Tuesday, December 31, 2013
At this time of year, everything is very brown. There are no evergreen trees and almost no green plants. Between the weather, the day of the week, and the season, there were very few folks out. Who would think you could be totally alone in New York City?
Monday, December 9, 2013
- Despite not being a morning person, that's the best time of day for me to write. My teaching schedule is carefully crafted to avoid teaching before 10 a.m., and I'd rather suffer any end of bodily ailments than exercise before breakfast. I can be civil in the morning, as long as you don't expect exuberance. But, much to my disgust, that's when I am most focused for writing.
- Risk aversion has negative consequences, too. I'm okay with not losing all my money in Vegas or never experiencing the joy of skydiving. The flip side is that I'll hold on to mediocre circumstances far too long rather than take a small gamble, even if what I'm betting on is myself.
- I like guys who will never move. Our family moved around a lot, and it was a valuable experience. I learned to meet new people. I learned how people are alike and cultures are different, and how socially constructed our world is. I can face moving again with aplomb. Yet, consistently, I am attracted to guys who are strongly rooted in the place they grew up in. The good news is, at least I live in New York City instead of Indiana now. The bad news is, me and the future Mr. Turducken will never pick up and move to London for a year.
- One drink is enough. Not that I want to be an alcoholic, but any more than two drinks isn't worth it the next day. I'm never going to drink Indiana Jones under the table, and that kind of was one of my life goals.
- I'm not really a fan of the Beatles. I guess I'm a Stones person, or even a Zeppelin person.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Every time I wore my really warm long underwear when hiking last winter, I ended up regretting it. Unfortunately, I learned from my experience and didn't wear it today. The temperature was 28 but, according to my weather app, it "felt like 15" thanks to the wind chill. I should have also brought my warm gloves and a warm hat, because this hike was bitterly cold.
I haven't hiked with the Ramblers since my surgery, so this seemed like a good hike to get back in with - no scrambling, not killer in length (10-12 miles was the estimate up front), not entirely flat but no Mt. Everest either. It ended up being nearly all those things, as it clocked in at 12.7 miles.
We took the bus to Morris County, New Jersey. The hike started in Boonton with a leisurely look at the old Morris Canal, and I seriously thought about going home at this point; I wasn't sure I was warm enough to have fun. Then, a few things happened: I ate a Luna bar, the wind died down somewhat, and the sun came out. We also started hiking more briskly (or perhaps I should say, stopping at fewer sites). In fact, the hike up the Tourne, a large hill or small mountain, was downright warmifying. We then stopped at another section of the canal and Boiling Spring before heading to and around Birchwood Lake. Then it was back up an old trolley line, across Rattlesnake Meadow, and back to the bus. Incidentally, Boiling Spring is not a hot spring, simply an underground spring, and Rattlesnake Meadow is not a meadow, nor do rattlesnakes feature prominently (although to be fair we didn't exactly check thoroughly).
It was, overall, a nice hike, although I would have likely enjoyed it more under warmer circumstances.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
The train show is held in the conservatory (in the rain forest, specifically), so we saw a little bit of that, and we walked past some features such as the Ladies' Border without really taking them in.
We went in search of the crabapples, which turned out to be a much smaller stand than we expected, then walked past the wetland and through the native forest to the waterfall. The falls, as you can see, are not natural but the result of an old dam.
I would like to come back with more time to walk around and explore the grounds, as well as to take photos. It's not a place for serious hiking - it's less than a quarter the size of Van Cortlandt Park - but more of a place for meandering in nature.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Of course, it was a beautiful fall day, and everything looks better under those circumstances. Still, that's only a small part of it. Much of the trail runs alongside Tibbetts Brook and Van Cortlandt Lake, making for some nice water views and diverse wetlands.
The trail itself is the source of some controversy. The city plans to pave it, which has pitted cyclists against other users. In some ways, it's a perfect candidate for paving. It's a former railway, so the trail is flat and straight, and the northern terminus is the start of Westchester County's South County Trail. However, paving it would destroy much of its character, and given the number of cyclists I saw on it, asphalt is hardly needed to make it accessible to them. ("Character" is elusive, sure, but compare the trail to the South County trail it joins - Putnam is a scenic trail, but South County is nothing more than a carless road.) Besides, what's 1.5 miles to a cyclist? It's the blink of an eye.
So, yes, I suppose I'm against the idea of paving the Putnam Trail.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
I made the mistake of taking the bus as close as it got to LaTourette Golf Course, where my hike was to begin. Did you know there were places in New York City without sidewalks? The roadwalk from the bus stop to the course was short, but it was on a busy road with literally no shoulder and short sight distances. This was in no way safe, and if you ever decide to hike the Greenbelt, just get off at the Richmond Town stop. (Or drive. Or, don't go at all.)
Richmond Town, oddly, is basically like Old Williamsburg. With no people. And no maintenance. I passed it, and the lovely St. James Church, without becoming a vehicular fatality, to arrive at the golf course.
There's nothing like a golf course to give me class anxiety. Sure, I come from middle-class-with-upper-middle-aspirations stock, but it's the kind of middle class that ends up living on the Upper West Side, not the Upper East. Unfortunately, I had to wander the course a bit before finding the trailhead, which was not located where the book said it was. But I found it and escaped the polo shirts into the woods …
… only to discover that the actual trail had little resemblance to either the book or the official map. There was no point in even trying to follow it. With a smart phone and a signal, though, I couldn't get more than momentarily displaced, though. (What was the worst that could happen? I mean, I was already in Staten Island.)
The trail started off without anything to recommend it. Yes, there were trees. At one point I glimpsed a pond. I really wouldn't recommend the Belt south of Rockland Avenue unless you live in the neighborhood and just want to tack on the miles. North of the road crossing, though, it gets more interesting. For one thing, it is slightly more hilly. For another, there are water features. And I got lucky and saw two deer - although, if pressed, I might concede the possibility that deer do at times cross roads. Lake Ohrbach was actually rather nice, as were the ponds that followed.
I had no intention of returning to the start, as the book recommended, so when I reached St. Francis woods, I left the park to find a bus. This part of the trail pops out among a neighborhood of hideous McMansions with the occasional remaining brick ranch - a sidewalkless neighborhood. With fast-moving cars. It was about a mile to the bus stop, about a third of which was on road that really shouldn't be walked.
The Greenbelt really isn't worth visiting Staten Island for. If you happen to find yourself on the island, go for it - I'm sure it's a great resource for the locals who like the outdoors. But you can get to better hiking faster (albeit more expensively) in other directions from the city.
Monday, October 14, 2013
The stairs lead to a landing with a carved niche, then to more stairs down to a bridge that crosses over the Metro North tracks. On the far side are stairs to an underpass below the West Side Highway.
The entire design is more baroque than strict utility would require, which is one of the many nice things about New York City parks.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Sunday, October 6, 2013
I walked up the west side of the park from Columbus Circle to the north woods. Of course, I've covered this ground before, but there always seem to be new things to see. In this picture, you can see the buildings of Central Park West rising above the trees.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
Fortunately, I live half a block from Riverside Park. The park is four miles long, along the Hudson River, and I have my choice of paths. It's hardly wilderness, of course, but it's a green space with a lot of variety. Even though I've walked there quite a bit, I still don't know everything about it; on one recent evening, I was surprised to find a statue of Joan of Arc.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
The doctor made four small incisions and went in arthroscopically. He cleaned up a bit of frayed tendon, but the big job was removing a bone spur. (I do have photos - let me know if you'd like to see them at your next dinner party.)
Since I wasn't put under general anesthesia, coming out was pretty easy. My arm was numb for several hours, and then I had Percocet. Contrary to what everyone told me, all it did was make me even more sleepy. I had no fun dreams or, when I stopped, withdrawal problems. I did notice that when falling asleep I tended to go into REM even before fully being asleep, but that also happens when I'm very tired, and I've been very tired ever since. The pain hasn't been much, but I've been extremely mellow and tuckered out.
My left arm was put in a sling. I am very grateful that I am right-handed, as being one-handed was a challenge. Some things, such as typing, were just slowed down. But there are things you really can't do one-handed: Dishes. Putting on a bra. Shaving the armpits. Showering was a challenge anyway, as I had to keep the dressing dry.
As of today, the dressing is off, and I don't have to wear the sling all the time. I'm supposed to start using my arm so I don't lose too much range of motion - no more trying to hit Control-Alt-Delete with one hand! Taking a shower will be so delightful!
Lots of people sent well wishes. I am especially grateful to my boss, who took me home from the surgery, and to the man, who automatically headed over to the sink to do dishes every time he came over.
Monday, September 23, 2013
As we have gotten older, we have all begun to calcify, whether we like to admit it or not. We don't plan to leave Indiana or wherever it is we live. If you love me, you have to love my cat. We have children. We have a system for doing laundry, a philosophy of breakfast, and a habit of vacations. Some of this is justifiable, like the children coming first, and some of it is arbitrary. Those of you in happy marriages are no less creatures of habit, but you have at least one other person who is growing along the same strange path as you.
Those of us who are single find that there isn't really room for someone else in our lives. They have to fit in the cracks. They can't have a different laundry system or breakfast philosophy. Their other worlds - their jobs, their family of origin, their Everest climbs - all come first for them, as ours do for us. We don't dare throw away the self we've been developing for the last twenty years to create a new world. We just wait for the near-impossible, that one other person whose puzzle piece is twisted just like ours, to come along, and then get frustrated when no one quite fits.
So happily married people, believe me when I tell you I have no idea what it is like to be in your shoes. I can imagine talking bears and mass zombification and a female president, but I can't imagine what it is to be a binary star system. I literally can't imagine someone who relies on me, compromises for me, gives things up for me, all while I do the same for them. The best I can see is one partner willing to compromise for the other, and the other willing to accept it. And I see a lot of relationships like that, too. They're not unhappy, but they're not exactly happy, either.
I don't think most of us have what it takes to enter into a successful marriage. Few enough have it when we are young, daring, and carry light baggage. We get older and build up more of everything - except nerve, which dwindles.
To my fellow single people: Are you willing to give up your house? Your city? Would you give up your job? Your career? Are you willing to be separated from your parents, to quit your favorite hobby, to stop cooking your favorite food? Are you willing to spend money on things you've derided and curtail your spending on little luxuries?
No happy relationship would require someone to give up all those things, but if we say "no" to most of these, we need to face the fact that we don't have what it takes. We will never have the successful relationship we think we want. And maybe that's okay - if we can figure out what we want live for instead.
But for those of you who are happily married, remember how lucky, and how unusual, you are.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Technically, that chunk of land on the right is not the Bronx, though. It's a neighborhood called Marble Hill that is politically a part of Manhattan, but geographically part of the Bronx.
And technically, the Harlem River is not a river but a tidal strait, and technically, this part of it is a canal dug to make shipping easier. It was the building of the canal that lopped poor Marble Hill off of Manhattan.
That piece of Jersey is Englewood Cliffs; the "cliffs" are the Palisades, which you can only see in this photo if you look very closely. This particular chunk of cliff is the subject of a land-use dispute; a company has been given a permit to build an enormous office building that will dramatically change the character of the scenery.
Monday, September 9, 2013
I can't tell you what the ten best hikes in the country are, but I can tell you what the worst hikes I've done are. All of these hikes were more than merely uninteresting. Some are bad hikes, even under ideal conditions. A few were just marred by unfortunate events.
Peninsula Trail or Sycamore Loop, Indiana. Okay, I did both of these the same weekend and didn't take pictures, so I can't remember which trail it was that was second-growth forest. Young forest isn't unusual, but what made this hike so dreary was that the trees had been planted in rows.
Land Between the Lakes, Tennessee. I've never been able to warm up to this area. I don't find it particularly scenic, but it is particularly ticky. Coming from Nashville, at least, there are so many other better choices that are closer.
Fall Creek Falls, Tennessee. Lovely area. Even this trip had its good parts, like playing in the waterfalls. However, our hike was cut short by angry hornets that scattered our party into two groups and left most of the group nursing stings. (This was after our close encounter with a copperhead.)
Cedars of Lebanon, Tennessee. This is a pretty nice park, and I like the cedar glades of Middle Tennessee. But I did a solo hike there one time where the trail was incredibly poorly marked and, even worse, liberally criss-crossed with spiderwebs. I had the heebie-jeebies for weeks after coming eyeball-to-eyeball with so many spiders.
Pelham Bay, New York. If you take public transit to this hike, you have a 50% chance of being run over as you walk the shoulderless road with cars blazing by just to reach the trailhead. The trail itself is in desperate need of maintenance. Even if it were cleaned up, though, there wouldn't be much "there" there.
Water Valley Overlook, Tennessee. This section of the Natchez Trace was so unpleasant we actually elected to return by the road. The biggest problem, besides few rewards, is that it is also a heavily-used horse trail, and every quarter-mile or so you have to stop to shake mud off of your unbearably heavy boots. Don't do this one barefoot. Pro tip: Leave horse trails to the horses if they get heavy use.
Pennyrile Trail, Kentucky. 13.5 miles, and only the first two or so are remotely interesting. Worse, the trail was created by one man with a vision. Cool in theory, but in practice the trail isn't properly built or maintained, so for about ten of those miles you're walking with one foot higher than the other.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Breakneck Ridge is one of the major hikes in the NYC area. The view of Storm King from Breakneck is featured on the covers of both of my area hiking guides, and, supposedly, Trails.com chose it as one of their 10 best day hikes in the country, which is a bold claim for anything around here. I finally decided to do it on my own.
My planned route would take me from the Breakneck Ridge stop on the Metro North line, up Breakneck, and back down via the Undercliff trail. Apparently, the Thing To Do if you are a Real Hiker* is to go along the ridge to the fire tower. On my first trip up there, solo, out of shape, and with a bum shoulder, I decided merely to reach the ridge.
If you take the train, you might as well hike with a group; about 20 people exited the train and started up the mountain at the same time with me. If you really want solitude, drive, be super-fast, or hang back for a half hour. However, I doubt you'll ever find true solitude anywhere on these trails.
After the short road walk, the trail starts off gentle for, oh, five feet, before turning into a scramble. It takes all four limbs to get up 700 feet in half a mile, nearly all of it pure rock. I probably shouldn't climb boulders with my shoulder, but I threw caution to the slight breeze and headed up, albeit carefully. This was the hardest part of the hike, but I imagine it would be even harder coming down if you elected to return the same way.
Breakneck is on the east side of the Hudson, and I soon had Storm King photos of my own. This area was the home base of the Hudson River School, and there are at least four HRS paintings of Storm King. This painting by Pope is probably my favorite. One thing you'll notice in any of the paintings that also depict the river: There were a lot more boats plying the Hudson back in the day.
From Breakneck you can also see Bannerman Island with its ruined mansion. Supposedly, it was destroyed by fire, but I prefer to think it was taken down by HULK SMASH.
After following the white-blazed Breakneck Ridge trail up to more or less the top, I turned down the blue trail and onto the red. This section doesn't have any amazing views, although it does have the ruins of a dairy. My brief excursion on the red trail did have a nice brook running by it. I joined the Undercliff trail (having missed the part of it that was actually under a cliff), following it to a junction with the white trail that led down to the town of Cold Spring. This photo is taken from one of the few scenic vantage points facing the Hudson on the Undercliff. For perspective, the trail started just on the other side of those tunnels. This section of trail isn't as interesting, and I was surprised to see a lot of people starting to come up it in the early afternoon.
I finished by wandering across the highway to Little Stony Point, which was almost entirely devoid of interest, and into Cold Spring. For my Oregon friends, Cold Spring is the New York version of Jacksonville. It's an hour from the city, very quaint, and not at all cheap. I couldn't afford a house, so I bought an ice cream cone instead.
The hike was undoubtedly the nicest I've done in the region so far, but one of the ten best in the country? That rating is probably due in part to its proximity to a major urban area. I doubt many people have sufficient day-hiking experience all over the country to really compare-and-contrast. One other note: My hiking guide rated a shorter version of this hike, 5.9 miles long, as taking seven hours. I went about eight miles in four hours, and I don't like to hike fast when I'm going alone. I passed a few novices and large groups, but plenty of folks were zipping by me.
*Some people use scare quotes; I go German with my capitalization.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
At lunch, we performed John Cage's 4'33" and Imaginary Landscape #4, albeit with slightly fewer radios than the score called for.
Near the end of the hike, we may have fudged a few coin tosses to get us out in time. We passed by the Van Skyke Castle and Ramapo Lake, which were really the only scenic highlights of the day.
The hike ended up being 12.9 miles.
Monday, August 26, 2013
I don't want to commit to joining a gym, since I have no intention of staying for a year, and taking up a new activity involves a steep learning curve and not enough vigorous exercise. I've been walking some, but that's low-key compared to two hours of capoeira, as is Pilates.
I finally found an activity I can do that burns a lot of calories, keeps muscles strong, and doesn't involve my shoulder - spin class. Never mind that I don't really like it. (After all, people are perfectly capable of riding an exercise bike on their own; it's just too damn boring to do it unless someone is threatening you.) I can do it until my arm is sufficiently recovered to take on more interesting exercise, and at least that way I won't be coming back from zero.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
We spent two nights in Pacific CIty in a cabin by the beach. My favorite thing about the Oregon coast? The entire thing is public land, so you can walk from Washington to California if you wish - although most Oregonians recommend heading away from California whenever possible.
The revised trip didn't involve as much hiking as our original version, but we did walk along the beach to Haystack Rock. (There is another Haystack Rock further north - more on that later.) In addition to the rock, there is this magnificent dune. It's a stiff climb up, but then you can run and leap back down.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Even that trail is well-used, thanks to the butte's location close to the city. The route was mostly easy to follow, although there were a lot of shortcuts carved out by impatient hikers.
The view from the top was nice in all directions. I wouldn't travel cross-country just to get here, but many other cities don't have a "local" hike as nice as this.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
The hike starts off with a mile on the Pacific Crest Trail before turning off to head up Soda Mountain, a wilderness area in the national forest. The path connects to a service road, which you follow for a mile to the top.
At the top there is a fire tower and, under normal circumstances, spectacular views. While the views were obscured by the smoke, the trail itself was pretty enough to make it a worthwhile hike.
Friday, July 19, 2013
I've started going to capoeira class again, although I'm doing nothing at all on my left arm, and I realize even three weeks off leaves me out of shape. Also, it's hot in there, even with the a/c on. Everything about being back in New York is great, except for the heat wave we are in!
I'm gearing up for the school year, but unfortunately I'm missing a few important events. I fully intended to go to LIM's convocation - then I got a jury duty summons for that same day. And I'll miss Baruch's adjunct orientation because it's the day I come back from Oregon.
That's right - in less than a week I have to leave for Oregon for a family event. Hello New York, goodbye New York.
Monday, July 15, 2013
- No hot water heaters. Taps at the sinks only have cold water; hot water is generated at the shower. Incidentally, in the shower you can only control the temperature and not the pressure. While both are sufficient, you can't get a truly hot, invigorating shower by American standards. Then again, they shower more often than us, so perhaps they don't regard it as therapy.
- No TP flushing. Either the sewage systems or the toilets themselves aren't as robust as the North American versions. Everywhere you go, you are expected to toss your toilet paper, not flush it.
- Tight clothes. Brazilian women aren't terrified the Body Shame Enforcement Police will be called to the scene if they wear spandex after 40 or over a 28 BMI.
- Fences and gates. In the U.S., only really expensive homes have meaningful walls and gates, and only homes in very inexpensive neighborhoods have window bars. In Brazil, every middle-class house has both.
- Paving stones. I don't know if this is a regional thing, but many of the sidewalks and non-arterial streets have paving stones rather than asphalt/pavement. The sidewalks aren't close to ADA-compliant anyway, and the stones do make repairs easy.
- No tipping. Tipping isn't really a thing in Brazil. Related to that, in restaurants, even nicer ones, you generally go up to the counter to pay.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Barra da Lagoa is a neighborhood bounded by the lake to the west, the canal to the south, and the ocean to the east, although a small part of the 'hood is south of the canal. One of the main attractions is the beach; I was more interested in the trail to the lighthouse, which I couldn't find much good information on. So I arrived at the beach with a vague notion that the trail was south of the canal and easy.
Right off the bus you can see two structures that are lighthouses on a miniature scale. If this was all the "farols" were, I was going to be disappointed. I crossed over the footbridge to the south side of the canal and found myself in Azorean "streets" - hilly, twisty, concrete footpaths. One direction led to an obvious path along the shore. The end of the trail was an enormous boulder with a nice view of the ocean, Barra da Lagoa, and the hill. It wasn't until I turned around to look at the hill that I was certain the lighthouse was real.
Then, the trick was to find the trail. I had several false starts, one of which resulted in muddy feet (pro tip: Don't hike in Havaianas). It turns out the trail to the lighthouse is only about 30 feet or so after the trail sign. Ironically, I hadn't noticed it on my way in, and I ran into some women on my way out who found it while actually trying to get to the big rock. The trail is not well maintained and is quite steep, and I wasn't sure I was even on the right path until I finally peeped the tall structure close to the top.
At the foot of the lighthouse there was a nice 360 view, but, even better, the lighthouse door was open. Unlike some lighthouses that have accommodations, this one is just a tube with a ladder. Obviously, I climbed it. The top was windy but had an even better view.
Aside from the nice hike (which was not easy, given the rapid elevation gain), I was surprised to like Barra da Lagoa as well as I did. The beach was nice, although at this point I'm succumbing to Beach Fatigue. The neighborhood has a strong Azorean influence, rather like Costa da Lagoa, and a substantial tourist infrastructure.
This was my last big Floripan adventure: Tomorrow I head for home.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
- Read books made out of paper
- Sort through my mail
- Get my hair cut
- Sort through my pajamas
- Wear summer clothes
- Watch Much Ado About Nothing
- Use my Metrocard
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
"Travel to Brazil" has been crossed off, because, in case you haven't noticed, well … here I am. Related to that, my Portuguese is improving but is in no way close to fluent.
Doing macaco, holding a handstand, traversing the swing-a-ring, and doing Annapurna are all off-limits to me due to my ongoing tendonosis. (You can't do Annapurna with a roller bag.)
The novel … that's something I'm thinking about. Get back to you later.
That leaves practicing my Portuguese, which I can continue to do, and walking across a slackline. I don't have a yard to practice in, but I could get one anyway. Hey, I'm going camping soon.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
I'm been surprised by some things, though. I really miss American-style breakfast, even though five days a week at home I have a protein shake. Brazilians don't do hot food at breakfast.
However, there are some things Brazil doesn't do so well at:
- Cheese: To be fair, it is possible to find good cheese. It's not that the technology isn't there. However, the vast majority of cheese in grocery stories is pre-sliced and tastes processed.
- Juice: Ironic, given how much fruit grows here, and that you can get fresh juices in many restaurants. But everything at the grocery store is what in America would be labelled "juice drink." Lots of sugar, and it tastes watery.
- Yogurt: They like it more liquid here. I don't mind liquid if it's unsweet (like raita), but I can't handle this stuff.
- Coffee: Brazil has a reputation for good coffee, and it's deserved. It's very strong, and the Brazilians are genius enough to serve it with hot milk.
- Por kilos: These buffet-style lunch spots vary in quality, but the better ones are far better than any American buffet.
Saturday, July 6, 2013
This is a little ways back from the beach, in between the dunes and the shore.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
I visited both sides. The water is at a seven-year high, so a few trails on the Argentina side were closed. Of course, the falls were spectacular on both. This photo is of the view from the Brazilian side.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
(Side story: When we moved to North Carolina, for reasons still unclear to me the school did not have a playground, just fields. It did have one of these. We quickly realized this is way less fun than it looks at first glance.)
They never really took off, maybe because in most of the country the weather is too unpleasant much of the year for anyone to get in the habit. But in Floripa, they are all over the place. Many of them are much fancier than this one, like this one in Curitiba - notice, they even have cardio equipment - and, yes, I see people using them.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Brazilian hiking websites aren't very informative, and it's not just my poor Portuguese that's a problem. They say things like, "Location: Go to the Corrego Grande neighborhood." Yes, by george, that tells me exactly where to find the trailhead!
Let me be specific: Get to the TITRI bus station, and take the 163 - Corrego Grande or 164 - Corrego Grande Pacao bus. I believe the latter drops you off right at the trailhead. The former stops at the bottom of Rua Sebastiao Laurentino da Silva; it's a 10-minute walk up to the trailhead. The sign for the trail is hidden by trees, so just look for this mural.
The hike is maybe 15 minutes, and there is only one hesitation point; when you come to a junction, go left. You're not going to get lost, and you don't have to be in great shape. At the end, whoa, hey, there is a 15-foot-tall waterfall. I saw more Americans there, incidentally, than I have in all my previous weeks here.
On the return, I was curious as to where the other trail went. As the Ghostbusters say, "It goes up." It popped me out at the end of a residential street, and even though I'd never been there before, I quickly knew exactly where I was. (Believe me, I was proud of that!) So, there is an alternate route to the falls: Follow Rua Rosa near UFSC up, up, up, take its left fork, keep going, and then find a trail where the road ends.
Unfortunately, after the lovely weekend, it's back to rain for the Magic Island.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
Saturday morning dawned clear, though, so I decided to hit the beach. I went to the east side of the island to see Praia Mole, one of the big surf beaches. Surfers were out, catching moderate waves. From Praia Mole, I walked to Praia da Galheta, just north but inaccessible by car.
Praia da Galheta is clothing optional, although I didn't see a single naked person. Supposedly there is more nudity in the summer.
Both beaches are quite beautiful. Praia Mole is, I hear, jammed wall-to-wall with people in the summer, but at this time of year it was simply not empty. There are a couple of surf schools, and a few restaurants, but I wouldn't describe it as "overbuilt." (Try the beach in Honolulu for that.) Galheta has no vehicular access, and thus almost no buildings.
I suggest staying on the main trail when traipsing between the two beaches. The side trails don't go anywhere except to dead-end private thickets rich with condom-wrapper litter. I'm much more disturbed by littering than random gay sex, but if someone is so short of privacy they're willing to have sex in pokey shrubbery, I'll let them have that privacy.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Outside of this small historic area, the downtown is full of unexceptional high-rises. The other tourist point in the area is the Hercilio Luz Bridge. Now closed and finally being restored, it was the first bridge that connected the island to the mainland.
Speaking of bridges, yesterday the other two bridges were shut due to protests. Folks have asked if I'm affected by the protests that are sweeping Brazil, and the answer is, not really. You can compare it to Occupy Wall Street - it was easy to avoid if you weren't in a major city such as New York, and Floripa is the country's 51st largest city. The protests that are happening here are downtown, not near where I am staying.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
The trail is 7 km one-way, with surprising ups and downs for a trail on the edge of a lake. It starts off from a dead-end road, proceeding into a pleasant forest with occasional houses and cabins. It eventually opens up, with more homes and fewer trees, and there you are in Costa da Lagoa.
It's hard to photograph the town itself without being intrusive, so I don't have many great pictures of it. However, the hike itself is very nice.
Just past the town is a trail to Ratatones. I did not follow it, but I may do so a later day.
Monday, June 10, 2013
The second week, I stayed with a friend near the university. As the crow flies, it isn't that far from where the Mestre teaches, but it's 3 buses and two walks - she suggested I give it three hours. I didn't have directions until Wednesday, but I was told the Wednesday night class wouldn't be a good one for me.
Thursday I tried to go to a Professor's class in the neighborhood, but I couldn't find it. (This was my first major navigation fail.)
Friday night, I did get a ride to Mestre's roda - thank you very much, Beluga!
This week I moved to the neighborhood of Lagoa. It's one bus away from Mestre - I could stay closer, but the closer hostels are a long walk from grocery stores, etc. Maybe I should have gone with one of them, as I discovered today there is a bus strike. It's an hour and a half walk, and not on streets I want to walk after dark. If I go Wednesday, I will leave early and hang out after dark.
The best-laid plans!
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Well, I have to say, the folks who knew less about Brazil were right. At night it gets cool enough that pants and a light jacket or sweater are nice, but during the day it's been in the 70s and sunny. It's too warm, if one is outside, for jeans and long sleeves.
Now, the locals may beg to differ; I've seen plenty of long sleeves and jeans. I even saw an absurd girl wearing a turtleneck today. For every person I see bundled up, though, I see one in shorts and a tank. And they don't have Yooper blood in their veins - I'm built to withstand cold, not heat.
I may find myself buying some lighter clothes.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
I have been running a few errands and working - not so exciting, alas - but today I went to the neighborhood of Lagoa. It's near the big lake on the island, and it's where most of the nightlife is. It's also much closer to where the capoeira classes are. (As the crow flies, the classes aren't even far from here, but unfortunately I am not a crow, and taking three buses is a bit much.) I didn't expect to like the Lagoa area, as nightlife isn't my thing, but I was surprised. Perhaps because it's winter and the off-season - the summer might be too crazy. There is a lot more within easy walking distance there, and the lake itself is very nice.
Hopefully, tomorrow, I will finally get to do capoeira! There is a student of Mestre Calunga's who teaches close to the university, within walking distance even.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
I went on a hike. It wends its way from Praia do Solidao to Praia do Saquinho and onto a viewpoint I didn't reach. Much of the path is paved in a narrow strip (pictured here), about a foot wide. Past Saquinho, it passes several houses reachable only by this path. Unfortunately, I was overdressed for the hike (the weather was cloudy and chilly when I left but rapidly got warmer), and then I was stopped by a dog who would not let me pass. So, I didn't make it all the way to the viewpoint.
On Sunday, I was picked up by a friend and returned to the city - much faster by car than by bus!
Friday, May 31, 2013
My adventure began before I even left New York, though. Sunday night I checked to confirm my Monday-morning flight, only to find out that it had been moved up to Sunday night. As I was not at JFK ready to board, this was not going to happen. A call to TAM and then a call to my travel agent later, it was fixed, with a new departure time of Monday night.
So, Monday night I take off, don't sleep at all, and land in Rio. All I can report from Rio is that the air smells very nice, and that customs was no issue at all. Then it was on to Florianopolis on a regional jet - although I was surprised because it was an Airbus, not an Embraer, which is stupid, because not all American airlines use Boeings, right? Three buses later I was on the beach at Pantano do Sul checking into my hostel, followed by showering, eating, and napping.
My second day was comprised mostly of grading, as I had a deadline, broken up only by a walk along the beach. Song of the day: "The tide goes in, the tide goes out, the tide plays pinochle on your snout."
On the third day I hiked the trail to Lagoinha do Leste, a beach reachable only on foot. It's named for the s-shaped lagoon you see in the photo, which isn't visible from the beach itself. To get this shot, I had to hike up a nice little hill which, unlike the ones you can see here, is not tree-covered. It's, uh, possible that I may have gotten lost on the way down, and may have entertained dark thoughts about breaking my leg, while "Call Me Al" ran through my head, but if I did do that, I wouldn't admit that here where my mom could read it.
This morning I went in search of an ATM so I can pay my hostel bill. The ATM was having issues (I wasn't the only customer having problems), and it appears to have recorded two transactions, only one of which actually gave me money. I don't look forward to fighting the bank about this. I went for another beach walk, and then I figured out why my laptop has been vibrating - apparently the power supply isn't grounded. Splendid! I have work to do that requires my laptop, although, uh, blogging isn't part of that work. Also, I was feeling sorry for myself; I am tired of conversations that are short, difficult, and instrumental. Also, I'm used to doing capoeira in the evenings. Also, I miss having someone massage my shoulder when it is acting up. Today's theme song: Marinheiro So.
Tomorrow, I have no idea what I am doing. Watching my laptop explode, maybe? Going for another hike? Eating badly? (You have no idea. I'm reverting to how I eat when I am camping. Food, that's a whole other post.) Then Sunday, it'll be on to the metropolis.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
I will be spending my time in Florianopolis. (If you know your Brazilian geography, skip to the next paragraph.) It's in the state of Santa Catarina, in the far south of the country. Only one state, Rio Grande do Sul, is south of it. To the north is Parana. The Atlantic Ocean is to the east, and the tiny west border is shared with a thin finger of Argentina, with Paraguay on the other side of it. The city of Florianopolis is on an island, and it is the capital.
It's not necessarily the logical place to go (although it's not some obscure backwater I'm ultra-cool for discovering). Obviously, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are the biggest tourist destinations in Brazil. Most capoeristas travel to Salvador, the stronghold of capoeira. And more adventurous types head off into the Amazon rain forest. Floripa is actually fairly popular among South American travelers. It's known for its nightlife and surfing. If you know me, well … maybe I'll try surfing!
So, why there? I wanted to go to Brazil, and I wanted to do capoeira. But as I was traveling alone, I wanted to go somewhere I'd at least know someone. I don't have any besties in Floripa, but I have met a couple of Capoeira Angola Palmares teachers from there, and they have beautiful games. So, why not? I'm sure I will have other opportunities to see the rest of the country.
I don't have much of a plan yet. I'll spend the first week on the far south of the island near Pantano do Sul, a sleepy village. No capoeira, I don't think, but some nice hiking. After that I'll head up to the city. At some point, I want to get on a bus and head to Iguacu Falls. And that's it! Everything else is up in the air.
*Harry Potter reference.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
When I first did the hike years ago, there was a detour that led up a ladder to an overlook, and back to the main trail via another ladder. However, not long after, a major storm destroyed both ladders, and the overlook trail was closed. I was excited to see on this trip that it was reopened. Now, only one ladder is open, so you return to the trail the way you came. But it's nice to have this option back.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Of course, I hate watching myself on video (who doesn't?), whether it's footage of me playing capoeira or teaching a graduate class. Every mistake seems magnified, and (as someone at Vanderbilt's Center for Teaching said to me), everyone thinks their butt looks too big. Sure enough, there was plenty to critique in my play.
However, I was pleasantly shocked by the video. Since I had last been captured on either still or moving film, my form had improved remarkably. My entire posture and carriage looked different. Frankly, I was possibly too relieved to fully absorb the critique I received.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Comparing MOOCs to MP3s is a big miss, I think. Why? Downloading and consuming an MP3 is a lot like downloading and consuming a book, right? But reading a book on your own is different than studying it in an English class. Oh, sure, you can go out and also read up on literary criticism and whatnot. But at the end of the day, in an English class the professor gives you a grade and the school (and the accreditor) approves it. No one checks up on the autodidact's reading, even if she blogs about it.
The crucial function of higher education institutions has never been learning - it's credentialing. That's what a lot of the new-model boosters miss.
(It's not that colleges don't provide learning, and typically learning superior to what the autodidact picks up - autodidacts tend to have knowledge gaps and pet theories because they have no one to challenge their thinking. But, frankly, for most workaday applications, dedicated autodidacy is enough.)
In the tech world, the badge system is beginning to have an impact. But it's very different to credential one skill than it is to credential the multifarious outcomes that comprise a baccalaureate degree. Employers aren't going to sort through a long list of MOOCs and non-traditional experiences to decide if they are "enough," not when another candidate has a traditional degree from a known institution.
Traditional colleges aren't going to take on the task of credentialling these students - it would cannibalize one of their core revenue sources. Potentially, a new organization(s) could arise to do so, of course. If MOOCs end up changing higher ed, it would be in this way.
Learning and credentialling don't have to be tied together, but it's important to consider both acts. Discussing traditional education as if its role is only to offer learning strikes me as naive.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Friday, January 18, 2013
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Sunday, January 6, 2013
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Remember, ages ago, I attempted to circumnavigate Manhattan, but gave up? Then again in the summer I started where I left off, but gave up because walking without shade when it's over 90F out is just dumb. Well, today I gave it another go. I wasn't committed to the full eight miles remaining. But I needed some gentle cardio and can't wear a backpack at the moment, so I decided to do as much as I felt like. I started back at Lincoln Center and headed south along the Hudson.
Only ten blocks in I saw this super-cool bottle/submarine. The inside is kitted out like a stainless steel personal submarine. (And, yes, a little later I saw an actual submarine at the Intrepid museum.) The weather was actually pleasant and sunny, despite it being winter. I walked as far as Chelsea Piers, which I had never been to previously. I decided at that point to cut over to the subway, but changed my mind and headed up the High Line instead.
I haven't actually been on the High Line in two years, and a new section has opened up. I took it to the end and then caught the train at 34th St. So, I still have to do the Chelsea Piers-South Ferry segment. Another day!