How To Get Connecticut Snowfall Totals

Doppler Versus Snow

This time of year there’s a steady barrage of incoming messages looking for Connecticut snowfall totals. Some folks are curious. Others want to make sure their plow contractor isn’t overcharging, or they’re plow contractors who’d like to charge more!

The info isn’t easily obtained, especially for smaller towns. If you’re looking for Connecticut snowfall totals, here’s where I go.

The most complete source is the Connecticut Department of Transportation Weather Roundup. These are collected every two hours at DOT yards across Connecticut. Because of the methodology used the cumulative snowfall total is always more than what’s actually settled on the ground.

The National Weather Service splits Connecticut between three Weather Service Forecast Offices. That makes things more difficult. You’ll have to look at all three Public Information Statements to put the info together.

Shoreline counties: National Weather Service Forecast Office, Upton, NY.

Hartford, Tolland and Windham Counties: National Weather Service Forecast Office, Taunton, MA.

Litchfield County: National Weather Service Forecast Office, Albany, NY.

Snowfall and other weather data is often critical in accidents and contract disputes. For those more exacting cases when just numbers on paper (or a screen) aren’t enough I provide forensic meteorological services for attorneys and insurance companies.

We Went To Kent (Photos)

The more I get into photography the more I realize I can’t just run-and-gun and be happy with my shots!

Here’s the best baker’s dozen from today’s trip into the Litchfield Hills. Looking back my only regret was not taking a tripod! The more I get into photography the more I realize I can’t just run-and-gun and be happy with my shots!

Though the photos are right below this text, they’re viewed better larger. Here’s a link to the larger full screen slideshow on Flickr.

We Went To Kent

It rained for the first half hour of our trip. Helaine gave me the evil eye you give the weatherman when he takes you sightseeing on a rainy day.

On TV I’ve been telling everyone how poorly the fall foliage is doing. I based that on reports from trusted sources, but I wanted to see for myself and get some photos of whatever it is we’re getting. This afternoon Helaine and I hopped in the Subaru and headed north.

We really didn’t start with a specific destination. I barked, “Kent, Connecticut” at the Google Navigation applet built in to my new phone and let it figure out the rest. The trip was estimated a little under 1:30 without stops. We stopped!

As we drove the back roads that lead from Hamden to Bethany I began to think, “Why the hell are we going all the way to the Litchfield Hills? It’s pretty countrified here… and pretty pretty!”

It was a right on Route 69 to 42 to 63 then north on Route 8.

Route 8 north of Waterbury is Connecticut’s prettiest divided highway, right? South of Waterbury it’s easily Connecticut’s most treacherous! What the hell were they thinking when they built that snake through the Naugatuck Valley?

It rained for the first half hour of our trip. Helaine gave me the evil eye you give the weatherman when he takes you sightseeing on a rainy day.

I knew hoped it would clear up as the Sun began to get a little lower in the sky. These were instability showers and they needed warmth at ground level to get going.

We passed some farms. I thought about pulling over, but not until it was too late. The same with a few medium sized lakes.

We were driving parallel to a small river, so I took a right onto Town Hill Road in Warren… maybe… I’m not sure… and pulled to the shoulder.

While Helaine waited I walked into the woods and down to the river bank. If the river’s got a name it’s not obvious on the maps I’m looking at&#185. A few trees were bare. Most still had leaves–mostly green and yellow with big dark spots indicative of the weather related problems that have dulled the foliage.

I got some shots and got back in the car.

By this time we were getting pretty close to Kent. I needed to commit.

We could visit the Kissingers? Maybe Seth MacFarlane’s boyhood home? Paul Leka, the guy responsible for “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” is up the road in Sharon in the Colgate Mansion (Note to self: Write iconic hit song. Achieve financial security. Lather. Repeat.). Of course I don’t know any of them.

By this time we were seeing signs for Kent Falls.

We made a right into downtown Kent, drove past the tourists scouring the antique shops and headed toward the falls. I’d heard of them. Until today I’d never been.

The stream begins in the town of Warren, draining an area of six or seven square miles. It then flows west to the big fall where it plunges approximately 70 feet in a dramatic cascade. From here the stream descends in a series of lesser falls and cascades to the valley, where it enters the Housatonic River some 200 feet below the brink of the big fall only a quarter mile away. Much of the limestone over which the brook flows has been carved into interesting shapes including numerous potholes of all sizes.

Even without a fiery color show the Kent Falls is spectacular. I walked a slippery trail up the right side, past the “This Area Closed To The Public” sign to a flat ledge at the base of the first fall. Knowing my (dead)cat-like reflexes I moved slowly with every muscle tensed.

I started with single shots then decided to try some three shot clusters for HDR processing.

We continued north on Route 7 stopping briefly at a farmer’s field on the west side of the road. More HDR shots. Disappointing. I thought the vantage would be better.

Route 7 crosses the river as it continues northward toward Lakeville and the Berkshires. We stopped at the foot of the covered bridge that leads to West Cornwall.

By this time it was getting dark. HDR photography isn’t understanding of noisy pictures taken at high ISO settings nor the shake that comes from a slow shutter. I had a monopod which helps. Bringing my tripod would have been better. It is what it is.

All-in-all I hit the shutter 270 times. Many of those are duplicates or in the case of HDR sets triplicates. I’ll spend the rest of the evening editing them and post a few tomorrow.

I’m tired, sore and glad we went!

&#185 -In the comments Mike A. reveals it is Waramaug Brook AKA Sucker Brook. So now we know!

We’re Off To See The Daffies

It’s my understanding the daffodils were planted in 1941 by a husband and wife from New York who’d bought a home in this countrified piece of the Northwest Hills.

A few years ago I got a tip from my friend (and competitor) Bob Maxon. He knew I was into photography. What he didn’t know was whether I knew about the amazing daffodils in Litchfield County?

Uh, no.

Since Bob’s original email I’ve been back each year. Last year it was with my friend and photo buddy Steve. Today it was with Helaine and my parents who are visiting from Floria.

It’s my understanding the daffodils were planted in 1941 by a husband and wife from New York who’d bought a home in this countrified piece of the Northwest Hills. As far as I know the daffies grow wild now with little help.

My parents and Helaine were impressed. I’ll be back next year.

Return To Daffodil Hill

It is acre upon acre of daffodils growing wild and free. Four shots from that trip are now framed and hung in the eat-in portion of our kitchen.

geoff-photographer.jpgLast April as daffodils began to bloom Bob Maxon from Channel 30 posted a comment on the blog.


Have you ever been to “Daffodil Hill” in Litchfield County? With your love of photography, and a rag top, you should venture up there next weekend, as its still little early for the hills to be blooming. It is a breathtaking spot…if you want directions, drop me a line.

He said the magic word–“photography.” It’s more obsession than love. I asked for directions.

This weekend last year I drove up, fell in love and shot a few hundred photos at one of the most beautiful spots in Connecticut. I walked out of the car and looked at acre upon acre of daffodils growing wild and free. Four shots from that trip are now framed and hung in the eat-in portion of our kitchen.

I don’t know the full story, but in 1941 Virginia and Remy Morosani planted them “for all to enjoy.” It’s now run by the Laurel Ridge Foundation.

This year I asked my photo buddy Steve if he wanted to come along? We met on site late in the afternoon (his wife’s idea to get more dramatic lighting). The daffodils didn’t sem quite as fully in bloom as last year. Maybe that’s a product of our brutal winter?

Here’s how I know photography has become an obsession. I brought a backpack and a separate bag with my tripod! This was going to be a technical exercise for me.

It didn’t take more than a few minutes for the tripod to be unpacked with my camera placed on top. The tripod and camera were low enough I had to lay on my belly to focus and shoot. My idea was to get sharp foreground and fuzzy background, meaning a long lens (my 70-300mm at 300mm) and fast shutter speeds.

Much of the rest of the afternoon was spent executing this very specific game plan. I’m not sure if this is how photography is supposed to work? It’s only recently that I’ve been taking a large portion of my shots this way.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know I feel photography is much more technical execution than artistry. I’m just following my own advice and, at least this time, I was happy with the results.

At one point a man walked by carrying a tiny dog. I asked if I could take a few shots? As I did a woman walked by with a little girl. The man asked if the girl wanted to pet the dog?

As the dog was put down on the ground the little girl began to giggle uncontrollably. I think my best shot of the afternoon was a candid, handheld, of the girl with the dog. i wish the lighting was better, but this was really on-the-fly.

I’m Wishing It Was Spring

I’ve been thinking about spring because with the re-do in the kitchen I have convinced Helaine to let me hang a few springtime photos from Daffodil Hill in Litchfield County.

As forecast (my favorite phrase) it’s a nasty Saturday. More clouds than sun. Scattered sprinkles. Windy and chilly. As glad as I am my forecast verified I’d rather have real spring.

I’ve been thinking about spring because with the re-do in the kitchen I have convinced Helaine to let me hang a few springtime photos from Daffodil Hill in Litchfield County. I have a ‘gallery’ upstairs, but this is a lot more visible. These will be 8x10s on the two walls bordering a large window.





HDR Photography At Lake Watrous

There are a few other little tweaks I did which I’d mention, but Helaine gets upset when I fool with Mother Nature.


Over the weekend Ann Nyberg, who I work with, sent me an email with a link to a Hartford Courant column by Rinker Buck. I’ve written about Rinker’s famous telling-off-the-boss column in the Courant.

This time Rinker wrote about a photographer in Litchfield County who is fooling with HDR (high dynamic range) photography. It’s all the rage, though often it turns out overdone and unrealistic.

lake-watrous-components.gifI had a few shots I took at Lake Watrous and bracketed for HDR, but never processed. Tonight I found a tutorial by Bert Monroy and tried my luck. The result is the photo at the top of this entry. The sequence on the left is made from three of the images used to create the HDR.

Without HDR you can see the trees/lake or the sky, just not both together. There are a few other little tweaks I did which I’d mention, but Helaine gets upset when I fool with Mother Nature.

This is a lot closer to what I saw than “Clicky” can provide on his own.

Daffodil Hill – Litchfield, Connecticut

Daffodil Hill is hidden between Thomaston and Litchfield in the countryside of Litchfield County. Planted nearly 70 years ago by Virginia and Rémy Morosani, the flowers attract hundreds during their short season.

This entry actually has its origins in a comment to an earlier post left by my friend (and friendly competitor) Bob.


Have you ever been to “Daffodil Hill” in Litchfield County? With your love of photography, and a rag top, you should venture up there next weekend, as its still little early for the hills to be blooming. It is a breathtaking spot…if you want directions, drop me a line.


That’s quite a sales pitch. This afternoon, with the skies partly cloudy and temperatures mild, I hopped in the car&#185 and headed northwest.

Daffodil Hill is hidden between Thomaston and Litchfield in the countryside of Litchfield County. Planted nearly 70 years ago by Virginia and Rémy Morosani, the flowers attract hundreds during their short season.

The beauty of this place is, the daffodils are naturally cultivated. There are open spots and clusters. It looks like it evolved in an organic sort of way.

The daffodils are in the kind of idyllic spot that attracts big money New York City residents searching for a weekend place. Much of Litchfield has become a county of part time residents.

Today, there was no shortage of people with cameras… especially DSLRs, like “Clicky.” It’s a can’t miss photo op, I hope.

&#185 – No ragtop for me. My car is actually a hardtop convertible. The motor driven top folds itself into the trunk!

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.

Know Your Source

I feel awful for Mark Dixon and my other meteorologist friends at Channel 3. Here’s a taste of a story about a weather faux pas from today’s Hartford Courant:

False Alarm, Toto

Photograph Of Tornado Was Actually From Kansas, Not Thomaston, WFSB Says


Courant Staff Writers

July 21, 2007

A photo of a Kansas-size twister that accompanied a TV news report Thursday about an outbreak of severe thunderstorms in Connecticut actually was taken in Kansas.

WFSB, Channel 3, received the photo by e-mail Thursday afternoon from a man who said he shot it on his father’s farm in Thomaston, station news director Dana Neves said Friday. The timing of the e-mail corresponded with radar showing severe weather over southern Litchfield County and ground reports of funnel clouds and a tornado in that same area, WFSB meteorologist Mark Dixon said Friday. The totality of the situation, he and Neves said, convinced the station that the photo was legitimate.

The photo was shown on the broadcast and displayed prominently on WFSB’s website,

After verifying through the National Weather Service that the photo was shot in Kansas about two years ago, the station announced the mistake to viewers Thursday evening, Neves said. They also alerted federal officials.

I’m not saying it couldn’t have happened to me – because it could have. I tend to treat any kind of unsolicited video or eyewitness account with a grain of salt, but I’m not perfect.

Just to give you a taste of what goes on, here’s an email I received Thursday:

Hi Geoff–We had a tornado touch down in Thomaston and then again in Terryville–I don’t know about damage because I don’t live there. But local police saw it and reported it. Just thought you would like to know.


I was so busy, I didn’t see this until long after the cell had passed through Thomaston. By that time, based on an NWS report, we had sent a reporter there. He found nothing.

I wrote asking Sharon where she got her info.

Hi Geoff–

I was watching the Weather Channel when I first got home and it came across in the National Weather Service Tornado warning on the bottom of the screen. It said the tornado was spotted by local law enforcement.


Sharon didn’t mean to be bad or misleading. She was doing what she felt was right. But, she originally passed along second hand information as if she had obtained it herself.

I try my best to make personal contact with anyone who sends unsolicited material I use, but I know there are times I haven’t stridently followed my own rule. Speaking to someone usually provides to best clues to their trustworthiness.

This stuff happens all the time. Most of the time it’s a photo that someone claims comes from a friend or relative – but it doesn’t. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the same bogus Katrina pictures!

There’s a larger point to be made here and that gets to the crux of citizen journalism. Are we ready to trust random members of the public to provide our news coverage?

Opinionated reporters (Bill O’Reilly, Keith Olbermann, Lou Dobbs, Brit Hume) may choose to report only certain aspects of a story, but you know where they’re coming from and can adjust accordingly. With random citizens, who knows what they’re trying to accomplish or maybe they’re too naive, like Sharon, to even know.

A good TV station, like WFSB, steps up to the plate and admits when they are wrong. That’s what good meteorologists and good journalists do.

On the other hand, when caught sending dubious material, I’ve found unsolicited citizen ‘journalists’ often stop responding.

This is the new world. There are aspects I don’t approve of.

Hurricane Questions

After the loss of life, and confusion, following Hurricane Charley, an interesting op-ed piece was written by Bryan Norcross, Chief Meteorologist from WFOR in Miami. You can read it here now, or click the ‘continue’ link at the end of this posting.

Norcross makes some interesting points, many of which I agree with.

Though we make our own forecasts at the TV station, we respect the Weather Service’s watches and warnings (though there are times I mention them, followed by what I think will actually happen).

The bigger problem occurs when watches and warnings are contradictory. Uncoordinated watches, warnings and statements for hurricanes, severe storms… even winter weather, is a continuing weakness of The Weather Service. All hurricane watches, warnings and statements should come from one place – period.

This certainly led to the disservice done to the people for Florida.

When local offices speak, they address problems from their own perspective, which is not necessarily the public’s. And, the public and media are probably concentrating their attention on the Storm Prediction Center (Whose idea was it to change this from the much more meaningful Hurricane Center?), which is where most people would expect to find hurricane info.

I work in Connecticut, a small state served by three NWS offices. Their statements often mislead the public because each only refers to the region for which they forecast.

Here’s an example. If Boston says a watch has been canceled for Connecticut, they mean their counties. No one in Connecticut could read a statement like that and understand that half the state is still under a watch.

During the winter, Litchfield County, our ‘snowbelt,’ might be under a lesser category of alert because the Albany office uses somewhat different criteria than the New York or Boston offices. When I post a map which shows a Winter Weather Advisory for Litchfield while there’s a Winter Storm Warning for our other counties (even though Litchfield has the more wintry forecast) it does nothing but confuse.

I have been to NWS ‘customer’ conferences in Washington, and have tried to sensitize them to this confusion. As you see – no change.

Continue reading “Hurricane Questions”

Looking to the Future

Much of my work time is spent looking into the future. I’m pretty good at it. Of course the farther into the future I predict, the less accuracy I have. On top of that, the more events that have to happen in a distinct order, at a distinct time, the less accuracy I have.

It is easy to look at the computer generated maps I get, with weather features neatly placed in exact spots, and assume that’s exactly where they’ll be. It doesn’t always work that way – though sometimes it does.

I’m giving you all these “CYA” statements before I tell you about some projections I saw earlier today. If what I saw comes true, this will be a terrible week here in Connecticut… actually, that’s an understatement. What I saw if it comes out exactly as I saw it would be the precursor for some pretty significant flooding.

The setup of two tropical systems in rapid succession is just what happened prior to the Connecticut floods of 1955. Since then flood control dams have been built in Litchfield County. It is doubtful the same thing would happen in the same place today. Still, there is just so much rain that can be dealt with before some significant flooding takes place.

Right now it’s Tuesday with the first tropical system scheduled to be here Friday. I’m not sure it will get us. I’m less certain of Sunday’s run in with the second storm. But the maps certainly have my attention right now and I will be on the edge of my seat as each new run of the models come in.

I seldom want to be wrong. I’ll make an exception here.

Sitting, Waiting for Thunderstorms

Even a few days ago, today looked like it would be a thunderstorm day. Lots of heat and humidity, a cold front approaching from the northwest, negative lifted index numbers (a very telling severe weather parameter). Movement from the northwest is the ‘favored’ direction for severe weather here in Connecticut.

As I type this, there’s a Severe Thunderstorm Watch in effect for Litchfield County (far Northwestern Connecticut) and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it expanded later. Even without the watch there will be more thunderstorms late tonight throughout the state.

I’ve got one eye on the radar and the other scanning the watches and warnings popping up from the Weather Service. I’ll have to be more thoughtful than usual tonight in making decisions to break into programming, since we’d be breaking into ceremonies for President Reagan, not a sitcom or reality show. I understand the solemnity in this event.

I hate severe weather, which isolates me from many of my peers. There’s a weather oriented bulletin board I read from time-to-time. I constantly see meteorologists begging for storms (not that we can affect the outcome!

I wish I was in Lincoln…or St. Joseph, or a number of places besides southern MO. MCI forecast sounding for 00z tonight is impressive:

LI of -12, Sweat 681, SREH 319…enough for some nastiness. Normally I’d like to see the LCL a bit lower, but given the instability any negatives should be overcome. FSU…have fun!

Have fun!

Let me translate a little. MCI is Kansas City (in the same way LAX is Los Angeles and JFK is New York). LI is the previously mentioned lifted index. Sweat and SREH are two more severe weather forecast parameters. Most importantly, this guy wants to be there. And, he along with others, root for stronger storms! FSU is a forecaster who graduated from Florida State University.

Am I missing something? Won’t this stuff injure or even kill people? Property and business will be lost. People near the severe weather will be frightened.

News anchors don’t hope for a murder or fire so they can have a more compelling lead (at least I don’t think they do). Why are weather people so different?

No matter how long I work in this field I’ll never understand why some of my contemporaries are hoping for the worst. It’s just weird.

My Day of Kayaking

As anticipated, 8:30 AM came very quickly. Hey, to me that’s the middle of the night. A little procrastination with the bedroom TV, and then I was in the shower getting ready. I was actually running on time!

The plan was to meet at my friend Kevin’s house, in Cheshire at 10:00 AM. Kevin had invited me, his boss Scott and his daughter, plus a friend, Jeff.

It was beautiful. A little on the humid side, but with a pure blue sky. I had the top down and the radio up. As I turned from N. Brooksvale to Mountain Rd, a bicyclist came the other way. He was dressed in a loud, skin tight biking suit. But, he had the best advice of the day, “Cops ahead.”

The speed limit on Mountain is 25 mph – an unattainable goal, even if you know there are police lurking. I did about 30. As I passed the patrol car, the policeman turned his head and looked at me. No one does 30 without being tipped off! I’m sure he knew.

Kevin has a small trailer. He lashed the kayaks to it, and we were off. We went up I-84 to Waterbury and then north on Route 8 into the Southern Litchfield Hills. It didn’t take long to get to the White Memorial Foundation – hundreds of acres of nature preserve.

If the White Memorial Foundation sounds familiar, it should. It’s where Connecticut’s Governor Rowland has a small cottage, which had a hot tub, which is all swirled within the specter of corruption charges.

Scott checked the water temperature as we brought the boats down to the Bantam River. His thermometer read 70&#176, though we would later all agree it was probably in the 60’s farther from shore.

If I had been in a kayak before, it was a long time ago. I rocked a little from side to side as I set out. Last night, at the station, our director Tracey had admonished me to push, not pull when paddling. Otherwise, she said, I’d get very sore.

Easier said than done, but I tried.

The Bantam River is small and gently flowing in this part of Litchfield County. We headed to the right, against the minuscule current. A light breeze was at our back.

You actually wouldn’t know there was a current on this river except for the beaver dams. I had heard and read about beaver dams for years, but had never really experienced them. From bank to bank, a pile of twigs, branches and mud choked the flow. We found weak spots and paddled over… though I got caught a little more than once.

The kayak handled really easily and it didn’t take me long to get into the rhythm. Inertia is an important part of kayaking. When you stop paddling, the kayak continues… in my case it often kept going until it hit another kayak!

The White Memorial Foundation land is a protected habitat for all sorts of wildlife. We saw birds, including a few hawks and beautiful red winged blackbirds. A duck, probably protecting a nearby nest, let me get pretty close without flinching. I turned back, not wanting to upset him. There were turtles too, including one who seemed to be stretching out as if he were sunning himself on a Caribbean vacation.

After a mile or so (Kevin had a GPS receiver capable of plotting our course) we came to some beaver dams too high to paddle over. So, we just turned around and went back down river.

The river wasn’t crowded, but it wasn’t empty either. A while later we ran into an older husband and wife, and their dog Coco. The dog was sitting comfortably in a wicker basket lashed to the front of one of their kayaks. Coco started kayaking at 3 months and wouldn’t even think of staying on shore now.

My five hours of sleep and the gentle rocking of the kayak was starting to catch up with me. I asked if it would be OK for us to end it here – and we did.

I hadn’t flipped the kayak. I hadn’t really gotten sick. I hadn’t put anyone else in mortal danger by doing something stupid. The trip was a success.

I’m hoping to go with Kevin again. Next time, with a little Dramamine, I’d like to try the Thimble Islands, off the Branford coast, in Long Island Sound.

Up the Creek Without a Paddle

I really shouldn’t be up right now. The alarm goes off at 8:30 AM – the middle of the night for me. I’m scheduled to go kayaking with my friend Kevin on the Bantam River in Litchfield County.

Kevin had been talking about kayaking all winter. Once the weather began to show signs of warming up, he was on the water.

It really sounds like fun, but I’m not in great physical strength. Yes, I’ve been on the treadmill, but my arms have been used primarily to keep me from flopping off the back!

I expect to:

1) fall in

2) come back without the ability to move my arms

3) cut, scrape or bruise something vital

Maybe I’ll do all three!

I’d like to take digital photos – and maybe that will be possible from the shore – but nothing that can’t live with water is coming in the kayak with me. OK – maybe I’ll find a ziploc bag for the cellphone. Necessities are necessities.