Sunday, October 16, 2016

FALL HAS ARRIVED AT THE NJ SHORE

Fall has arrived, the weather is cooler, the crowds have left and many of the birds, the sandpipers in particular have flown South.  I saw them gathering on the beach in great numbers and meant to go down with my camera, but didn't.  However fall has brought different activities for me, some short bike rides, to get my balance and confidence back, now that a lot of the summer traffic is a thing of the past, and time on Barnegat Bay, courtesy of a good friend and superior boatman and sailor, Newt.

We motored down to the south end of the island where the "Black Pearl" a tourist party ship was still in the water.


 If you need your own island, this one is a perfect location, not far off the western shore of Beach Haven.


Sometimes you see the strangest things in the bay.  How about this - a piece of dock (I think) complete with chair, being towed by a pair of Jet Skis!


 I always liked to see a bit of the old island, next to the new McMansions, such as these by the entrance to the causeway bridge.


And the Dutchman, a favorite lunch spot for sailors, even when I was young and on the bay.  It is about to be lifted off of its old pilings and placed temporarily on land so that the pilings can be replaced.

 

We passed the Surf City Yacht Club, where I and our children spent so much time in years past when it was a much smaller structure.

 Since there was a small after season regatta going on up bay, we went down to watch.


 The wind was brisk, the competition strong as the sailors tacked for the mark, and I have to admit I 
was nostalgic and a bit envious.


 But I was just glad to be out there with our good friend and my husband to enjoy the afternoon.


 On the way back we passed another residence in the middle of the bay, but not as modern.  It looked more like a fishing/hunting shack with its own waterway entrance in the perfect location.


 A walk on the beach the next day provided me with an interesting subject for my camera, which first I had to go home to get.  I should always walk with my camera, but I don't


 White foam was gathering at the edge of the waves on a flat beach at low tide.  The wind would pick it up and blow it across the beach, sparkling in the sunlight.


 This gull, prancing at the water's edge could have been the leader of the parade. 


 Walking up the beach entrance I spied this sand formation, which reminded me of a small version the Dillan Pinacles in Gunnison, CO that I had so often photographed.


Walking by a neighbor's house, who had already retreated to Florida,

 My eye was attracted to the flowers in her garden, the last of the beauties of summer past.



ANOTHER GREAT DAY ON BARNEGAT BAY


Several days after our last boat trip, Newt ask if we would like to take a ride through some of the canals on the west side of the bay, and "The Bridge to Nowhere" as it is called.  As a child I used to sail in that area, first with my sister in our Sneakbox, and then with my husband to be, often getting almost eaten alive by the green.head flies and sometimes needing our paddle to maneuver when the wind would die.

We first passed what used to be Bear Island, or rather one of the 2 Bear Islands, which is now reduced to some piling, fewer every year, where cormorants roost to dry their wings.


They all took off at the sound of the motor, except these two brave souls who stood their ground.


Making a side trip to obtain gas at the local marina, I snapped a shot of the fenders on the dock.


 Nearing shore we passed theses old boathouses which appeared to be no long in use.


 Entering the canal we saw these two "gentlemen" basking on the land with their crab buckets and lines in the water, ready for "a day's work".


 The grass in the marshes showed the effect of the changing tides.


 As the bridge to nowhere appeared in the distance.


Since a part of the bridge was burned down years ago, perhaps by an angry father denying a good parking spot to his son or daughter, passage was easy.


We continued through the canal,


And back out to the bay, as we were passed by a small boat in a big hurry.
 Making the last turn, we encountered him pulling up a fish, probably only his first.


 Nearing the Island we saw a lot of cormorants, perhaps the ones we chased on the way out.


And a greater heron flew overhead to another hunting spot, I imagined.

 It was a perfect day as the evening clouds began to more in and the sun sparkled on the water in front of the causeway bridge.






 

THE KITE FESTIVAL

For the past several years, near the middle of October the international Kite Festival comes to Ship Bottom, the community just south of us.  I took my camera, parked the car and went up the dunes to see what was happening.  NOT MUCH!  The sky was empty except for a few kites with long tails streaming down to the beach.  Not much wind!


This farmer could barely get his feet off of the ground, nor could he lift the egg . 


 This little chick lay on his side on the beach looking for-longingly at the sky where he wanted to be.


 This man ignored his purple people eater lying on the beach while he relaxed and read his book in peace.


 In fact the only activity seemed to be around the bubble maker, so I captures this heart shaped bubble that seemed to be hanging around some adults while a child reached up to break it.


The following day it rained, and Monday, returning from shopping on the mainland I saw some activity in the sky over the dunes.  I took my groceries home, grabbed my camera and hurried back.
Seeing that a pig could fly I continues down to the beach.


Though many of the contestants had departed, there were astronauts souring up to the sky



 Dragons of all shapes and colors.



 A frog being chased by a monster.


 And a large woman diver lying on the ground trying to get in the swim of things.


She finally succeeded and floated above in the beautiful blue sky trailing her fish. 


 Though there were still kites on the ground when I left, seeing the flying pig I had faith.


 And as I crested the dune I turned around to see this giant pig lift its feet off of the sand.


Looking back, I know I will return next year.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

LURAY CAVERNS AND THE SKYLAND DRIVE

On our way home from visiting our friends in North Carolina I prevailed on my husband to make a stop at Luray Caverns in Virginia since they were almost on our route.  Having been there in my childhood with my parents I had very fond memories of the place, and hoped I would still be as impressed.  I was!!!  Discovered in 1878, the caverns, just West of Luray are the largest series of caverns in the East and have been designated as a U.S. National Landmark.

The giant chambers of Luray Caverns are filled with towering calcite columns, draperies, stalactites, and stalagmites of different colors creating an unbelievable fairyland.


 This series of stalactites coming from the ceiling has been designated "The Fish Market".


 Dream Lake is an "Other Worldly Optical Illusions '
.
These pure white formation appeared to be a ghost when encountered by the first explorers, and so have been named.

As quoted from the Smithsonian report of 1880 about the room called Saracen's Tent- "there is nothing more beautiful in the cave than the scarves, shawls, lambrequins of translucent calcite, some white as snow, falling in graceful folds, fringed with a thousand patterns, and so thin that a candle held behind one of them reveals all the structure within."


 Dominating Giant's Hall Is a spectacular column towering 47 feet, the tallest in the cavern.  The double column is an example of two basic formations, the stalactite and stalagmite coming together as one massive wonder of nature .

 Looking down at one of the many pools from above one is temped to dive right into its crystal waters.

Exiting the cavern at the end of the 45 minute tour, I found these "fried Eggs" fascinating -in reality the center of two columns that had broken off and been carried away.


 We finished our drive through Virginia on the Skyline Parkway, where we stopped so I could snap a photo of these swallowtail butterflies.  This one I have identified as a Pale Tiger Swallowtail.


This one is a Spicebush Swallowtail.


 Though the air was filled with dust in some places. the mountain layers still stood out.  It would have been a lovely sunset view.


 But I did enjoy seeing the layers of mountain flowers, so different from those in Colorado.


And the path below beckoned me, and given more time I would not have resisted.