Saturday, February 9, 2013

That Bridge I Like So Much

It used to be the Reading Railroad Bridge, but now it is maintained by the CSX Corporation (freight trains) and is used by CSX, Amtrak, and SEPTA's West Trenton commuter line. It connects Yardley, PA, with Ewing, NJ. I pass it every day on the way to work, and it looks spectacular in early morning light. It looks attractive in twilight on the way home from work, too.

The problem is there are not any places to pull over to take a picture from the New Jersey side (Route 29) that I travel daily. There is a hiking path next to the river, but no access to it except from quite a bit north or south. I wouldn't be able to get a good shot without some hiking or biking.

The Pennsylvania side had to be explored. After the "Nemo" Nor'Easter dropped about four inches of snow on us, we traveled up Route 32, also known as the River Road, looking for a convenient pull-off from which to get a good shot. There were none, at least visible in the snow. We parked at a park,
hiked across the street, and carefully climbed down through the trees, vines, and brush to the riverbank.

Margie climbing; photo by Fred

This method won't be possible when there's normal traffic or once the brush fills in (I don't take traffic or poison-ivy risks), but I got some good shots today.

We walked up to the bridge and stood under it as if to make its acquaintance. I am fond of this bridge because it looks like an ancient Roman viaduct to me. It is 1445.5 feet long and has fourteen (14!) arches. The first and last arches go over Route 29 in New Jersey and Route 32 in Pennsylvania.

Beside my CSX Roman Viaduct Bridge are some masonry piers I wondered about. These, as it turns out, supported the older, 1875 wrought-iron Yardley Centennial Bridge.

Piers from the Yardley Centennial Bridge
This bridge, the West Trenton Railroad Bridge, the Reading Railroad bridge, was begun in 1911 and finished in 1913. Wait! My bridge is 100 years old this year! I'm glad I noticed it. I found out some other interesting facts about the bridge, but I'm saving those and my future shots for the eventual photo-essay.....
Margie shooting; photo by Fred.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

This is what low tide looks like in winter

My favorite beach for walking, as my frequent readers probably know, is the Delaware Bay Beach in North Cape May, NJ. (I've been coming here all of my life and even before, I suspect!) Summer on this beach is great for sunning and relaxing, but fall, winter, and spring are for walking, making Gladys chase her special beach toy, and shooting pictures. A few weeks ago, Fred and Gladys and I managed to fit in a cold and windy beachwalk on the bay. As luck would have it, we wandered down at low tide. This means a wider beach for toy-chasing and more oddities washed up from the depths of the bay.
Fred and Gladys wait for me as I shoot photos from the street.
I mentioned it was a windy day. Gladys was wearing her new snowman kerchief, and experienced many wardrobe malfunctions.

The best birding is in spring and fall, when so many species fly by on their migrations north and south. Some live here with us and even hang out on the beach in winter. (By the way, if you are interested in birding in Cape May County and beyond, check out Don Freiday's blog:

Some gulls stay for the winter.
A plump little sandpiper/plover/sanderling--I'm never quite sure which. They're all in Cape May.

This fall we New Jersey beach lovers (avian and human alike) experienced anxiety during the approach of Hurricane (or Superstorm) Sandy. Some of us received gut-wrenching bad news, but others of us were spared. A few days before it hit, all eyes were on Cape May as the storms were expected to converge there. As we all know now, Sandy brought her devastation ashore a little further north. Cape May was, for the most part, spared, but I suspect most from the Cape May region watched the news with horror as the images from Seaside and Staten Island, Brick and Brooklyn, appeared in the media: "Man, that could have been us."

Fred and Gladys head for the beach.
There were some issues at my favorite beach as a result of the enormous storm. For the first time I can remember, the trail from the street to the beach was purposely moved over a few feet. Bulldozers did this after the storm, and I suspect the move has something to do with the new storm drain visible in the first photo above. There was a dinky drain there before, but this gargantuan seems to mean business. But anyway, I'm still getting used to the new trail, as silly as that may seem.

There was some beach erosion , too. These cliffs have always been here, but used to be much smaller. I remember when I was younger my parents could drive along Beach Drive and see me and my dog Bambi from the car. That's nowhere near possible now as those cliffs are taller than I am.
The dune cliffs, post-Sandy
Nonetheless, the beauty of the beach in winter remains. I think this is a pretty cool close-up of one of the jetties. Low-tide allowed me to get in close to the moss-covered rocks. The green moss and the charcoal-colored rocks were the most exciting color palette of the morning, I think.
At high-tide sometimes, these rocks are completely covered. P.S. The green parts are very slippery.

I mentioned that weird things wash up on the bay. Here's an oyster-encrusted tire:

Those oysters will cling to anything.
It was cold and windy that day, the moist kind of wind that you find at the beach. This is the kind of wind that will cause actual pain to ungloved hands shooting photos or flying kites, for instance. Little Sheltie dogs chasing toys don't seem to be bothered by it.