Thursday, July 31, 2008

Edge Of Night, And Other Themes

Wrapping up the week, and unfortunately the month, with some pics and commentary from the memory card's back room, and my brain's back room:

July closed out in a wonderfully warm and humid way. The past few steamy days have stayed in the 70's well into the evening hours. For me, this spurred a couple night trips to Northampton and environs, for the usual coffee/walkabout/people-watch. My camera tirelessly keeping track of the travels:

Need a job? The Obama machine appears poised for victory, or a steamroll actually...still too early to count the eggs though...

The fire that wrecked the second floor of this rooming house/collector gallery has left it's fate yet to be resolved. The building is in a prime location, right on the edge of downtown. It will be interesting to see what becomes of it. Namely, will it become another property to join in the growing ranks of gentrification, that has many residents worried is destroying the character of the town...

A couple nights ago we brought the bikes up, for an after-sunset ride down the Norwottuck trail.

The Elwell Recreation area's dock has taken a beating, from the still overflowing Connecticut river.

We rode out to Barnes & Noble in Hadley, and rummaged around there until well after dark; we rode back by the narrow bouncing light of a bike lamp. A memorable ride: we were enveloped in warm breezy summer night goodness, surrounded by the sounds of, and pelted by, night critters; some of which inadvertently became snacks...

Daryl G. LaFleur, of Northampton Redoubt fame, also volunteers his time to the Springfield Public Forums. The non-profit group brings noted speakers to Symphony Hall...for free. Check out the schedules, there's a robotisct coming to speak on September 14, and he's bringing his robots. I might have to check that out...

More graffiti, for your consideration:

Happily, farm stands have become hot commodities. They even had one set up at a rest stop on the Turnpike.

Kelly attempted to abscond with an apple, with predictable results.

Good Bye, July...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Clouds Of Note

Driving up Rte. 116 this afternoon, I couldn't help but notice this humongous cloud, lit up by the setting sun on the opposite horizon.

I continued on, and rode up to Mt. Pollux in Amherst for a better look. There were several people already there, and apparently for the same reason. We all silently watched, as the behemoth slowly sank into the shadows.

It eventually disappeared completely into shadow, and the people on the hill by ones and twos went their own ways. It was such a nice warm evening, I decided to continue on into Amherst center and take a quick walk around, looking for something good. It didn't take too long; I followed some music to a short alley way between the back parking lots and Main St., where I found this guy playing:

When I asked if I could record a quick video for this site, he said sure, and that in fact the Gazette had recently taken a photo of him for the paper...

Unfortunately, I forgot to ask him his name or what he was playing...nice person though; he considerately played some walking music, as I left the alley...

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Terrific thunder rain and wind came 'storming' through the area late Sunday afternoon. Close in tow was a definite change in atmosphere. A little bit cooler, a lot less humid...

The storms left mist and fog hanging low over the hills, like smoke in the wake of the storm's war path. Broken branches and debris were scattered everywhere along the roadsides.

The sudden drop in temperature had me thinking about the end of summer, which is coming fast. The corn stalks getting tall reinforced my dour anticipation.

We went down to the river to walk the dog. In a short while the sunset was casting a beautiful glow, painting gold the sky, and the mist and fog in the distance.

Aaah. No need to jump the gun, there's still plenty of summer left...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

BeanTown Biking

On Saturday we headed back out on the turnpike and headed for Boston, for a ride around the Charles River Reservation. I had taken a short walk on a segment of this riverside path a long time ago, when I was in town visiting my sister. I remember seeing the small sail boats gliding along on the water, and thinking I'll have to come back again and check it out more thoroughly.

We got to Boston and parked underneath the storied Boston Common, in a three level parking garage they installed underground. It was 11 bucks for the whole day, not bad. We crammed ourselves, our bikes, and three other tourists into the little elevator that brought us up to the surface. The ride up made quite an impression one of the other tourists.."Hey! Thanks for making room for us, that's AWESOME!" One of them said. I was happy to oblige. "Did You guys bring your bikes here on the car and are now going biking around town? That's AWESOME!" gregarious little beaver, I thought. He then asked us for some directions, and I happened to have a map.."Wow! You've got a map? That's AWESOME!" by this time I almost was laughing out loud. I wondered where they were from, and where the word AWESOME was still used that much...

We emerged onto the common. It was bustling with tourists and local weekend relaxation-seekers. Also loaded with pigeons.

The Statehouse glistened, and an old graveyard appeared to be a big tourist spot.

On one end of the Common is the Boston Public Gardens. It looked beautiful, but bicycles are prohibited there, so we scheduled it for another time...

The frog pond wading pool was a big center of attraction.

This clown raised some eyebrows with references to his flatulence, and his constantly snapping the balloons 'accidentally' into his groin area. Just a little off-color for his very young audience, I thought. So did an Asian family, who pulled their kids along after they got their balloons, and ignored the clown's pleas for tips with "The better you give, the better I live!"

Bozo he was not. I wonder who signs off on permits for these guys.

We rolled away. Or tried to. Doh! Not again! Another flat tire.

The front wheel this time. Hmmm. Try finding a bicycle shop in the heart of a city. I asked the above clown if he knew of any place I could get a new tube, with predictable results. He gave me directions that would have put us somewhere between here and Gloucester. We thanked him and moved on. We asked several more people as we trudged pretty much all the way around the common, but no luck. Just as we were starting to despair, we got a tip from a local about a sports store that might have tire tubes, in a neighborhood on the opposite end of the common. The end of the common where that clown was, as a matter of fact.

We trudged back up, and Kelly watched the bikes while I went solo in search of the store. I found the store, and hurrah! They had tubes. Kind of. They had tubes with scrader valves. I needed a Presta valve. I bought it any way, and determined to make it work.

If your unfamiliar with Presta and Schrader, here's the difference:

Good ol' American, tried and true, fill anywhere Schrader valve:

And European flavored, over complicated, need a special pump to fill, Presta valve:

Somewhere a Frenchman is laughing, all the way to the bank.

Now yet another problem with Presta, is that the wheel itself only has a hole just wide enough fot the thinner stem. So to fit the wider Schrader, I'd have to do some modifying, and with no tools at hand. I kicked myself for not being more prepared. But I'm nothing if not recourceful, and I made do with the only thing I could think of, that was made of metal, and could be used for boreing. My house key.

We had a delightful time, under a shade tree on Boston Common, taking turns widening the hole on my wheel as our hands ached from carpal tunnel.

Unbelievably the plan worked; though the key didn't fair so well. Getting back into the house later would prove to be another issue altogether...

But we were mobile again. We finally set out on the trail, and picked it up where the famous half-shell is. The Boston Pops often performed here. They were setting up for a concert, part of a summer concert series put on by a local radio station. I though I heard someone say the band 'The Rascals' were playing there this evening...

The Charles river was just as I remembered it from last time, with sail boats gliding about, and the city skyline all around.

We crossed over to the other side of the Charles river at the Museum of Science, where there is a baseball exhibit going on. All things round were painted up like baseballs.

From that overpass could be seen the brand new Bunker Hill Bridge, and farther in the distance can be seen the Bunker Hill Monument...

We rolled on.

The Charles River Reservation path led us by MIT, where architectural experimentation meets reality.

We veered off the path a bit looking for something to eat, and found this Trader Joe's with a neat neighborhood themed mural on it's facade.

No gas was needed.

Then up by Harvard. Where we saw some buildings and bridges that looked oddly familiar. Like this bridge. I'm sure I saw it in 'Good Will Hunting' or some such movie.

We crossed back over the river at Harvard, and passed Boston College on the way back. We finally stopped down near the half-shell again as the shadows were getting long, and rested for a bit on one of the riverside benches, watching the sailboats, and even a gondola drifting by...

From there it was a short trek back to the car. We made it out of the city without too much trouble, and watched the sun set ahead of us as we headed west, and home.

Boy, wish I had my house key....