Sunday, August 13, 2017

Happy Birthday Son

My son who is working in Yellowstone National Park sent me a memory card with 1500 pictures last week. As you can imagine, I was pretty awestruck by the things he has seen this summer. I spent a couple of hours looking at his photos. Yesterday was his birthday and my child is now a twenty two year old man. When most of us use the phrase "livin' the dream" we are being sarcastic. In his case, he is doing exactly what he wants to do.  Where as you and I save money all year to go on a dream vacation, DJ spends his days hiking the same places that we dream of. He goes to work at 4:30 pm, gets out of work around 11 and does it again the next day.  All the while he gets to meet like minded people (and girls) that want to share the same experiences that he does. 

I thought I'd share a few of his pictures on my blog. Since I enjoy looking at animal photos more than landscape photos, I only put a few landscape photos on here. He did take some amazing shots of wildflowers, but I only have so much room.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SON, I LOVE YOU





Trumpeter Swan

Sandhill Cranes

Pronghorn



Yellow Bellied Marmot

DJ walks to work from his dorm. He says bison are usually
on the trail and he has to go around them which can be
frustrating. Even he admits, he is a bit spoiled when he finds
bison to be annoying

Grizz




Friday, August 11, 2017

Kayak and Quahogs

If I'm being honest, my kayak is easily one of my favorite possessions. During the spring when trout have been stocked and stripers are in salt ponds, it is on my roof racks for almost two months straight.

The nice thing about a kayak, is besides getting to places a land lubber can't reach, it can also save you money. Today, I went birding at the Charlestown mudflats. Without my kayak, I would have had to pay the non-resident fee at Charlestown Beach. Since I had my kayak, I just launched at the free boat ramp. My paddle was about ten minutes. Paddling my 'yak for ten minutes saved me twelve bucks (considering I go birding at the mudflats four or five times a year, the savings really add up).

Birding was only okay today. There were a lot of shorebirds. They were all the usual suspects. The best bird I saw was white rumped sandpiper. However, as you can see by the photo, I came across some littlenecks. They turned into a nice treat when I got home.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Thank you Mike Love and the Beach Boys- Go see them!


Tonight I went to the Beach boys concert at Bold Point  in East Providence. I had seen the Beach Boys at Woodstock Fair in 2005. When I went then, we got there late, missed half the show and was really far from the stage.Even still, I have a fond memory of hearing, if not seeing, one of the greatest groups of all time.

Since that day, I've wanted to see the Beach Boys again. They seem to tour every summer and usually have a few dates in  New England. For one reason or another, I just never made it.  When the concert was announced at Bold Point, I decided I should go. I asked (convinced) Laurie to go and we got tickets. I don't know the price of the high end tickets, but we paid $47 for really good seats. There was general admission seats for $25. You could stand or bring a blanket and/or chair for general admission.

As for the venue, all week I've been fielding questions from my boss and friends wondering how in the world a concert was going to be held at tiny Bold Point Park.We all had the same concern. Where are people going to park? Where are they going to fit all those people? The stage was set up right near the water at the right end of the lot. There were two food trucks. One was selling ice cream which is all I ate. Near the boat ramp a drink tent was set up. Prices were very reasonable. Mixed drinks were $8, beer was $5. Soda and Gatorade twenty ounce bottles sold for a fair price of $3. I drank Sierra Mist.

As for parking, which we all thought would be a huge issue, Parking was allowed on most of the small side streets. It was also allowed on Veterans Memorial Blvd. I parked up by the first parking lot for the bike path. My walk was almost 15 minutes, but if you think about it, is still shorter than a typical parking spot at Gillette Stadium. All in all, things ran extremely smoothly. I had no trouble getting in or out. The venue turned out to be a great place for a concert. I highly recommend going to Bold Point if they have any artists you are interested in the future.
Mike Love

As for the concert-

Mike Love and the Beach Boys came right on stage at 7 pm. At first Mike Love was singing fairly quietly into the microphone. I looked him up and found out he is 76 years old!!! I sat back and expected a 76 year old man to barely get through. I was okay with that, I was there for the nostalgia. About two or three songs in, he hit his groove. I can honestly say he sounded great!!! For a man to sing all those fast rock and roll oldies, it was awesome.

The Beach Boys played for two hours of music. There was a half hour intermission. They played all their great songs. My favorite Beach Boys songs are Help Me Rhonda and Sloop John B. They played both plus all their other hits and some non hits. They also played a couple of cover songs including Rock and Roll Music by Chuck Berry. Chuck Berry was the original Beach Boys biggest influence.

Admittedly, the "Beach Boys" are not the original members except for Mike Love. However, he is a true legend in music along with Brian Wilson (who is also on tour for the 50th anniversary of Pet Sounds). Still, it was awesome to hear the songs by the an original member. One highlight was "Good Vibrations". This is not even close to my favorite Beach Boys song. However, Live, it blew me away with all the psychedelic instruments

As I've said before, it really doesn't do any good for me to do a concert review on my blog when the band will be a thousand miles away tomorrow. Not this time. The Beach Boys will be around this area all week. They will be in Hampton Beach then MA for four shows. After that they do a show in Connecticut and one in New York City. If you have any interest in seeing the Beach Boys, my advice is to go now. Mike Love is 76 years old. He won't be doing this forever. I would be shocked if you are disappointed.

Note

Under normal circumstances, I consider a concert a trade off. I give an artist money for a ticket. They play music. Most times it is an even trade. I usually come out of a live show happy I went. Very few times I have left a concert disappointed. Sometimes I can't justify the price of tickets at some venues ( Foxwoods for instance) to see a group that I only like a few songs. But like I said, usually I'm glad the concert was worth the price of admission.

Tonight was special. I got to witness Rock and Roll history in the flesh. I knew almost every song and I got to listen to some of the most iconic songs of all time. My seats were terrific and surprisingly, they sounded great. Lets be honest, most groups from the 60's aren't even around, never mind touring. I am so grateful I got to see the Beach Boys for what will probably be my last time.  Although my life is no where near complete, I can honestly say it was enriched by going to the East Providence waterfront tonight. Tonight was truly a memory I will never forget.

So as the title of this post states- Thank you Mike Love and the Beach Boys!!!


Upcoming tour dates below

August 10 - Hampton Beach, NH - Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
August 11 - Cohasset, MA - South Shore Music Circus
August 12 - Nantucket, MA - Jetties Beach with the Boston Pops
August 13 - Hyannis, MA - Cape Cod Melody Tent
August 15 - Great Barrington, MA - Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
August 16 - Ridgefield, CT - The Ridgefield Playhouse
August 17 - New York, NY - Beacon Theater 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Charlestown Mudflats

One of the channels in Ninigret Pond
The last three times I went to the Cape Cod Canal, I blanked. Worse than that, I saw very few fish caught. Right now, the Canal is the only show in town for big stripers. Since I haven't had any luck there the last two weeks, I decided not to go fishing on my day off. If you have wondered when the hiking posts will come, they won't be coming for a while. I've been nursing a bum heel for a month. I decided to make an adult decision and not hike until it feels better.

So with two of my favorite summertime hobbies off the board, I decided to do Plan C. I went to one of my favorite late summer hangouts, Charlestown Breachway to do a little birding. These mudflats are one of my favorite places to be in August and early September, second only to New Hampshire. Behind Charlestown Beach and Breachway is Ninigret Pond. In the pond are acres of mudflats. These mudflats are a resting place for shorebirds returning south after breeding in the Arctic. Yes, believe it or not, shorebirds are already "going south for the winter"

Besides birding, Ninigret Pond is a great place for many activities. Today alone, I saw people doing ALL of the following:
Great Egret

Kayaking
Paddleboarding,
Crabbing
Quahogging
Cruising in boats
Setting up lawn chairs away from crowds
Fishing (doubt they caught much, but I know there are fluke in the pond)

Birding is best around low tide when more of the flats are exposed. I got there at mid-tide and stayed an hour past low. After I walked around for a couple hours I sat on my beached kayak and let the birds come to me. Nothing rare came close, but the little peeps are not afraid of a quiet sitting human at all. This made for some easy photography.

The weather was perfect today. It was 82 degrees with a slight breeze. There wasn't any humidity. Just a picture perfect summer day. I couldn't believe it when I got back to my car and it was almost 2 pm. I certainly made the right choice today.

 Pictures of birds below.
Willet

Red Knot transitioning to grey winter plumage 

Snowy Egret coming in hot

These little peeps were not cropped. They came within five
feet of me

Pectoral Sandpiper

Brown/Black/White bird is a Ruddy Turnstone

Not a great picture but a Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.
The Greater is in the back. Huge size difference in real life

Ruddy Turnstone

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Crescent Park Carousel

Sunday I took DJ's three sisters to the Crescent Park Carousel in East Providence. I've written about the Carousel before. It is all that remains of a long forgotten amusement park. Fortunately, the carousel remains, reminding us all of a more innocent time.

For hours and direction, and cost, see the website
https://www.crescentparkcarousel.org/

The carousel is fun for adults also. The horses are large enough and the ride spins fast enough for adults to enjoy. To keep everyone entertained, there are rings to catch as you go by a mechanical arm. You hook a ring with your finger. If it is a gold ring, you get a free ride. There is one gold ring per ride. The rest of the rings are brass. After you catch them you throw them at a clown painting. The goal is to get the ring in the clown's mouth. There isn't a prize for that, but it is still fun.


Next to the parking lot is a food vendor. They sell clam chowder, clam cakes, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc...Across the street is a small beach at the bottom of a couple flights of stairs. It is nice to walk on the beach, and a lot cheaper to do then stay on the carousel. The kids found enough shells to use them to make an outline of a heart.



 I like going to the carousel at least once a year. I used to go with my parents when I was a kid. Then I brought my own child. Since DJ is now two thousand miles away, I borrow other people's kids to go. Of course that's a joke, I love DJ's sisters and enjoy spending time with them.








Sunday, July 30, 2017

Polo is Awesome!

Yesterday I went to Portsmouth, RI to watch the Newport Polo Team take on the Palm Springs Polo Team. I had never been to a polo match. I didn't know if I'd like it or hate it, but one thing was for sure, It would be different. I knew nothing about the rules, how it is scored or even if it is called a match, game, or contest.

Some rules-

 Here is some of the stuff I found out. There are six chukkas that are seven minutes each. A chukka is a period. After the third chukka there is a twenty minute half time. In between each chukka is a time out for the riders to switch out their horses. Each rider rides three horses during a  match. Rotating the horses ( actually called ponies) gives them time to rest. Each pony competes for 2 chukkas or 14 minutes.

You score by hitting a ball with your cane across the eight yard wide goal line. If the ball gets hit out of bounds they play it from roughly that spot. There are other more detailed rules most of which I'm sure I didn't see. However, if a rider has a direct line to the ball, another rider can not cut them off. This is for protection of the ponies so they don't crash into each other. Violating this rule results in a free penalty shot for the opponent.

Each team has four players. There are no subs or back ups (that I could see). Each player is numbered 1-4. The one is the attacker, four the defender, the three the best player, and honestly I didn't hear what the #2 does differently. However, they all ride up and down the field.

Pregame-

For those you (us) that think/thought Polo is a rich person sport, our tickets were $12 each. The twelve dollar tickets will get you General Admission. This meant we sat near the end zone. The $20 ticket will get you a seat in the Pavilion. My boss who had been said it is more fun in the lawn so that is what we did. There are $50 tailgating tickets where you can park your car almost next to the field in a reserved space. There is no need for that since we parked our car literally a 45 second walk from where we watched the match.

We set up a blanket and lawn chair on the perimeter of the field. You are allowed to bring your own food and drink. We brought a couple BBQ pork sandwiches, cornbread, and lemonade. Some people set up tents with really eloquent food. Some tailgaters were making mixed drinks with hard liquor. There were also four food trucks selling pizzas, flavored shaved ice, hot donuts, and wraps.
Carlos Maldanado hanging out with fans
 before the match

Laid back atmosphere-

Before the match people are allowed on the field. Some people were throwing a football. Others were playing Frisbee. Kids were running around. One of the players came out and talked with fans while other fans took pictures with him and his pony. About 5 minutes before the match the announcer politely asks everyone to start making their way to the sideline. Once everyone makes there way out of the field of play, the announcer announces the players and we stand for the National Anthem.

The announcer who sounded like Robin Leach from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous is hilarious. He absolutely has no filter. If he thought a rider made a bad play he said it. He complained about the cool weather in a funny way. At least 8-10 times this guy had me laugh out loud. He even yelled into the microphone to the referee that a goal was scored even though the line judge said the ball went out of bounds. By far, my favorite announcer I have ever heard live.

At halftime, fans are encouraged to go on the field and stomp down the divots made by the cane and
the horseshoe footprints. I guess this is a tradition.  After the game, another tradition is for the players to come around the edge while riding their ponies and high five the fans. We stayed for this before we left.
At halftime everyone walks on  the field to stomp down divots

As for the fact that Polo is for rich snobs, here is what I can tell you. For clothing most people were dressed casually. Some people did dress like Howell Thurston on Gilligan's Island. However, if you wore khaki shorts and a T-shirt, you were not out of place. Same with the women. Some dressed like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, others just wore normal clothes.

Some of the patio tables set up with food were pretty extravagant. Think cheese platters instead of cheeseburgers. While others were cooking burgers and dogs.

There seemed to be a lot of drinking. However, I didn't see one person become drunk, obnoxious, or belligerent. I don't think there was any security, and really, there wasn't any need for it. Everyone was super mellow. Other than a couple grills, I didn't smell any smoke of any kind, nor did I see anyone smoking.

As for whether people seemed snoby or not. Think about this, at a sporting event how many people do you really interact with not in your group? Its not like I play checkers with the guy behind me in the bathroom line at Fenway. However, I did talk to a couple people at the match. While waiting for the bathroom, the guy behind me did tell me he will be in trouble "once the seal was broken". All in all, everyone seemed laid back, and there for a good time.

My experience was nothing but positive. From the very beginning finding a good spot, watching the match, giving high fives the players, and not getting stuck in traffic, it was a great day. The Newport team did win by a couple of goals.  If I had Saturday's off every week, I'd go quite a bit.  Many more pictures below

One of the food trucks

The Pavilion Area well before the match


At halftime you need to watch out for the
"steaming divots"

High fives all around after the match

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Shark Week?

I know that shark week is wrapping up on the Discovery Channel and their is significant backlash with Micheal Phelps racing a shark simulation. But what if you actually saw a real live shark?

Same picture but cropped with focus on the tail
I went to the Cape Cod Canal after work today in hopes of getting in on the striper action. Spoiler Alert: almost no one got any fish this afternoon. However I had quite the eventful day. I fished on the Cape side of the canal today and rode my bike. I was almost in front of the Herring Run and saw two fins way out. They looked so far apart I thought it was two porpoises. A minute or so later I saw the fins again almost directly in front of me in the middle of the canal.

I got my camera out just in case I saw the fins again. I was pretty sure after my second look that it
was only one animal. Shockingly, about ninety seconds later, within twenty feet of me, the fins came out of the water. The fish turned around and headed out never to be seen again (I thought I saw it heading toward Bourne Bridge thirty minutes later).

I got off two pictures. I'm sure now it was a shark and not a mammal since the tail was vertical and not horizontal. Also, I never saw it expel air through a blow hole. I went online to figure out what kind it was. My best two guesses are Sand Tiger and Sandbar. I sent a picture to Marine Fisheries. If they respond I will update the blog. What a cool experience.


This guy was parked next to me when I got back to my car