There’s a bike rack I go past every night when taking the dogs for a walk. It is a cool metal sculpture in a small park near a kiddie pool. I’ve never seen any bikes parked at the rack but I’m usually there at night. I’m assuming there is some heavy message with the arrow, since this weekend I’m doing a two-day 170 bicycle ride to raise money for MS. I’m in shape to ride about 40 miles, so I’m going to need some arrows to help me stay focused and point the way.
After dinner, I noticed the moon was setting and just a slice was illuminated. I loved the way it looked, so when I got home, I got out the camera and made some shots from my back yard.
I was driving home from the office in East Brunswick and as I crossed the Raritan River from New Brunswick to Piscataway on Rt. 18, I saw a big splash in the river. It wasn’t very close to the bridge, so I knew it didn’t come from the bridge. A little farther down river I saw small waves circling out from another spot.
There is a park along the river so I drove into it to check out what was making the big splashes.
I drove down a little road and couldn’t see anything, as I was driving back I noticed a couple of large birds on dead branches of a tree. I looked closer and could tell that they were cormorants, Double Crested Cormorants to be exact. So I parked and got out the camera, big lens and tripod. There were five cormorants in the tree and a couple more flew in. Cormorants migrate through New Jersey, I understand they fly in V-shaped flocks, but I haven’t seen that. In fact, I haven’t seen this many cormorants in one place before. So I took a bunch of shots of them in the tree and went over to the river to see if I could see any diving, and making the big splash. Cormorants have webbed feet like a duck and fly under water. They spend a good deal of time in trees preening the water out of their feathers.
After I didn’t see any hitting the river, I walked under the tree where they were sitting and made some more shots. They were a fun way to end the work day.
There aren’t many waterfalls in New Jersey. In downtown Paterson there is the great falls, but you are risking your life to see it. Around the central part of the state, I only know of one natural one. It is on Middle Brook, a fairly small creek that runs through Washington Rock Park, a county park in Bridgewater. It is back off the beaten path and if you don’t know about it, you’d never see it. At the top of the falls is an old dam, which makes photos uglier. I don’t know what the dam was for, I’ll have to ask.
I went to a local county park this morning for sunrise to see what might be good. I walked along the Raritan River on a paved path, the sun was streaming in through the trees and hitting the river in a few places, but nothing hit me. So I walked back to a pond that was near where I parked. There were several pairs of Canada geese with goslings when I initially walked by but the area was in the shade, so I passed them by.
As I approached the pond, there was an old gomer wearing Bermuda shorts in 52 degree weather and carrying a small camera. I saw that he was trying to take pictures of a great blue heron at the edge of the pond. Gomer was trying to sneak up on the heron to get close enough to take a picture with his point-and-shoot camera. Hey Gomer, herons aren’t blind and you can’t walk up to them. I knew he was soon going to blow any chance I had to photograph the bird. Sure enough, the heron took flight but only went to the other side of the pond.
There is a bench by the pond, so I had a seat so I could be still and let the goslings come close. Gomer walked around the pond and sure enough he was trying to sneak up on the heron again. Heron’s will give you about 150 feet and then they are gone. That isn’t nearly close enough to get any kind of decent picture with the camera Gomer was using. Having taken lots of heron photos, I guessed the bird would either leave or come back where it originally was. So I sat extremely still on the bench waiting to see where Gomer would chase the bird.
Luckily the heron flew back to my side of the pond, right where it was earlier. I was there on the bench fairly close and he didn’t care. Fortunately, Gomer gave up and I got some nice shots. The heron stood in the exact same spot for 45 minutes while I photographed him. Most of the time it stood on one leg and preened. Finally I had to leave and the heron was still there as I got in my car.
We had another beautiful, clear afternoon with barely a cloud in the sky. After Robin and I had a nice dinner-date, the sun was low and strong, so I headed over to a place that I’ve always wanted to photograph but I never bothered to stop. There’s a railroad overpass on Finderne Ave. in Bridgewater that I’ve seen the sun glimmering off the tracks as I’ve driven past. When I got there the sun was barely above the horizon and made everything it hit a nice orange.
I’d love to say I was out celebrating Earth Day all afternoon, but I sat in my office looking out the window. My East Brunswick office is known as The Basement. My office has windows, they are four feet up from the floor and right at ground level. Sitting at my desk and looking out the window, all I can see is the bottom of a bush and the sky.
I like being able to see the sky so easy. All afternoon it was sunny and there are frequently birds circling high in the thermals. They are mostly buzzards or gulls in flight after vising the nearby Edgeboro landfill, one of New Jersey’s largest. At least the wind wasn’t blowing the stench over the building today.
After a sunny afternoon, a thunderstorm rolling in right at 5 p.m. and then a drizzle. I had hoped for a nice sunny drive home, but it didn’t look good. The storm cleared and by 6 p.m. when I left the sun was fighting with the clouds to shine.
I took the scenic route home and went to Colonial Park in Franklin. The clouds were winning the battle with the sun but I could tell there would be a break. I walked along a pond and waited for the sun to pop out. About the time it did, a Mallard duck paddled out into the pond and posed for pictures as sprinkling rain made little circles in the water.
It was a beautiful day today, cool, clear and sunny. I took a little drive after work out along the route where I do my normal bicycle ride. There are a couple of barns that look cool, so I went to see how the barns look in the low afternoon light.
The sun was pretty low and light shadows were mixing with the sunlight hitting the end of the red barn. One small window is all that disturbed the red.
I like it.
Three years ago on Tax Day I got one of those horrific phone calls you hope you never get. I was driving back to NJ from Vermont when my friend Brian Horton called. I had helped Brian take his wife, my co-worker, Marilyn Dillon to the hospital after she had a major MS attack. She had been doing fine in the hospital but on that Sunday her kidneys essentially exploded. Brian could barely talk as he tried to tell me what was going on. The doctors were fairly sure she wouldn’t make it through the night. I was about three hours away from the hospital and got there in two hours.
Brian was distraught, as could be expected. They finally took Marilyn into surgery later that evening. She was in a coma and they let me and Brian go along as they rolled her to the operating room. Robert Wood Johnson hospital in New Brunswick is one of the best around and the building is a combination of new additions and old brick buildings. We wound through the bowels of the old part, with hallway so narrow two beds couldn’t pass. We got to the OR door, which was as far as they would let Brian and I go. We both stood there, not knowing what to do next as we waiting for the door to open. Finally, they came out to take Marilyn inside.
Forever etched in my mind was the look on Brian’s face as he kissed his bride. It was the unmistakable look of a man thinking this may be the last kiss he ever gives his wife. It ripped my heart out.
Today Robin and I were lucky to have dinner with Marilyn and Brian. She was in a coma for months and in the hospital for seven months. She fought harder than anyone I had ever seen. She is still fighting and showed off tonight by walking from the car to the restaurant using her walker rather than taking the wheelchair. You can read their blog about her amazing journey here. She is great fun and an inspiration. Frequently when I’m feeling lousy I stop to think “What would Dillon do?” The answer always gives me a reason to press on. Thank you Marilyn.
I made a quick trip to The Great Swamp late this afternoon. The Great Swamp is about 15 north of my house. It is a 3,000 acres National Wildlife Refuge that was created in the early ’60s when they wanted to build a huge airport and the locals got creative and created a wildlife refuge so they couldn’t pave it. Instead the put in a few boardwalks and some trails.
It isn’t the prettiest place, it is a swamp and it looks it. I’ve spent a lot of time there and know it pretty well.
I went to a boardwalk that goes out to a blind where you can observe wildlife without disturbing the critters. I’ve never seen anything good from the blind but the boardwalk usually provides something interesting.
As the sun was getting low today, a Canada goose was sitting on a clump of grass. There was a nice reflection in the water as the goose pruned itself.