Saturday, July 31, 2010

Simply, A Saturday

 A few weeks ago during a conversation with a minister I had just met, I agreed to come to his church hall and cook breakfast for the homeless on Saturday mornings.  He insists on having them come in, sit down and the volunteers act as waitpersons.  Juice and coffee, followed by the entree of the day. Because we can make things go so much farther and feed more people it's either French toast or pancakes, with a side of sausage and McDonald's type potato patty. I enjoy doing it, but rarely get to meet or even see any of the diners because my back is turned to them while I cook.

Dinner and a prayer

It's a scramble to keep up with the orders, but it's only for 45 minutes, give or take a couple.  The best part is when I get to come out of the kitchen and make the rounds of the tables offering seconds, more coffee or whatever else they want.   By serving them restaurant style it adds a little dignity to those who are usually avoided and shunned by most.   The most surprising thing is what is most popular at the hall.  Books, yes books. Before sitting down to eat, most go directly to the book box to get a book or two.  When told why books are so popular the reaction is pretty much the same.  "Of course".    The reason is that the homeless have so much time to kill and books are not only fill that void, but also can take them to places they would never even think of going.

Since retiring I have been using the library a lot.  The center of Fairhaven, Ma is an old Yankee town where Sam Clemens often visited his pal  Henry Rogers.   Rogers was the town benefactor and had built many of the town's public buildings. The library and town hall sit across from each other on Centre St. and each was built using a different architectural style.

Fairhaven, Ma. Town Hall

Millicent Library, Fairhaven Ma

Bikes at the library

Saturday evening dinner was at the Waterfront Grill.   This is "truth in advertising" at it's pinnacle.

Three minute scallop recipe

Waterfront Grille News Feature from Franchise Studio on Vimeo.

While dining, another tall ship docked at the pier. This one from Baltimore was a training ship and the students were all Jr. High school age. Two were getting lessons on tying down the sails. Not a bad summer for these kids.

The new arrival from Baltimore. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Afternoon Bike and Row

After visiting the tall ship Gazela in the morning, I decided to ride a couple of towns over to pick up a combination shopping bag/pannier for getting groceries.  Mattapoisett's MUP is being built in sections and part of the bike to the center of town is through the unfinished section. It soon breaks out into a spectacular view of the bay.
End of finishes section of MUP

A short ride through the woods

Break out of the woods to this view. (click any photo for big)

I had little time to get ready and ride to the docks for the Friday night whale boat row.  Some of our crew had not seen the Gazela yet and we decided to row over.   The crew of the tall ship were by now used to us coming along side and one asked if he could join us.  We welcomed Marcus aboard and he took a turn at the #2 oar.   I was at #3 and could hear his heavy breathing as he struggled to pull water.  He soon learned to pull with his back and legs, not arms, and settled into an easy row. 

As we approached the dock to pick up Marcus the tourist boat Cuttyhunk was cleaning up after a day of transporting people back and forth from the small island. There was a high school aged lad getting things in ship shape and a few commented what a great summer job this must be. 

Part of the Gazela crew

Marcus wiping perspiration while taking his turn at the #2 oar.

Working on a tourist boat.  A great summer job for a high schooler.


It's a cheap Portuguese vinho verde (green wine),  and also a very expensive Portuguese tall ship.   She sailed into the harbor yesterday and will remain, open to the public, till Tuesday.  She is here to help celebrate the Portuguese Feast.

The days morning errands were close enough for the short extra couple of miles to visit the Gazella. While there, one of the local whaling boats came by for a visit. 

One of the Buzzards Bay Rowing Club boats

The High Speed Ferry to Martha's Vinyard Ferry is having a busy year.  This is the third or fourth season for this service and it has really caught on.  Before this it was an hour and a half drive to Woods Hole.  Lots of out of state cars in New Bedford's lot this summer. 

Also, because of the Feast, much of the fishing fleet is "in" for the weekend.  There is a blessing of the fleet on Sunday and lots of the old time Portuguese still subscribe to those superstitions.

Finally, the irony of the day photo.  A man on his bike getting gas.
The Gazella

Martha's Vinyard High Speed Ferry

The fleet is in port for the Feast

There is irony here

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Errands by Bike

All of today's errands were done on the bike. The Credit Union, Library, and all the shopping got done by only using pedal power.  A combination of MUP and side streets made getting around town easy. All that after a light breakfast at Narragansett Cafe. The owner did a great job obtaining furnishing and is very proud of this sign she scored.

The evening activity was whaleboat rowing.. The wind was at a steady 17kts out of the southeast which made for a difficult row at times.  The crew was more than up to it and we got to see the maiden shakedown sailing of Linda Greenlaw, who was made famous in the movie "A Perfect Storm", as she left the harbor on her swordfishing boat the Hannah Boden.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bike Parking

A bike at every tree.  (Click for big)

Every week more and more bikes are showing for "Yoga in the Park".  Space is at a premium.

Last night was the Buzzards Bay Rowing Club's "Full Moon Row".   Ten showed for the six person crew. Three opted out and one came along for the ride in the bow.  The starboard rowers, the 1, 3 and 5 spots sit on the left side and the port 2 and 4 seats are on the right.  The crew looks forward to the stern and the coxswain looks aft to the bow.  When he calls for "port row" the people sitting on the right row.  Confused?  Of course not.  Everyone knows when rowing, the crew sits backward. Facing the stern or the back of the boat.  It was too dark for photos on the ocean but it was ok for some shipyard and dock photos before we set out.

A private yacht home ported in Bikini

The Fredrikstad

Dry dock. This slips on rails into the deeper water. The boat settles on the pads and a very large chain drags the whole thing ashore.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

To Hot To Move

It was hot. Too hot to do anything.  Actually it was the humidity that was the culprit. The waterfront always offers a  respite from extreme weather and today proved the point to any doubters that were there.  A cool breeze kept things comfortable for those in the shade and keeping still.  Almost any kind of movement or even sitting in the sun caused the body to heat up quickly.  Anyone can get away with riding a bike slowly because of the wind chill. 

A single pannier was sufficient to carry everything needed for a short stay at Fort Phoenix state reservation which was the site of the Revolutionary War's first naval battle

Martha's Vinyard High Speed Ferry leaving New Bedford

Waking along the water

Sitting in the shade.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Old Road To Fall River

Click Here for the map

Distance      32 miles
Time             2:35
Max           33.2 MPH
Ave speed 12.5 MPH

Fall River and New Bedford, two industrial blue collar cities in Southeastern MA. have always been banging heads.  From high school sports, to politics to tourism.  New Bedford High and Durfee High of Fall River have been bitter rivals in soccer and basketball for decades.  Both towns had the expressway built pretty much cutting them half so traffic could pass thorough quickly on the way to "the Cape".   New Bedford bought  billboard space on that expressway, right in the center of Fall River that says, "Feel better in New Bedford".  The old road to Fall River has none of that.  It was built when cars traveling at 35 miles per hour were considered speeding.  It's rural farm country,  hilly, and has little traffic and the lanes, complying with state law, are wide enough for bikes to travel safely.

Rolling hills never seemed to bother the builders of roads circa 1950.  There must have been as much down shifting of those old jalopies as there is on today's carbon fiber bikes. Certain sections of the ride seem like nothing but shifting..  But doing close to 80 miles a few days ago, made today's 32 seem kind of lame, shifting and all.

Today's ride was inland with no ocean, ocean smell or ocean breeze. No fishing boats, lighthouses or beaches. This is farm country and some city riding.   Before moving to Austin, Texas,  Brandon was my riding partner. We have done a lot of miles together including a 400 mile bike ride of the Erie Canal .  We had planned on circumnavigating Lake Ontario this summer and we used this route as one of our training rides.  Everything got squashed when he moved.



The temperature hovered around the 80 degree mark with little humidity.  Combined with a lightly traveled road, those conditions made for a nice late morning bike ride.  In the country.

Three generations of tractors

Not many of these old slate silos still have their roofs. 

Abandoned a long time ago

Religion is a fading phenomena and the old churches are being remodeled into more useful buildings like homes and coffee shops.  Beans in the Belfry  is my favorite remodeling.  

As the ride reenters the urban section, riders are greeted with this WWII vintage tank. It sits on a memorial square to a city native killed in the war. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Long Walk On The Beach.

The humidity finally broke and the temperature topped off in the mid seventies.  It was a full day, beginning with Yoga in the park.  An hour of moderate stretching is a good way to start a beautiful summer day.  It was also the first day that it would be bearable to be out in the sun on the beach in weeks.  Horseneck Beach is the most popular in the area by far.  On Independence Day the line of cars was backed up well over a mile.  The lot holds thousands of cars and it was completely full.  It came to the point that the workers could only allow as many cars at a time as the number of cars leaving. It's $7/day to park or an annual pass is $35.  There is no charge for walkers or bicycles, only motor vehicles.

 The state reservation is an oddly-shaped peninsula sticking out from Westport's mainland and mostly into Rhode Island Sound (southwest) and Buzzards Bay (southeast). The reservation contains about 600 acres (2.4 km2) (or 2 miles) of barrier beach, marshland, and a protected estuary habitat. Most of the marshland is concentrated at the northern portion of the peninsula bordering Horseneck Channel and The Let. The beach is located along the southern portion of the peninsula, bordering Rhode Island Sound and Buzzards Bay.

Gooseberry Neck is an offshoot peninsula of the parent Horseneck peninsula. It divides part of Rhode Island Sound from Buzzards Bay in the Atlantic Ocean.
Other than the usual activity of sun bathing and swimming, walking the length of the beach, (about a mile and a half one way), tops the list. Horseneck is also divided into social castes.  Social Groups have evolved and claimed the same areas of the beach for decades.  Some have just happened and other areas have been legally claimed.   The entrance closest to the amenities is the majority. Those who really don't fit into any social group. It consists of families, book readers, tourists and those who just want to claim a small area of sand and chill.  Generally it's the people that no one really notices.  They just kind of blend in to the background.     A few dozen yards toward the point are the jocks and students, both high school and university.  Lots of beach volleyball, soccer  and Frisbee games going on.  A buffer of a hundred fifty yards or so separate the latter from the gay section of the beach.  It's sparse on the weekday but weekend are party time in the gay area, and it's packed. The pun is unintentional but it is ironic.

Next is the private section called Baker's Beach Club.  Most of the tourists from the south, NY, NJ, Conn etc claim this section.  They have their own life guards, parking lots, restaurant and bathhouses. It's expensive to become a member and  OK, but seems kind of a waste when there is a free beach on either side.  Also, all beach front in Massachusetts is public to the high water mark.  That means anyone can walk your private beach below that line.  The last section, closest to the point, is the town beach. Residents of Westport can get a free parking pass for that lot which makes it the best deal.

The last half mile is pretty much deserted except for those "walking the beach".  Lots of piping plovers, tiny birds that are really a hoot to watch as they scamper back and forth trying to avoid getting their feet wet.  The little legs look like they are going a hundred miles and hour.

Piping Plovers (click for big photo)

The end of the beach, "the channel" offers a spectacular view of "Westport Point" that is dominated by The Paquachuck Inn

Looking Across Horseneck Channel to Westport Point

Taking long walks on the beach is really a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours on a mild summer's day.  It really is a good selling point on a dating resume. Especially on a beach like Horseneck.

It's a long way back

Your never really alone on the ocean front


Mixing in with the majority

The Guards.  These kids are good at their job. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Plymouth MA.

Click Here for the map

The evidence was clear. That white circle and arrow painted on the road. The Narragansett Bay Wheelmen had recently arrowed a ride.  A check of their website showed a new route from New Bedford to Plymouth MA.  Four choices, 25, 38, 53 or 81 miles.  The latter being to Plymouth and the choice was tentative but also enticing. Plymouth in the summer can be a great time.

A 10AM start with nothing but bikes on the road.  It was like going back in time when traffic was sparse.  Actually these rural roads are usually traffic free and are pretty much used only by the locals to get to the local highway which will take them to a bigger highway to Providence R.I. or Boston.

A new ride designed by Gil Peel, who says: A nice flat ride in our southeast quadrant that will keep you guessing where you are. Many of these roads that have been used on other NBW rides are, this time, ridden in opposite directions. Many other roads will be travelled for the first time. Did I mention a few cranberry bogs and a 4 second view of the Cape Cod Canal? Areas visited are New Bedford, Lakeville, Rochester, Middleboro, Carver, Plymouth, Bourne, Wareham, Marion and Acushnet.
Nothing but bikes on these rural roads

It's like going back in time

It was hot and and taking one of the bail out, lesser mile options was very tempting.  Eighty one miles, eighty one miles, was repeated by that little devil on the shoulder.   "Turn off  while you can".  His name was Jose and the answer was "no way".  The traffic got heavier, the population more dense and soon enough the signs were clear.

It was still quite a trek, around five miles to the center of Plymouth.  The bike entrance to the waterfront was pretty unique and a nice touch keeping biker and walkers away from the traffic.  Boy scouts were everywhere  and one of the scout masters explained that there were hundreds from Arizona.  They flew into Boston and were touring their way to Virginia for the Grand Council or whatever it's called.  They will be visiting historic sites and big cities during their three week journey.

Then there is Plymouth Rock.  It's not that big you know.  Actually it can easily fit in the bed of a regular sized dump truck, which is very likely how it got to it's home on the waterfront.  I can't imagine anyone saying anything other than  "I thought I would be bigger.  You know, like an island or something". The Mayflower is fake also.  A tourist trap, me thinks.

There are lots of these little kiosk type buildings all along the main drag on the waterfront, which is two blocks down the hill from the real main drag of Plymouth. Hot dogs and smoothies.   It's honky tonk, but not in the usual sense. Is there such a thing as upscale honky tonk?  Yes there is.  Plymouth, or as the Pilgrims spelled it Plimouth.  Unlike "team", there is an "i" in Plymouth.  Sometimes. Depends on what street your on.

Rt 3a is a narrow road of rolling hills.  At 100 F it can be tough.  With a 40 mile return leg looking you in the eye, it's nasty. Then the wind picked up.  If you know the Atlantic ocean in the northeast part of the country, you know that the ocean breezes begin around two pm.  It's so common, people in these parts plan thing around it.  Like making the turn on the 9th hole before two will allow you to use a 9 iron on that little par 3.  After two PM it could be as much as a 5 wood.  Really.

A couple of other Wheelmen caught up during a water break at an old cemetery.  There was a discussion of taking a short cut through Myles Standish State Forrest.  It's all scrub pine and there is no shade from the hot sun. Scratch that.  But the map shows that by taking Half Way Pond Rd. a few miles could be lopped off the ride.  The Wheelmen wanted to stay the course and follow the white circles with the arrow and declined the shortcut.  Like shopping at WalMart, the pain of poor quality, lingers far longer than the joy of low prices.  The shortcut road was one huge down hill and it makes a tired bike rider smile. Till it turns to soft dirt and rocks.  So much so that riding up hill was difficult enough to force a biker to walk.  Two miles of that slow slipping and sliding also required a near death grip on the handlebars to hold the wheels from sliding out from under the bike.  Black top did return and so did the heat and humidity.

The paved road was near Long Pond.  The water looked cool and refreshing, but every access path was also marked with "private, no access to beach" signs. Cold water was at a premium on this ride.  Any that was stored in the bottles for later consumption quickly heated.  Even warm however, somehow it still was refreshing.  The three bottles were refilled four times during this ride.  Twelve 24 oz bottles of water was sweat out almost as soon at it was drunk.

Enter the tourist section of Plymouth under the main roads

Look at their feet. Plymouth Rock is stamped 1620. Yup that's it. 

The Mayflower????


You don't see much this in Nebraska

A step above the typical honky tonk town

Things get quiet again outside of town

Gets really quiet

The fire trucks look different when they have thousands of acres of forest to cover


Not the best short cut

Private swimming hole

A familiar sight.  Home is close

Done. Fini, The End

The Stats
76.4 miles
Total time. 7hrs 30 minutes
Riding time 6hrs 8 minutes
Average Speed 12.8 mph
Top Speed 32.4 mph