Weekly Photo Challenge: Evanescent

ev·a·nes·cent [evəˈnes(ə)nt]
adjective

  1. Soon passing out of sight, memory, or existence; quickly fading or disappearing.

In an expanded spirit of the theme, I have picked some pictures that may fit the theme in more ways than one.  These are all old pictures.  The situations that some of them represent can never be repeated.  Some of the others took place just because I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and this happened by chance, and it may never happen again.  They all have to do with memories.

The pictures below were taken in 2005 and 2006 respectively.  One had to be there at the right time of the year, at the right moment in time of the day, and on a day with the right conditions, to be able to see these.  The conditions along the C&O canal where these pictures were taken have also changed since the time I took them, so that these conditions may never be duplicated.  It was an evanescent moment in time that one could have said was a figment of my imagination if I did not have the pictures to show.100b1052100_3112The following picture is from 2009.  It was humid on that particular morning, and this caused the mist to rise from the railing on the bridge at Broad Run Trunk on the towpath.  I had never seen this before, and perhaps I will never see it again.  I just happened to be there at the right time.IMG_0616And then there is this series of pictures taken in 2009 of the train that appears out of the mist on a cool morning and then quickly vanishes from sight, as if it had never been there in the first place.  Nobody else was there to see it.  It was like that tree falling in the woods.  It was an evanescent experience that is only remembered today because of the pictures.IMG_0640IMG_0642IMG_0644IMG_0645The following picture is from 2005.   The broken-down building below used to be the Pennyfield Inn, and it used to be next to Pennyfield Lock. The building was built in 1879 and was finally demolished in 2009.  It is now replaced with an open space that feels like it has always been there.   (The building actually has an historical context in that President Grover Cleveland used to stay here during his fishing expeditions to this area.) The Pennyfield Inn is now just a memory.  It existed for only a fleeting moment in time in the grand scale of history, and now has disappeared. 100_0919This picture from 2005 illustrates the evanescence of the life experience.  One of the kids in this picture has just finished high school, the second is in college, and we just celebrated the college graduation of the third.   The circumstances of the old picture below are now but a distant memory.100_0344Here are other submissions to the challenge.

 

The Graduate

We had to first find her in the crowd.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere she is with her childhood friends.  The three of them have known each other since their elementary school days.  They all ended up getting their undergraduate degrees at the same time from the same university.  They are moving on together but in different directions.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe received at least one very thoughtful gift to prepare her well for the next stage of her journey.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell done, girl!  Many more exciting adventures in life await you.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thanks be to Gravity (9/14/2008)

This is a highly edited version of something I wrote many years ago.  These days, I am also more comfortable with adding pictures and links directly to the narrative.  Ain’t technology da bomb!

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If you take the exit to Keep Tryst Road from US Route 340, (it comes up close to Harpers Ferry, just before you cross the bridge over the Potomac from Maryland into Virginia), and then follow the road all the way to the the bottom of a hill, it ends up next to tracks for the CSX railroad.  At this point the road makes a U-turn and heads back up the hill to rejoin Route 340.  This place next to the railroad tracks is where people park their cars to head out on hikes.  The place is called Weverton.  From this location you can follow the Appalachian trail (or the AT as it is fondly known) up to Weverton Cliffs, or you can cross the tracks and head down to the towpath towards either Brunswick or Harpers Ferry.

Weverton used to be real town many years ago.  Very few people live in the area today. Back then an intrepid developer decided that he could harness the power of the waters of the Potomac for energy in order to develop commerce in this area.  The concept did not work and one of the reasons for failure was the regular flooding of the river.  I have read that you can see the remains of the old town of Weverton if you leave the towpath and head towards the river.  I have not been successful in finding these ruins so far.  Weverton is also a switching yard for the railroad, and the location from which a spur line used to branch off towards Hagerstown.  You can still see the remains of the railroad bridge for this spur line under the bridge for Route 340.

I arrived at Weverton early in the morning before the fog had lifted to do a hike to towards Harpers Ferry and Maryland Heights. My timing for the start of the hike was perfect.  As I walked towards the railroad tracks to cross over to the towpath, I sighted the headlights of the freight train through the fog.  It was heading in my direction. IMG_6132At the point where the path crosses the railroad the tracks curve away from you and as  a result you get a head-on view of the approaching train.  I got a lot of pictures of the train in the fog as it switched tracks and approached rapidly. IMG_6134And before I knew it the engineer was blowing the horn to make sure that I did not step on to the tracks,IMG_6136and the train was rushing by shaking the ground under me.IMG_6137It was moving quite fast and even picking up speed as the freight cars thundered by, with the hundreds of metal wheels screeching like a thousand banshees as the rail cars pushed against the rails and struggled to stay on the tracks as they rounded the curve and accelerated at the same time.IMG_6138I stood by just next to the carriages, which seemed to be much bigger and higher than what I imagined them to be when I had seen them from a distance, and felt a rush.  I was screaming but nobody could hear me.

The objective for this trip was to climb Maryland Heights on the Maryland side of the Potomac river next to Harpers Ferry.  From the lookout point on Maryland Heights one gets a nice view of the town of Harpers Ferry.  This hike turned out  to be an unexpected mental challenge for me.  I began to feel tired even as I started up the steep slope from beside the main road.  Perhaps I was really not in good shape.  The early part of the climb was quite strenuous and the last time I had done this was when family had visited from India, when we had walked halfway up the hill.  I walked up slowly, stopping frequently, and stopping by the meadows along the way to enjoy the sight of the many white butterflies fluttering around.IMG_6174It was a humid morning and pretty soon I was sweating quite profusely.  I did not really feel any pain but I was feeling nervous because this was the first time in a while I had pushed myself in this manner since the big event.  I almost turned back at one point.

But in the end I persevered.  I was going to reach my destination one way or the other, whichever destination it happened to be – the Pearly Gates (being the eternal optimist that I am) or the Scenic Overlook over the river!  I made it to the latter destination feeling a sense of achievement.  I spent some time taking pictures of the river and the valley below.IMG_6175IMG_6176IMG_6192 There was a butterfly sitting in the sun on a rock that did not move even as I approached and took close-up pictures of its eyes!  (There are some wonderful experiences waiting out there for you if you are willing to relax and  pay attention to what is going on around you.)IMG_6199IMG_6206I ran all the way down the hill on my way back to the towpath.  I wanted to sing a song – He’ll be running down the mountain when he comes!  It was a nice outing and I got some pictures of some flowers and creatures that I had not seen before. IMG_6155IMG_6157A woodpecker also obliged me by landing on a tree trunk next to the trail and staying put while I took its picture.IMG_6214I also got some nice pictures of the fog.IMG_6145IMG_6162IMG_6163IMG_6165IMG_6169IMG_6171All in all, another excellent outing to the river!

The Andes Bike Shop

It used to be a small carpet store, and I remembered it having a certain mideast flavor. It sat at the corner of a neighborhood strip mall, well set back from a main road, behind the Wendy’s and the McDonalds, so much so that you could barely make out the names on the store fronts when you drove by on Darnestown Road.  I remember having gone to the carpet store once to ask if they would like to put an advertisement in the program book for the annual show of the chorus.  The proprietor said that he would look into it but he never got back to me.  That was then.

But then we noticed that something had changed. It was when we were driving to the park for one our Sunday morning walks along the towpath.  There was now a new sign over  the storefront that simply said “Bike Shop”.  A bike shop in our neighborhood was something new, and it was a surprising, if not puzzling, thing to me.  This was a curiosity.  Running a local bike store had to be a tough gig, especially when you were competing with big nationwide companies and their large and well stocked stores.   Local bike stores have come and gone in other neighborhoods.  Why had folks opened a small bike shop in this location?  I resolved to pay these guys a visit some time.

The opportunity arose after my first training ride of the year last week.  While I had been wanting to go the bike store for a while, it was only after that ride that I found the focus to remember in a timely manner my intent to visit the store.  So I stopped by after the ride.

I stepped into a small space that was filled with used bikes of all kinds, for all ages, and for all the different kinds of biking experiences that were possible.  There was also some other biking gear and equipment sitting around on stands and on shelves on the walls.  The place had a crowded feel to it.  Behind a counter was a young man working on a bike. Music was playing on a computer in the background.

I started the conversation by noting that I had stopped by because of curiosity, and asked the guy how long the shop had been open. “Ten months,” he said.  He spoke with a very distinct but light accent.  He seemed very friendly and open.  I told him about the bike ride I had done last year.  That seemed to break the ice.   He turned down the music and started chatting.  And gradually the story emerged.

The store was owned and operated by his father and him.  Their primary business was not selling new equipment, but in taking care of and maintaining bicycles for people.  He loved touring on his bicycle. He said he was the kind of person who would pack his bike with all the equipment that he would need for a ride, including what was needed for outdoor stays and cooking, and just go.  He said that if I were interested in a bike, he could put one together from parts obtained from used bikes that he could get from his contacts, and that he could fit the bike with exactly the right kind of equipment I would need for the type of ride I was interested in doing.  And he could do this for a reasonable price.  He was very conversational, but I also noticed a certain ease and sense of confidence that he had with what he was doing.

I got the sense that he was enjoying being in business with his dad. He gave me a business card as I was preparing to leave.  The card said “Andes Bike Shop”, and the name on the card was Oscar Ramirez.  I asked him if that was his name, and he noted that both he and his dad had the same name.  When I asked him why the name of the shop did not appear on the sign up front, he said that this was something his dad had decided.  And even in that comment I could sense the connection he had with his dad.  It was a connection of love and respect.  There seemed to be a sense of togetherness and trust in their activity of running the store.

I was curious about the Ramirezes and the Andes Bike Shop, and about what it was that had brought them and their store to our little corner of Gaithersburg.   I had asked the young Oscar where they resided, and he had mentioned that they  lived nearby.   I still wondered what triggered their decision to set up the store in its current location.  I did manage to find this video about them.

This happens to be an immigrant story, and I find stories like this somewhat inspiring.  I will perhaps go out of my way to give them some business even if there are other less expensive options.  We need more of these kinds of small family businesses to survive and thrive.  You have to believe that it is not always about the money.

 

Back In The Saddle

The weather has warmed up enough for me to start training for my July bike ride from Jasper to Banff in the Canadian Rockies.  I am back in the saddle after a break of many months from biking activities, indeed a break from the time of my last long ride! Considering the tremendous amount training that I did for the Pittsburgh to the DC area ride last year, I was wondering how the body would react during my first ride this year.

I started off early in the morning with the intention of not going too far.  It was still quite chilly when got to the trail, and I had to bundle myself to defend against the cool early morning breeze.  It took me a little longer than usual to get prepped for the ride and for me to try to get back into the routine that I was so used to following last year.  I remembered that I needed to gather an adequate supply of food and water before I left home to keep me fueled through the ride.  I needed to fit the basket on to the bike to carry the supplies.  I needed to make sure that the bike was OK after a long period of disuse.

The ride went off OK.  The miles passed by quickly as the bike (and especially the basket on the handlebar) rattled along on the uneven surface of the towpath.  It was quite the different experience from running!  It felt easy at first.  But it did not take too much time to be reminded of the level of effort on the muscles to keep pedaling for a long time.   The muscles in the thighs were out of shape.  I was also beginning to feel it in the butt.  I have a way to go before I will be ready, but the good thing is that there is enough time to get the body back into shape.  We will be riding on a paved surface this time, and the distances we will be riding will for the most part be shorter than what we were covering last year.  So perhaps it will not be as tough.

It is not that one is not already in decent physical shape, but the difference in the kind of effort that is required for running and for biking feels quite significant.  I was reminded of this when I made my first run last year after an extended break when I was only riding the bike, an experience that caused me to take extra precautions in my preparations this year.  But all is good.  It is time to get back in the saddle once again.  Lets ride!