Weekly Photo Challenge: Edge

My response to this week’s theme is perhaps not completely coherent.  It is a set of pictures with a few different interpretations of the topic.

I was originally on the edge about submitting the following picture, but what the heck!

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This person in the following picture is sitting on the edge of a cliff,img_3074 while these folks are peering over the edge of a cliff overlooking the Kinkon Waterfalls in Guinea, West Africa.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the edge of Dam 5 on the Potomac river.

P7151265.jpgThe following pictures are interpretations of the theme that may be considered a stretch, but I am presenting them anyway.  In the following picture you see the clean edges of the Washington Monument and the tents on the DC mall on a July 4th evening.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis next picture, taken at San Franciscio airport, shows an aircraft about to take off on what seems to be an edge between the water and the sky.  The picture is, of course, an illusion because of the angle at which it was taken.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe last picture is of a cliff at the Butt of Lewis on the northern tip of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland.  At this point one is facing the expanse of the northern Atlantic Ocean. This is the edge of land and sea.

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There is This Young Lady I Know

She is quite the remarkable young woman.  She gives of herself selflessly to the needy, indeed she has dedicated herself to their lives by getting a medical degree and finding a way to practice in their neighborhood in the inner city.  She lives among the poor in their neighborhood and thinks it is the best place to be, even committing herself for the longer term with a purchase of a place to stay among them.  She loves her place.  She lives a simple life and cares little for the material things in life that some of us crave for.  She is always cheerful when I see her.

She loves the people.  She will go out to the neighborhood hangout and play music with the local musicians.  She gets to know people at the coffee shop where she gets her morning cup of java.  She greets the people in the streets and they respond to her.  Indeed the locals know her and love her.  Her patients, the locals who are for the most part are the truly needy, appreciate her.  She has made the connection.

Her parents are proud of her, but they are also worried about her, and indeed a little exasperated with her, and her life choices.  She has a mind of her own and she is stubborn.  She is an independent lady.  She comes from a family of many siblings, all of whom display similar traits of selflessness.

We worry about her.  My wife says that the locals in the place where she lives will protect because she is loved, but there is always the concern about safety.

Her birthday was the day before yesterday. It was late in the evening when she was returning home from a celebration with friends at a local eatery.  Across the street she saw a local whom she knew. She hailed him.  He responded to the greeting and she told him that it was her birthday. He walked across the street to talk to her, wished her, and  asked her why she had not told him about it.  He would have gotten something for her for the occasion.  He said he still had something for her.  He opened up the bag in which he kept the trinkets that he sold at the local coffee shop and asked her to pick one as a birthday present. She gratefully accepted the present.  I will see you tomorrow, he said.  She replied that she would not see him for a few weeks because she was going to have a medical procedure the next day.  He wished her the best, and it must have been from the heart.

The next day was pretty tough for her, with a very long and rough medical procedure with long-term implications.  You think to yourself that people like her are most capable of handling these kinds of situations, but should be the last people who ought to be subjected to these kind of things.  They are the good of this earth.  They are remarkable. We should cherish them, and we should take care of them and protect them.  I wish her all the best.

The 2016 KVIITM75 Bike ride – Day 6, The Final Push

We made it!  I had to take some time away from the blog for the celebrations, to take care of my friends, and to also try to catch up on my sleep, but I am back to report that  WE MADE IT!

The last day of the ride was from Shepherdstown, WV, to Whites Ferry on the towpath in Maryland.  This was deliberately scheduled to be short ride, and we did in fact finally arrive at our rendezvous point with the support vehicle a little early.  It was a relaxed ride.

We left our hotel at at around 9:00 am.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were back on the trail in short order and proceeded without delay towards Harpers Ferry.  By this time we had established good riding patterns on the trail that all of us were comfortable with, a process that seemed to happen somewhat organically. No words needed to be spoken.  There was no competition to be up in front (or for that matter behind), and it did not matter who your riding companion was.  Conversations could involve all four people, three, two, or even one if you were happier riding in silence at that point, comfortably lost in your thoughts.

We stopped at the remains of Dam 3 just before we reached Harpers Ferry and hopped over exposed rocks in the river bed to chill out in the midst of the flowing water.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe parked our bikes on the towpath across the river from Harpers Ferry and crossed the bridge into town.  A significant amount of time had been allocated to this destination because there was a lot to see.

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We went up to Jefferson Rock on the hill behind the church. The second picture below shows the Potomac flowing south beyond the point where it meets  up with the Shenandoah river.

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We went back into town to get something for lunch.  The second picture shows the railroad bridges across the Potomac between West Virginia and Maryland. Most of the rail traffic is freight, but there is also a train station in town used by commuter trains and the Amtrak Capital Limited running between Chicago and Washington, DC.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter a lunch that resulted in more calories being consumed than had been expended thus far on the trail, we proceeded back to the towpath and resumed the ride.  In spite of some lethargy because of the lunch,  we were able to resume a good pace once we got back into the rhythm.  It seemed that by this time we had become comfortable with the riding experience.  There were less “butt breaks”.

Our next stop was the Catoctin Aqueduct.  This aqueduct actually collapsed completely in the 1970s (because of the design of the center arch) and was reconstructed in 2011.

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We took a short break at Point of Rocks.  We were making good time toward the final destination while riding at an easy pace.

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The next somewhat big stop was the Monocacy Aqueduct, the longest aqueduct on the C&O Canal.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile taking the previous picture we heard some loud conversation taking place on the aqueduct.  We looked up to see that some urgent matter being taken care of over the phone!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then it was time to leave for our final destination.  As the entered the last couple of miles of the ride the energy level actually shot up and there was some sprinting going on.  And then we were done!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had to hang out at Whites Ferry for a little while because of a foul-up with the support van.  We watched the ferry in action, and then spent the time chilling out.  Ice cream was consumed in celebration.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe finally got home about an hour later than expected.  It was time to unwind.  Later in the evening we received some unexpected awards. (Thank you, Mrs. R!)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen it was back to more conversation and singing Hindi songs before we finally went to bed, later in the evening than we ever did during the ride itself!

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This was an awesome experience.  I am still getting my head around the fact that we got on bikes in Pittsburgh, PA, and finally got off the bikes in the Washington, DC, area, about 300 miles later, after six days of biking, after experiencing America in a way that one would never have been able to if we had, as is customary, gotten in a car and driven the same distance (perhaps in three or four short hours).  There is so much of this land to see and experience outside of the hustle and bustle of the mainstream.  Its beauty, its history, its small towns with their changing ways of life and the struggles for survival, its peoples, all of these are worth knowing and understanding better.  Moreover, it is a lot of fun! As my friend Shankar would say, this is something everybody should try to do at least once in their lifetime!

 

The 2016 KVIITM75 Bike Ride – Day 5

At the end of our fifth day of riding there is a sense of being tired, but also the sense that something unique and remarkable in our experiences is coming to an end.  I am looking forward to getting home, but at the same time I could do this forever!

Our ride from Hancock, MD, to Shepherdstown, West Virginia, was somewhat more mellow than the previous two days’ rides. It might have been due to the fact that we covered a shorter distance, and it was over flatter territory.  The experience on the towpath is very different from that on the more challenging and exciting Great Allegheny Passage.  We started the ride on a cloudy morning after a nice breakfast at the Riverrun Bed and Breakfast place that we had stayed at overnight.  Yes, there was stretching taking place before riding, and icing of sore muscles at the end of the day.

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It had rained during the night, but it was not expected to rain while we were riding. The first part of the ride was on the smoother Western Maryland Rail Trail that parallels the towpath.

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We stopped at McCoys Ferry for a break.P9012346.jpgThen it was downhill at Four Locks.

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We rode by a slackwater area where the canal disappears for a short while. The boats used to be pulled along the river in this section.

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Dam 5, one of the dams used to route water from the river to the canal.P9012364.jpgThen it was back on the towpath.

P9012374.jpgLunchtime was in Williamsport, MD.  We crossed over the Conococheague Aqueduct to take the road into town.

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We took a short break at Fallingwater.

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We had to take shelter during a short rainstorm.

P9012386.jpgThere was another short stop at McMahon’s mill.

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We encountered this turtle who must have been surprised by all the attention.

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A stop at Dam 4 on the river.

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We had to climb from the towpath to the Rumsey bridge to get over to Shepherdstown where we had dinner and then proceeded to our hotel for the night.

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Tomorrow is our final day of riding.

The 2016 KVIITM75 Bike Ride – Day 4

We are now in Hancock, MD, after about 60 miles of riding along the C&O Canal on its towpath. I think my fellow riders would agree that this was the toughest day of riding thus far due to the combination of the rough surface of the trail, and the fact that this was the second day of riding such a long distance.  But we made it!

We left Cumberland after taking in the sights at the start of the C&O Canal.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe started seeing the locks and lock houses for the first time once we started riding.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We stopped for a snack in Oldtown, MD.  This was the only restaurant.  It was actually located in the schoolhouse.  We went in in spite of, or perhaps because of, the sign.  The folks were very sweet.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen it was time for a stop and dip at the Town Creek Aqueduct.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe arrived at the 3118 foot Paw Paw tunnel.  It was an engineering marvel at the time it was completed in 1850.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe saw this amusing numbering for the locks.  They apparently miscounted when they started numbering from each direction.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen it was time for a dip in the river and lunch.  Nobody loves the water as much as Koushik.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe made another stop at Fifteen Mile Creek.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were exhausted by the time we got into Hancock.  We were ready to crash out after dinner at Buddy Lou’s Eats, Drinks, and Antiques. We returned to our room for icing of sore muscles, liquid refreshments and entertainment.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then it was time to fall into a deep slumber.

The 2016 KVIITM75 Bike Ride – Day 3

This was a day of amazing experiences, riding about 60 miles from Confluence in Pennsylvania to Cumberland in Maryland.

It was still misty and cloudy outside when we started our ride from Parker House after breakfast at Sisters’ Cafe in what remains of downtown Confluence.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The mist cleared and we were soon riding under clear skies.  This is a view of the Casselman river from one of the bridges we crossed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This is the Pinkerton tunnel, opened only last year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stopped in Rockwood, PA for ice cream.  The surroundings are beginning to change. We had been riding in the woods beside rivers.  From now on it was farm land.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a random shot of a touch me not flower.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We met some interesting people. Jim, in his 60s, was into extreme outdoor exercise.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is what you do to take care of the pain in the butt.  We took a few “butt breaks”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe have left the woods and are the riding past farms and fields at this point.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Crossing the Salisbury viaduct with the Casselman river below us.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALunch place in Meyersdale, PA.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese two gentlemen are friends from back in the Vietnam war days in the army.  They have amazing stories.  They do a lot of riding all over the world.  Really remarkable ordinary folks!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrossing another interesting viaduct.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalf with an interesting face.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore rest stops (butt breaks) before continuing the ride.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Eastern Continental Divide!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe are about to enter the 3300 foot long Savage Tunnel that opened in 2004.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAView on the other side of the tunnel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then we were crossing the Mason Dixon line into Maryland.  It was all downhill (in a good way!) from then on.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went through a few tunnels.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter Frostburg, MD, we continued careening down the hill beside railroad tracks. There is usually a tourist train that runs between Cumberland and Frostburg during the summer, but the line looked like it was in a state of disuse.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then we were in Cumberland at the start (end?) of the Great Allegheny Passage!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe following picture was contributed by Ramgopal from his camera since I was not carrying mine.  We ended to evening with dinner at the Baltimore Street Grill.  It was Koushik’s birthday present to Shankar.

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And now it is onward to the C&O canal towpath!

The 2016 KVIITM75 Bike Ride – Day 2

Typing this early in the morning before daybreak.  Everybody is asleep (I think), and Parker House is quiet, expect for the whistle of the freight train in the distance.  This is Confluence, PA, where the Cassleman river meets up with the Yough.  This is my blog for the ride from Perryopolis to Confluence.

We left the hotel at Perryopolis early.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe following picture is taken on the road that we biked from the town back to the Yough river. The tunnel takes you to the bridge across the river. We did not cross, but took the road that you can barely make out on the right before the tunnel. This took us to the trail head.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then it was time to ride once again!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere had been a spectacular storm late the previous night that we had observed from the front of our hotel rooms. Fortunately, the trail was not too wet. This was the only place where a tree had fallen across the trail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis chap is trying to get down from the trail to the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is an abandoned railroad bridge across the river that we encountered. It appeared to be falling apart.  You had to watch where you were stepping.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrossing a gorge on a trail bridge. The GAP trail that we have been riding is a rail trail which was built where the railroad tracks once used to run.  This bridge would have been carrying train traffic in the past.

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A picture opportunity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was steady freight train traffic on the other side of the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe section of the trail that we covered today was just amazing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Yough river seen from one of the trail bridges just outside of Ohiopyle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the bridges over the Yough carrying the trail into Ohiopyle.  The river meanders in a U-shaped loop in this section, and there are two bridges over the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt Fallingwater, PA.  This house was built by Frank Lloyd Wright in the the 1930s.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe house is spectacular, both inside and outside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are the folks in Ohiopyle who provided us with the shuttle to Fallingwater.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was quite late in the afternoon after the trip to Fallingwater, and had another 10 miles to ride to Confluence.  We were hungry and got a snack to eat at a waterfall.  We never found the waterfall, and ended up eating in the woods.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe made a few rest stops during the ride, including this one betwen Ohiopyle and Confluence.  The bike being examined was making some strange noise.  We will try to get it checked out in Cumberland, our destination for tomorrow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is Parker House, the place we are staying in Confluence. It is a beautiful place with lot of space.  We are getting ready to go out for dinner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe crew was famished!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was dark by the time we left the Lucky Dog Cafe.  The sky was spectacular (due to the absence of light pollution) and folks were identifying the stars and the planets.  We walked back to Parker House using the faint light from a smartphone to show us the way through the dark streets of Confluence.  Went to bed after a night-cap.  Goodnight from Confluence, PA.

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