Adventures with Aly

First, though

a bit of wrap-up from yesterday. When Rachel and I returned from hiking yesterday, we encountered Aly boating with Grandpa Bill in the peapod and Leah playing on the rocks with Grandma Jan, having a great time with their grandparents in Maine.

Now, onto the aforementioned adventures

Aly fancies herself an adventurer, and at low tide, we can trudge out to two islands, so we did that this morning. The first island has the oft-photographed storage shack and two lobster cars, which are floating pens that are used to stage lobster, though these two particular lobster cars always seem to be on this island instead of in operation. The island also contains a lot of various junk, including tires, transmission components, cables, ropes, etc. It also has some brightly colored tide pools which make fine photographic subjects.

One final note. Leah says that vacation is tiring.


And here’s Aly in the same “camping bed” at a slightly older age.

Click on a thumbnail to open the full-size gallery, then use your left and right arrow keys to navigate.



Edgar Tennis Preserve

About a ten-minute drive from downtown Stonington, the Edgar Tennis Preserve is another beautiful shore area maintained by the Island Heritage Trust. Rachel and I hiked there on a sunny Sunday afternoon, doing both the loops that travel along the water (about 3 miles total of easy hiking, with a few rock scrambles along the way). Similar to the quarry hike, there are few parking spots available, perhaps 7 total. The views throughout the walks are stunning – ocean views, tidal bay views, and mossy forests dotted with ferns.

This hike wouldn’t have been a good one for the girls, as the footing was strewn with roots and rocks. The spongy forest floor made for cushioned walking, and also entertained Rachel as she watched the ground squish beneath my footfalls. We spotted few people along this trail, but among the dozen or so we did see, one was yapping loudly into her cell phone as her family marched along with hanging heads. The forests were mixed evergreen and birch, but we saw no living birch trees through the hike – all the birch was on the ground and looked as if some pest had destroyed them all from the inside out. We highly recommend this series of trails and will certainly visit again.


Click on a thumbnail to open the full-size gallery, then use your left and right arrow keys to navigate.





Settlement Quarry

Worth a second look

On Sunday morning, we took Leah to Settlement Quarry, which is just a short drive from downtown Stonington. We’ve been by the quarry before on our way to various nautical experiences with Bill Baker at Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, but had not hiked through it previously. Part of the Island Heritage Trust, there are scant few parking places at the trailhead. It takes about ten minutes of uphill walking along a two-track trail to reach the top of the quarry, but the scenery while hiking along the trail is gorgeous forest. We also encountered an abandoned furnace near the summit.


The payoff

Upon reaching the summit, we were immediately rewarded with spectacular views across the entire range of vision. The blasted remains of granite sheets stretched downhill all the way to the water, though the slope is not too treacherous for easy footing. We enjoyed this so much that we came back on Monday with Aly for another fun hike.


Click on a thumbnail to open the full-size gallery, then use your left and right arrow keys to navigate.




Fog & Tide Pools

Saturday morning

arrived with what the folks around here call “ribbon fog” weaving around the islands in our view. It made for a picturesque view of the old lighthouse and some neighboring islands.


The fog didn’t seem to hamper the sea gulls’ ability to pursue the bait boat as it made stops around the harbor.


Ocean’s eleven

Degrees, that is. Aly got the idea that she really wanted to go swimming and after wading in to about waist depth, she used her singsong sweet voice to request my presence in the water. In a moment of temporary insanity, it sounded refreshing and I agreed to put on my suit and join her. Without a doubt, this is the coldest water I have ever submerged myself in. If you’ve ever watched males try to wade into cold water, they seem to get very timid when the water is just below waist level. Well, let me tell you, this water made my knees hurt and my quads hurt before it even got to that level. After a few minutes of whining, I finally flopped into the water, swam out a little bit, and then decided I’d better swim back in, since the cold had knocked all the air out of my chest. It was not refreshing.


I asked Aly later if she’d go back in and she said “I don’t think so, Dad.”

After that, Grandpa Bill took the girls for a boat ride in the water tender, the lone motorized vessel among his armada.


Leah enjoyed a quick snack in the kitchen before dinner:


Sunset and seaglass

After dinner, I wandered out with my camera during low tide and got some pictures of the contents of a few tide pools.


Click on a thumbnail to open the full-size gallery, then use your left and right arrow keys to navigate.



shit my blog says

Work team outing to Saugatuck

We started with lunch

What else would we start with? Unfortunately, we have no pictures of the wonderful lunch at The Mermaid restaurant in Saugatuck. I’m sure you’d all love to see Louis’ Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich w/Fries (or mine), Karla’s Shrimp Bowl, Amy’s salad, Janene’s veggie burger and whatever Steve and Jef ordered. So the committee apologizes for the lack for visual imagery regarding lunch consumption.



Three days of Sleeping Bear sunsets

We stayed at The Homestead in Glen Arbor, which is a large development of condos along the lakeshore, and we stayed in the Logger’s Run section. Our condo was fairly high up in the trees, which yielded tremendous views of the sunsets each night.  I shot tons of pictures with my EF-S 17-55mm lens and 75-300mm lens, along with a batch shot with a rented 10-22mm Canon lens. I also had a visitor one night who very nearly got up on the deck with me:


Travel, Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World December 2011 Trip Report

The travlin’

This was our second trip on AirTran, after our trip out east this summer. We upgraded to business class both ways when we checked in online for our flights, and it was worth every penny. We picked the first row on both flights, and it worked out great to have the extra room for Leah, and the endless animal crackers for Aly. The crews on both flights were polite, friendly, and engaging, which is a nice departure from what we had been accustomed to flying NWA and Delta over the years. Aly got to spend quite a while in the cockpit on both ends of the southbound leg, and another good chunk of time in the cockpit upon our return to GRR. The pilots were great with her in both instances, and she absolutely loved it – can’t say enough good things about AirTran at this point. 10/10 for air travel.




The Perfect Camera Strap – Luma Loop Review

Ed note 11/16/11: I just realized that Luma has stopped making the Luma Loop, because of an aggressive patent awarded to a competitor. This is a shame, as this is a great camera strap. See this statement about the patent on their website.

If you take pictures with a DSLR camera, you should check out the Luma Loop camera strap. I saw someone using one this spring and immediately asked what it was, having never seen anything quite like it. The guy told me it was a Luma Loop, and he loved it – after taking a close-up look at his, I knew I needed my own.