Sunrise: Normandy Beach, NJ; May 4, 2014, 5:52AM

I had considered and rejected the idea of getting up for sunrise photos this Sunday. I was exhausted after a weekend of celebrating my niece and her new husband, and making the concordant travel, and general busy-ness. After the wedding, we visited two friends who have a beach house in Normandy (to extra-clarify, Normandy Beach NJ, not France), which was near the general area of wedding festivities. Awesome, right? A few days with the fam, and then a groovy night with friends. What could be better? We (as in George, said groovy friends, and I) wandered around a few different boardwalks, had some beers (including my first summer shandy of the season, joy!), found a nice bar in which we watched the Kentucky Derby (sorry, Wicked Strong, I was rooting for you!), then went out for dinner and stuffed ourselves silly. I am one of those people who needs downtime in order to recharge my batteries. I had none. I was beat. Sleep was my objective, not early rising.

Fate had other plans.

Something–and I swear, I don’t know what–woke me up at 5:20. And you know, you start to weigh options and make bargains. “If it’s even a little cloudy, I’m going back to sleep.”

It was clear.

OK, OK. “If it’s windy and cold, I’m going back to sleep.”

It was surprisingly warm(ish), and not windy at all.

Pffft. Hmm. OK. “If George isn’t willing to go with me, I’m going back to sleep.” (Please note: I’m not sure why that was important to me at 5:30 in the morning, but it was.)

George got right up and started getting ready to go. Bless his heart.

So, bejacketed and bleary-eyed, we walked five minutes up the road to the beach and climbed the newly installed sand berm to the much-beleaguered Jersey shore, and watched the sun come up. While I hesitate to say that something is “magical” because really, anyone who says that is hopelessly twee, I’ve got to say…I’m really glad I was there. The sunrise went a little like this:

Well, hello, bird.

Well, hello, bird. And charter boat. Thanks for being scenic.

Off to the side, houses keep watch.

Off to the side, houses keep watch.

That rock has waited a long time to be exactly in this position to see this sunrise.

That rock has waited a long time to be exactly in this position for me to photographically exploit. Thanks, rock!

And here it comes.

And here it comes.

It's relentless.

It’s relentless.

I mean, this all took place in what was only a matter of minutes, really.

I mean, this all took place in what was only a matter of minutes. We’re really whizzing around in space.

Oh noes! That ship!

Oh noes! That boat! It will never survive!

Suck it, Eye of Sauron. You've got nothing on this.

Suck it, Eye of Sauron. You’ve got nothing on this. (Plus, *chomp chomp eat ur boat*)

While I strive to love all my photos equally, I think this one is my favorite.

While I strive to love all my photos equally, I think this one is my favorite.

In psychotic weather news, two hours later it was overcast and drizzly.

Meanwhile in psychotic weather news, two hours later it was overcast and drizzly.

Or maybe this one's my favorite. I love the textures you can see.

Or maybe this one’s my favorite. I love all the textures you can see.

Even crazy silhouette guy likes a good sunrise.  (Full disclosure: it's George, in a hoodie.)

Even scary silhouette guy likes a good sunrise.
(Full disclosure: it’s George, in a hoodie. *phew*)

Almost free of the horizon line...

Almost free of the horizon line…

And there it goes! Le soleil, off into the yonder. Which I would say is wild blue but we can clearly see is seething orange.

And there it goes! Le soleil, off into the yonder. Which I would say is wild blue but we can clearly see is seething orange. I love that the waterline looks like liquid gold.

So. There you have it. Sunrise, Jersey shore style. There’s still so much work to do down there after Hurricane Sandy, but you know, lesson learned. This world of ours keeps on rolling along, and so must we.

Here’s a little Ellis Paul to play you out.

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Merry Christmas!

I am an unapologetic Christmas junkie.  The lights, the colors, the sparkly decorations…they all totally appeal to my inner four-year-old’s desire to fly rocket ships through star fields of strung lights and roll around in an orgiastic riot of crinkly paper.

Full disclosure: I do that in my head most of the time, anyway.

So.  Here are some of my favorite photos of Christmas good tidings.  Enjoy!  And if Christmas isn’t your thing, then bear in mind that I wish you nothing but peace and good will, every day of the year.

Brookgreen Gardens, Nights of 1000 Candles, December 2013.

Brookgreen Gardens, Nights of 1000 Candles, December 2013.

A window diorama, Lewisburg PA, December 2013.

A window diorama, Lewisburg PA, December 2013.

This was one of my grandmother's ornaments.  December, 2013.

This was one of my grandmother’s ornaments. December, 2011.

Christmaxplosion!  Clifton, NJ, December 2013.

Christmaxplosion! Clifton, NJ, December 2013.

This is why I have a gym membership.  December 2013.

This is why I have a gym membership. December 2013.

Where at all began as a wee Paisley.  December, about a thousand years ago.

Where at all began as a wee Paisley. December, about a thousand years ago.

Travel Theme: Ripple

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

Photo from www.drunkard.com

Ripple?

Photo from www.drunkard.com

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!

Travel Theme: Roads

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

JRR Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Ring

Ailsa’s travel theme this week at Where’s My Backpack? is…roads!  So let’s get to it, shall we?

North End, Boston

North End, Boston

Welcome to Boston’s North End.  I took this photograph one beautiful summer night, and the full moon shining over the road was irresistible.  Whenever I look at this picture I get that happy, warm feeling that comes from stuffing myself silly with a delicious Italian meal, and sharing a bottle of wine and excellent company.  The scenery certainly helps.  I also covet that…is that a rooftop patio?  With the string of lights?  Upper left?  Swoon.

A Roman street.

A Roman street.

Rome has been around for a long, long time.  The buildings are built on roads that have been around for a long, long time.  That weren’t initially conceived to accommodate auto traffic and parking.  So they are narrow narrow narrow.  If I lived there I couldn’t imagine getting anything bigger than a Vespa.  When I was planning my trip, a friend who had already been to Rome gave me one piece of advice I found invaluable: Stay.  On.  The sidewalk.  I would occasionally feel like I was in a live-action game of Frogger.   (That’s right, I’m going old-school.)  But you know, that’s part of the character of the city and it was awesome.

Welcome to New Jersey.  Now go home.

Welcome to New Jersey. Now go home.

This was the scene that greeted me at the entrance to the New Jersey Turnpike off the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Roads can get you where you want to go, and can also be a giant obstacle.  It was smooth sailing up until we got here.  And while I do generally defend my home state, there’s not much you can say in defense of this.  I don’t think my fellow travelers were as excited to see this backup as I was, though, since I was certainly the only one hanging out the car window with a camera in her hand.  I’m not sure of the commentary that’s supposed to be provided by the flag; should this make me feel patriotic, or something?  I’d feel better if they hung a big sign that said, “Sorry!  We’ll get this mess cleaned up ASAP.”

Sigh.

Sigh.

And this sylvan stretch of road goes through the hills of central Pennsylvania.  Good camping out here, if you’re a camper.  This is the sort of road that spurs me on to flights of fancy; while I realize you can never know what’s at the other end of any road, this sort holds all kinds of potential.

May the road rise up to meet you.  See you at Ailsa’s!

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?

Sadness.

Love and well wishes to everyone out there.

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