Monday, September 25, 2017

Duxbury Beach Getting Some Jose Surf


Duxbury Beach got in on the Tropical Storm Warning for a while during Jose, so we rolled up last Thursday to see how angry Mother Nature was.

Seas were getting ugly on Tuesday, and they were still ominous on Saturday. That's an 8 tide storm, a very bad thing for coastlines (the No-Name Storm/Halloween Gale/Perfect Storm of 1991 was a 10 tide storm), and Duxbury was very lucky to be on Jose's fringe.

Duxbury Beach gets pummeled in storms, so the residents are rarely caught slippin'. DBC...

Jose hung around off Nantucket for a while, and her huge wind field (tropical cyclones expand in size once they reach cooler waters) made it past Duxbury.

And now, down below, some amateurish video...

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There are scholarly articles which say that Duxbury Beach, in her present location on Cape Cod Bay and with the slope of her coastline, can't really generate waves higher than 5 or 6 feet. I won't disagree with scientists more than I have to, and admit that I could be wrong on a technicality, but I have seen ten foot+ waves during the Blizzard of '78 and the Halloween Gale.

Duxbury Beach was still getting heavy rain and 50 MPH gusts on Thursday, which is why a lot if these shots were taken behind houses and crouched under stairways

The cottage that was here before this house is famous for washing into Ocean Road North during the Halloween Gale. It is locally legendary because a glass of wine mitakenly left on the cottage's kitchen table during storm prep was still on the table- unspilled- after the storm.


A fence with almost no chance at all of surviving the waves coming over the wall.

Your fearless reporter was in town three hours before high tide, and had to flee before a waning new moon tide blocked off the neighborhood. 1:30 high tides in Duxbury and a 2:45 school bus rendezvous in New Bedford are incompatible.

Duxbury Beach is stormy enough that kids there used to/may still do Death Runs. Death Runs involve waiting for stormy seas to hit the seawall, dropping yourself onto the beach as a wave recedes, running as far as possible before the next wave comes and pulling yourself back onto the seawall before the next wave hits. 


The child who painted these rocks was most likely not thinking "These rocks will someday be the only bright colors in an otherwise slate-grey hurricane article from some obscure regional publication," but just look how things shook out.

The next three are from Maryellen Federici.






Jose knocked over one of the Don't Run Over My Kids fluorescent lawn jockey dudes.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Brant Rock Jose Surf


When people who like watching big surf see a North wind blowing, they start thinking Brant Rock. The Rock has more northerly bearing than most neighborhood beaches, and they really take their lumps on the back end of a nor'easter... or a near-miss hurricane.


Generally, Scituate gets it worse with East winds, Duxbury holds the crown with NE winds and Brant Rock gets her worst damage with North winds.

Sometimes I get out of the car, sometimes I shoot between cycles of the wiper blades 

This is about two hours before high tide on Thursday, so things got worse.

Brant Rock gets her name from Brant Geese, which used to rest on those rocks back in map-drawing time. A few local areas are named for wildlife. Gurnet Point got her name because someone influential thought that it looked like a place in England where he used to catch Gurnett Fish.

This is where all the splashover water comes from which eventually washes downhill and floods the Esplanade 

Marsh Vegas aint no joke when Poseidon has been angered by the ways of men.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Borden Flats Lighthouse Hotel



One of my favorite lighthouses around is in Fall River. This is odd, because I tend to romanticize lighthouses as isolated things on the end of a lonely beach. In that regard, it's odd to see one while I'm eating Popeye's chicken in the car.

Borden Flats Lighthouse sits at the mouth of the Taunton River, where it empties out into Mount Hope Bay. If I were a better photographer, you'd see how cool it looks there, but that's why you can read this for free.

Borden Flats Lighthouse was erected in 1881. It, and the flats it sits on, are named for the famous Borden family of Fall River. The Bordens may have had a daughter turn up in the news at some point for some reason or another, I'm not sure....

I think the Borden family may have been into hotels, because the Lizzie Borden house is now a B&B. The Borden Flats Lighthouse, which looks pretty much like a lighthouse to me, is actually a hotel!


The actual good pictures are lifted from the Borden Flats Lighthouse website.

Fall River, a bustling textile town in the 1800s, got a lot of shipping traffic, as well as steamboat ferry action. Mount Hope Bay is rather shallow, and Borden Flats were ship-wrecking treacherous. It was formerly marked by an unlit beacon. $25K was set aside for construction of the lighthouse.

It went into action on October 1, 1881. It had a kerosene-fed fourth order Fresnel lens, and you know that I have no idea what that means. It got a modern plastic lens in 1977.

It was electrified in 1957, automated in 1963, and the fog bell was replaced by an electronic foghorn in 1983... a mistake in my view, but I also don't live near/have to listen to it.

The 1938 hurricane didn't topple Borden Flats Lighthouse, but it did give it a Pisa-style tilt that you notice once someone points it out to you. They built an additional caisson around it to keep it from having a ruined-castle style look.


In 2000, the lighthouse was auctioned off to Cindy and Craig Korstad, who are in the Buy Lighthouses And Turn Them Into Hotels business. I think they dropped $53K on it, then many K more renovating it.

It stands 50 feet tall, it has a 250 mm white light that flashes every 2.5 seconds, The foghorn goes off every 10 seconds, or- as Elwood Blues said when showing his apartment to Joliet Jake- "so often you won't notice it after a while." It is an active US Coast Guard aid to navigation, and is of the "Spark Plug" variety.

It seems to be tastefully decorated, and it looks delicate enough that I will be on the "Don't touch anything!!" prohibition orders from my photographer when we tour it.

That's right... you can tour it for $20 a pop. You can also stay the night, for rates as low as $299 a night off-season.


Here's what I can learn about it from the website without calling the people like a real reporter does:

- Swimming is "strongly discouraged"  as this is both a shipping channel and not too far down the coast from where the last fatal shark attack in Massachusetts happened. The current is around 7 knots, and the lighthouse is surrounded by large, diver-paralyzing rocks.

- It runs off solar panels, so having Chief Brody kill the shark by tricking it into biting the electric wire running to the lighthouse isn't a viable exit strategy.

- Just like when it was built in 1881, the lighthouse has a DVD player and can get local stations on the TV. It lacks WiFi.

- The best access is from Borden Light Marina, the trip takes 5 minutes. I'm not sure if they ferry you over themselves. It would be a heroic swim, especially while carrying luggage.

- BYOB allowed, no smoking inside.

- You call 911 for emergencies, unless you know the Sea Mafia or perhaps even Aquaman. They say that the Justice League only keeps Aquaman around in case trouble arises at the Borden Flats Lighthouse.

- The Coast Guard has 24/7/365 access rights to the lighthouse.

- Sunsets are amazing from the lantern room. I'd imagine that the rest of the day is pretty nice up there, too.

- The lighthouse, like every other one, is haunted. The ghosts seem to be a giggling little girl, a classical music fan, and one of the keepers entering the lower floor while you're on an upper one.

- If you dream of buying a lighthouse, understand that there is Herculean maintenance involved. "You can't buy it and visit it once a year, your investment will wash into the sea." Much of the hotel revenue is poured back into the lighthouse via renovations and maintenance.

- Two guests only, and no pets allowed... even seals.

- The picture below is from US Coast Guard, circa 1900:


Ned Point Light In Mattapoisett, MA



We paid a visit to Mattapoisett, Massachusetts to check out Ned Point Light.




Ned Point Light is also known as Ned's Point Light by the locals. It was built in 1838 for $4500 of those 1838 dollars. John Quincy Adams was instrumental in getting the funds. It is older than Mattapoisett, which was part of Rochester until 1857.

It was made with stones that they found nearby. The contractor (Leonard Hammond), who also owned the town tavern, didn't finish in time. Stalling an inspector at his tavern, he had a crew try to make it look finished. The inspector stepped into the lighthouse and fell through the floor, which was merely planks laid over barrels.



It used to have a lightkeeper's house, but that was floated across Buzzards Bay to Bourne, where it now serves Wings Neck Light.

Ned Point Light was deactivated from 1951-1963. It was restored by locals in the 1990s.

It isn't open for touring, other than once a week in the summer. It's 39 feet high and has 32 granite steps.

She guards the northern edge of Mattapoisett Harbor.



The Three Sisters

































Eastham














Fast Food Oversaturation In Wareham?




If your doctor told you that you needed more cholesterol, you might want to get into the Fatmobile and bring the pod to East Wareham.

Sonic Drive-In, an Oklahoma-based restaurant chain that banks much green in the South, is slowly edging into Massachusetts. They have set their sites on Wareham, via the Patel family, owners of a bunch of Taunton-area convenience stores.

We had to go to Somerset to get these pics, but of course you know that I stopped for a salad on the way and didn't eat any artery-clogging fast food. We include the pictures for SE Massachusetts people who have never been to a Sonic. They're rare around here.

The same area of Wareham is also getting an Olive Garden.

As near as I can tell, the Sonic is going onto the property currently occupied by an oil-change shop, so your fries will have a Pennzoil taste to them. The Olive Garden is said to be going across the street from Barnacle Bill's.



How much is too much?

A lonely stretch of East Wareham is now host to a veritable takeout Mecca. You can get Burger King, Subway, McDonald's, D'Angelo's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, Wendy's, Krua Thai, Pizza Boy, Rice Bowl and Dunkin Donuts. I'm not throwing Papa Gino's, Lindsay's or Bailey's into the mix, as you can't order from your car there. I'm pretty sure that the 99 only closed because the building floods in heavy rains.

It's the Cardiac Highway!

We're not Food Snobbing anyone. Stephen, one of our writers, hasn't cooked his own food since 2011 or so. However, about one hundred yards of East Wareham, a depressed region of a small town, now has every fast food place in the Northeast.

They could use a White Castle or a Carl Jr's/Hardee's, but there is only so much Cranberry Highway.

Buzzards Bay had a Burger King fail, which isn't easy. Other than the Hooters: Cape Cod and the Falmouth/Kingston Pizza Huts, it is the most high profile failure of a major fast food chain in the area.



You order off this screen, into the sort of speaker that you used to see at drive-in theaters. Someone skates out with it, and you get into the goods. I need both glasses and a taller car.

Jessica and I passed on the tater tots, as I ate them every day for 4 years in high school. I got the SuperSonic Bacon Double Cheeseburger (pictures below), which came with fries and a soda for about $10. The burger was a-ight, but the fries were Ore-Ida quality.

My meal had over 1500 calories and 2200 milligrams of sodium before I counted the milkshake (it had about 3000 calories with the milkshake... meanwhile, famine victims in refugee camps are happy to get 1200 calories a day), and the unknowable portion sizes makes it impossible to gauge how many calories I stole from Jessica's food. The recommended daily allowance for sodium is 3400 mg, but I consider that to be a piddling sum ascribed to a 105 pound woman. I'm a slim 240 man, so I should get to have twice as much sodium as mortals are allowed. I plan on buying a salt lick and just posting it up in my office somewhere.

I didn't get a pic of it, but when I took the bun and tomato off of the burger, it looked somewhat like William Dafoe.



Jessica got the Chicken Strips Sampler Platter, which was 3 whack strips, more Ore-Ida fries, and onion ring and some toast. That also ran ten bucks, and you can see it below somewhere.

Jessica's chicken did not look like a celebrity.

My man Hardcore Logo got the Chicken Strips Kids Meal, which came with a shake and some Justice League stickers. He didn't let me steal any of it.

The rollerskater (who was a guy) was friendly enough. He's out hustling for his dollar, so I'm not making fun of him. I have had worse jobs. He was the first fast food employee I have ever tipped, aside from the Dunkin' and Marylou's girls.

That's your restaurant review. I made my journalistic bones as a sportswriter. Stacey's French, but she also isn't writing this article. We did go from Cape Cod to Somerset for these pictures, so we deserve some credit.



They must have been out of the Brazilian Man rollerskating waitress neon signs, which is understandable.

Does the population of Wareham have enough kids who know how to roller skate to staff a Sonic these days? You may not want to go there until the girls get their skating legs under them, lest you get a milkshake to the face (doh!) like the cop in the Happy Days intro.

Will this be enough for Sonic- who for some reason can't seem to come to some sort of spokesmanship agreement with the Sega hedgehog- to hold up on the Cranberry Highway against the heavyweights?

We'll goof on the Olive Garden in some future article where we have pictures of one. We consider going to an Olive Garden for Italian food to be akin to going to Red Lobster for seafood. It works if you don't have Italians around to call BS on it.

Olive Garden competing against Mezza Luna should be a devastating loss, but people like franchises. Don't count the OG out of it by any means.

Here's Jesse's dinner. I stole her onion rings before the picture could be taken... because I'm eeeeeevil.




Note that Sonic and Olive Garden are two more businesses who declined to move into (and perhaps revive) the Main Street area of Buzzards Bay. The only big names willing to dance with Buzzards Bay are Subway and Dunkin' Donuts, and we know that Dunkin' would set up in Aleppo if they were allowed.

How much fast food can one region consume? Will the added presence of Sonic be too much for BK or lil' Miss Wendy to bear? Wendy's in Wareham is sort of smelly, and Sonic may just walk them out behind the barn and put them out of their misery.

... or maybe Wareham needs more fast food? Does more fast food exist? Wahlburgers may be a bit high end. I'm not sure if Jack In The Box still exists. In-n-Out Burger or Phatburger (Fatburger?) may not make it here. I'm not sure if dropping a White Castle in Buzzards Bay or East Wareham works, especially for B Double. Chick Fil-A will help along people looking for a less gay-friendly chicken sandwich, but would you run the Bourne rotary for one?

Will the East Wareham economy survive if it is reduced to a bunch of people selling shoddy hamburgers to each other? If that happens, will employees eventually just be paid in hamburgers?

Will the very town of Wareham fracture along supper preference lines, with the higher-end West Ham and their Longhouses and Red Robins break away from their more ghetto McChicken-eating cousins in East Wareham?

Only time will tell.

Playing ring toss with onion rings makes the hardened arteries well worth it.



Suicide Alley