Friday, August 31, 2007

The other Springfield

My friend Tom Daponde sent me a cool link; ever wonder what you'd look like as a Simpson's character?

Here's yours truly:

good fun, check it out:

South side yo
Speaking of Springfield, here's a couple of photos of the Ol' Town looking up and down Main St. from the south end.

And from the Chestnut St. area looking down towards Monarch Place:

The notorious Hollywood St. area of the south end.

A couple Main St. area pics:

I'll post more on Springfield from time to time, the steaming megopolis of western Mass.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Land of the Lost

On the way home from a dentist visit in Holyoke, I saw this sign on Rte. 5 . I'd seen this sign a thousand times, and told myself I'd check it out sometime, well, now seemed like a good time.

I was a little sceptical at first, I wasn't expecting anything looking like actual footprints, but the info sign and brochures at the entrance area looked like someone had put some time and effort into making this a local attraction.

I walked down the very short trail to a clearing by the retaining wall of the road above, and, sure enough, dinosaur tracks. Clearly distinguishable dinosaur tracks.

Some were easy to find because of the chalk outlines someone, probably a child, had drawn around them. There were a lot of them, and various types. Some of the best, clearest ones I'd ever seen. Right here, next to busy Rte. 5. The cars were roaring by above just yards away.

There are 134 tracks from 3 different types of dinosaur, and the way most of them go in the same direction led scientists to conclude for the first time that some dinosaurs may have travelled in packs or herds.

Some more info:

Other side of the Tracks

There were several cars parked at the trail entrance, and it sounded like everyone was down by the river. I crossed some railroad tracks a few yards away and stepped onto a broad sandstone rock bed emerging from the river. There was a family swimming on one end making a huge ruckus yelling and splashing around, some fishermen scattered about the rock in strategic places and on a boat nearby, and some couples just sitting there enjoying the view or walking around. Everyone seemed to be spread out and just doing their own thing.

I don't know how they got it there, but maybe in 60 million years someone will discover fossilized Humvee tracks on the riverbed...

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bright Night

A beautiful night, the full moon (Sturgeon Moon) is at perigee and is as bright as it comes. I took a motorcycle ride up Rte. 47 under bright moonlit clouds. The warm weather is keeping this roadside ice cream stand in business, they were just closing up when I went by.

Stopping in at Northampton for a coffee, this barefooted banjo/ fiddle/ guitar group was further proof of the warm weather.

We won't be able to see it as well here in the east, but folks on the west coast will be able to see an eclipse of the moon tommorrow, early morning just before the sun comes up. This graphic from Sky & Telescope magazine:

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Race to the Sea

It was a broiler of a day when the sun finally came out in the early afternoon, so even though it was late, we decided to go down to Sound View Beach in Old Lyme, Connecticut. We managed to get most of our tasks for the day done, packed up a hasty cooler and were on the road by 1:30-ish. We encountered light traffic and relatively light crowds and had our toes in the ocean by three o'clock.

Sound View is kind of different from the other public beaches in the area as many people park their boats close to the beach (outside the swimming area) and come to shore to have a drink at the two bars that are right on the beach. Both bars have big patios and live bands on most weekends.

The beach is also really a little village of rental cottages rather than a state park.

My cousin and his parents used to come here for a week every year when I was growing up. One year I stayed with them. I don't remember exactly what happened, but I remember having a conniption fit on the back stairs of their rental cottage with a screaming case of home-sickness that no one could abate. I came to my senses a short time later as they made me realize there was absolutely no way they were going to drive me back up to Massachusetts in the middle of their vacation. They consoled me with a night out at the local arcade, my cousin benefited greatly from my misery.

That memory came to me as I layed there after a swim in the warm Long Island Sound water. I dozed off thinking about that and other stupid stuff I did as a kid. I woke up as the evening breeze started to blow in from the sea. Refreshed, relaxed. Thats what the beach is for.

We got there late, stayed late, and packed up as the sun was setting...

Thursday, August 23, 2007


The sun was making an effort to come out late this afternoon as we drove up to Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary for a little walk. The clouds and cool air are finally starting to pass. A little humidity returning to the air.

We ended up trying to identify the four trees in the center of the parking area, what I believe was a Black Walnut, a Black Locust, a White Ash, and maybe a Mulberry? I could be wrong about that, I'll have to consult some books, or maybe ask someone who looks like they would know next time I'm here. We took a little walk down to the water, where the bats were already out flitting around eating bugs on the wing.

I was standing at this spot next to a tree a couple years ago when a massive beaver emerged from the water not ten feet from me, walked right up to the other side of the tree, maybe five feet away before he noticed me. I could have taken one step and been able to touch him. He was General Sherman huge, the biggest one I'd ever seen. He just stopped still when he saw me. I stood there not moving, wondering if I should step back. Slowly, seemingly unperturbed, he turned his back to me and waddled back into the water. He showed no fear at all. I couldn't say the same.

It was pretty dark as we left the waterside, and by the light of the flashlight, we could see hundreds of ants scampering up a towering 100+ foot Red Oak tree. For what, I don't know, but I suspect they were after the leaves in the canopy high above. They would stop in their tracks when the flashlight shined on them. I snapped this picture, but they're too small to see clearly.

I have a few stories of some cool things I've seen here over the years, I'll post them now and again as I return to this great wildlife sanctuary. Hopefully I'll have more daylight to take some good pictures next time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Global Cooling

Night Rider

Almost autumn-like, temperature-wise, so far this week. I donned the leather coat, jeans instead of shorts, and went for a brisk night ride on my trusty Honda up to Noho for a coffee. The streets of Northampton were pretty quiet in the early evening, a combination of the cool-down and the fact it was Tuesday night.

There was this guy playing some great guitar outside Sam's though.

It was the first time since spring that I drank a hot coffee rather than an ice coffee. Sadly portentous fact, I thought. But this little cool-down is just a reminder of what's coming, there's still plenty of summer left.

Food, Farm, Fuel

Marietto's Apollo Pizza in Belchertown, good stuff.

The other day I stumbled upon these two hillbillies working their land. I beat a hasty retreat when they informed me "y'all ar truss-passin' in muh lann". Ever since that new eminent domain law, the suburbanites have gotten testy.

Finally, here's some more teasing from the Oil Cabals, part of their carrot and stick tactic as they condition us for permanent $3 and up gas...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tilt your head back

If it's clear outside some night this week, check out Jupiter to the south, Kind of just above the horizon, It'll look like a really bright star. On Tuesday night It'll be right above the moon...

If you have access to a telescope or really good binoculars, you can see some of Jupiter's moons nearby it too.

Got this graphic from Sky & Telescope Magazine,

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Flowers and Potholes

The Bridge to Shelburnithia

A crisp, gorgeous day in the 70's, we headed out towards Greenfield, got onto Route 2 west (aka the Mohawk Trail), and went to Shelburne Falls, mainly to see the famous 'Bridge of Flowers' , a trolley bridge abandoned and converted back in the 1920's into this 400 foot planter.

The bridge/flower idea is unique and supposedly the only one like it in the world.

This guy was playing his violin at one end of the bridge. I couldn't name any of the songs he played, but I did recognize the 'Harlem Globetrotters' theme song.

The bridge is well kept, and care is taken to always have something blooming at all times during the summer.

Lots of beautiful flowers...

Lots of weird flowers...

And some vines thrown in here and there...

These are Wisteria Vines, and they were left in place when all the other plants were removed for renovations to the bridge back in the 80's.

Hey, check out that glass

A very short walk from the bridge across the shop lined center of town and you come apon this glass works gallery.

Lots of nice glass vases, bowls, jelwery, ect. Anything they could think of that could be made of glass. Here's a bowl and butterfly:

Attached to the gallery is the actual glass-blowing shop where they make their wares.

Normally these doors would be open and you'd have to stand on your toes to look over the crowd of spectators to watch three or four glassmiths spinning their glowing orbs of blown melted glass into works of art, the heat from the 2000 degree furnaces pouring out into the street.

Unfortunately, the doors were closed today, and signs on the windows said the shop was closed for renovations until late September.


Further down the street is the other famed Shelburne Falls Attraction, the Glacial Potholes.

There are about fifty of them at the Falls, from 6 inches wide to the world record 39 feet across. They were created by small stones swirling around under melting glaciers back in the day.

Now its basically a water park for whoever can sneak onto the rocks, as the town officially recognizes the area as closed to the public except for viewing. Liability reasons I'm sure.

Someone forgot to tell these people, apparently.

Onward and Upward

After checking out some shops on the main street, we headed out. We drove a little further up the Mohawk Trail to this picknick spot by the Deerfield River and had some lunch.

Since we had to go by Greenfield on the way back, and since I'm a sucker for vistas, we made a quick stop at the Poet's Seat Tower, a sandstone lookout tower on built in 1912, with great views of Greenfield and the surrounding hills. Some say it's haunted. Muuuahahahahaaaaaa.

From there, it was homeward bound...