Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Block Islander

Bringing information and images from Block Island.

Click on the photos to make them full-size.

Sunday, April 24

A lovely sunset on Block Island, along with a beautiful tribute to Prince from the Poor People's Pub.

Saturday, April 23

Over the rail and through the window on a gray day in the historic fishing village of Galilee, Rhode Island.

Friday, April 1

Just some random shots on a day that should have been spring, but was a little colder, mistier, windier than it should have been.

Saturday, March 26.

We'll call this essay "Markers." Block Island is full of them, honoring its history in a variety of ways.

The base of the memorial for the Block Island men who fought in World War II.

 The face of that memorial.

This can be seen on Pilot Hill Road.

The marker for what is known as the Indian Cemetery.

The graves of the Native American buried on the island were not marked by carved headstones, but by simple rocks with no names attached.

The marker outside the Block Island Historical Society in Bridgegate Square.

This marker, also in Bridgegate Square, celebrates the Block Island men that served in World War 1.

Outside The Surf Hotel, a sign announcing the name of the Town, and who we are named after.

The base of the Statue of Rebecca. W.C.T.U. is the Washington County Temperance Union, perhaps one of the least effective unions ever.

Verbiage on the plinth below the statue of Rebecca itself.

Friday, March 18

The weather has been so variable on Block Island this winter that is has been hard to describe the season as "winter" at all. We had two nor'easters, but one day you could be wearing shorts and the next day your layered winter gear. It's been that kind of season. Today, the weather is mild, but we will compare that to what may happen by Sunday, when we are supposed to get another snowstorm. It was mild during the day, when these pictures were taken, but by the evening it started to get cool again — perhaps a harbinger of what would happen by Sunday.

This is a shot overlooking the Mohegan Bluffs.

A gull relaxing on Settler's Rock.

Just the patterns of some shad trees at Mohegan Bluffs.

Friday, March 4

Nothing like this has ever happened like this in the United States before. Here, at the Fred Benson Town Beach, workers are beginning the work on preparing the groundwork for laying the transmission cable that will link the very first offshore wind farm to Block Island and the mainland.

The five turbine Block Island Wind Farm, which is owned by Deepwater Wind, will generate 30 megawatts of power once it goes online sometime after October of this year. The cable connecting the turbines to the island then to mainland, is owned by National Grid, the huge utility company. The cable, which will be 26 miles long, will cost an estimated $107 million. It is also expected to bring more internet bandwidth to an island that has poor internet connectivity now.

The building of the wind farm has been controversial, and remains so. It was designed to do two things: lower the island's electric rates and cease the operation of the local Block Island Power Co., which generates power through five diesel-fueled generators. Stopping those generators was meant to lower the fossil-fuel pollution — according to proponents of the wind farm.

These photos are of the work happening on the island. What the workers are doing is creating the pathway where the cable will come ashore. The cable will pass under the beach and then travel up Beach Avenue and over to the property behind the Block Island Power Co., where the new substation will be built.

What the photos can't capture is just how cold it was on that beach today. The wind was coming down from the north. Because of that, to save time, I took these images with my phone.

Here are the photos:

This photo is of the equipment that is being kept inside the north parking lot on the Corn Neck Road side of the Beach Pavilion.

Huge tires on the trucks that bring the equipment out to the beach.

An earth mover waiting for the next job.

Looking south toward town.

Looking north, this is pretty wide shot of the site where the preparing the cable to be laid.

Another piece of equipment that was sitting quietly at the end of the day.

The crews will install what is known as a cofferdam, which will then keep dry the dug area on the beach where the transmission cable will come ashore.

Sunday, Feb. 28

Two tugs, one large and one small, in the port of Galilee; probably associated in some way with the Block Island Wind Farm project.

These are some images taken at the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge in South Kingstown, R.I.

A magnificent old tree.

Three views of the sun peaking through.

In this absolutely thrilling photo (ha ha), the thin strip of Block Island can be seen over the edge of the pond.

Saturday, Feb. 27

Chilly but calm out here today. A strange collection of vapor trails in a shot taken from on Corn Neck Road across from the Beach Pavilion at about 11 a.m. or so.

Thursday, Feb. 25

The storm has reached Block Island. The 8:15 a.m. boat leaving Block Island is on schedule, but the rest of the day is questionable. Check with the airlines for flights. Information will be updated when it is available at 401-783-7996.

Call New England Airlines at 1-800-243-2460 for flight information.

Wednesday, Feb. 24

It's about 7:30 a.m. on Block Island. The fog has settled over the island, but as of now there are no announcements on the website of the Block Island Ferry, so the boats are scheduled to run as of now. No information on New England Airlines, so check with them.

The top of the communications tower — dead center of the photo — is barely visible. Temperatures are mild and we received a little rain overnight.

Sunday, Feb. 21

A trip across the sound.

It's a little after 3 p.m. and I'm getting on the 4 p.m. boat. It's February and the Block Island School is on vacation, so the island is very quiet. The boat will probably be fairly empty, filled mostly with crews working on the various projects going on around the island. The weather has been mostly unseasonably mild and clear all winter, and it is so again today.

The following is a view from the post side of the ferry.

A view from the starboard side of the boat.

This is how the boat looked at about 3:30, but it soon filled up pretty nicely.

I take my seat.

This is about half-way through the 55-minute trip. You can see the island off the port side of the bow.

The wake of the boat.

We're backing into Old Harbor, Block Island. It's about 4:50 p.m.

The ferry docked at Old Harbor at about 5:10 p.m. A few passengers are walking to their cars, heading home before the work work begins on Monday morning.

Tuesday, Feb. 16

The light was once again extraordinary as the sun set after a rainy, gray day. These were taken a little after 5 p.m. I didn't venture out too far — only to my back yard.

Sunday, Feb. 14

Two views from the Jessie Edwards Studio on the second floor of the Post Office Building, overlooking Old Harbor. The 11 a.m. ferry from Pt. Judith is backing into the ferry dock.

Sea smoke and snow winds blowing through New Harbor this morning.

Saturday, Feb. 13

The wind chill is making it seem as though it is anywhere between -20 to -35 below. We're told the temperature is 9 degrees, with wind gusts up to 32 miles an hour. This is at about 7:15 p.m. This is the result of the famous "polar vortex." The temperatures are dropping and the island is pretty quiet.  It was too damn cold to get out of my car, so I took these on my cell phone by pointing it out the window.

Here's what we're seeing: This is looking north on Corn Neck Road. The light is from the streetlight in front of the Old Island Pub. To the right is the Yellow Kittens, very much closed up for the winter.

Kimberly's Restaurant, on Ocean Avenue, is open for one more day, Valentine's Day, tomorrow and then will close up until May. The light from the restaurant casts a warm glow on the frigid night.

The new LED streetlights on, just below, on Corn Neck Road and, below that, on Beach Avenue, captures somewhat the dark quiet cold on this winter's night.

Saturday, Feb. 6
We had a little winter out here in the last couple of days. The snow came on Friday, the planes were cancelled, but the boats were running. After the snow left, the clouds parted and the light that came through was the most extraordinary thing people had seen in a long time. The few photos I was able to take coming in on the boat hardly do that light justice. The next day, Saturday, the sky was blue and the snow — heavy and wet — clung to just about everything: signs, trees, rocks, cars, buildings, fences; you name it.

These were taken on the ferry pulling into Galilee on Friday, Feb. 5.

 These shots were taken in Narragansett on Saturday, Feb. 6.

Wednesday, Jan. 27

A quick snapshot from the phone trying to capture the light as the sun fell — taken from the parking lot of Kimberly's Restaurant on Ocean Avenue.

Sunday, Jan. 24

A blizzard blew through Block Island over the weekend - in fact we were the epicenter of the storm for once. The island shut down almost completely — the center of town never lost power but everyone else did. I happened not to be on the island so didn't capture any images of the storm itself. By Sunday morning, power had been restored and the island woke up to blue skies. The only reason the boats and the ferries didn't start up right away was because the docks and the runways had to be cleared. By 12:30, New England Airlines was flying and the first boat back from Point Judith was at 4 p.m. The day was warm-ish, and almost immediately the snow started to melt. The roads, already passable because of the work of our Highways Department. During the storm, the school, the Harbor Church were opened, and several people who had wood stoves or generators also welcomed their neighbors if they needed to keep warm and a hot meal. It was a memorable, if brief, storm.

 Ice on some power lines.

A back road evoking New England at its snowy best.

Tuesday, Jan. 19

It's been a mild winter so far, but it seems now that we are in the beginning stages of a major storm due to hit the island this weekend. The ferry boats from Galilee, Rhode Island, were cancelled today, but will presumably run tomorrow. Ferries are usually cancelled because of high winds; snow or rain are not enough to keep the boats from running. So here are some images, which for all intents and purposes are the first to show what a winter on Block Island can look like.

Tuesday, Jan. 12

I don't know why I find these images so fascinating. Maybe it's the patterns of the sand, or the fact that the snow fencing looks something like an ancient ruined half-buried. These are cuts from the parking lot of the Fred Benson Town Beach that offer access to the beach itself. They'll have to be cleared out by the time the summer comes. Speaking of summer (haha), the days are getting slightly longer. There is light in the sky at 5 p.m. when we head home from work. A small thing, to be sure, but while it has been a mild winter, there is no question that there is not that much to do.

Sunday, Jan. 10

The weather outside is frightful. This photo doesn't capture the power of this storm, I just stepped out my back door and took the image with my phone, but the most important thing is that the ferries have been cancelled for today.

Friday, Jan. 8.

There was no need for a free outdoor shower on this rather mild January day.

Our famous Lobster Trap Christmas Tree on Water Street. I took this photo around noon and by the middle of the afternoon a small crew had come by to start to take it down.

This shot was impossible to resist. This beautiful piece of machinery was sitting on top of a hill off West Side Road, and even though we live on an island this looked like old New England.

This is the dock down at Ballard's Inn in Old Harbor. The wind was up, and the waves were splashing up over the breakwater.

 Two vignettes of a fishing boat that was sitting in the inner basin at Old Harbor. Just a little local color.

A lobster trap sitting on the pier that overlooks the breakwater in Old Harbor.

Monday, Dec. 14
Images in the fog are always the most beautiful. I'm Swedish and Welsh, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that fog appeals to me. These images were not taken on Block Island, but in Narragansett, R.I., at the lighthouse. The fog was so thick objects just a few feet away were shrouded in mist.

Every year we get a visit from this guy. He makes a stop at the Harbor Church, chats it up, hands out some treats, lights the tree and then disappears into the night.

Wednesday, Dec. 3
I was driving up Corn Neck Road to work this morning, just before 8:30 a.m., and I saw that the sun was directing a beam right down on top of the Surf Hotel. You can almost tell from the photo that it is an unseasonably warm day (after a bit of a chill yesterday). But I thought it looked beautiful.

This is a view just off to the west, over the Old Harbor, also taken from Corn Neck Road.

Thursday, Oct. 30
They say we don't get much surf out here on Block Island, but that wasn't true today. A couple of people tried to brave it, but it was pretty rough. The boats to the mainland were cancelled.

All these were taken along Corn Neck Road, looking north.

Friday, Oct. 23
A very beautiful fall day. Temperatures just right, and the sky is clear, clear, clear. The radar tower at Montauk is usually obscured by mist or fog, but today you can practically reach out and touch it.

At about 11: 30 a.m., a tugboat cuts across a silver sea.

Stacks of a recent edition of The Block Island Times in the office, waiting to be archived.

Saturday, Oct. 3
There have been no boats for two days, although the people over at New England Airlines, which has been flying in and out of Block Island for 45 years, tried to get as many wedding guests over here as possible. We did hear that some weddings have been cancelled, which has to be heartbreaking for the people who were getting hitched.

It certainly has been an interesting week, with the superman and the eclipse, and now the tentacles of Joaquin bearing down on us. Everything is quiet; we are sort of on our own.

Here are some images of the past week, starting with the most recent.

This is what they must mean by "hanging on by a thread." The top of the building of the bike rental shop at Old Harbor.
 Two boats brave the storm in Old Harbor.

After a day or so of heavy winds, the access trails over the dunes started to fill up with sand.

Saturday, Oct. 3. This is from Settler's Rock, looking toward the mainland. You can't get there from here.

The Great Salt Pond was full of boats early in the week, but as the prospect of Joaquin became more of a reality, it quickly emptied out.

This is our little town at night, just as the supermoon was rising that Sunday.

This is how the moon looked over Town Beach sometime after 7 p.m.

Two island poets, Jen Lighty, on the left, and Lisa Starr, stand in front of the supermoon on Sunday, Sept. 27, at about 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 26
I was out with a colleague looking at various locations on the island to photograph what they look like at low tide because, by tomorrow, they will be covered in water due to what are known as "king tides." It's because of this big moon we will see during the next few days. During our walk, I captured some images I thought were arresting.

Not something you see everyday. Looking for Maryann and Ginger (probably at Yellow Kittens):

The ruins of the old Searles Mansion look Romanesque here:

Here is a couple enjoying in the waves and light on Mansion Beach. You can see one of the Block Island Wind Farm turbine foundations on the background.
 An avian photo bomb.
 The sometimes lunar-looking landscape on Mansion Beach.
 I call this "The ribs of the wind."
The strange rock formations called "pots and kettles." Located, appropriately enough, at Pots and Kettles Beach. These formations are pockmarked with the molds of oyster and mussle shells that have long since dissolved into the sea.