Thursday, March 5, 2015

Backyard Snow

5 March 2015

Jim posted pictures of his backyard today. I see his patio and raise him several snow-covered trees.

I'm slowly going crazy, but at least the backdrop has been pretty.

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Saturday, 7 March

5 March 2015

Yeah, right.

Maybe Sunday?

Stay tuned.

Worst Bike Dream Ever?

5 March 2015

This is the dream I had in the wee hours this morning:

I was on an event ride, with a small group.  We were in the flatlands somewhere north of Mercer County Park. Two people at a rest stop table told us to go back to the park (no cue sheets, apparently).  I knew the way.

I started down a long, winding hill with another rider.  To our left were open fields.  On the right was another New Jersey landmark:  a berm that rose over our heads.

I hit a bump or something. I flew off my bike (in slow motion, of course) and landed on my feet on top of the berm.  Kermit was lying on the ground next to me.  In two pieces.

Saved by a loathsome berm, my favorite bike destroyed.  What does this mean, Dr. Freud?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

For Cheryl

4 March 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015


image edited to protect the guilty

1 March 2015

TEW and I have been asking the same question: Out on the road, we Hill Slugs are one big, happy family.  When we're housebound, we never see each other.  If we're not on our bikes, are we still friends?

Mid-week, today's forecast looked promising enough for us to get out mid-day.  By Friday, things weren't looking so good.  Snakehead Ed was holding out hope and got two routes ready so that we could dodge the snow.  By last night, though, the storm's arrival had moved up to mid-morning.

Jim suggested we meet somewhere for coffee instead. I jumped on that; I could bring Jack, who, by now, knows Jim and Ed well enough to hold his own. Ed said he'd decide in the morning. If the storm were to hold off, we'd start from Six Mile Run at 10:00 a.m.  I got Kermit ready.

At 7:00 a.m. my inbox was empty.  The National Weather Service was calling for snow at 10:00.  I sent out the first message: "Well, fearless leader, should I suit up?"  Jim answered first.  "I'm out," he said.  I agreed.

Ed wasn't yet convinced that we couldn't squeeze a few miles in.  I told him to read this.  It took another 40 minutes for him to come around.

Now it was down to Better World in South Brunswick, or Main Street in Kingston.  Jim wrote, "I popped to make the decision to wimp out; I'm leaving the choice of place to Her Perpetuality."

"Her Perpetuality!  This might stick. That makes you His Plainness, of course." We decided on Main Street at 10:00.  "I don’t like the trend here if I have to become His Sibilance or such like," Ed replied.

I had time for half a breakfast before we headed out.  On the way, I looked at the ice on the shoulder on Princeton Pike.  In a week I need to see at least half of it or I won't be able to bike to work safely.

We took a round table in the back. Ed and I had big mugs of coffee.  Ed went for the flaky pastries.  I found something in pumpkin.  Jack went with a cookie.  Jim slid in with a lump of sugary mess that none of us dared define.

Frames and shifters, wheels and obsolescence.

Computers and software, code and obsolescence.

What Truman knew about the atomic bomb.  What the public knew.

Shakespeare's first folio, greasy fingers preserving pages.

Mummies as a source of paper.

 from "Double Fold" by Nicholson Baker

"An endless supply of mummies?"

"Sustainable mummy harvest?"

"Do I want to come back as USA Today?"

"You could be the next great American novel."

"Or some politician's leaflet."

"Naah; mummy paper is too expensive for that."

"Or the second-to-last ever edition of the Yellow Pages. Not the last.  The last would be historic.  But the second-to-last nobody would care about."

"This is going in the blog."

The PennEast pipeline.  The Pilgrim pipeline.

Bass, drums, and guitar.  Friends who can't sing.

"We should go," Jack said.

"It's snowing," I said, which is something I've said at Main Street before.

"Before we go," Jim said, "I just want to say that we should do this more often. When we're not on our bikes, we don't see each other."

"We email," I said.

"It's not the same."

"Yeah, I know.  When I lead rides, I treat everyone as a potential friend.  I guess that's why my group is small. Most Freewheelers just want to do 40 miles and go home." Whether I like it or not, I'm looking for more than that.

I turned my gaze away from the table, at the adjacent wall, decorated with wire letters spelling "yum" and "eat."  I said, "This winter, cooped up inside, I kinda lost part of my identity."

It's 3:00 now, and the snow has turned to rain, making for a slushy mess.  I'll watch it from Gonzo as I do another bout on the trainer.  May this be the last.


Postscript:  Jim and Jack agree that "Her Perpetuity" is superior to "Her Perpetuality." I'm still fond of the latter, but this is clearly not my decision.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Frozen Paths and Rivers

Covered Bridge, Tyler State Park

28 February 2015

The air was at 20 degrees, 12 degrees with the wind chill.

Tom, Ron, Chris, and I didn't care.  None of us could take another weekend indoors.  We met at the Yardley Park and Ride, and we followed Tom in our cars to Tyler State Park.

After a few minutes on the paved trail, I said to Tom, "I know you guys just bust on me when we're out here, but I missed it."

"I saw your post from last week, where you said you didn't want to make me put up with you all by myself," he said. "I don't hate you. You're like spice. A little is good." We rounded a corner.  "A lot, not so good."

"God, I missed this!"

Ahead of us, a fox crossed the path.

The Neshaminy Creek was mostly frozen:

Tom led us down a long hill.  At the bottom the path was covered in snow and ice.  Beyond the ice was a covered bridge.  Chris rode over it, of course, without the slightest wobble.  The rest of us wussed out and walked.

I busted on Tom for promising us clear trails.  "Is this another one of our adventures?" I asked him. Trudging through the snow was worth it, though. On our way back from the bridge, Ron spotted a bear's paw print.

It wouldn't be a mountain bike ride without Chris having to mess with his components:

To get back to the main path, we had to climb a long hill.  It was work, made worse by having to take in such cold air.  We'd just about caught our breaths when we faced another climb.  The guys griped about being out of shape.

More Neshaminy Creek through the trees:

The spillway:

We'd done a 9-mile loop. Now Tom had another, shorter loop in mind.  One more long ascent was rewarded with an old bluebird box and farmhouses:

A feeder stream covered in snow:

Field, trees, and sky:

Back at the spillway:

We got close to the creek again:

Bear prints across the ice?  They were too round to be boots, too big to be deer. I couldn't get close enough to find out.

We hung out in the parking lot, making plans for Bike Virginia.  Tom, Ron, and I are going for the three-day weekend half of the ride at the end of June.  Y'all are welcome to join us.

Then we talked about Tom's mission for the year: to climb the highest point in each of New Jersey's counties.  By the time he was finished describing the northern ones, I was a little nervous.  With a worried expression, I looked over at Ron, who looked at me and said, "Now I'm scared."

Aaaaah, we'll be ready.  Provided this snow melts by June.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Harihokake, Lockatong, Wickecheoke, Alexauken, Nishisakawick, and Little Nishisakawick

25 February 2015

Ms. Kimberly Bose
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Office of the Secretary
888 1st Street, NE
Washington, DC 20428

Re: Docket No. PF15-1-000: PennEast Pipeline Project, EIS Scoping

Ms. Bose:

The New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club hereby states its opposition to the PennEast Pipeline project, in any configuration.  The Environmental Impact Statement, encompassing proper, wide scope and depth, would demonstrate an overwhelming amount of environmental degradation, loss of preserved open space, and destruction of a rural sense of place, all without demonstrable need, in the name of profiteering from a rush to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

A thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is imperative; its scope must be broader than the footprint of the pipeline.

The purpose and need for the PennEast pipeline must be proven beyond the desire for profit.  In its Resource Report submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), PennEast cites the need for inexpensive natural gas as the reason to build a 114-mile pipeline through one of the most rural stretches of the Delaware River watershed. The report also suggests, as if profit were an inalienable right, that the no-build alternative would be detrimental to the owners of the pipeline company.  There is no proof, within the report or elsewhere, that the natural gas shipped through the PennEast pipeline would even serve those whose land the pipe has severed.  It is possible, however, that the transported gas will be compressed and sold offshore, where it would fetch a higher price.  Were this to be the case, the project purpose and need, beyond profit, would be nothing.

When considering the extent of the project area, the EIS must include not only the footprint of the pipeline right of way, but also, at minimum, the farthest boundaries of all contiguous and adjacent properties and water bodies, historic sites, and economic centers. Environmental degradation, fragmentation, siltation, contamination, and historic devaluation would occur far beyond the limits of the pipeline right of way.

Cumulative impacts must also be considered, not only for the length of the pipeline, but also within the context of the Marcellus and Utica shale fracking boom. Multiple pipelines have been proposed and constructed to transport shale gas throughout New Jersey. The PennEast project must be considered within the expanding network of natural gas pipelines.  The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), under which the EIS must be written, dictates that cumulative impacts include not only past, but also present and future impacts.  Cumulative impact analysis should include effects on water quality, wildlife, forest fragmentation, invasive species, preserved open space, preserved farmland, property values, recreation, employment, and the rural aspect of the pipeline’s path. The effects from blasting through diabase rock, disturbing arsenic-rich Triassic shale, ancillary construction, pumping stations, and maintenance must also be considered.

The EIS must also take into consideration the unique ecosystems through which it would cross, and the many protections these ecosystems have on them.  For example, the pipeline’s crossing near Riegelsville would be within the Lower Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River. Near its southern terminus, the pipeline would cut through the Sourland Mountain, which contains the last contiguous forested areas in central New Jersey and has been recognized as a unique and fragile ecosystem.  From its origin in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, to its destination in Mercer County, New Jersey, the pipeline would cross more than 88 waterways, 44 wetlands, 30 parks, and 33 conservation easements [see the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s FERC submission, 20150218-5212(30172450)] .  In New Jersey, 6 streams carrying the Category 1 designation for their exceptional ecological significance, will be crossed, some more than once.  These streams are the Harihokake, Lockatong, Wickecheoke, Alexauken, Nishisakawick, and Little Nishisakawick Creeks, all of which feed into the Delaware River from rural ridges in Hunterdon County.  The EIS must also consider the possibility that the pipeline would violate Section 404 of the Clean Water Act because of the number of high quality streams, wetlands, and rivers it would cross.

The scope of the EIS must also include thorough analyses of steep slope degradation, runoff, siltation, soil compaction, above- and below-ground hydrological alterations, crop production, native and invasive vegetation, and native and invasive wildlife. Surveys of endangered and threatened species should occur when such species are the most visible; multiple surveys for multiple species should occur.

Changes in air quality must also be evaluated in depth.  As a greenhouse gas, methane is many times more potent than carbon dioxide. From potential methane leaks along the pipeline to construction-related air pollution, cumulative impacts on local, regional, and global air quality must be considered.

Several socioeconomic impacts must also be considered.  Employment opportunities would be, for the most part, transient.  Property values along the pipeline are likely to decrease.  Historic sites and recreational areas would be negatively impacted.  New Jersey’s taxpayers have contributed millions of dollars to preserve the forests, farms, and waterways that the PennEast pipeline would cross.  The effect is that of a taking for private gain.

A properly executed EIS must include not only the preferred route and the no-build option, but alternative routes as well.  All routes must be evaluated with the same criteria.  As proposed, the negative impacts of the PennEast pipeline route are overwhelming.  While PennEast has attempted to align much of Hunterdon County’s route with existing rights of way, the negative impacts have not been reduced.  Because of its intended origin and destination, alternative construction through the built environment carries with it large socioeconomic impacts without reducing many of the environmental ones.  In the end, the only reasonable option is the no-build alternative, which must be considered equally with all proposed routes. With due diligence and thorough analysis, the PennEast EIS should demonstrate that this 114-mile pipeline carries only profit for those who would never bear the negative impacts of the destruction of one of the last remaining stretches of rural New Jersey.