Travel Theme: Slow

Ailsa has echoed the words I’ve heard over and over this past week: Can you believe it’s already December? Oh my stars, how the time has flown!

And you know, it’s true. I kind of can’t believe it myself. I mean…I have cookies to make! Presents to buy! A holiday visiting schedule to plan! And a birthday to have! What the hell? Is it really December?

Consequently, Ailsa’s travel theme this week is: slow. Ooh, nice. So get on over to Where’s My Backpack?, put your feet up, and relax.

Milton State Park is just up the road from my house. While it’s got its fair share of natural beauty, there are those odd bits of random debris that either get dumped or make their way up from the river, and are strangely beautiful in their own, slowly deteriorating way.

Time is having its way with this old tank.

Time is having its way with this old tank.

It’s been two years since Hurricane Sandy tore its way through the Jersey shore, and parts of the town of Seaside Heights have been slow to rebuild. Not that it’s the town’s fault, mind you. It’s just that there was an insane amount (technically referred to as a “staggering shit-ton”) of repair work that needed to be done, all along the NJ/NY/DE coasts.

Some day...

Not cool, Sandy. Not. Cool.

Closer to home, and with happier implications, on a lazy summer day I took a bike ride along our fine rail trail. The air was thick and heavy, and you had to push through it to go forward. Insects let out a slow buzz around my head and the bold, bright sun pushed every living thing back into the comfort of shade. Even the cows couldn’t be bothered.

Central PA was burdened by summer this day.

Cow stays under the tree branch, because being out in the sun = a whole lot of nope.

While visiting my boyfriend’s family, we took a side trip to The Meadowlands Museum for a slice of Rutherford history. It was very well done, with thoughtful exhibits that highlighted topics of industrial, ecological and cultural importance to the area. In the basement, though, they had tables filled with items that didn’t quite belong anywhere yet, and were in the process of being catalogued. Like this device, which is perhaps the slowest way I can imagine to crank out fresh-squeezed citrus juices (though I’d bet it would extract every single drop).

Crank that orange like it ain't no thing.

Crank that orange like it ain’t no thing.

And finally…

Check out the slow, steady flow of the beautiful Susquehanna River. I get to feast my eyes on this every day.



So remember, folks, to take a few minutes and breathe every now and again. Maybe we can’t slow down time, but we can manage our reaction to it. And check out the other folks participating in Ailsa’s travel challenge! Maybe you’ll find something in there that will inspire your own entry… 🙂

Travel Theme: Ripple

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa’s travel theme is “ripples”.

Photo from


Photo from

No, not THAT kind of Ripple!

You know.  Ripples.

Like the things that surround my beloved hooded merganser, paddling around the not-entirely-frozen Charles River in Waltham, MA.

Seriously, I totally dig these birds.

Seriously, I totally dig these birds.

Or the late-afternoon sunlight, rippling through the trees on a winter’s day in central Pennsylvania.

Somewhere out in the woods near Mazeppa...

Somewhere out in the woods near Mazeppa…

We have ripples where they don’t belong after the flooding that resulted from Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.  Suffice to say this park–known as “Kidsburg“, how adorb is that?–was off limits to the kiddos in the area for a while though happily, all is back to normal now.

Welcome to Kidsburg. Keep off the grass.

Welcome to Kidsburg. Now go home.

Here’s some sunlight doing its ripple thing again, only this time, it’s through an enormous piece of amber.

How's this for some major bling?

How’s this for some major bling?

And finally, here’s to some of the biggest ripples around.  Waves, as they’re popularly called, are really giant ripples with the entire weight of the vast ocean behind them.

Because we go big in NJ.

Because we go big in NJ.

I took this picture in September, 2012, and it was a part of the fabric of my childhood.  I grew up in New Jersey, and my family has vacationed at the shore since I was a kid.  I never would have imagined that just over a month after this picture was taken this pier–the log flume, the haunted castle, and a bajillion other rides and amusements, and major parts of Coney Island and Staten Island and Long Island and Queens (and on, and on)–would be gone thanks to Hurricane Sandy.  Though all things should be kept in perspective.  A ripple is all in the eye of the beholder; to a boat in the middle of the ocean, a tsunami is just another mild swell.

So we rebuild (because that is what we do), and the damage caused by Sandy will, eventually, become a ripple in the passage of history.  Amen to that.

Thanks for dropping by!  Head on over to Ailsa’s page and see what the other participants have to offer!

Dammit, Sandy. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Hurricane Sandy, Part 2.

Sandy has come through town and my boyfriend and I…and Sammy the Cat, as those of us who saw yesterday’s post are aware…came through it fine.  Our house is safe and dry, no water in the basement, no flooding from Buffalo Creek.  Yay!

But I am from New Jersey.  Most of my family is still in New Jersey.  And New Jersey took a beating.

There are all sorts of photos out there of of boats in the middle of the road and houses lifted off their foundations and water, water everywhere.

Seaside Heights got pounded.  I was in Seaside about a month ago–it was a beautiful day, I wanted pictures–and in retrospect, I’m even more nostalgically glad I went.  Because the devastation there is extraordinary, and parts of the boardwalk have been ripped apart.

You can go to the links and look at the pictures yourself.  This is a significant and happy portion of my misspent youth, torn apart.  I can’t bear to post them.  So instead, I’ll post a pre-Sandy retrospective.  All photos taken by me, September 8, 2012.

From what I’ve heard, part of the log flume and most of the haunted house are gone.

Along the midway. Both piers at either end suffered crazy damage.

And we thought the waves were big that day.

From the balcony at Spicy’s, Seaside Heights.

Big, empty, pristine beach. The roller coaster you can just barely see to the left of the ferris wheel is gone.

Pretty sure this small coaster is destroyed and the Tornado is on its side.

Who’d’a thunk this could come to pieces?


Love and well wishes to everyone out there.

Hurricane Sandy Comes To Town

Hey, all.

Here I am, in my cozy casa in central PA, watching lurid hurricane/flooding porn and wondering if my power’s going to go out, as Hurricane Sandy powers into town.

So far, so good.

We did some prepping already.  We’ve got a big pot of soup and some pasta, both capable of being eaten hot or cold.  A few days worth of bread, plus extra peanut butter and dried fruits.  Pots and buckets and pitchers of water.  Candles.  Flashlights.  Plenty (and I mean plenty) of matches.  And a box o’ wine.  🙂

Wine snobs: get over it.

The truth is, it was hard at first to tell how bad this was going to be.  The weather people are pretty good at doing what they can to whip viewers into a frenzy.  OMG!  Son of Stormageddon!  My boyfriend and I were saying that despite the amount of information zipping around out there, it’s really hard to tell what’s legitimate and real and what’s not.  Which is kind of ridiculous, because that means so much of our lives are taken up by so much white noise.  Analogy for life, people.  Back in my reality I must admit, I have never been quite as grateful for my new windows as I am today, because the wind is tearing it up outside and yet I am not subjected to unwanted drafts.  They’re not rattling like crazy or making me scared that they’ll blow in.  The old ones would have.  It’s almost a little deceptive, since it’s really getting ugly out there.  It’s hard to show motion in pictures, and it’s hard to show rain (unless it’s conveniently backlit, a la Singin’ in the Rain)…

(FYI, apparently it’s completely untrue that they colored the raindrops with milk to get them to show up better on film.  Another movie myth shattered.)

But dammit, I’m going to try. Here are some pictures I’ve taken from the relative safety of my front door.

Branches are blowing like crazy, and I love that you can actually see the rain in this shot.

More more more.  The rain just keeps coming.

Normally the branches on the neighbor’s tree aren’t quite so…horizontal.

Our neighbor’s savannah grass, getting flattened in the wind.

The leaves on the maple tree just won’t lay still.



Sammy the Cat inspects conditions for an outdoor frolic and finds them entirely unsatisfactory.

Safe and dry, everyone!  Here’s a little REO Speedwagon to get you through the night.

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