Tag Archives: Hudson River

Easter Sunday Paddle

By Vladimir Brezina

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The weather is finally getting warmer, and the days longer. Time for one of our favorite paddles!

In yesterday’s variant of the trip, we paddled up the East River, through Hell Gate, and past Throgs Neck out into Long Island Sound, just in time for lunch at Sugar and Spice on City Island. Then back down the East River to Hell Gate, up the Harlem River, and finally down the Hudson River home.

Here are a few photos…

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New Bridge Over the Hudson

By Johna Till Johnson

As many of our readers know, I’m a huge fan of bridges. To me, they’re beautiful both physically and metaphorically—lovely structures that bring two sides together. Although my favorite bridge is the Hell Gate Bridge, I’m passionate about all the New York waterway bridges.

So it’s a big deal to me that New York will be replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge—and the new structure will be complete relatively soon (supposedly, by 2018).

Here’s what the Tappan Zee Bridge looks like today:

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And here’s what it’s supposed to look like in future:


I’m not crazy about the outward-reaching “harp” towers… but it is a bridge, and I love bridges… What do you think?

Boundary Conditions: Exploring the Hudson River in Autumn

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

As the season descends into Winter, we figured it would be good to post a long-overdue writeup of a trip that we took during the magical boundary between Summer and Autumn—a trip up the Hudson River in October 2013. 

Fall colors

In mathematics, a boundary condition is a constraint imposed on the solution of an equation. By imposing boundary conditions, you focus on a specific subset of solutions, rather than all solutions.

In ecology, there’s also the concept of a boundary—in this case, the transition from one habitat to another. Boundary conditions are then conditions at the habitat boundary. And as a tidal estuary, the lower Hudson River itself is a permanent habitat boundary, since it’s the interface between salt water and fresh, between the ocean and the rivers and streams that feed it.

The two meanings are different, but what they have in common is the notion of focusing on a particular part of the cosmos, one embodying flux, change, and intermingling of diverse forces.

That’s what we did one day this Fall when we drove north for an extended weekend of kayak-camping on the Hudson River, at our favorite spot, the Hudson River Islands State Park, about 20 miles south of Albany.

We set up camp
River view

For this excursion, we’d joined forces with Alex and Jean, fellow paddlers and fellow bloggers at 2Geeks@3Knots, who drove up from New Rochelle. And we were hoping to meet up with Mike and Julie, paddlers from Albany with whom we’d shared a lively correspondence over the past year but had never met. And also, with luck, with our friend David, who lives both in NYC and upstate, and was planning to be on the river up there that weekend.

All of us from different habitats, in other words, but with our common boundary—the Hudson River.

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By Vladimir Brezina

A week ago, over the Columbus Day weekend, we were kayak-camping at Stockport Middle Ground, one of my favorite places along the Hudson River, to paddle among the Fall colors (story and photos forthcoming!).

So on Monday a week ago, I paddled out onto the still river, shrouded in fog, as the first colors of dawn softened the sky. Honking geese flew overhead.

But what was that strange buzzing sound, and that strange object emerging from the fog upriver, gradually growing bigger?

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It was Ceres!

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A Moonlight Manhattan Circumnavigation at the End of Summer

By Johna Till Johnson

(Sorry, no photos this time! For one thing, I didn’t have a camera. And for another, it was, ahem, dark. So I’ve used a few of Vlad’s photos from previous circumnavigations.)

She rose up ahead of us, brilliantly lit in all her resplendent orange glory: the Staten Island Ferry, blazing against the dark night sky.

It was around 3:30 AM, and she was docked at Whitehall, at the southern tip of Manhattan.

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m deeply wary of the Staten Island Ferry. (“Deeply wary” sounds way better than “scared silly”, which is closer to the truth—of all the ferries, this one is the largest and seems to move the fastest, and I worry irrationally that one day I’ll be caught in its churning engines.)

Staten Island Ferry

A daylight view of the Staten Island Ferry at Whitehall

This night was no exception: There were ten of us, and the brisk ebb current was pushing us relentlessly into the ferry’s path.

The question was (with apologies to the Clash): “Should I stay or should I go?” Should we bank on the ferry’s remaining docked for the five minutes it would take us to glide past, or should we hold up and wait, back-paddling against the current, while she departed?

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A Brisk Paddle Up the Palisades

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

IMGP7239 cropped small“Do you think we can make it to Piermont Pier?”, I asked.

“I know of no reason why not,” Vlad replied. A small alarm bell rang at the back of my head: he hadn’t exactly said, “Yes.” And Vlad is a man who uses words very precisely.

But I brushed it off. We’d come quite a distance up the Palisades—just over 19 nautical miles, in fact.  Aided by a stiff flood current, we were almost at Italian Gardens, and we were deciding whether to stop there or continue onwards.

Piermont Pier, the long finger of land extending into the Hudson just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge, was only two miles away. We hadn’t been there yet this year, and the summer was almost over.

And though we’d had a brisk northerly breeze in our faces the whole way, we’d come thus far with no trouble. As Vlad said, there was no reason why we couldn’t make it the rest of the way.

So we set off into the wind-against-current chop ahead of us.

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Happy Labor Day!

By Vladimir Brezina

… Labor Day, and (practically speaking) the beginning of Fall!

Here are a few celebratory photos taken at yesterday’s Great North River Tugboat Race & Competition. Lots more photos to come. (Last year’s are here.)

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First NYC Paddle Since Sandy!

By Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

Four months is a long time.

And  it’s been just over four months since we’ve been out on NYC waterways—since our trip to the Gowanus Canal right before Hurricane Sandy, in fact.

A variety of factors kept us off the water: Sandy cleanup, boat issues, and a couple of Florida trips that provided the option of paddling in balmier waves.

But we’re back—and delighted to make our first NYC area trip of 2013, a short but satisfying jaunt up the Hudson to the George Washington Bridge.

(Click on any photo to start a slideshow.)

The individual photos are here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Home. We’ve already posted one response, but here’s another.

Our home away from home—

IMGP2138 cropped small—on a beach at Lloyds Neck, Long Island, NY

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—on the banks of the Hudson River at Stockport Middle Ground


IMGP0645 cropped small—on Magdalen Island, near Saugerties, NY

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IMGP2543 cropped small—on the Hudson River at Denning Point, Beacon, NY

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—in Nickerson State Park, Cape Cod, MA

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IMGP4656 cropped small—at Jones Inlet, South Shore of Long Island, NY

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—on Fire Island, NY

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IMGP5854 cropped small—at Montauk Point, NY

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IMGP6691 cropped small—in Sunken Meadow State Park, on the North Shore of Long Island, NY

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And now, our home away from home awaits in its bag, ready for this year’s adventures!

Where We Are Not…

By Johna Till Johnson and Vladimir Brezina

Photos by David Hupert

The Hudson – Athens Lighthouse (photo by David Hupert)

There are star-crossed lovers. And then there are star-crossed paddlers….

All autumn, we’ve been trying to get up north to paddle in one of our favorite parts of the Hudson, around Stockport, not far south of Albany. In summer, it’s breathtakingly beautiful. But Vlad’s favorite time there is fall, when the autumn foliage blazes like fire and the air is cool and clear.

This year, we had added incentive to make the trip: Our fellow paddler David Hupert suggested getting together up there. That dovetailed perfectly with our idea of heading up by train late Friday or early Saturday with our folding kayaks, and camping for a night or two while we took a leisurely sightseeing paddle around the area.

So we made plans…

The first weekend—the 20th/21st of October—we had to cancel at the last minute because of work pressures. David advised us that we missed a spectacular weekend of paddling up there, with the fall foliage colors at their peak. (We were happy to miss, however, a darker discovery that another fellow paddler made that Sunday right at the island where we planned to camp.)

Still, David assured us that the fall foliage was not yet over. The second weekend was October 27th/28th. We planned to go until we read about the prospect of Hurricane Sandy making landfall in New York City on Monday—and decided that we didn’t want to risk Amtrak shutting down and leaving us stranded for days in a tent upstate somewhere. (Good call, as it turned out—the trains shut down about midafternoon on Sunday).

The remains of fall foliage with Olana on the hill (photo by David Hupert)

The following weekend, November 3rd/4th, we spent in post-Sandy cleanup at Pier 40 and providing assistance to folks in the Rockaways. The weekend after that Johna had to travel; then there was a “recovery” weekend after an intense week in California. And David is away this upcoming weekend…

The trees are rapidly shedding their leaves, and there are only a few more weekends left before winter sets in. So who knows if we’ll ever make it up to Stockport this year?

But in the meantime, David was kind enough to send us some of his recent photos from up there. Where we are not… but wish we were!

Reflections: Which Way is Up? (photo by David Hupert)