Just kicking back this afternoon. We woke up at the crack of 10:30 to a rainy day, bad weather ahead of Hurricane Florence — the “pre-math” of the hurricane? — and since it looks like a good day for housework, nobody here is moving very fast. It’s actually a bit chilly out, mid 50’s, and I am wearing a long-sleeved shirt Anne got for me yesterday while “back to school” shopping with her nieces (who all have school-age kids, and who are all in education themselves). I can do without the rain, but it feels like the start of my favorite time of year.
- Category Archives day by day
This is the category closest to just being a plain diary. Places I go, things I do, people I see, what’s happening in my life.
We did a bit more sightseeing yesterday, and managed to go out to the Parthenon replica they have here. It was built for the Tennessee Centennial, and I’m guessing it was part of the same impulses that influenced the Greek Revival type buildings throughout the town. It was a pretty impressive building, and the inside (the basement, really) is now an art museum.
After that, the group split up, with some going to Reese Witherspoon’s store while the rest of us went on a brewery tour, in a section of town called “The Gulch.” The first place we went was Yazoo Brewing, and — we planned it this way — I met my old Manalapan friend Scott and his family. (They live nearby and were going to a College football game.) Really nice to catch up, and meet his wife and kids in person rather than just Facebook.
After Yazoo Brewing, we went to the Jackalope brewery where the Reese Witherspoon crowd caught up with us. Again, awesome place and really good beer — it was kind of strange to see so many breweries with serious local cred that I’d never heard of, but it was also kind of fun… BBQ dinner after that, then we split again, the youth among us heading back to the honk-tonk part of town, while us olds checked out the free concert.
The less said about that the better: we are probably a bit too old but it was loud, and crowded, and the act we saw — Matt and Kim — was just plain horrible. They seemed to be a cartoon parody of a bad techno act.
Today we’re going on a hike at a local park, and the wedding is tonight.
We interrupt this Michigan vacation report to say: we are now in Nashville, Tennessee for the wedding of Anne’s nephew. We left on Thursday about noon, stayed over in Christiansburg VA, and arrived here yesterday in time to go out on the town with a big portion of the wedding crew. The strip here is basically nuts — Nash Vegas, as one homeless guy said — but we got some really good BBQ, and did some serious honky-tonking, before bed.
We were only able to reserve one night at Tahquamenon Falls, but I did get two more nights reserved at Indian Lake State Park, between Lake Michigan and the much smaller, but still huge, Indian Lake. We were almost glamping at this one: our site was near the bathroom, and we ate out for breakfast and dinner. We were right on the shore of Indian Lake, which was forbidding and choppy when we arrived. Llater that afternoon the wind picked up; it felt like, if we were back home, an incredible thunderstorm was about to begin, but all it did was blow — all afternoon and all night.
The next day was much nicer weather, and we rode the seven miles to Big Spring, which was a huge, crystal clear pond, fed by springs coming up through fissures in the bottom. They said it produced 10,000 gallons a day, which then exited via its own stream and fed Indian Lake. Incredible color, with huge trout just swimming slowly around in the water.
That night we ate at Big Spring Inn, and the next morning we took off for Marquette.
We didn’t quite make it to Whitefish Point, but our first night on the Upper Peninsula was spent pretty close to the bay, at a campsite in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, right where the Tahquamenon River enters Lake Superior. It was pretty serendipitous, actually: the campground was supposed to be full, but I took a chance and called, and we got a reservation for one night — in the RV section. (We got a good look at RV camping here and at our next campsite, and it’s a really weird, alien world.)
Anyway, we made it to our site in the middle of Thursday afternoon, set up camp and took a short walk down to the river mouth and lake shore, and saw a bunch of pileated woodpeckers, all hopping around on the ground eating bugs. The sunset was pretty; we watched from the riverbank as the sky grew dark, then crashed for the night in the hammock. We’d been warned about serious mosquito nastiness, but the bugs were not too bad, and it was also mush warmer than we were expecting, mid-eighties during the day and maybe 70 at night.
Friday we packed up, then we did a road ride out to the Lower Falls on the river, about 30 miles round trip. This area is so flat that we were doing a good 17 mph with almost no effort — it was a bit of a surprise that there could even be waterfalls here, when we actually found ourselves at the falls they were really big (though not tall), and beautiful. It was another hot day and people were swimming;,and some teens were even playing behind the falling water.
It was mid-afternoon when we got back to the campsite. We showered and changed, and then hit the road for Manistique.
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.