LIPA And CL&P: Where Have I Heard These Excuses Before

It was early November 2011 and Connecticut was fuming.

“The closer we got to CL&P’s self-identified goal of 99% restoration in each city and town by midnight tonight, the more skeptical I became of their ability to meet that goal,” said Gov. Malloy. “It’s now clear they are not going to meet their goal.” – Press Release

You remember: Two storms, Irene and the Halloween Snowstorm had shown dependability not to be a top priority for Connecticut’s largest power company, CL&P.

Flash forward to November 2012. Now the scene is Long Island and CL&P’s evil twin LIPA is being examined.

From the New York Daily News:

“We paid them and we gave them a franchise because they represented themselves as expert in doing this,” [Governor Andrew] Cuomo said. “They failed.”

You can close your eyes and hear Governor Malloy say those same words, can’t you?

Granted, Long Island’s brush with Hurricane Sandy was more severe than our run-ins with Irene and the early snow, still there are haunting similarities. Again, from the Daily News:

By LIPA’s own assessment, the tree-trim program “doesn’t meet” expectations. In fact, LIPA fell short of its planned tree-trim work in six of the first nine months of this year.

A LIPA rep did not have an immediate comment.

When cutting corners leads to larger profits and management bonuses, corners will be cut! If insufficient tree trimming is an every 15 or 20 year problem and you’re only the CEO for 5 or 10 years the risk seems worthwhile… for you, not your customers.

This is a failure of business and government. The experts in charge didn’t do what they should have done. The regulators let them get away with it. Regulators are supposed to be our backstop.

Is this problem endemic to America’s power grid? I hope not, but I have no reassurance it isn’t and I’m not particularly optimistic.

How To Explain What’s Going On In Connecticut To Your Friends

The article is a scathing indictment of a company that’s put their customers last! It’s a must read for everyone in Connecticut and anyone who’s wondering what’s going on here.

As I type 294,496 of CL&P’s customers, nearly one in four, are still without electricity from a storm that hit six days ago! That’s crazy.

If you’re still without power I commend you for maintaining your sanity. As you’ve found, dark comes early this time of year. Nights get cold quickly. Unheated homes have seen their inside temperatures fall into the 40s.

When TV or newspapers show natural disasters they often position the cameras for maximum effect. That’s not necessary here. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of places around the state that look (or looked) like we’ve been through a battle!

But why so long to get the juice flowing? So far the best set of explanations I’ve read comes from Reuters’ Rob Cox writing on

[G]iving Northeast, specifically its Connecticut Light & Power subsidiary, a pass is like absolving Lehman Brothers of any blame for its demise in 2008. Like financial firms, utilities need to manage risks. And they have it relatively easy: much of the task simply involves clearing overhanging trees and other hazards from power lines.

Yet according to regulatory filings, CL&P slashed its maintenance spending by a whopping 26 percent from $130 million in 2008 to just $96.5 million last year. Put simply, that meant one in every four trees that could have been trimmed was left hanging, though the company says the maintenance line was depressed by a deferral of expenses for financial accounting purposes.

He goes on to contrast CL&P’s performance with that of Norwich Public Utilities, owned by the city of Norwich.

[I]t surely also helps that Norwich Public Utilities’ general manager, 12 linemen and five commissioners live in the community, drive the local roads, see the overhanging branches and bump into their customers at the Norwich town Mall

The article is a scathing indictment of a company that’s put their customers last! It’s a must read for everyone in Connecticut and anyone who’s wondering what’s going on here.

When I first came to Connecticut my phone company, bank and electric company were all local. No more. Who benefited? Not me.

Like A Weight Has Been Lifted

Somewhere in this state (where I don’t know) there’s a pool where people are guessing how long Jeffrey Butler will remain as CL&P’s head guy.

Slowly… very slowly I see the power coming back on in Connecticut. I see it at work. One of our reporters tweeted her joy when she discovered her apartment had lights again. Being powerless is much more depressing than you can imagine. It only seems romantic in the abstract!

My co-worker Rachel Frank has been without electricity since Saturday. She lives in an apartment building on a main street. That’s where you’d expect the power restored first!

She’s usually perky. Not today.

I’m seeing a great deal of anger from people rendered powerless. They’re wondering who’s looking out for them? Did CL&P make decisions based solely on shareholder equity without considering ratepayer safety?

Somewhere in this state (where I don’t know) there’s a pool where people are guessing how long Jeffrey Butler will remain as CL&P’s head guy. He has shown little contrition. He seems tone deaf.

In our newsroom there’s a pool which will be won by the person who gets their lights last. The loser is the winner!

When Mr Butler spoke today I think he intended to apologize to his customers. I don’t think he actually did.

What’s On Top Of York Hill?

Meanwhile, as I drove to the top of their beautiful hill I found what I thought was a wind sculpture. That’s only part of the story.

I took a little time to go to Quinnipiac University’s new York Hill Campus for some ‘broad sky’ time lapse tonight. I’m processing my shots, but I think it was a bust. Bad choices on my part.

Meanwhile, as I drove to the top of their beautiful hill I found what I thought was a wind sculpture. That’s only part of the story.

From Quinnipiac University: The 250-acre York Hill Campus will feature two major initiatives that use renewable energy sources to produce electricity and make the campus more sustainable. A wind garden composed of 42 vertical-axis wind turbines will generate about 84,000 kilowatt hours per year. These wind turbines, each approximately 40 feet high, will be built into a garden area complete with stone benches that will provide an area for student gathering and reflection.

Why My Blog Traffic Exploded Today!

A confluence of circumstances conspired to raise my totals. The first says a lot about the power of Google

On March 11, 2010 NBC announced this documentary would re-air. More details here.

My blog is my entertainment. I enjoy writing. I enjoy seeing how many people read what I write. Recently that number has been between 1,200 and 1,500 page views a day. Not too shabby, especially when you consider it’s never been mentioned on-the-air during our newscasts! Today I’m at 9,000 11,621 and counting!

A confluence of circumstances conspired to raise my totals. The first says a lot about the power of Google.

brokaw-google.pngI watched the Tom Brokaw documentary about Gander, Newfoundland on September 11, 2001 tonight (and wrote this about that remarkable doc). On a Saturday afternoon there aren’t too many people writing abut what’s on TV, but there were a lot of people interested in this documentary.

When I ‘publish’ an entry word is automatically sent to Google and its competitors. My pages are in Google’s index in minutes. Usually on popular topics I’m drowned out by more powerful websites. Today, if you searched for “Brokaw, Gander” this site was number one or two (it changed during the day).

I experienced this once before when I wrote about Ashlee Simpson’s lip sync debacle on Saturday Night Live. My East Coast entry was up early and pulled lots of traffic. As Sunday progressed and the story was picked up my search position kept falling–as you’d expect.

This Brokaw doc brought thousands of page reads for both the EST and PST showings!

The second traffic driver was an entry I wrote in 2004. A friend sent me a note about terrible storm damage in California. Attached was a photo of a deck chair on its side. It was pretty funny.

Today someone on attached directly to that same picture with a link reading: “Tsunami damage photos begin trickling in, not for the weak of heart (” I guess that was funny after Hawaii prepped for a tsunami that didn’t come.

I only ‘saw’ that traffic by accident. Since Fark’s link was directly to the photo it didn’t register through my normal counting mechanisms. It was only because of my checking on the Brokaw doc that it was caught.

Linking directly to a photo without linking to my site’s content is like running your house off my electricity! That upset me.
Luckily it’s easy to command this server to redirect photo traffic to the original entry.

They still get a joke and now a little of my site too. I can live with that.

By Monday my traffic levels will return to normal.

On the other hand, links from other sites plus Twitter and Facebook mentions will help Google think more highly of me. This is how traffic is built.

They Make Electricity From Wind In The Desert

The tallest of the windmills are about 150 feet tall with 100 foot long blades! This is a huge installation.

IMG_6699.jpgIf you’re a ‘greenie’–if you’re concerned about the environment and fossil fuels and fresh air, you’ll be impressed by the first thing you see upon entering the Palm Springs, California area. Right there along I-10 is a gigantic wind farm.

I’m sure there’s some sort of method to this madness. It’s just not immediately obvious.

The windmills come in a variety of sizes and, though often clustered in straight lines, they seem sowed across the desert hills like wildflowers. Maybe scattered is the best word to describe what you see.

The tallest of the windmills are about 150 feet tall with 100 foot long blades! This is a huge installation. There are around 4,000 of them (I’ve heard a variety of numbers and will be damned if going to count them myself).

IMG_6697.jpgThe reason these windmills are in this spot has everything to do with nature itself. It is built within the San Gorgonio Pass. This deep mountain pass is a natural conduit for wind which blows nearly continuously! It is one of the most consistently windy spots in the world.

What I’ve written so far is the good news. The bad news is this massive generator ‘only’ produces a bit over 600 megwatts. That’s not much more than the Palm Springs area itself needs.

If one of the world’s windiest places can only produce a moderate amount of electricity while commanding huge acreage what does that say about the prospects for wind generated electricity? I’m afraid it doesn’t say anything good.

Yes, the electricity produced is virtually free, but there’s still the cost of installation, maintenance, transmission and all those acres (which are a whole lot easier to come by in the desert). If this is the best wind power can offer it just doesn’t seem like a practical idea–at least not now with today’s technology.

The Long Trip Home – Ontario Airport

This morning its base is covered in low clouds but its peak is visible.

We’re on our way home to Connecticut. That very well could be a problem. It’s raining lightly and 37&#176 at Bradley Airport right now. It will probably be snowing upon our arrival!

The drive from Palm Springs to Ontario was uneventful. Most of the windmills in the pass were still. I wonder if they’re on-demand or how it’s decided whether they spin or not. Shouldn’t windmills be the first type of electricity generated?

IMG_0315[1].JPGWe stopped for breakfast once we got close to here. Is there anything more California sounding than Advocado Burger? We both had pancakes.

There is a very tall mountain adjacent to this city. I’m assuming I’m talking about Ontario Peak, but I can’t be sure. This morning its base is covered in low clouds but its peak is visible.

Helaine said it looked spooky–and she’s right. It does!

We checked our bags, dropped off the rental car and returned to the terminal. Now we wait. This flight to Las Vegas is on time. The bigger concern is the flight from Vegas to Hartford. I expect the weather will allow us to get to Connecticut tonight… I just can’t be sure.

More to come, probably from McCarran Airport in Las Vegas.

Danny Moves Your Fanny

It’s unlikely we’ll get hit directly by Danny, but how much impact will there be? The line between some and none is tough to find.

danny-thurs-afternoon-plot.gifBack in Buffalo fabled morning disk jockey (and all around good guy) Dan Nevereth had a jingle (and ad campaign) which said, “Danny moves your fanny in the morning.&#185” My question is whether that will be true Saturday morning as Tropical Storm or possibly Hurricane Danny bears down on New England?

I keep looking at the data on Danny hoping to find a morsel which will give me a little relief. Nothing. It’s unlikely we’ll get hit directly, but how much impact will there be? The line between some and none is tough to find.

Added to this a planned weekend trip out-of-town. I fly out and back in not much more than 24 hours! If conditions warrant my trip is canceled. That’s not even under discussion. My first obligation is here in Connecticut.

When do I make my decision? I always tell viewers to wait until the very last moment. I’ll follow my own advice. A decision to “eat the ticket” won’t be made until Saturday morning.

No matter what Danny doesn’t look like it’s going to be a powerhouse. That’s good. The romance of a hurricane is that only in the abstract. I’ve never met anyone who felt the same way after a few days without electricity.

&#185 – Video of this commercial is not on Youtube! It’s probably the only commercial in America not online. I’d love to see a copy if you have one.


The electricity went off at 7:40 this morning. Seven and a half hours later, I’m doing this with the laptop’s battery while using an improvised Internet connection.

We have tickets to a show tonight. At the moment it’s in doubt we can leave.

We are in the country. Without electricity we only have as much well water as remains pressurized.

This has stopped being fun.

Unusual Weather At My House

We have well water at home. No electricity means no showering (or a very quick one before the pressurized tank runs out).

Morning thunderstorms–again. What’s up with this weird weather?

We lost power some time after 1:00 PM. I called the electric company. The automated voice said it would be fixed by 3:50 PM. Great.

Oh, electric company… don’t you think emergency calls should be the first option on your voice mail tree? Today I had to wait until I got all the routine choices first. My ’emergency’ was simple, but some people have sparking lines on the ground. Honest, people with billing questions can wait.

We have well water at home. No electricity means no showering (or a very quick one before the pressurized tank runs out). I threw on jeans, packed my toiletries and a towel and showered at work. We have a very nice shower at work–thankfully.

Ameen’s Big Adventure

This is the story of a very good day. I credit it all to Ameen, someone I hadn’t met until this afternoon.

Today really started yesterday, when I called my friend and fellow photographer, Steve. Saturday was going to be beautiful. I had some free time. Would he like to drive to Litchfield County to take some photos?

Steve was here at noon and by 12:30, with my car’s top down, we headed north.

Where were we going? I had no clue. I’d printed out two Google maps. They were wide shots of Litchfield County – Connecticut’s northwest corner. The maps were good enough to help find a road back home, but not specific enough to take us anywhere in particular.

We took Route 69 through Bethany and Prospect to I-84 in Waterbury, then up Route 8 to Winsted. We were in the country now. We continued northwest on Route 44 to North Canaan. Not one photo had been snapped!

That’s why I hit the brakes and turned into the parking lot when Steve caught sight of the Collin’s Diner. It was very retro and very photogenic.

The diner was tiny, sitting toward the back of a large, but mostly empty parking lot. The building itself had a glass brick foyer, enameled outer panels under the windows and sweeping curved lines where corners are usually found.

We took our cameras from the trunk and began shooting away. A minute later a man walked out of the restaurant and in our direction. He was short, but muscular, with a do rag on his head, a chain with charms around his neck and tattoos on every part of his body not covered by a Wesleyan University t-shirt and Dolce & Gabanna sunglasses.

We soon learned he was Ameen. The restaurant was his family’s business. And, he didn’t mind us taking pictures if we’d send him copies.

We continued to chat and within a few minutes he’d invited us inside to meet his mom and the rest of the family working there.

When we were ready to leave, I asked Ameen where we could go to take some good pictures? He said, “follow me.” For the next few hours we followed Ameen’s hybrid SUV through rural Northern Litchfield County.

Over the past few years, property in Litchfield has become very desirable to New Yorkers looking for a country place. To many people, that’s the new face of Litchfield County. But Ameen has spent a lifetime in these hills and he was going to take us to meet some locals and see things only locals know.

I can’t tell you exactly where we went, but the first stop was the side of a quiet country road where the view was expansive. The mountains in the distance were part of the Catskills in New York State. Between us and them were working lime rock quarries.

We continued uphill. Ameen must have really known the roads because my little sports car kept falling way behind his top heavy SUV. We stopped at Rustling Wind Farm.

Ameen knocked on the door to make sure it was OK for us to take pictures. He got a yes and a hug! As it turns out, at one point he lived in a little house on the property.

Rustling Meadow is the kind of countrified place once foreign to a city boy like me. Even now, it’s heartening to realize places like this really do still exist.

We walked through the upper field, past reminders that horses run here, and stopped to listen to the wind. There was no city noise – nothing mechanical. There was, however, the rotting exterior of a real outhouse!

Back in the car, we headed to the Munson’s. They are a family out of Litchfield County central casting – Karl and Laura are very attractive and earthy parents with two exquisitely beautiful children&#185. As we drove up, mom and daughter were playing in the front yard. The younger son was up in a tree, sitting comfortably as if it were a living room chair.

It didn’t take more than a few seconds to notice a large, four panel solar array, mounted on a post. This single installation provides all their electricity! In fact, power lines from the local electric company don’t even come onto the property!

I’ve met people who were off the grid before – but they usually had to live spartan lives to make it happen. Not so the Munson’s, who store their solar bounty in an array of batteries and have enough for a few weeks of rainy days. There are a few concessions, like a gas powered refrigerator and fluorescent lights, but mostly you wouldn’t notice the difference… until the electric bill didn’t come.

The next thing I noticed was the stone. Karl is a stone mason, and there was what looked like a small stone home off to the side, with a bigger one in the process of being built.

Before there were any buildings, the Munsons lived in a yurt! Like I said, they were out of Litchfield County central casting. They could not have been friendlier or nicer, nor could their life seem more idyllic.

We headed out again, to our next stop at Wangum Lake, a reservoir for the local water company. Like so much else in Northern Connecticut, it is isolated, rural and beautifully pristine.

This was our last stop with Ameen, who was taking his sister out for her birthday. We said goodbye and headed south on Route 7, along the western bank of the Housatonic River. There was one more stop to make.

A few hundred feet off Route 7 in West Cornwall, Route 128 crosses the Housatonic via a covered bridge. There aren’t many of these left. It’s a one lane bridge running not quite the distance of a football field. Could there be anything more New England than this?

It was time to head home, a little over an hour away.

Connecticut never ceases to amaze me. It really is a beautiful state, with sharp contrasts between the shoreline and the hills in its northwest and northeastern corners. Today it was worthy of nearly 200 photographs from me alone. Steve and I had an excellent time.

There’s no doubt, we wouldn’t have seen half as much without Ameen. If you’re ever up in North Canaan, please stop by the Collin’s Diner and tell him we were raving about the hospitality. Next time, we’ll even try the food!

&#185 – Both Munson children were incredibly photogenic. However, this being the 21st Century, I’m not going to post their photos online.

Bad Luck In The Studio

Often, as our newscast begins, I’ll quickly tune the TV at my desk to see what the other stations are leading with. I can’t be the only one in TV to do that?

It’s idle curiosity. Most of the time we all have similar ledes&#185. When we don’t, there’s usually a technical or structural reason that trumps the actual content.

Friday, while tuning, I came to WFSB – Channel 3 in Hartford. They were ‘in black.’

As I sat and wondered what was going on, a tape began to rewind on-the-air. I could pick out the specific digital format by the distinct square pixelated areas. Even the non-initiated could see it was Oprah, running backwards at breakneck speed.

WFSB’s news never did air Friday afternoon. A burst sewer pipe in the basement of their soon-to-be-abandoned building was threatening the electrical system. Everyone was ordered out as the smell of sewage and electricity began to permeate the building (Hey, I’ve got sources).

Last night it was WABC’s turn in New York. A bulb above their news set exploded, causing a curtain to catch fire!

Again, the building was evacuated as fire crews moved in to quickly douse the flames.

In neither case was anyone hurt. That’s a good thing. In neither case did the news get on-the-air. That’s troubling.

I remember reading, 15-20 years ago, about stations that had suffered misfortunes and mounted their newscast from the parking lot or other makeshift locations. I’m afraid those days are over.

As television equipment has become more sophisticated, it has also become less versatile. We can’t just pick up our videotapes and use a live truck, because we’re no longer using tapes. All our video is held in a few racks of computer servers.

Each and every part of what we show on-the-air is controlled by computers. When they communicate nicely, things are smooth as can be. When one system decides it won’t play well with others, it can stop the whole show.

All things considered, I’d rather have to tell the audience fire kept us from bringing them the news than blaming it on poop!

&#185 – This alternate spelling “lede” has become more and more popular recently. I’m sure someone will cite longstanding tradition, but I never remember anyone using that spelling prior to the last four or five years.

Another Mention In Print

Wow – two print mentions in the past week. This time Joe Amarante of the New Haven Register called to ask about our lack of winter.

I’m not sure “alarmist crap” is be a phrase I’d use again for attribution. It was inelegant and crude. Unfortunately, it’s an accurate quote. Sometimes stuff just comes out.

I think writers, like Joe and Charlie Walsh at the Connecticut Post (who quoted me last week), have a distinct advantage over TV people. We need to haul our sorry butts to the scene of the crime. Newspaper people can just pick up the phone and interview a half dozen people in the time it takes us to drive to some far off little town.

Continue reading “Another Mention In Print”

One Day – Two Destinations

From Antelope – Zion

We started the morning in Kayenta, Arizona, just outside Monument Valley. I’m sure the people of the Monument Valley Region are very nice, but I wish Kayenta was more respectful of the natural beauty that surrounds it. There are no nice photos to be taken in Kayenta, because the scenery is interrupted at every vantage.

We headed out of Kayenta, west through Northern Arizona toward Page, home of Antelope Canyon, our first destination of the day. As has been the case since Gallup, NM, we were on two lane blacktop with 65 mph speed limits.

This is an Interstate free zone!

From Antelope – Zion

From time-to-time I wanted to pass the car in front of me. That meant waiting for a clear spot, hoping Helaine would cover her eyes, running it up to 85 mph, and swinging into the oncoming lane.

There aren’t a whole bunch of places to do that in Connecticut. Actually, there aren’t a whole lot of places to do that anywhere. It’s a lost art. Thankfully, everyone keeps their headlights on day and night.

From Antelope – Zion

As we sped west, we passed through a bunch of little towns… actually, more like settlements of a few houses. The speed limit would drop to 55 mph for a hundred yards or so and then back to 65 mph. Next.

What kind of life do people have here? We were curious in an anthropological way. Is it a life to be loved, or do kids wait for the day they can escape?

From Antelope – Zion

Forty miles from Page, and driving parallel to its single track, electrified railroad, we got our first glimpse of the gigantic Navajo Generation Station. Two of its three stacks were blowing something white skyward.

I’m hoping it was steam, though I doubt it. There were separate cooling towers for that.

From Antelope – Zion

As we got closer, and the sheer size of the plant became apparent, Helaine started singing, “One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong.”

Whatever I said about Kayenta goes doubly for Page. I know we need to generate electricity. I wish there was a less invasive way. After all, this huge power plant also needs huge transmission lines to take the power away.

We were in Page to visit Antelope Canyon. It is a slot canyon. Don’t worry, until recently I didn’t know what that meant either.

This area of the country gets little rain. What they do get isn’t spread through the seasons, but falls in brief deluges which often cause flash flooding.

From Antelope – Zion

Over the eons, a flooded stream, Antelope Wash, found its way to the Colorado River by boring through a hillside. That channel is the slot canyon we visited.

Because it’s carved through sandstone, the walls have smooth curves and a layered look. At certain times of the year (not now) sunlight streams through to the canyon floor as beams of light.

It was unlike anything Helaine or I had ever seen before – beautiful, mystical, spiritual.

From Antelope – Zion

We signed up for a tour at the entrance to the Navajo Park which contained the canyon. The operation of the tour company was rinky dink. However, our guide Carol was amazing.

She knew all about the canyon and, after all these tours, was a camera expert. She spent lots of time showing people where and how to get great shots, even with little point and shoot cameras.

Carol’s expertise will be felt when returning tourists look at their photos and find her masterpieces.

From Antelope – Zion
From Antelope – Zion
From Antelope – Zion
From Antelope – Zion
From Antelope – Zion

We left Antelope Canyon, headed over the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam and into Utah. I believe I’m entitled to another wife at this point.

The road settled into a low area flanked by white monolithic rocks, We were in Glen Canyon.

From Antelope – Zion

I know Grand Canyon is larger, deeper and more well known. However, you usually see The Grand Canyon from the top looking down. Here, we were in the middle of the broad flood plain. The rock faces towered over us. I have never felt smaller nor more inconsequential.

From Antelope – Zion

As with the trip to Page, the roads were good. From time-to-time we’d round a sharp bend or go down the side of a mountain steep enough to warrant a sign listing the grade (6% was our personal best).

Helaine isn’t comfortable with heights. This was not her ideal routing.

From Antelope – Zion

We made a left onto Route 9 in Mt. Carmel, Utah and headed into Zion National Park. Of all the scenery we’ve seen so far, this is the prettiest… the most awesome.

From Antelope – Zion

The park road is a narrow two lane affair – definitely not good for 65 mph! It is also the first ‘redtop’ road I’ve ever seen. I don’t know why it’s red. I’ll try and find out more tomorrow.

The road dipped and curved and hugged the side of steep mountains. As treacherous as the road is, there are two places which must be worse, because two tunnels are bored through mountainsides.

From Antelope – Zion

At the second tunnel there was construction, which set us back twenty minutes. It also allowed us twenty minutes to soak in the scenery.

From Antelope – Zion

We’re staying in Springdale, Utah tonight. Everything that was wrong with Kayenta and Page is absent here. This is a spectacular little town, with shops, restaurants, galleries and a free shuttle bus system!

I’ve only been here a few hours, but I’m loving Zion National Park and Springdale.

Tomorrow we’re going to take the shuttle to the park for a little exploring before hopping in the car and heading southwest to Las Vegas.

From Antelope – Zion
From Antelope – Zion
From Antelope – Zion

Friday Is For Photos

It’s good to have an understanding wife. She is often willing to tag along when she knows there’s something I want to do. I’d like to think I indulge her on an equal basis. Who’s keeping score?

Today, she had to return something at the Outlet Center in Clinton, and I went along – taking my camera with me.

If you would have told me taking photos could become such an obsession, I’d have poo poo’ed you… until it happened to me.

Is this what crack is all about? I just can’t stop.

We headed west from Clinton along US Route 1. Through most of Connecticut, Route 1 is known as the Post Road or Boston Post Road. This is how the mail moved up the East Coast before Interstates and the Internet and anything else with ‘inter’ in it.

As we passed through the center of Clinton, we saw a 12 foot tall tractor trailer stuck under an 11″ 10′ bridge! Part of the trailer’s roof was peeled back like a sardine can. Not big news, but I phoned the station just in case.

Is Connecticut shoreline, from Clinton to Madison, Guilford and Branford has a very New England feel – much more so than where I live. There are many old homes – some actually historic, dating back to the Revolution. The roadway itself meanders along tidal marshes and estuaries and is canopied by tall trees.

We made a few turns, drove by homes we once considered buying (they both look very small now), mistakenly turned back to the east and headed under what has to be the world’s most dangerous underpass in Guilford. After a u-turn we were back on track.

I finally, we were at our destination, the town dock in the Stony Creek section of Branford. Just offshore are a small sprinkling of tiny islands, commonly known as the Thimble Islands.

Many of the Thimbles are little more than rocks protruding out of the water at high tide. Others are large enough for one house. A few are large enough for multiple dwellings.

When Steffie was a baby, we were invited out to a party on Governors Island. The home we visited was more of a cottage. Though it had telephone service and running water, there was no electricity.

Jane Pauley and Garry Trudeau lived in the house next door. I tried to be adult about it, but c’mon… it was Jane Pauley and Garry Trudeau! How cool is that?

I took some shots, trying out the new monopod&#185 I bought on EBay. A monopod is like a tripod after a double amputation. It helps steady the camera, but you can’t leave it to stand by itself.

I tried some panoramas – less than successful – and then shot away at the water and islands.

This is going to sound strange, but the colors of nature are off this time of year! With so many trees in bloom, they take on an unnatural shade and produce an unexpectedly high luminance.

Helaine needed to be home in time to watch the Daytime Emmy Awards, so I had time for one more photo stop. We drove over the Quinnipiac River Bridge, into New Haven and up to the top of East Rock.

At 359 feet above sea level, East Rock provides a great view of New Haven and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, much of the view isn’t that scenic.

New Haven’s harbor, which is deep and well protected is a ‘working harbor.’ So industry, enabled by shipping, has grown up on the waterfront.

Where there isn’t industry, there’s I-95. At New Haven, I-95 runs right along the Sound. It’s a shame, I suppose, but a little too late to change that.

Again, I wasn’t particularly successful with my panoramas, but I did manage to shoot off a few dozen more shots – some of which aren’t terribly bad.

On the way down we stopped at an overlook which pointed north, toward where we live. Usually, I think of East Rock’s unobstructed view across Long Island Sound (and today, Long Island itself was easily visible), but the view to the north can be very pretty and in many ways more ‘New England’ than what you’d see from ground level.

The northerly view also presents one of the few remaining unobstructed views of Sleeping Giant Mountain, where you can actually visualize the giant!

I’m not sure if any of today’s photos will make it to the printer. Still, I’m glad I tried. And, it was very nice spending the day with Helaine.

&#185 – The monopod is very cool and it comes in a cloth carry case with strap. However, think about the shape of a monopod. There’s the ‘head’ at the top for the camera and then it slims to a cylinder for the rest of the unit.

In its sack, it looks like I’m carrying a short rifle.