Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day 6.233: Latest birthday party ever?

One of the things that slipped through the cracks of our busy spring was that Exile #4 didn't manage to have a birthday party before we left for the UK.

We finally managed to arrange it (a trip to Hoffman's Playland) for today. One of her friends (we limited it to two, but ended up with just one - which worked rather well) came with us and we all had a blast:

The first rumble of thunder was heard literally as I completed the transaction to buy our ride tickets when we arrived, but in the end we had a great afternoon - sheltering from one shower at the frozen yogurt place next door and then finally being rained out - as the park was closed ahead of what turned out to be a fairly dramatic series of thunderstorms.  By the time the worst hit, we were safely back home - all tired but happy!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 6.232: Morning run at the boat launch

This morning I went down to the Corning Trail to do a time trial in place of the race called for in my marathon training schedule for this weekend.

When I arrived it was barely light and fairly quiet down there. I did a one mile warm up and then my 10K time-trial. By the time I was done (an hour or so later all-told), it was getting light and busy.

There were people launching boats - yes, at the boat launch! - and I also grabbed a quick photo of my start/finish line.

The run was quite good.  Enough people around to make it not completely solitary, but not enough to cause any issues.  Then it was home to shower and off to work.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 6.231: So good we're giving it away!

Let me be honest, sometimes I have nothing to write about and all my energy has gone into other activities during the day.

Somehow, at the end of the evening, I have to find something to put in a post here - even if it's a little tenuous.

Sometimes it's good. Sometimes it's...

...not so good. But, it's free and there will be more of it available tomorrow!

By the way, the picture is from our walk on Day 6.175 during our UK trip.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day 6.230: A riddle

My first is in grain but not in winnow.
My second is in the wind but not in the throw.
My third and my fourth are in seed but not chaff.
My fifth is in silly more times than in laugh.
My sixth can be magic and also by-gum.
And here is my picture - my riddle is done.

Did you know because I didn't until our visit on Saturday?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 6.229: Do you want chips with that?

Our lighthouse visit back on Day 6.220 was to the Nauset Light. It was moved back from the rapidly eroding sea shore in 1998 and members of the preservation society who arranged that move were available to give us (and several other people) a quick tour.

The outside is the familiar image of the lighthouse from Cape Cod Potato Chips packets.  In fact, they recently paid for its smart new paint-job!  Inside is the impressive spiral staircase, a small watch room and you can climb the stairs to see the rotating light above.

The bottom left picture shows the staircase taken through a small hole in the metal floor of the room.  The bottom right picture shows Exile #4 with her "blinky pin" souvenir.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 6.228: Five Rivers (mostly by Exile #4)

Exile #2 took the kids to Five Rivers last Friday - Exile #4 had the camera most of the time and this is what they came back with:

They were pulling Eurasian water chestnut out of the pond again - I'm not sure if they are trying to control it or just to study what is going on with this invasive species.  Exile #2 took the picture in the bottom left - this remarkable-looking fly is a tiger bee fly - apparently a parasitoid of the carpenter bee - but just check-out those wings!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Day 6.227: Bridges old and not so old

At the Old Stone Fort Museum yesterday there was a display about the Old Blenheim Bridge - a mid-19th century covered bridge that used to stand nearby and was destroyed by the flooding caused by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. It is hoped to rebuild it, although it's not clear to me how realistic a hope that is at this time.

As we left the museum, we spotted a covered bridge across the creek right by the museum and stopped to take a look.

The Fox Creek Bridge is not terribly old - having built in 1982 on the foundation of another bridge. Exile #3 - probably thinking that 1982 seemed like pretty ancient history to her - finally acknowledged that it had been built after her parents were born so it wasn't too old.  I suppose we'll have to take that as a kind of compliment.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day 6.226: Old Stone Fort

Back to the present day...

I ran a little over 20 miles this morning before breakfast. After that, I went to pick Exile #4 up from her friend's house where she'd had a sleep-over and after that I collapsed for a little sleep.

It was, therefore, just before lunch by the time we'd decided to visit the village of Schoharie and so we made our way directly to the Bluestar Cafe for a very nice diner lunch - very friendly, basic food cooked well and some much needed coffee.

Refuelled, we headed a couple of minutes down the road to the Old Stone Fort Museum.

The old stone fort of the name is a church that was fortified during the Revolutionary War and attacked by British forces.  This British invasion was less dramatic - only involving a small exchange of currency (a little less than $20 for a family of five with a AAA discount).

The museum spans several buildings towards the end of a dead-end street in the village.  Here are a few of the things we saw:

From top: the old stone fort itself with a remarkable monument with a stone stars-and-stripes "draped" over it - amazing stone-craft!  The final building on our tour a pre-Revolutionary war barn - relocated to this site and filled with farming related historical artifacts. Inside the upper floor of the "fort": a museum within the museum featuring an eclectic collection including - this "Albany Ales & Steamed Clams - Oysters in Every Style" lantern, and some very scary looking dolls.  The bottom two pictures are from the other buildings - a room filled with historical TV and radio exhibits and Schoharie's first car - a chain driven vehicle from the early 20th century that was driven from New York City after being purchased for $750.

Most of the museum is a do not touch kind of place, but the exceptions were popular - as ever.  A table of toys and other historical items and a one-room schoolhouse with a dress-up clothes etc.   We all also loved the kid's treasure hunt sheet for the upper-floor collection - quite challenging for all ages!

It's always slightly strange as members of the losing team to visit Revolutionary War locations in the area - but this little museum is a gem - and extremely wide-ranging as you can see.  My guess is that we were there for about three hours - we all learned something (one of mine was that a riddle is a farm implement!) and we all had fun doing it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 6.225: Wild at the beach

I'm finally getting round to the photos (other than iPhone pictures) of our trip - sorry if you're already tired of hearing about it.

Our trip to the National Seashore on the Atlantic side of the Cape had the excitement of a sign about great white sharks. The warning: don't swim with seals. Our experience: seals everywhere just off the beach (but very nice to see).

We also saw cormorants, but no sharks.

We were probably in more danger when I decided to catch a huge crab in a small net on bay side of the island.  After we'd looked at it, I tried to let it go but one of its barbed legs was caught in the net.  I tried to free it with my fingers, it tried to cut itself free with its large claws.  Eventually, it left me to untangle it without too much fear of losing a finger and it immediately buried itself in the sand.  We saw several of these crabs do that - they are extremely efficient, just reversing in without more than a small vibration visible.

Even more amazing was to see a live horsehoe crab buried in the sand - no danger from that or the sea snails leaving impressive trails in the beds of the shallow pools.

Know what else is wild?  How far the tide goes out there.  Here's a picture from when we arrived a couple of hours after high tide followed by two from around low tide.

The middle one is looking back towards the beach pictured in the first one - and we were nowhere near as far out as we could have gone!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 6.224: Remembering our first castle (of the recent trip)

The beach we went to on Day 6.219 on the bay side of the Cape was very flat indeed and at low tide, you could walk about a mile straight out to sea without getting wet feet.

We had a blast building a sandcastle using the two-tone sand. Even though we had walked quite a way down towards the sea, it still seemed impossible that the tide would come in while we were there, then - quite suddenly - we realised it was right behind us and the destruction of our fortress began:

Here's one of the key moments in slow-motion:

This kind of thing just doesn't work at lake beaches - one of the reasons I love to go to the ocean!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day 6.223: Running on the Cape

I did three runs in the four days that we were at the Cape. Each one took me along the Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT) that runs very near to the campsite we were staying at.

The section of the trail I ran (a little further for each run) is not particularly remarkable - being mostly through light woodland. It is however extremely user friendly - paved and vehicle free with good well-marked road crossings where necessary.

On the last day, my 11 mile run took me nearly 5 miles out along the trail and I finally got a view - not of the ocean but of the Namskaket creek in its rather attractive marshland.

and then I turned around and ran back again!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 6.222: WHOI and home

We broke camp, said goodbye to new friends and left our campsite this morning.

Instead of heading straight home we took a detour to Woods Hole - pretty much the furthest point on the cape from Provincetown where we were yesterday.

It's a fascinating little place - the embarkation point for ferries to Martha's Vineyard as well as home to several marine research organisations including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute where we planned to visit.

We found a parking spot, fed the meter all the quarters we could find, had a very nice lunch and then went to see the who/when/why/what of WHOI.

The top picture is the kids investigating a replica of deep-sea HOV (human occupied vehicle) Alvin - something of a local celebrity.  The bottom right is, believe it or not, a B52s Rock Lobster moment with a "giant clam"!

It was a very nice visit - short and sweet - followed by the drive home which was neither short nor sweet, but was at least uneventful.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 6.221: P-town

After a leisurely start including a nice cup of coffee-machine coffee with our new Canadian friends, we set off for our planned visit to Provincetown at the tip of the cape.

Random iPhone photos today: lunch (fish and chips, tacos, nachos and clam strips), the Pilgrim Monument, a mermaid on the beach,  a strange scene, Commercial St, and toasting marshmallows for s'mores. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 6.220: Canadian/light

We had to break camp and move a couple of hundred yards to another pitch this morning (the penalty for making plans at the last-minute!). During the process we met the parents of the friends that Exile #4 and E5N1 had made and chatted with them for a while. My ear has got sufficiently tuned into a NE US accent now that I heard the things that the locals hear and imitate in Canadian accents in the conversation with these Ontario natives. I'd never really got what that was all aboot before!

After the new campsite was sorted, we had a round of the site's own mini golf and then headed out to Nauset Beach - mostly to see the lighthouse, but we managed some more sandcastle and wave-fleeing fun too. 

Today's random phone photos: going  down the lighthouse stairs and looking unhappy while the burgers were cooking (they were actually quite cheerful - if a little tired). 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 6.219: Breakwater Beach

We spent nearly all day (approximately 9.30 am to 5 pm) at Breakwater Beach in Brewster MA as a a glorious start-proper to our Cape Cod vacation - we were determined to get our money's worth from our $15 town beach parking permit bumper sticker!

I will have other photos when I return to civilisation, but for now here are some moments I caught with my phone: beach boy, hermit crabs in a bucket, flying a kite, a sand castle being swallowed by the sea and dinner cooked on the campfire (followed by s'mores - eaten faster than a speeding camera!)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 6.218: Camp sight

Here's a quick look at our campsite. Home for two nights. We arrived in time to do most of the basic set-up before dusk but we haven't done much looking around yet.

We had a fairly active journey with some sudden stops on the highway, some state troopers flying down the shoulder and, at one point a car engulfed in flames at the side of the road (I'm almost certain it was unoccupied). 

See you for vacation day one tomorrow!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day 6.217: Heldeberg (near Helderberg)

We took the opportunity to visit the Heldeberg Workshop where Exile #3 has been at art camp for the mornings of the last two weeks.  The kids all went there last year, but we didn't see more than the impressive views of from/of the parking lot then.

It's a beautiful spot underneath the Helderberg Escarpment, the kids spend almost all their time outdoors and even when they are inside, it is in these very basic open-sided shelters for the most part.  A great antidote for the classroom-bound lives they live during the school year!

Pictured (left top to bottom): one of Exile #3's artworks, the art hut and the pond - that Exile #4 and E5N1 were equally excited to show us after their experiences there last year; (centre): two more artworks with the locations that inspired them; (right): the parking lot as we left (with sunset over the escarpment) and as we arrived.

And yes - I did check those spellings twice.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Day 6.216: Musical interlude

Here's some music for your consideration...

Regina Spektor - Small Town Moon, because it's wonderful:

They Might Be Giants - Older, because Regina said "We're younger than we're ever gonna be!"

Silversun Pickups - Skin Graph, because it's as ominous as the TMBG track should be and it's been stuck in my head (in a good way) all of this week:

As for us, today was basically the same as yesterday.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 6.215: In case you're wondering...

...this is what is going on at the moment:
  1. I'm working.
  2. I'm doing quite a lot of running (40-60 miles per week).
  3. Exile #3 is going to camp (half days) at the wonderful Helderberg Workshop.
  4. Exile #2 is coping with the kids and getting stuff ready for a trip.
  5. I'm applying for jobs.
  6. We're going camping for an extended weekend.
  7. I'm posting three-week-old pictures of the kids with balloon creations.

and that is all.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day 6.214: Despicable? Me too!

I know we're late to the party, but we went to see Despicable Me 2 in between the running and the cycling on Saturday and we all loved it.

But, although the story was pretty good for a sequel and the characters were as endearing as ever, it has to be said that E5N1 just loved the minions - bottom and fart jokes in particular!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Day 6.213: Pool, riding

The middle of the day was taken up with a trip (for me and the kids) to a 4th birthday party at the town pool. We had a very nice time and I failed to take any photos.

In a surprising moment, the young cousin of the birthday girl found an earring at the bottom of the pool and gave it to me (I happened to be closest). When I looked at it, I realised that it could be Exile #3's. Not only did it turn out to be hers, but then Exile #4 - having been given the nearly impossible challenge by me - found the back of the earring also on the floor of the pool.

The pictures are from yesterday's beautiful evening. I walked the kids to a nearby parking lot to ride their bikes a bit (and keep them out of the house while Exile #2 was cooking).

E5N1 is still working on his two-wheel skills, but I set him a few challenges to try to lift his feet onto the pegs on his glide bike and find his balance.  He's getting there - gradually!