Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Down By the Sea...

On a business trip to Boston I managed to get in some time to tour a bit of the coastline and to get some photos in a couple of Massachusetts coastal towns that were built on the fishing industry. One of those towns, Gloucester, was first settled in 1623 and based its economy on fishing and shipbuilding. A reading of the early history doesn't make it sound like a very fun place to be in 1623 but amenities developed in the ensuing 400 years have improved things considerably.  

Gloucester Harbor is the scene of the action here, with fishing vessels of all sizes awaiting their crews. 

A lot of vessels were docked and showed no signs of activity. This could have been due to it being a Sunday but I can't say for sure. I know next to nothing about recreational fishing so it stands to reason that I know less than that about commercial fishing. It happens on boats but beyond that it's a mystery.

Even on a Sunday, however, there were a few fishermen in evidence offloading the sea's bounty. This boat motored in and unloaded several chests of fish while I was walking around the dock.

This group, on the other hand, looked more like they were out on an excursion for the day, coming in looking far more cheerful and less worn out than the first one.

All of the activity did not go without being noticed. 

In fact, at times it felt like the sea birds had posted sentries to make sure I didn't move in and eat any of their fish. 

Whew! Almost didn't see that one coming. 
"How about some turn signals, fella?"

Apparently, something caught this one's eye, and it was time to go take a closer look. Had I hit the button a second later this guy would have been gone. Sometimes I'm good but usually I'm lucky. I'll settle for lucky anytime.

A major feature of Stacy Boulevard is the seawall with a long walkway emblazoned with American flags. It is a popular destination for tourists and residents alike.

Along the seawall is this cenotaph (empty tomb), erected in 1923 to honor the memory of those residents of the town who have perished at sea since 1623 in what may be the most dangerous profession in existence. To date, there are more than 10,000 known to have died and all who are known have their names added to a memorial wall nearby. 

The six names placed there in 1991 are the crew members of the Andrea Gail, which went down during a particularly vicious storm in the Atlantic Ocean after an excursion beyond the Grand Banks to the Flemish Cap in search of a swordfish haul, and was immortalized in the movie "The Perfect Storm."

Next stop was the town of Rockport, just a few miles north of Gloucester (and was actually the source of pine for the shipyards of Gloucester prior to being settled), and Bearskin Neck, a small harbor that is a major tourist attraction now. Rockport also is home to a major granite quarry that supplied granite to a large portion of the country.

The red building is known as "Motif Number 1" and is perched on Bradley Wharf in Rockport. Long a subject for painters and artists, the the old fishing shack was destroyed in a 1978 blizzard and now an exact replica sits in its place. In the 1930s, the painter John Buckley used it as his studio, and sold it to the town of Rockport in 1945.

Another view of Motif Number 1. Behind the building are stacked a number of lobster pots while next to the wharf sit fishing vessels awaiting a crew.

A closer view of the lobster pots.

In addition to the fishing industry which is still active, albeit on a smaller scale than in years past, Rockport is a popular tourist destination. Bearskin Neck is now home to many shops that now occupy the old lobstermen and fishermen shacks that were built to support the fishing industry.

Here is one of the old shacks from the back on the entrance to Bradley Wharf.

This seawall helps protect the harbor.

A parking area for residents sits alongside the dock where dinghies are tied to ferry fishermen and recreational boaters out to their larger, more ocean-worthy craft.

Below is a bit better view.

Parking was at a premium and the town has a way of making believers out of those who can't tell the difference between a parking meter and a resident sticker. 

Although it had been pretty stormy at times the skies did finally clear. Later, at a stop in Framingham, I saw the first full-arch double rainbow I have ever witnessed. 

Not the full arch, but still pretty spectacular.

I hope you've enjoyed this trip to the beach. Until next time....

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Castlevania (or - Per Doncha Hopni Skipni Tru Da Vudz*...a cautionary tale)

Deep in the jungle of Panama is an old, old concrete castle with an interesting history, most of which has to do with ambition meets bankruptcy or so I'm told. Started in the 1930s, materials had to be hauled through jungle trails on oxcarts, but the owner, who wanted a secluded paradise in the woods, finally ran out of money and the project was abandoned until the 1970s when his son installed a few windows and ran out of money himself. At which point the whole thing was dropped. Later, the Panamanian government stepped in and reclaimed the property as a wildlife preserve, albeit one with a really spooky focal point. 

Did I mention spooky? 

As in really...


...really spooky?

Nevertheless, Lana and I, joined by my friend Bill who happened to wander over to Panama from his digs in Costa Rica, decided to explore. No fear in us and nothing to fear at all. 

And to prove it we let Bill go first. 

As we approached, the door swung slowly open, as if beckoning us from the nether regions of a world which few visit and from which none return. 

(Yes, I made that part up. I'm sure the door has been standing wide open since 1936 and is open to this day - unless it finally rusted through and fell off - but didn't that part sound really cool?)

And we stepped inside. 

Not the first...obviously. 

Probably not even the second. 

But, we were the only ones there that day and that was good enough for us in that deserted house deep in the remote jungle. 

I did mention remote, didn't I? 

But finally it was time to leave. We said our farewells...

...and we could practically hear the spirits wishing us a fond 
"get the hell out of here and don't come back" 
as we departed...

...and made our way back through the fence that was designed (poorly, I might add) to keep folks like us out. 

Yeah, you can keep your guided tours. This is sightseeing the way it was intended to be: a felony. 

Until next time....

*If you are one of the three or four people in the whole world who happen to get the title reference, by all means let me know in the comments section. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Seen Around Town (or maybe Ode to Black and White...or something)....

As you can readily see from the title (such as it is), the photos that have been selected had far more thought than such mundane tasks as titling this post, further evidencing (which must be a word since spell check didn't flag it) my belief that I have a valid need for a headline writer. Who will work for nothing. 

Moving on. I have finally rescued my archived photo files from storage and, while perusing the offerings of my own personal Wayback Machine (thank you Mr. Peabody), I ran across the results of a shoot I did awhile back with my friend, Dave Miller, a fellow photo enthusiast. 

Dave, enthusiastically taking photos 
(I told you he is a fellow enthusiast)

And on to the photos. All of these posted are mine, although I hope to someday see the results of Dave's day around town. 

As mentioned in what passes for a post title, today we are doing Black and White, one of my favorite mediums. In Little Rock, in the area near the Clinton Presidential Library not far from the River Market, there exists an abundance of photo ops, some which are always there waiting and others which simply present themselves with no predictability. Below are some of both. 

Sculptures and statuary abound throughout the area with the works of many artists on display for everyone to enjoy. This is one of my favorites. 

There are bike paths, walkways, and pedestrian bridges aplenty to make sure no one has a good excuse for missing out. 

It's been a long time since I've slid down a grassy hill on a cardboard sled but it looks like as much fun as it ever was judging from the look of delight on this young lady's face. 

This gentleman chose more of a freestyle method over the traditional as a way of mixing it up and keeping things interesting.

There were a lot of folks out biking that day 
(and if memory serves, it was a great day for it)

Did I mention there were a lot of folks out biking?

Not everyone opted for bikes or cardboard as modes of transportation. Some went for old-fashioned shoe leather while others preferred to be carried. 

All under the watchful eye of Candid Camera. Somewhere, deep in the bowels of the National Security Agency, there exists a picture of me taking a picture of them taking a picture of me taking a picture of....

Just looking at all of these pics is making want to take the day off and get back out there. 
Soon, Dale, soon. 

Until next time....