Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The bridges of Gowanus

By Sunday, I felt up to a slightly longer walk, so on a whim (with a push from J), I decided to walk across all the (pedestrian) bridges of the Gowanus Canal.

Up first, we have the Union St. Bridge. (All photos are looking north from the respective bridges.)

Gowanus canal

Next, the Carroll St. Bridge.

Gowanus canal

Third St.

Gowanus canal

Ninth St.

Gowanus canal

Hamilton Ave.

Gowanus canal

And last, a bonus bridge, at the Fourth St. Basin. If you look at a map, it shows the basin terminating west of the street, but in fact in terminates just east of it. Unlike the above photos, this is of the bridge, rather than from it.

Gowanus canal

Monday, May 29, 2017

LASIK recovery update


Lasik recovery is going quite well from a medical standpoint. I've had very little discomfort, although I've been quite tired. No doubt healing eyeballs is work, but also I've had mild cramps all week and my allergies are kicking in, so it's hard to know exactly how to apportion blame.

From an amusement standpoint, it's a totally different outlook. The day after surgery, I had a meeting, a work lunch, and commencement, which was all I could handle, even with an aggressive nap in there. The next day was better, but I quickly ran up against the limits of my amusement. Reading for any extended period was out, as was television. A two-mile walk left me tired - again, allergies or eyes, it was a toss-up, but I certainly don't want to harass my eyes with pollen.

J is out of commission with some crud, so there was no one to entertain me on command. I tried a recorded short story but couldn't concentrate on it. Having listened to books on tape before, maybe it was just the narrator. I tried several podcasts, which are not a Thing I Do, and now I know why - mostly I was frustrated at listening to something I could read in a third of the time. I finally found one I like, the Bowery Boys. It's tightly written, without all the chatter of morning radio show hosts.

It turned out there were a couple of things I could do, though. One, cleaning. My apartment was already pretty clean, but now I've cleaned things you didn't even know could be cleaned. (No worries, no nasty chemicals or kicking up dust allowed.) Two, I could cook. I finally made a sourdough that worked - kind of a cheater, though, since it also used yeast.

I have taken a few walks, although nothing strenuous. The photos at top and bottom are from Riverside Park.

Spring flora

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Laser eyes!

This week, I am having LASIK surgery. It requires that I wear my glasses for two weeks prior, which is a good reminder of just how annoying they are. They get dirty, my peripheral vision is shot, they slide down my nose, I can't wear sunglasses, and it's hard to be active. Contacts, of course, are a vast improvement, but they don't work in all situations - it was much easier to do the Long Trail without worrying about contact hygiene.

The doctor tells me my vision should be pretty good the next morning. However, my eyes will be healing, so I'll need to avoid/reduce some activities for a week. Specifically:

  • No swimming
  • No eye makeup
  • No "dusty, dirty environments"
  • No TV
  • No long bouts of reading
  • No driving
  • No going to the gym
The day immediately after is commencement, so I do have to work, but luckily that mostly involves sitting there. But then it's a four-day weekend, and I can't hike, can't read, can't binge-watch Netflix ... what, exactly, am I supposed to do?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

We came, we saw, we Sauntered

Great Saunter

I've always intended to get around to the Great Saunter someday, although admittedly I wasn't in a hurry (and let's be honest, that's partially because there is no patch). But an opportunity came up this year when a friend's husband had to cancel on her, so there I was, standing at the oldest tavern in Manhattan early last Saturday morning, ready to walk 32 miles. Or at least as ready as one can get, which is to say, not really.

For the record: The Saunter is not actually 32 miles. No, if E's calculations were correct, it's almost 36 miles. The distance varies slightly from year to year based on detours, but underestimating by at least three miles is significant. I demand credit for all my steps!

Also: 3 mph, the advertised speed, is not a saunter. Sauntering is 1, 2 mph tops. Sauntering is "without effort" per one dictionary.

Now with that out of the way, back to the story. We got off to a reasonably fast start. The Saunter goes clockwise, starting with the more scenic west side. I don't just say that as a biased west sider - not as much of the east side has been developed as a greenway, and in fact a considerable chunk of the east side is away from the water. Eventually, we saw the George Washington Bridge in the distance. And kept seeing it. For miles.

Great Saunter

The downside of finally passing the bridge is that the route actually goes uphill after being flat all morning, leaving the water for the first significant stretch, then uphill again into Inwood Park. The park is the official lunch spot, but we saw people stopping before then, and I can't blame them. We were getting pretty hungry and ready for a break. (Yes, we had snacks. We're not animals.)

After food, rest, and sock changes, we were good to start down the east side of Manhattan. There is a good chunk in Harlem where you're on the water, but the park isn't nicely developed. One thing you can see on this journey is where the city likes to put its money - then again, you can see the same thing by comparing subway stops across the boroughs and neighborhoods.

Anyway, after this, the route cuts inward, and farther than usual this year because of some construction. The neighborhoods are perfectly fine (except for the creepy police mural. Seriously, is that the eye of Sauron up there?), but walking inland is not what is advertised. We were ready to get back to the water - and we did, into the plush environs of the Upper East Side. See, even the statuary is classier on the UES.

Great Saunter

The exhaustion was starting to kick in hard around here. After we somehow missed another set of restrooms, we cut inland a couple of blocks early to hit up Starbucks. Coffee never tasted so good! Then we passed the United Nations and were back at the waterfront, and honestly I couldn't tell you much from there. There was a lot of walking, and tiredness, and grim determination. But we got through the last few miles - once you see the Brooklyn Bridge, you really have no excuse to quit anymore. We even managed to miss the forecast rain, with only a few gentle drops falling on us as we returned to the tavern.

So there you go: The Great Saunter.

Great Saunter

Friday, May 5, 2017

Hiking through Sterling State Forest

Sterling State Forest
Spring had appeared seemingly overnight a week ago, so by Sunday's hike in Sterling State Forest, it was green everywhere. The hills were still visible through the trees, and the weather was a pleasant 60-something (after being in the 80s the previous day). It was the perfect day for a tough 15-mile hike with the Ramblers along the Appalachian Trail.

We hiked through Sterling State Forest, starting near Arden and ending at the Bellvale Creamery - spoiler alert, probably the best way to end a hike. I'd done parts of the hike before, mostly in the second half, although the first time, it rained. (The second time was a backpacking trip in the opposite direction.) This time we added a little fillip onto it by adding a loop using the new Doris Duke Trail.

The end of the hike was the most spectacular part, going over Cat Rocks and ending at the creamery.

Sterling State Forest