Well, we made it! The eight hour (and change) travel time turned out to actually be more like ten-plus, what with construction delays, rest breaks, and breakfast/lunch stops, but the trip was uneventful. We got to our bed-and-breakfast — the Baxter House, which by the way is really awesome: I’ll take photos — around 6:00.
We didn’t do too much last night — Nicole Atkins was playing in town, but we blew it off and just grabbed dinner and drinks, outdoors at an Irish pub on Main Street; we wandered around afterward, did some people watching, and then we just walked back to our place. We tried to do a bit of reading but were both probably fully asleep by 10:00. It’s actually much warmer here than we expected, and a lot like home: highs in the upper eighties, lows around 70, though not nearly as much rain (or flooding). We brought tons of warm clothes, which will probably come into play once we’re sleeping outdoors in the Upper Peninsula.
Today is our only full day in town. We’ll be meeting Ben’s old friend Jason, who’s getting his PhD here, so he can show us around a bit. There are many cool bookstores and coffee shops, and I have a list of great brew pubs to check out, but I have a feeling we’re only going to scratch the surface of what’s on offer here.
This is a shot of VolksPlatz and other Musikfest shenanegans, from the Broad Street bridge over the Monocacy and colonial industrial quarter. I took it on our way home the other day, and I’m posting it here as a test, to see about blogging from my phone.
Musikfest 2018 has now come and gone. I’d guess that between the heat and the rain (and flooding), this one’s going to be a bit of a disappointment when they finally tally up the money and attendance — we certainly didn’t go as much, and when we did we noticed the crowds were kind of small.
For our part, we were a bit spoiled by the early evening concert series at the Moravian church & chapel, and also the new beer garden at the Sun Inn: we saw two shows a night, Tuesday through Friday, and did not even go down once to the main VolksPlatz/FestPlatz areas. Nor, for the umpteenth year, did we get anything to eat or drink from any vendors. We pay for our Musikfest experience by putting up with it in our neighborhood…
Here are some photos from Ben’s graduation, which was the last part of our vacation trip. I don’t have much to say except that we had a really nice time with Ben and his girlfriend, Goddard College (and nearby Montpelier) were awesome places, and the commencement ceremony itself was very moving. Anyway, here are the photos:
I have a bunch more photos to put up about the final leg of our vacation (Ben’s graduation), but before I get to that I have a few other items, and a few other vacation photos, I want to post that really don’t go anywhere else.
Just a few photos of things around the cabin. Our place apparently was a camp once, having multiple primitive cabins, etc, and had been refurbished — and had the main house added — after years of downward fashionableness and possible abandonment; three cabins were still standing, one converted into a sort of detached den or game room, and the other two converted into separate sleeping quarters. Behind the cabins, as things were now arranged, was a small pond with a dam at one end. I’m not sure how important the pond had been in the past — it had the look of a kiddie fishing area — but now it was brown and scummy, and working its way back to being a meadow. (The lake was a lot better, but the muck at the bottom made for unpleasant swimming. Only Alex and I tried, and we only tried once.) There were other camp amenities, including a fire pit which we made use of on the chilly nights.
Shapes and Clusters
The clustering experiments were a success, but what I really want is to show the regions or neighborhoods where my cycling amenities are clustered. I’ve been trying several different ways to build a shape around a group of points:
Convex Hull: this one is pretty nice, it’s the shape you’d get if a rubber band were stretched around the points. It’s also built into both QGIS and PostGIS. Unfortunately, if the point cluster has concavities the convex hull won’t show them — an L-shaped cluster would get a triangular region.
Concave Hull: this one is also available in both QGIS and PostGIS, but I don’t trust it — I can’t find too much about how it really works, its very name doesn’t make all that much sense, and it requires parameters that are not as well documented as I’d like.
Alpha Shape: the most promising of the bunch, defined pretty rigorously in “the literature,” and I like the l looks of the shapes it makes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist in either QGIS or PostGIS; it is available as a package in R, so I’ve spent some time this week getting R to run correctly after much neglect, then installing the “alphahull” package and trying it out. I managed to import my data and create alpha shapes; now I have to find how to convert and export the shapes back into my database.
There is one other method I just thought of, and pretty simple compared to these approaches: I could just make a heat map from the clustered amenities, then use a “contour line” function on the heat map raster. If the others don’t give satisfaction I may try this.
Today was a brief respite from days of heavy, almost continuous rain — more is coming, starting tomorrow. I took the opportunity to attack the jungle that once was our back yard, managed to use up all the weed-whacker twine, and ran over a yellow jacket’s nest (no stings, but a fairly hasty retreat into the house for a while), and the yard looks much better if not quite 100% yet.
We’ve also had a Warm Showers guest: a young Brit named Arron who landed in New York and is cycling across the US. He’s early in his ride, not quite acclimated to cycling, and he’s getting a real baptism by fire, or at least by rain and hills and poor road choice, but he was a trooper. He stayed for two nights before heading for Coopersburg.
Anne and I took the canoe out for a short paddle the first day we arrived, but later in the week we went out on the lake “for real,” in kayaks with Laura also in a kayak, and Joe & Alex in the canoe. We had a good time exploring the pond and the lake, but I really don’t have much to say about it so here are a bunch of pictures.
This was our first full day on vacation. Joe and Alex and I were on our own, so we decided to do a moderately difficult hike, maybe four miles or so up to the top of Saint Regis Mountain, just outside the nearby town of Paul Smiths. We took off in the morning and arrived at the trailhead not long after, and started on our way. This map shows the gist of our hike — my GPS didn’t start recording position until we were maybe a half mile in:
The trail was easy to follow, fairly well maintained, and kept to an easy grade as it slowly ascended over rolling terrain, until we got to the halfway point and started the real climb. Even this was pretty doable, and the views at the top were well worth it. There was a fire tower at the summit, and we climbed that too. Some photos from the top:
So we’re back from our vacation trip — a little over a week in the Adirondacks with a part of Anne’s extended family (Lorraine & Ray, Joe & Laura with Alex, and Holly who came up with us), plus a few days in Montpelier for Ben’s graduation. All in all a great vacation: hiking, biking, canoes and kayaks, and a whole lot of reading or just hanging out, and the weather was beautiful the whole time. More stories and photos are coming, but for now here’s a shot of the cabin’s yard:
I think that’s Holly in the hammock, but we all got our fair share…
The return to reality was a bit abrupt though, hot humid weather and thunderstorms all the way back, followed by more of the same once we were home. We got home Monday night, and Tuesday morning we went to the funeral for Kris’s father Frank. Ninety years old, a fun and just plain decent guy — he helped on the PPRAC rides, driving support vehicles — with a love of life and a great sense of humor. (It sounds cliché but he really was all that.) Kris’s sister and Mom also passed away over the last year or so, so this was especially rough for her and her siblings. Rest in peace, Frank.
We’re now back long enough to get into the groove of things: I was at the museum yesterday and did a Trail Patrol ride today on the towpath, and Anne is now at orchestra. Tomorrow we go picking blueberries with Renee.
We had a few chilly days this week, including a rainy day or two, but the past two days have been in the upper nineties. Sunny and hot, classic summer weather — like the weather at the Battle of Monmouth, whose anniversary just passed. Anne and I went to Mauch Chunk Lake yesterday and rented kayaks, and spent the day along the shady lake shore, but today will be a bike day: she went to the Hellertown Farmer’s Market by bike (to hang with her spinning group), and I’ll be joining her there later for the ride home. Ugggh — maybe we can take a dip in Saucon Creek on the way home.
I helped Scott S with his Road Scholar rides this week, but only biked two days: I helped with a towpath ride on Monday, and with a road ride on Wednesday from Cherry Valley Vineyards to Delaware Water Gap — in the rain. (It felt awesome; I wish I was there in the rain right now.) Interesting crew of people, ranging in age from about 50 up into the 80’s, and ranging in skill from neophyte to fairly experienced.
I’m still not sure why, but Monday was a totally wasted day. Maybe it was residual exhaustion, maybe it was the heat or pollen, but I was tired and headachey, unable to concentrate, and just plain out of sorts all day, and I basically did nothing. I got up yesterday and I felt much better (it was also a bit cooler), but I seemed to be on track for another “do nothing” day anyway. Until…
I was out in the backyard putting away some party things when I realized it was a beautiful day, and I really needed to go for a ride. I also wanted to keep up on my D&L Trail patrol obligations, so I saddled up and went off for a long towpath ride — I went first to the end of the Lehigh Towpath at Canal Park in Allentown, then turned around and rode to Easton before coming home, for a total of of 34 miles. I was beat by the time I finished, but I was glad I did it, and not just for the mileage: I managed to find two things to report (a down tree near the train yard, and a missing footbridge in Freemansburg), and also helped two women walking their bikes. One had a flat tire, a slow leak that just needed filling so they could get back to where they parked, but they had no pump. So I pumped it up, and off they went. Finally, some things to put in my trail report!
I also came a across two guys on the Albert Street footbridge (my Allentown turnaround), and we all marveled at the giant fish — easily 30″ long — swimming under us in the canal. We exchanged a few more pleasantries, then they went back to ignoring me and continued their conversation, which sounded a lot like drug-dealer gossip, and I took that opportunity to move on. This interlude did not make it into my report…
Back home, I had just enough time to brown the leftover ground beef and toss it in the crock pot with some beans, before going out again with Anne for her Tuesday Night Ladies Ride. It was just us and one other woman, and we did maybe 12 miles total at a pretty mellow pace, which was just fine by me. I did manage to bump into my old friend Bob R, and we rode together for a bit.
Home, had some homemade pizza and some beer, and we (or I) fell into bed exhausted — but it was the right kind of tired this time.