Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day

My dad and his dog, Jump-Off Rock, Hendersonville, NC. TQ and I visited in honor of his 80th birthday. They moved here after he re-retired (he retired from the Navy and then had a shorter 2nd career teaching math to 7th and 8th graders at Waipahu Intermediate School) and thoroughly enjoys sharing the scenery in and around their new hometown. Belle (the dog) liked it too!

Friday, June 15, 2018

2nd Annual Hudson River Cup - Coming to Hoboken in July 2018

Delighted to see the announcement for the 2nd annual Hudson River Cup! I had a wonderful time at this last year and I expect it'll be even better this year (although I doubt I'll win the kayak race this year, that was a bit of a fluke). Maika'i, Ke Aloha, maika'i! 

Click here for full details and race registration 

Click here to read my trip report from last year. Was good fun! 

Monday, June 04, 2018

Biltmore Roses (plus a corpse flower cousin)

We paid a visit to the Biltmore gardens while I was visiting my folks in North Carolina. We went to see the Chihuly exhibit there and it was fun seeing some of the same pieces as I'd seen at the New York Botanical Garden with my friend Mandy last Fall, and I will have some photos from that, but first, here are some photos from the rose garden, which must have been just about at peak.

I have notes on two of these photos, everything else is just prettiness:

1. My sister noticed these unusual large blooms and brought me over to see them. The maroon flowers with the central spikes were enormous, over a foot long, and then as I admired them I noticed that there was a rotten smell in the air and that there were flies all over them. I guessed correctly that this is a relative of the world-famous corpse flower, using a similar technique to draw pollinating flies. I got to see a corpse flower a few years ago when the one they have at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden bloomed; it was a seriously impressive thing to see, but by the time I saw it the smell for which the plant is named was gone. Now I have a very good idea! It was actually a little hard to figure out a relative of the corpse flower on the internet, because search terms including "corpse flower" just bring up ten million articles about various corpse flowers blooming at various botanical gardens, but tonight I finally found the name voodoo lily (it has other names too but that was the first one I found).

2. And now I'm wishing that for just one post I could turn on the smell-o-vision feature - if the voodoo lily was one of the worst-smelling plants I've ever smelled, this rose was at the opposite end of the spectrum. There were plenty of roses in this garden that were clearly bred for looks, not scent, but I love a rose that smells like a rose, and I think my favorite part of the garden was the section was the part with the fragrant roses. This may not have been the most glamorous rose in the garden but it just smelled so beautiful! 

And that's it for the sniff notes. All pictures from here, click on any of them for a better view. 

Friday, June 01, 2018

A Paddle on Lake Lure, NC

Especially sad to hear about the NC flooding after such a nice week there last week. Photos here from a paddle on beautiful Lake Lure last week Friday. Hope things clear up for the town of Lake Lure and other affected areas SOON.

TQ's sister lives in the area and she and her kids (who call me Aunt Bonnie, which I love) took us out for a spin. We drove to the lake through some fairly heavy rain, but it was warm and easing off as we were standing in the parking lot discussing, so we went, and I was so glad.

 TQ's sister kept apologizing about the view not coming out to be seen, apparently there are a LOT more mountains back behind the ones we could see, but I loved the Chinese-landscape-painting effects that the low clouds gave. I also suspect that if it had been a bright sunshiny day, there would've been tons more motorboats, being the day before memorial day weekend. As it was it was so peaceful, with only a couple of motorboats and pontoon boats passing us during the first part of the paddle. Around 4 or so lots of other paddlers started appearing from the docks of the lakefront homes but still no motorboats.

No sunset this day either but TQ's sister said that the sunset on the lake is amazing. We may have to go back for that sometime.

BTW the beach in the first photo below is attached to the resort that was the setting for the movie Dirty Dancing. You can read more about the inn and some other neat things in the surrounding area here. Never actually saw that movie myself but I know a lot of people loved it!

All photos after this, click on any picture for a slideshow view (or at least it's supposed to be a slideshow, at the moment it's not quite cooperating - hopefully that sorts itself out soon).

Paddled about 5.5 miles and TQ and I tried out an assisted rescue in the recreational kayak I was using. Always fun to practice in a new boat!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I'm back

Back from NC. Here is possibly the most lovely butterfly I've ever seen, so glad it was nice enough to pose so cooperatively. ID'd by a FB friend as a red-spotted admiral. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Three Paddle - Island Cruise, saying hello to ospreys

Continuing on with the one paddle, two paddle song -- here's "three paddle", and this one finally brings me up to this month!

May 6th was a very nice day for paddling, maybe not so much for the racers in the spring sailing race series that was underway! Light winds, and very shifty (I asked Patrick, who I'd just passed here, how the racing was and that was what he said).

Our paddle was a pretty straighforward one, TQ is off work on Sundays so we'd decided to go when we saw a decent forecast - nice temperatures, light winds, potential for drizzle but hey, it's a water sport - and when a new club member asked if anyone was willing to take him out paddling, we invited him to join us. We hadn't met him before, but he'd said on his request that he was an experienced paddler; now, people have different ideas about what constitutes "experienced" and and we were ready to keep the paddle slow and short if that's what was appropriate, but it turns out R. was most recently from Alaska and really does know what he's doing. We set out at 3:00 and I'd suggested about 3 hours on the water. I'd first proposed just a loop around Canarsie Pol, clockwise, say hi to the ospreys, on around the island and back, but we were zipping along quite nicely as we passed the nest platform and I suggested maybe extending our course to around Ruffle Bar, too. TQ and R. were both very happy with that idea, so off we went.

The Canarsie Pol ospreys haven't got much of a nest going, in fact we weren't sure they were there at all as we approached (ospreys add to old nests every year and the things can get massive, but we had some pretty bad storms this winter and last year's sticks must've blown away), except that there weren't any cormorants. The old pier structure here is a favorite perch for the local cormorants until the ospreys get back from their wintering grounds - the ospreys are very territorial and won't let anybody else perch on their pier when they are in residence. Ospreys generally return to Jamaica Bay in March, with the males returning first, with older males reclaiming their nesting sites and unestablished males finding a territory. The females join the males a little later. There was a great project that ran for a while a while back, where one of the established males was fitted with a tracker and you could follow his travels on a website - it was so fascinating watching the bird fly all the way back from I think it was Chile and settle in with his mate back at their usual nest in the bay. The tracking was supplemented by direct observations by project scientists including our baykeeper, Don Riepe, and they did a great job of telling the story. There was drama - there was a 2nd bird with a tracker, and all of us who were following the site were so sad when his course showed that he'd most likely been blown out to sea in a storm and lost, and then there was soap opera - like one year where one established male got held up en route, and another male decided to take over that tempting unoccupied platform, and when the female came back & found the new guy, it seemed like she was going to be OK with that, and the original guy got back just as this was going on - total Days of Our Lives, only with feathers and fish. :D

Anyways, there was indeed a nest on the Canarsie Pier platform and as we went by we could just see an osprey watching us paddle by, just her head - no pictures, sorry, the guys were moving along well and I didn't want to hold them up. We also saw a pair of ospreys when we got over to Ruffle Bar, plus the usual spring mix of gulls, terns, brants, and oystercatchers. R. enjoyed hearing the oystercatchers, turns out those guys make it up to Alaska in the summertime and it's always fun to hear a familiar bird in a new place.

Also some very cool clouds - looked to me a bit like "mammatus" clouds, same root as "mammal" and "mammary" where it looks like breasts hanging down from the sky. You can google "mammatus" to see some really cool pictures - we had a suggestion of that, you can see it in the first photo below, but sometimes it can much more pronounced. Also excellent views of Manhattan, especially for a cloudy day.

I ran out of steam a bit as we paddled into the ebb current on the return home, with R. & TQ pulling away from me depressingly fast. Now this is partly established paddling habits for me and TQ - when we get into a headwind or an adverse current, I do best going into a low gear and then just chugging away, while he does better if he sprints, so when we get into that kind of situation is I'll tell him if I'm feeling comfortable and am OK with him running while I plod, and then he goes (keeping a good eye on me as he goes) - but it's also a matter of conditioning. This is something I'm hoping to work on this year, it's been two and a half years since my mastectomy and I'm still nowhere near in the shape I was before I went my round with breast cancer; last summer got away from me in the worst way, but I'm really going to try to get more water time this year.

We did get back to the club in a nice amount of time, and R. was very happy with his first real intro to the bay, and we were happy with having given that to him!

8.5 miles according to Google. Here's hoping I can get back into a good habit of doing trips like that regularly this summer!

More photos, no more writing. Click any photo for a slideshow view.