.  But, in the end, does it even matter?  There is no “why” that is a good “why.”  There can be no good "why."  Whatever the "why" is, it can only be bad.

Once again, we all stand united. Our hearts reach out for each other. Our friends and family and colleagues and even strangers are glad we are fine. In the octave of grief, we always stand together for a while, though, in time, our politics and differences will become that wedget that so easily divides us.

We have no answers. We only have faith and prayer.

So, as I have done so many days, I go home, passing through a Public Garden about to burst into spring. But, today, even nature is restrained. All around is quiet. 

I walk in the eerie silence of the dusk, on this day when the portal of death was opened this afternoon, just a few short blocks away.