Friday, September 19, 2008

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast me Mates, Da summer ‘as come t’ end in Northern climes and we be back in de sunny trop’cal climes of de Carib’yan. While ye be liming in da cool bright days of autumn, we be sweatin’ somet’ing fierce in the da equatorial sun.

Me classes started d’first tide in Septembre, and I be workin’ like a scurvy sea dog. But me and Cap’n Pete ‘ave found a wee bit o’ time to set out to on da fair Carib’yan sea in we great grand furner. She be a bit on da smallish side, but nonetheless as sound an hearty a vessel as hever sailed da seven seas.

All right, enough pirate talk for now. Work is keeping me really busy. I’m teaching two classes that I’ve never taught before, getting students started on research projects and working on a proposal and 2 papers. Add to that the two mornings a week I’m teaching early morning Seminary and I am one busy woman.

Nonetheless, the last two Saturday mornings, Rich and I have finally gotten the chance to take our sea kayak out from William’s Bay on Trinidad’s north west peninsula. This is a very sheltered bay that hosts a kayak rental business and easy place to launch. Our first day out the weather was very calm and we paddled quickly across the bay to Point Garde which we later found was about 2 miles from our put in. Our Kayak is a tandem sit on top. The day was hot and sunny but much more pleasant out on the water than on land. There were several other kayakers out and about. Near point guard there is small harbor with an abandoned dock where several sail boats are moored and a few derelicts have been washed a ground. There are 5 small islands off to the south of the bay and a string of larger islands further north which we plan to explore as we become more skilled paddlers.

Our second Saturday out, we had stiff winds from the south west along with some moderate size waves and an occasional white cap. We started off paddling into the wind but since there isn’t really any where to go that way except out to the five islands and we weren’t quite confident enough to do that with the winds, we turned and headed to the north side of the harbor with the wind at our backs. Which of course meant we had to paddle back to our put in into a heavy head wind. To paddle effectively, we need to be synchronized which is a bit tricky when there are waves and the stern paddler, Rich, has to make corrective strokes to steer the boat. Our kayaking thus far has involved a fair amount of Cap’n Pete yelling out orders to his crew of sprogs (me) and the requisite threats of mutiny from said crew. But by the end of the day, we were getting the rhythm down, having fun and making good time even though we were paddling into a stiff wind. As we were angling into shore to avoid being cross wise to the waves, we were also racing against a storm squall coming across the gulf of Paria. We hit the put in just after the rain started and by the time we’d hauled the boat ashore it was coming down in buckets. Some of our fellow paddlers weren’t as lucky and were struggling to get to shore in the downpour.

We managed to wait out the hardest part of the rain under a little shelter although we aren’t quite sure why we bothered since the rain wasn’t cold and we were wearing paddling clothes that were already somewhat wet.

So far what we’ve learned about kayaking in the tropics is
1. wear more sun screen.
2. wear more sun protective clothes
3. wear more sun screen.
4. the stern paddler needs to call out a cadence
5. head for shore when you see a squall coming
6. wear more sun screen.

Fare thee well me Matey's!!


I left Germany in mid August to teach a workshop and attend a conference in Seattle. While Rich was riding his bike along the pilgrimage way in Germany, I was busy working in Seattle. The conference was a special Symposium for the 25th anniversary of NESAC/Bio, the surface science center I work with there. It was a fun event since I have been with NESAC/Bio for 22 of its 25 years and many of my friends from grad school and beyond were there.

On the weekend between the workshop and the conference, we couldn’t get time on the SIMS instrument so Kip and I went to Mountain Ranier. Saturday Tom Horbett joined us for a hike to Spray Park from Mowich Lake. It was one of those near perfect days at Mount Ranier where the sun is shining and the wild flowers are at their peak. If only it hadn’t been for the mosquitoes that swarmed us in the higher elevation meadows it would have been fully perfect. Tom had to be back in Seattle early for a party but Kip but I camped at Mowich Lake that night. Kip brought his inflatable raft and rowed me about on the Lake. In the morning we hiked up to Eunice Lake and then managed to make it down the dirt road before the really. I took around 200 photos on the trip, here are just a few of them.

Jakobsweg, august 2008

In the last half of August 2008 Bonnie flew to Seattle for a meeting at the U of W and I (Rich) went on Pilgrimage, along the Jakobsweg (Way of St. James). This is an old pilgrim's way across Europe  to the church of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain, where St. James may well be buried. Though we were aware of its existence, we sort of stumbled across the Jakobsweg this summer in France and started thinking about it. On a field trip from our conference in Montpelier, we went to the monastery at St. Guillaume in the Desert. This turned out to be one of the waysites of the Way of St. James.  Upon returning to Munster (Germany), Bonnie and I were off cycling one day and discovered that the German parts of the pilgrimage way had been freshly marked with the characteristic yellow scallop shells on a blue background. Since we were in Germany, that also meant that a new series of guides had been printed and were available at the local bookstore. I decided to do the bit from Osnabruck to Koln on my bike, which would be faster than walking it.  Bonnie and I rode the section from Osnabruck to Muenster on a saturday and then I rode the remainder while Bonnie was in Seattle.   These days lots of people do the pilgrimage way a bit at a time, since it is hard to get a year off work.  The plan was then to continue along the Rhein from Koln to Bonn, Koblenz, Mainz and Mannheim, then down the Neckar to Heidelberg.  From there it is not very far to Judy and Dave's in Rauenberg.

Poster for Bistum (bishopric) Munster walk on part of the Jacobsweg.

Here is our new travel rabbit, Jack, in front of Haus Bisping (I think).
Lots of moated castles along the way.  This is Schloss Westerwinkel.  The weather continues cool and moist.
Over by Schloss Cappenberg.
You can see that I still have the rain covers on my panniers.  
As you can see by the flying rhino, the rabbit and I have reached Dortmund.

This is part of the Bittermark memorial, in the Dortmunder Stadtforst, where the fascists slaughtered a bunch of POWs and other folks.
Waterlilies are much prettier than Nazis.   Germany is a pretty country and is trying hard to strongly oppose nationalism, racism and nasty isms in general.
Looking down at the Ruhr.  While this area is very industrial, the Jacobsweg route goes through the nicest available forests and fields.
At the top of an evilly steep push up the Hohensyburg.  Ruin of middle aged castle.
Carrying my heavily loaded bike up and down the Hohensyburg path just about made a middle aged ruin of this boy.  Cripes, this sucked.  But this was the way the Jakobsweg went, and I wanted to stay on the official pilgrimage way.  Why was that again?

Pretty square in Herdecke, I think.
I left behind the tent so I didn't have to worry about it being stolen.  That was a stupid move.  Here I have rigged up plastic sheets, tied to these logs and my bike, to sleep under.  The rain has eased up, but not stopped.  This is a rather settled area, so I had to push my bike to the top of the forested hills to camp.  This is the top of the Gevelsberg.
This stretch of the Jacobsweg ends here at the Wuppertal-Beyenberg, at the church of Mary Magdalene.  I took a badly needed bath in the Wupper (stream), while some nice folks discreetly looked away and chatted with me about my trip.
Up over the hills again.  Mostly singletrack, sometimes dirt roads.  Good thing I carry my own bread, cheese, chocolate and Pils.
OK, so I am technically lost at this point, at least I can't find the Weg.  I just did a big push along a horse path, through the mud and nettles, and finally happened upon a guy.  I said something about "I sure hope I'm still on the Jakobsweg", and of course I wasn't.  He directed me through the forest and meadows, across the stream, and to this road where I met two nice old ladies out Nordic Walking.  I asked them the way to Odenthal, and they nicely mis-directed me.  So I can verify that Hope (Hoffnung) is up a steep hill, in the wrong direction.
I just reached Koln!  Crossing the Rhein, I came across this poster.  The freaking neo-Nazis are having an anti-Muslim event.  This poster is to mobilize the Antifa (anti-fascists) such as me.  Gegen Nazis!  No pasaran!
Koln, of course, is a major Pilgrimage city.

I like cheerful Mary art.
Down the Rhein!  It is raining heavily as I ride from Koln to Bonn, but as I leave Koln I pass several BierBikes.  That's a bar in the middle.  You sit facing in, and pedal along.  Singing.  No helmet required.
Even along the Rhein the sun comes out.  
If this doesn't look familiar, you have probably heard of the bridge at Remagen.  It somehow didn't get destroyed, enabling the US 27th Armored Infantry Battalion to cross.  Meanwhile, my Dad was already paralyzed from the assault on Anzio Beach in Italy, 1944.  Fascists are not thought well of, in my family.  We will oppose them everywhere, forever, under any name, in every way.
Back on the Jakobsweg, Rhein portion.
another Rhein river photo.  No rain!
Obligatory castle shot.
Nice churches, too, eh?
Back in the old days the folks up on this hill probably worked hard to subjugate and exploit my ancestors.
yep, the Rhein has been heavily fortified for a long time.  I like it better now.
this is a nice resurrecting Jesus cross, from the Mainz cathedral.  At this point I will keep heading south to Mannheim, where I will leave the Rhein and go along the Neckar to Heidelberg.

Outside of the Mainzer Dom.  My front tire (they are tubeless) has been leaking badly for days, and I just put in a can of inflate-a-spare.  Say a prayer for it!
Vineyards.  Note rabbit in foreground (on post).
Ok, I'm in Heidelberg.  Tourist shot.  It is hot, and I need to slam a few Pils (for the carbohydrates) and keep heading south.  I make it to Judy and Dave's house in Rauensberg as darkness falls.  Days later than expected, but I have almost 2 days to visit before I have to catch the train back to Munster.  This trip was over 700 km, including a great deal of walking and pushing.  But it was still way faster than walking the whole way!  Hopefully Bonnie will be with me as we continue the way toward Santiago.  This trip was lonely without her, even with the faithful travel rabbit.