Category Archives: ocean

Winter Wildlife Cruise (Boston Harbor, MA)

Date visited: January 23, 20016

Price: $20 for adults, $10 for children (ages 3-11) and seniors (over 65)

This was a special cruise and is not something they do regularly in the winter.  During the spring, summer and fall they have cruises scheduled regularly.

Twenty degree weather and an impending winter storm; what better conditions for a harbor cruise.  Ironically, that statement could not be more accurate.

We were greeted by gulls and rough seas when we arrived at the wharf.


As we made our way on to the boat for and they announced the cruise would be a three hour tour (in retrospect, that Gilligan’s Island reference should have been a bad omen), I was surprised by how roomy, comfortable and modern it was.  The three story boat had booths on the sides of the cabin area and ample seating.

Even before we left the wharf I took some shots of the bay.  You can see Logan Airport in the distance in some of the photos.

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As the boat left the bay, I took some obligatory photos of the skyline.


I had to bundle up (and hold on tight to the railing) for the shoot.  I was surprised at how well I handled the overly active ocean.  I’ve never been particularly fond of roller coasters, wavy oceans or anything that moves to and fro quickly.  But, I did fine.  The only time I felt a tinge of sickness was when a fellow traveler described his own feelings of sea sickness (gee, thanks random stranger).  But, that quickly passed.


There was a variety of sea life, although the choppy waters made it difficult to photograph all of them.  DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation) officials were on the boat with binoculars on the lookout for wildlife and other points of interest and announcements were made whenever a bird or other animal was sighted.

I did photograph this Eider as he swam with friends.


and a few other elusive birds.

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Even though it was a cruise for wildlife viewing some of the best views were of the harbor and the islands.

This is Spectacle Island.  Spectacle Island was made entirely from the dirt from the huge construction project known as the “Big Dig”.   it is much prettier during the summer.

These are some photos of Boston Light.  Boston Light is the first Lighthouse in America.  It is still working today.

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The Deer Island Waste Water Treatment Plant began operations in 1995.  It is clearly the jewel of Boston Harbor.  Prior to the construction of the sewage plant, sewage from Boston’s treatment facilities had contaminated shellfish after the sewage had been released.  Lunch, anyone?


These structures are what is left of the bridge to Long Island (not the one in NY – we didn’t go out that far).  It was dismantled recently.  Personally, I think they should keep them.  They make for a good background for photography.

Below is a slideshow of some of the other shots from my cruise.  It was very windy and the sea was pretty choppy.  I tried to capture this in the photos.

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Finally, I found a cute furry animal named Bailey to photograph when I disembarked from the boat.


See below for videos of the cruise to get a better idea of just how windy it was.

Winter Wildlife Cruise – Long Wharf

Winter Wildlife Cruise

Winter Wildlife Cruise II




Brant Rock (Marshfield, MA)

It’s the time of the year again when hearty New Englanders hunker down and storm the stores for candles, batteries and, of course, bread and water.  Yes, hurricane season is upon us.  However, this recent stormy weather from Saturday, as bad as it may have been, was not a hurricane.





Waves as high as 7 feet crashed down in some parts.  Although it was not a hurricane or a Nor’Easter, the wind was strong enough to push you and your car around and the waves spilled over the sea wall in some parts.



Weather like this really puts you in your place.  We are no match for Mother Nature.

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It was almost impossible to keep my lens dry and clear which spoiled some of my shots. I decided to post them anyways.







The waves crashing along the rocks gave a hypnotic effect.




If not for my ocean soaked clothes, being pelted by sand and the whipping wind, I could have stayed all day.  It reminded me of how some things that are so beautiful can be so dangerous.




Of course, Brant Rock wasn’t the only place hit by this storm.  Stay tuned for my next stormy destination.

Witch City (Salem, MA)

When people think of Salem (MA), they often conjure thoughts of the witch hysteria, ghosts or a litany of other things that may go bump in the night.  But, this isn’t fair nor accurate. No, Salem is more than “haunted houses” and stores that sell kitschy souvenirs. Nor is it only fun to visit during the Halloween season. Still, it did feel a little odd wandering around Salem without a Fall chill in the air or leaves crunching beneath my feet.  But, it wasn’t any less fun.

Salem, being an important port for trade in early colonial days, is rich with tradition and history.  One of the main ports of trade is at Pickering Wharf in Salem Harbor.



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Anchored in the wharf is The Friendship.  The Friendship is a reconstruction of a 1700’s trading ship.  Tours are available, except today as they were renovating the ship.



Stately, rustic buildings dot the coast line. The ornate building with the dome atop it is the Custom House.  It is sandwiched in between the Salem Maritime National Historic Site (to the left) and the Simon Forrester House.


There is also a lighthouse located at the end of the pier.


Ducks and other birds frequent the harbor.

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Pickering Wharf has a variety of restaurants where you can enjoy fish, lobster and, well, fish.  It is also a hub for tour groups (whose favorite past time seems to be getting into my photos) and the occasional dog walker.  I found this dog who is all black, except for her front left paw.  DSC_0467

I could spend all day at Pickering Wharf.  But, in the interest of time, I began my journey to some of the other attractions in Salem.  The best part of visiting Salem is noticing the attractions and sites while you’re walking to each destination.

There was this house that caught my eye.


There was this display outside the Salem Witch Museum.


Irzyk Park, named after Brigadier General Albin F. Irzyk, has this retired Army tank in the park.


Saint Nicholas Church stands out against some of the more drab buildings.DSC_0600

I also bumped into Aida


As well as Simba and Jasmin


Eventually, I found my way to Winter Island.


Winter Island is a hidden jewel within the outskirts of Salem.  A mile from the downtown Salem area, it is used as a RV/trailer park as well as a place to launch boats and hold functions.  I walked the mile to Winter Island from downtown Salem. It is pretty much a straight walk or drive from tge downtown area.  But, if you choose to drive. there is ample parking outside of Winter Island.  There are an array of flowers and a pond (more like a reservoir) with a power plant adjacent which gives a nice touch.  Geese and ducks are abundant there.

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There is also a beach and an area for bird watching on Winter Island (it’s not really an “island” (it is more like a peninsula) but I will let it slide.  It was the beach, Waikiki Beach, that was most impressive.  Rocks are scattered along the beach and make shift trails on the hills behind the beach offer private views of the beach.  Since it was low tide, I was able to walk along the rocks for better views of the harbor.  A lighthouse gives a nice touch and birds and flowers are abundant.


A closeup of one of the many flowers on Waikiki Beach.


The lighthouse (Winter Island Light,),not the photographer, is tilted.DSC_0704

A bee pollinating.


The rocks at Waikiki Beach give the beach a unique landscape and offer a chance to get better views.  It also attracts a variety of bird life.

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There is also an area for bird watching at Winter Island.  Although they are easily scared away, I did capture these images of a Robin and a Red Winged Black Bird.



There is also an old ammunition bunker in the bird watching area at Fort Pickering on Winter Island.


It’s a shame that Salem is only remembered for the more commercial aspects and urban legends.  It isn’t all about being scared in Salem.  In fact, this is the scariest thing I saw all day.


Of course, no visit to Salem would be complete without a photo of Roger Conant, the founder of Salem, and a visit to the World War II Memorial at Salem Commons.


You can keep yourself quite busy just visiting the parks, beaches and assortment of other attractions in Salem all year round, not just during Halloween.  But, of course, I’ll be back in October anyways.

Bearskin Neck (Rockport, MA)

A mere hour and change north of Boston, Rockport is famous for its scenic views, waterfront vistas and quaint setting.  I decided to begin my trek at the historic Bearskin Neck. DSC_0967

A cozy, sleepy town just off the beaten path of Rockport Center, I have only one gripe about Bearskin Neck (one which is common among New England attractions); parking.  There are a scant 11 parking spots at  the edge of Bearskin Neck where most of the tourists congregate and you will want to be cognizant of the time you spend while you’re parked.  There are parking meters which do take coins as well as credit and debit cards and it is strictly enforced.  Parking is also limited in the Rockport Center area, although you may park in a lot across from the beach in Rockport for $15 for the entire day.  Parking is also available at the town’s municipal parking lot.  From there, a free shuttle will also drop you off at Rockport Center.

Depending on who you choose to believe, Bearskin Neck’s name can be traced back to John Babson or, more predictably, a bear.  According to a sign posted in Rockport, Bearskin Neck got its name from a bear that got caught in a wave and was killed when it came to shore.  But, another tale insists it got its name when fishermen who saw the bearskin a prominent resident, John Babson, had left to dry on the rocks that occupy much of the area. 

Arriving at Bearskin Neck, I feared I had taken a wrong turn down a pedestrian only road.  It is easy to be confused by this since Bearskin Neck is only one small yet busy walkway.  But, eventually you will arrive at Bearskin Neck.  Be careful while driving o that road as people walked aimlessly throughout the road, stopped to take selfies in the middle of the road and paid little attention to the traffic around them.  When you do reach the end of Bearskin Neck you will find a small parking area, a sitting area with panoramic views, and a  rocky walkway that ends in a peninsula. DSC_0991DSC_0855 DSC_0973DSC_0851

Bearskin Neck is also a popular spot for boaters

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In fact, it was once a thriving fishing and lobster trapping area.  Now, not so much.  But, there are still some fishermen and women who still call it their trade.


Naturally, one of the more eye catching things about the Bearskin Neck section of Rockport are….the rocks.


Lots and lots of rocks

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The Straitsmouth Isle Lighthouse is visible from Bearskin Neck.  The island is closed to the public.  So, unless you have a boat, this is the closes you will get to it


Bearskin Neck and Rockport are a walking area with a quaint feel.  Art galleries, independent book stores and gift shops line the narrow, pedestrian streets of Bearskin Neck.

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There are many fun activities to do in bearskin Neck from kayaking to palm reading.  I would probably do the former prior to the latter just as an extra precaution.

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The “other” popular attraction in Bearskin Neck, besides the rocky peninsula, is Motif No. 1.  Motif number 1 is a replica of a fisherman’s shack.  The original Motif 1 was destructed during the Blizzard of 1978.  It has been featured in many classic paintings and even in film

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Bearskin neck is also teeming with wild life of all species.  For instance, I ran into “Paws” while I was on my journey.


Of course, there are also seagulls a plenty in Bearskin Neck.  They are especially fond of Motif No. 1. DSC_0897DSC_0899

This one seemed too shy to fly away. DSC_0870

He eventually decided to go for a dip with a friend instead DSC_0873

This seagull just wanted to get away from it all.  But, i still found him. DSC_0975

And then it was on to Rockport center.  Yes, that all pictured above happened in the Bearskin Neck section of Rockport – one small road and connecting peninsula. Rockport Center has a more modern feel to it, albeit just slightly more modern.

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Most of the noteworthy attractions, such as the Rockport Art Association, are located in the Cultural District on or off Main St.


The First Congregational Church of Rockport has been in the same location since 1805, although other churches with the same name had been at different locations dating back to the 1700’s.


One of the coolest things about Rockport Center, at least for photographing, are the nooks in between buildings that allow for more unique photograph taking

DSC_0926 DSC_0928 Rockport Front Beach is a cute little beach for boys and gulls of every age.  Sorry.

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On the way back to my car, Hooda let me take her photo.  But, only if she could stand by her dad.


To enjoy Rockport to its fullest, a weekend trip or, better yet, a three day weekend would do it justice.  I was barely able to take in a sampling of the main attractions in one day.  And, I still missed out on some of the attractions.  Beautiful and entertaining places are abundant.  I have many more shots I didn’t include in this blog. To date, Rockport has been the most photo friendly, fun place to photograph.