End of the Line

The C train slowly emptied as we crept east away from Manhattan. Consumed by my book, Let My People Go Surfing, I lost track of the stops. Forty five minutes after leaving Columbus Circle, the C emerged from a tunnel into residential Brooklyn.

Distracted by the changing scenery and influx of light, I started reading the same sentences over and over again. Taking this as a hint, I zipped my book back into my backpack and focused on the new surroundings. The "Kuchunk Chunk Chunk," of the subway zipping eastward punctuated Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" as I looked back at the retreating Manhattan skyline.

I had left Midtown wearing an RRL flannel shirt, and the weather here felt different from the microclimate of Manhattan. Unimpeded by hundreds of skyscrapers, the wind whistled around the occasional concrete building and group of trees. After a few moments of shivering, I pulled a sweater from pack and started for the beach.

C to the S.


It's not hard, not far to reach...


The beach was deserted, save for a handful of surfers catching waves around the 89th Street jetty. After chatting with two surfers jumping into their wetsuits about the water and the waves, I headed down the beach, meandering towards Coney Island.

The deserted beach and biting wind instantly reminded me of my time spent wandering the beaches of Popham and Reed State parks in Maine. The roar of a jet taking off from nearby JFK brought me back from my daydreams. My frigid hands and the sand in my shoes sufficiently satisfied my desire to leave the city on an adventure.

As the sun sank towards the horizon, I walked back to the station and caught the lumbering S train into Manhattan. I can't think of a more enjoyable way to spend five dollars than on two MTA tickets to and from Rockaway Beach.

Drawn to the Sea

I am drawn to the sounds, smells and seclusion of the sea. At the sea's edge, I wander for hours taking pictures, kicking sand and watching waves roll in from somewhere out in the expansive heather-gray pond. The clapping of the waves, squawking of the occasional gull and whisper of the sand skipping through clumps of tall grass instantly remind me where I am when I close my eyes.

I could never live in Denver or Austin. Sure they each have their advantages: the dramatic Rockies border Denver's backyard and Austin gets 300 days of sun per year. Despite these incentives, I would rather live in a cold, rainy place where I could go walk along the ocean each day and listen to the sea slap against the shore and smell the bitter scent of salt in stagnant tidepools. In my free time, I often drive to the sea, even for just an hour or two, to meander the shore.

My favorite sign, Owl's Head state park.

An oil shed on Pemaquid Point.

A sunset Down East.

Ernie looking for footing on the a rugged point in Owl's Head state park.

A granite beach in Bass Harbor.

Dogs know the sea is playful. They run feverishly to and fro, chasing other dogs and kicking up sand in their wake like jet contrails in the sky. I try my best to follow suit.

Looking south from the southernmost tip of Mt. Desert Island.

A weathered tree on Owl's Head.

Ernie skipping stones in West Penobscot Bay.


A Hike on the Beach

On Tuesday, temperatures crested 40 degrees for the first time in months. Feeling like millionaires in Vegas, Dan and I headed to the beach to catch some cosmic rays and go on a short hike on Morris Mountain and the surrounding beaches. Arriving at the parking lot just after 12:30, we set out for the beach. Dan sped up ahead towards the water, eager to do his geological research, studying erosion of a nearby river system, and wandering slowly down the trail towards the beach with the urgency of grandmother on Christmas morning.
The three and a half mile trail follows a seasonal gravel road through marshlands, woods and iconic summer houses towards Seawall Beach. I moved slowly, humming various Pink Floyd songs to myself as I took in the scenery and snapped pictures.

Boarded up for the winter.

Ice, shaded from the sun by evergreens.

After an hour, I finally crested a small hill and heard the faint clapping of shin-high waves. My slow and carefree stroll evolved into a purpose-driven walk as the sand drew near.

Low tide and a washed-up tree.

Where the grass meets the sand and water.

Sand arranged by tides and storms.

Erosion at Popham State park.

Clam pits at high tide.

Clammers digging through the exposed sands of Popham Beach.

I wandered through the knee-high grass and soft sand, enjoying the relative tropic temperatures for hours. I didn't see Dan for some time, but I knew he was out there enjoying the day in his own way. Finally I spotted Dan's blond head bobbing around against the blue of the Atlantic and yelled "Ohhh Helllloooo" in my best Mrs. Doubtfire impression. We sat on a washed-up tree lying parallel to the beach and took in the rolling waves and rustle of sand and wind through the tall grass. I longed for a match to start a campfire but settled on playing music on my iPhone as Dan and I watched the sun sink towards the west.

Here are some more links,
A Hike on the Beach (Picasa).


Instant Photos from the Beach

Schlepping my Canon 5d Mark II all of the time gets old. It's heavy, bulky and expensive. Last week when I went to the beach, I left my Canon at home and brought my iPhone 3GS to brave the smell of sunscreen, laundry detergent laden towels and evaporated beer.

I spent 45 minutes chasing around seagulls trying to catch them in motion. I kicked sand on half the people on the beach and blindly ran into a lifeguard tower. I think it was worth it.

After wearing my APC New Standards for more than a year, I thought it was finally time to tackle the stench. I ran into the sea and rubbed them down with sand twice and then let them dry on the fence. Now the look like Sevens...woooof

Red, White and Blue.

Satin umbrella.

These little bastards were devouring a bag of chips dropped by a strolling five-year-old. With iPhone in hand I ran towards these seagulls like a knight with a shield.

I love the ability to spontaneously capture life and tell a story with an image. Everyday I see things that inspire me and now I have a tool to capture them. All of these photos were taken with an iPhone and the Instant Camerbag application.

Here are some more links,
Instants From the Beach (Picasa),