Forecast called for a ridiculously balmy 80 degrees, perfect weather for my annual swim with the Coney Island Polar Bears! I always think that some winter it might be fun to try to actually join them, the way that works is that there's a lottery for slots; you pay a $25 application fee and then if you come out for 12 swims within a single season (which runs from November through April) and are voted in by the members, you become a full-fledged Coney Island Polar Bear, with a patch you can wear and YES total bragging rights! After that you only have to do four swims a year to continue to be an active member; that first year would take some commitment and I think I would have to focus on getting the swims in early on - seems like the way to do it would be getting out there every week as the water gets progressively colder. Would be tough to do and still fit in my winter paddling, I would just have to make up my mind to make it a swimming winter instead of a paddling winter. Fun to think about, but for the time being I expect I'll just stick with my April dip.
Would also be fun to see the New Year's Day plunge that the Polar Bear Club runs as a fundraiser for Camp Sunshine someday - but I have been ringing in New Year's Days with paddles for so long that it's hard to imagine not doing that. It would be such fun taking pictures there, though, that's an enormous and very popular event and people come up with some wild outfits for it!
I was very glad to get out in the water today, it's been weeks since my last paddle (Staten Island seals in what was it, February?) and I've just been itching for salt water. Today was just great, I had a lovely time in the water and then asked if I could join in when I heard a friend talking about going to Ruby's Bar - I am so glad that whatever happened to save that place and some of the other Coney Island classics from the developers happened, that was the perfect way to wrap up the beach part of the day.
Sorry it's not a very wide range of pictures, my camera got a memory card error right after the first circle-up, which happens right after everybody gets in - since I was already in, I couldn't open the battery compartment to take out the card & put it back in. I think I may have enjoyed the rest of the swim more after I ditched the camera, though! Here's the set of pictures I did get, though. Click for slide show view, as usual.
Sorry I have been such a boring blogger of late, it's been a rough Spring. Nowhere near enough time on, in, or near the water. Hope to remedy that on Sunday with my annual Spring swim with the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. How many years in a row do you have to do something before you can officially call it a tradition? :) Anyways, I've been absolutely aching for a water day, was torn between a swim and a paddle, but with a high of 75 on Sunday, I'm thinking a swim may better than a paddle -
warm spring days here in the Northeast are actually not the best paddling days because the water is still very cold and you have to dress for that, not the air.
And as long as I'm talking about warm air/cold water paddling, my whole point in signing on to do this quick post is to share this quick Frogma P.S.A., same as I do every year around this time:
The New York State off-season lifejacket rule -- the one that says anyone who's out in any recreational vessel of 20 feet or less must be wearing a lifejacket between November 1 and May 1 -- is still in effect. Also, we are having some wonderful weather here, but the water's still quite cold. Immersion gear (wetsuit or drysuit) is still a very good idea if you are going boating, but at the very, very least, please wear your lifejacket.
This is always a bad time of year for boating accidents, a capsize that would be an amusing minor mishap in August can go south extremely fast here in April, and even on into May. For more information, please visit any of the links in the cold-water safety link list to the right.
Thanks for reading, let's all be safe out there!
Still crazy at work but had to share this new Poetry in Motion subway card featuring art by Sebago sailing co-chair Holly Sears. In addition to patiently teaching many, many newbies (including yours truly) how to sail dinghies, she is an AMAZING artist. This piece is from Hudson River Explorers, her glorious public art installation in the overpasses at the Metro-North Tarrytown station. I always like the Poetry in Motion series and I'll be looking for this one especially! Click here for the two posts that I did after going to see the installation and the gallery exhibit that she had at the Hudson River Museum at the time that the piece was first unveiled.
Also have to have a little "whoop whoop" moment today as Facebook kindly reminded me that one year ago today, I rang the bell after my last chemo infusion. I wasn't going to go to my Irish music session tonight but I think that's an anniversary that deserves a pint and a few tunes. Seeing the doctors is getting to be a less regular thing now, they extend the intervals between appointments as you go along without any trouble, but I had doctor week a couple of weeks ago and so far all's well.
A few more pictures from Niagara Falls. Fewer than I remembered, in fact - our next activity, since we were hitting all the standard Niagara Falls tourist fun on the US side, was a ride on the Maid of the Mist, and while there may not have been any cave at the Cave of the Winds, there was definitely mist on the Maid of the Mist, the boat takes a pretty close pass by the American Falls and then snuggles right uo to the thundering Horseshoe Falls. That's the one people shoot for when they get it into their heads to go over the falls in a barrel or a kayak or an inner tube or whatever, the American Falls have this barricade of boulders at the bottom so there's just no way, but the Horseshoe Falls fall straight down into the roiling pool at the bottom so there's a marginally better chance of living to tell the tale. Odds are still lousy though. Much better to just go into the mist and the roaring at the bottom, on a nice solid passenger boat with a good strong engine. Anyways, the reason there are not many pictures is because the mist starts at the American Falls, and I kept trying to take pictures for a little too long before I wrapped up the camera in the plastic bag I'd brought, and when I took it out and tried to take a picture afterwards, it just said "Nope".
That was too bad because we stumbled across the very lovely Niagara Gorge trail afterwards, we were walking in the park downstream from the Falls and as we were approaching a building perched on the cliff's edge, we saw people coming out. We investigated and discovered that it was the elevator down to the service area for vessels in the area and also the public access to the trail. We had a great short hike down there, continuing downstream until we got to a switchback trail that led back up to the top of the cliff, getting back to the falls just as the sun was getting that late afternoon gold color to it, illuminating the falls in a way that I thought was far more breathtaking than the colored floodlights at night. I took a chance and turned the camera back on and was very happy when it worked - must've given it just enough time to dry out. So glad since my hands-down favorite pictures from Niagara Falls ended up being that set.
It's funny, I ended up really kind of glad I hadn't brought my passport - if I had, there were 2 more tourist attractions on the Canadian side that we would've tried to hit (Journey Behind the Falls, which is actually tunnels that take you to look out from behind Horseshoe Falls, and then the cable car over the Whirlpool, which TQ remembered as being pretty neat from visiting there in the past), and we would've missed the hike, which I enjoyed so much. Funny how things work out sometime. As it was, I felt like it was just about a perfect first visit to Niagara Falls.
Well, oof, the usual March march at work marches on, all work and no play makes Bonnie a boring blogger, but recently overhearing someone complaining about how Niagara Falls wasn't as amazing as they expected did remind me that I had promised more Niagara back in a January post and never done that. So here we go, on with Day 2!
We were in total tourist mode here on my first ever visit to Niagara Falls, so of course we had to visit the Cave of the Winds, which is not actually a cave anymore. Once upon a time, there WAS a cave, and tours were offered, but it was closed after a rockfall in 1920 and then "obliterated in a massive 1954 rockfall and subsequent dynamiting of a dangerous overhang" (thanks Wikipedia). The tour had reopened in 1924 using boardwalks and stairs and today the Cave of the Winds is really the Boardwalk of the Winds. Interesting notes about the construction - there's no foundation, the support poles are just shoved down into spaces in the boulders at the base of the falls, and they take off the decking and store it in the wintertime when the ice buildup would take it apart. That must be quite the job, and the initial construction must have been hair-raising. Great attraction though, so amazing to get right up to the falls like that.
The photo above was taken on our first day in Niagara Falls, and I was loving that people were getting right under the falls the way they were. The next day it was our turn, and we had a blast! Once again, the fall visit worked out great, we were able to get our ponchos and slippers and get right onto the elevator without waiting at all, and then of course for this we were very lucky to have almost summery weather. Photos below, although after a certain point I had to pack up my camera because there was just too much water for it, next time I'll have to bring the waterproof one! That's it for the writeup, click on the first photo below for a slideshow view.
For anyone who's saying "What accident?", last year there was a bad accident between a ferry and a kayak tour on the Hudson River. Fortunately, no lives were lost, but the guide was badly injured. I don't think I really mentioned it here because anything I would have had to say would have been pure speculation - an educated guess, since I know the area where the accident happened and I got my start kayaking at Manhattan Kayak and was even one of a number of partners for a couple of years, but still a guess.
I have been VERY interested in what the Coast Guard had to say, though, and that hit my social media today - first I got a link to an NBC local affiliate's report, then PortSide NewYork shared Maritime Executive.com's version. PortSide NewYork (website here, other link was FB) is trying to get a link to the original but this looks like a good evenhanded overview from knowledgeable water people.
Watch out for spin on this - non-maritime news outlets frequently mess up reporting of maritime news because they just don't know the basics (and don't realize that they don't). This one's a good straightforward report, and the results are pretty much what I was expecting to see based on what I'd seen at the time last year.
updated later with corrected link to Maritime Executive report.