Travel Theme: Inviting

By Vladimir Brezina

Landed on Sandy HookPaddling out from Manhattan for the day, we often find ourselves heading south to Sandy Hook, NJ. Our favorite spot to land there, about half-way down the bay side, is a picturesque little “island” of wooded high ground that rather improbably rises above the otherwise flat Sandy Hook View over the salt marshlandscape. (Indeed, it is man-made, being the overgrown concrete ruins of an early 20th-century military installation, Battery Arrowsmith.) Separating the “island” from the “mainland” of Sandy Hook is a salt marsh.

Whenever we land at the “island”, we always take a few minutes to walk round to the back, to the edge of the salt marsh.  We go there to observe a mass display of invitation.

The marsh is fringed by a zone of bare, or sometimes sparsely overgrown, ground. Looking down closely, we see that the ground is studded with holes, large and small.

Field of holes

At first, standing there, we see nothing remarkable.

But within a minute or two, we glimpse, here and there, a furtive movement. Then more and more, and soon there is movement all around—movement of a curiously stereotyped sort.

Each hole is occupied by a fiddler crab.

Two fiddler crabs
Fiddler crab emerging

There are both male and female crabs. They are easy to distinguish—the males have one greatly enlarged claw. And they use this claw in a characteristic courtship display. They stand next to their holes and repeatedly raise their large claws, inviting the females to enter.

It is quite a sight to see the whole area come alive with hundreds of crabs all raising their claws simultaneously in their inviting gesture…

(A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Inviting.)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime

By Vladimir Brezina

We love to kayak around NYC at night!

(For one thing, we paddle faster at night…)

Night falls as we paddle down the East River
Manhattan shines forth
George Washington Bridge nocturne
Midtown Manhattan illuminations
Paddling down the East River at 3 AM

A contribution to this week’s Photo Challenge, Nighttime.

Mom, We Did It!

By Johna Till Johnson

Occasionally a news story really resonates with me. This is one: An Indian spacecraft called Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has just reached orbit around the planet Mars.

And the achievement is astonishing on many fronts: It’s the first time in history that any country’s spacecraft has made it on the first attempt. At $74 million, the effort cost less than making the movie “Gravity”—and almost 10 times less than the US’s NASA Mars mission.

Scientists and engineers cheer as MOM reaches Mars orbit (Photo: Reuters)

Scientists and engineers cheer as MOM reaches Mars orbit (Photo: Reuters)

And, as with the NASA effort, some of the top scientists and engineers involved are women. There’s something symbolic in “Mother India”—which is linguistically, culturally, and even genetically the ancestor of many of us of European descent—sending a spacecraft called MOM to Mars.

I’m really proud of our Indian sisters and brothers for pulling this off. And I’m psyched to see so many saris involved in the celebration.

MOM, we did it!

Happy Fall!

By Vladimir Brezina

Wild flowers along the riverbank (photo by Johna)The Fall Equinox occurs this evening. So, although we very much regret, especially this year, Summer’s passing—Happy Fall, everyone! (Well, everyone in the northern hemisphere… for the others, Happy Spring!)

Fall colors by kayak

Travel Theme: Strong

By Vladimir Brezina

You don’t need a lot of strength to travel long distances by kayak. You just need a lot of endurance.

But you do need need to be strong at a few critical moments.

Such as when taking apart your stuck two-piece paddle after the trip—

Strength needed

A contribution to Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge, Strong.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

The only way to build up endurance is to endure…

Icy day at the Reservoir
Endurance 1
Endurance 2
Endurance 3

In response to this week’s Photo Challenge, Endurance. The first response was here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Endurance

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Endurance.

Long-distance kayaking is all about endurance. We can paddle past sunset

Past sunset

into the night

Into the night

and when the next day dawns

Dawn

we are still there, paddling.

Still paddling

We can paddle forever.

But we can’t stay awake forever. Sooner or later, that nap on the beach becomes impossible to resist…

Nap on the beach

From the 2014 Everglades Challenge. Story and more photos are here.

Another response to Endurance is here.