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Along The Deerfield. December 10, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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On the way to the Shelburne Falls post office this morning I spied an eagle in a tree across the Deerfield river from Route 2.

Naturally, I hung a Bat Turn to get a shot.

I took these from my driver’s seat while pulled over on the shoulder:

_MG_5659 Crop3

That’s from about 50 yards away, with Gizmo’s 400mm and a 2X Tele-Extender, and cropped pretty hard.

I was hoping to get this beauty taking off, but all it seemed inclined to do was preen in the drizzle.  😦

At last it spread it’s wings:

_MG_5662 Crop2

…but only hopped to another nearby branch.

These were taken at ISO 4000 and f/11, so they’re not technically great. Still, I had fun shooting them; gotta practice that steady hand, especially with no auto focus or image stabilization on this lens!

Good Morning! December 17, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Sunrise along the Mohawk Trail, Route 2 in Western Massachusetts:

The big bronze elk at the Veterans’ Memorial at Whitcomb Summit:

The snow is mostly gone from the high country for now, but will doubtless return soon.




The Damage Done. August 30, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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I got out for a bit yesterday, with the dual intention of finding a passable route westward for today’s travel to work.  The main route through the region (Route 2) was closed just west of town, so I ranged farther east, then north, in search of open roads.

Now, I’d already been stunned by the spectacle of high water and amazed at the wreckage of mud-encrusted Shelburne Falls, but with the water levels dropping, a whole new level of devastation was being revealed.

I got to Shelburne, then headed north on Route 112 through Colrain.  At the hamlet of Lyonsville, the first bridge was closed – the roadway, gone:

I back-tracked, knowing a long-cut through the hills.

Beyond the bridge was more destruction.  Dams:



Not gone, but nonetheless destroyed.  These high tension lines suspended a mangled tower over the North river.  They’re fully loaded, supplying a large part of the region with power, and can’t be shut down until a reach-around is arranged.  Good luck with that.

The road northward through Halifax, VT was, shall we say, “compromised:”

It’s over the State Line and so won’t be my job, but it’s worth noting that the miles of road in this condition in Southern Vermont are nearly uncountable.

Jacksonville, VT took a monstrous hit; they opened the Glory Hole at Whitingham Reservoir to avert a dam breach, but totaled a lot of the places downstream, including the Honore  (formerly North River) Winery:

It wouldn’t be there at all if the dam had let loose, so I’d say this mess qualifies as the Lesser of Several Evils.

I stopped to inquire about the way westward, and learned that it wasn’t going to happen – Wilmington was unreachable by land by any means.  Bennington, the next large city going west, was similarly unreachable.  National Guard helicopters were doing the essential lifting there.

I headed south at Readsboro, following the Deerfield back south into Massachusetts, making it as far as Dunbar Brook:

It’s gonna take more than asphalt to patch that pothole, I do believe.

A long ride over Monroe Bridge, astonishingly intact, led back through Rowe to the lower part of River Road, where Zoar Gap had reduced the road to one undercut lane.  Finally, I’d found a way out, via Whitcomb Hill Road.  That would be, um, sweet come winter.

With daylight fading I retreated to Charlemont, hoping to get a glimpse of what was keeping Route 2 from opening – it’s the main east-west artery in northern Massachusetts,  and sees a tremendous amount of commercial as well as private traffic.  I slipped on my yellow work vest and hard hat, passing the National Guard roadblock with a business-like wave, stopping to bullshit wth the local police who knew my work, and swerving slowly around the last group of local residents beyond the roadblock:

It was good to see people whose lives had been devastated turning the disaster into a rare opportunity to grill on the double yellow line.  They handed me a hot-dog on home-made jalepeno bread as I passed, admonishing me with a wink to “take pictures.”  They’d been up the road and knew I’d be impressed.

I was.

I know the Cold River along this beautiful stretch of Route 2 well, every swimming hole and sunning rock.  But not today.

Today, it was gone.  Gone!  All of it, the swimming holes, the forested shorelines, the valley I love so much I can taste it, gone.

Route 2, the lifeline of our county, miles of it, gone:

Car sized boulders and a forest’s worth of trees buried the pavement, filled the gaping holes, obliterated the way forward:

And the river was unrecognizable, its massive concrete retaining walls collapsed, its course altered for all time, its beautiful pools obliterated.

I don’t mind saying that I cried.  I’m still grieving as I write this, for the beauty which won’t be back in my lifetime, for the special places I’ll never see again, that no-one will ever see again.  Places I was so looking forward to seeing this Autumn are now lost forever, joining their ancestral mountain fathers in the sea, perhaps to rise again in a billion years, In Sh’Allah.

It’s my job to fix this sort of thing; roads and bridges, that’s what I do.  But when the money’s not there, fixing things takes a long, long time.  In the meantime, while I’m infinitely grateful that everyone I know and love survived this storm, everything  I love didn’t.  And I’m going to miss it.

I know, “It’s a big world.  Find other spots.”  Of course I will.  That’s what we do.

Back at the cold river, I turned and drove back down the valley, stopping for one more burger, served with courage and good cheer by folks who knew exactly what I was feeling:

After all, it’s their  river, too.

G’Night. April 11, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Yesterday evening, on my way home from running errands, I pulled over on Route 2 to attempt some sunset photos, simultaneously phoning Susan before I lost service (it’s sketchy in these parts,) when she mentioned that the eastern sky was an unusual shade of blue up in Conway, a dozen miles from me.  I turned around and saw that it was indeed so where I was as well, and took this quick shot:

Route 2 and the Deerfield River in a strange light.  I did nothing to the color in this shot, just brought the brightness up a tiny bit.


The Hairpin Turn. August 13, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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As you take route 2 west past my place, the road leaves the Deerfield river and snakes its way upward along the Cold, then abandons that as well, making a break for the summit plateau of Florida, a town with a wry sense of humor.  Don’t even think about planting corn here – the growing season’s way too short.

You crest the Eastern Summit, passing beautiful views if they’d ever fix that damned tower, and coast down through Florida’s central business district, that is, the place where there used to be a store.  It’s gone now, so you keep going too.

It’s a warm summer afternoon, with the late sun coming through the clouds just as you ease up over the Western Summit.  Slowly now; the view here is spectacular for these parts, with North Adams occupying the valley far below and seeming somehow incongruous against the backdrop of Mount Greylock and the Taconic Range.

The road turns sharply right and begins a long diagonal down the hill, snaking along road cuts running with the rains of the past sunless month, now glistening, making you squint against the glare as you pass the silhouette of a sign, “Trucks Test Brakes,” and you don’t.  The downshift coming around the corner feels so automatic, seems so sufficient, that you aren’t thinking about the load at your back.  It’s a lot of weight, but it’s well tied down, and between the smooth ride, the long view and the sun on your shoulder, you’re just happy to be alive.

The curves come tighter now, 500 feet below the crest, exposing your speed for excessive despite the first class pavement.  You hit the brakes and down-shift.

Or you try.  Clutch, neutral, clutch, third, but no go.  It’s like it’s not there, What The Fuck, and in that second of trying, you’ve picked up speed.  You stand on the brake and not much happens, you Stand On The Brakes, God Damn It and finesse the shifter and nothing happens, and as you blow past the “Hairpin Turn” sign you hear a disembodied whimper, sense it leaving the passenger side window, leaving you with your non-shifter and your non-brakes, getting out while the getting’s good, escaping into the turbulence between the screaming chrome and the glistening shale.

The load at your back groans and shifts as the curves fly by, and then there it is, the Hairpin Turn, Speed Limit 15, and at 75 the thought never crosses your mind, it’s not an option, and horrified horns wail as oncoming traffic chooses the guardrail and you choose the gap between the restaurant on the right with the beautiful views and the double-decker porches filled with couples who seconds before had been Livin’ Large and whose knuckles turned white to see you and the gaggle of tourists on the left, gathered around the Pay-Per-Minute binoculars on the weathered wood platform, the Japanese couple dropping that expensive camera, the fat American girl lurching over the guardrail, going ass-over-tea-kettle down the slope, poor kid probably hurt herself for nothing, ’cause you see it, you see The Gap, and it’s not even a choice, it’s your path, it’s your future, it’s all that there is, and as time slows down, as it does, it’s enough, the Herculean effort of steering your monster into the void, leaving them all with forty more years despite their soiled pants, it’s enough, the minor class victory of flattening a very expensive little Mercedes convertible as its owner chokes on his lobster up on the second floor porch, it’s enough, the crisp snap of an ineffectual guard rail, the nearly instant transmuting of the agitated groaning of steel into the white noise of rushing air, and as your eyes close, you’re in the back seat of a ’65 Buick driving too fast on a winding country road, the levee rising up, the pavement falling away, your stomach colliding with your intoxicated giggle,

“Daddy, do it again!”


The Hairpin Turn above North Adams and the Golden Eagle Restaurant at its tip, technically jutting northward into Clarksburg:

Golden Eagle

The gap in the guardrail has welcomed too many truckers for me to know, only one of whom survived (after flying over a hundred foot swath of oak trees and landing in the steep woods beyond.)

Unsuspecting touring bikers enjoy the view:

bikes at hairpin

It’s pretty, but I probably wouldn’t park right there.

Sorry to make off with you like that, but I just was at a loss for a way to introduce these photos.  😦