Tag Archives: kayaking

Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat–Kayaks in Rockport, Mass.

Kayaks ready for a spin in Rockport Harbor, Massachusetts.
Kayaks ready for a spin in Rockport Harbor, Massachusetts.

On one of my favorite kayak trips from Rockport, on the Massachusetts coast, is to the Dry Salvages, a group of giant rocks off the coast of Cape Ann.  It’s fun to paddle out there and even more fun when grey and harbor seals pop up next to your kayak to check you out.

I later learned that the Dry Salvages inspired T.S. Eliot’s “The Dry Salvages,” the third poem in his sequence Four Quartets. Eliot spent his summers on Cape Ann in Gloucester and the the poet’s estate has just acquired the Eliot family’s summer house by the sea there which the family sold many years ago. The estate plans to use it to promote Eliot’s life and works to his American readers. Hopefully that means lovers of literature and old houses may have a chance to take a tour.  Read about it in this article in The Guardian.

T.S. Eliot in Gloucester
T.S. Eliot in Gloucester

The Dry Salvages obviously pose a danger for ships and many have crashed on them, hence the name.  And, during the death and destruction of World War II, Eliot found used them as a symbol.

“the menace and caress of wave that breaks on water/ The distant rote in the granite teeth,/ And the wailing warning from the approaching headland…”

But, on a sunny day, in a brightly colored kayak, with seals around, the Dry Salvages seem a lot less dismal.

I’ve used this image in an earlier blog post.  Obviously, Cape Ann is one of my favorite spots. In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Afloat.”

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Kayaking Over Minnehaha Falls: Longfellow Would Have Loved This

You know you’re in Minnesota when you find yourself at the intersection of Hiawatha Avenue and Minnehaha Parkway.  Overlooking the Mississippi River, Minnehaha Park is one  of Minneapolis’s oldest and most popular parks.  Minnehaha Falls, the park’s centerpiece, became a tourist destination after the publication of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem “The Song of Hiawatha” in 1855.

Longfellow never visited the falls in person and there’s not much fact in the poem; the real Hiawatha lived in New England. Nonetheless,

A statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha ala the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, sits adjacent to Minnehaha Creek.
A statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha ala the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, sits adjacent to Minnehaha Creek.

“Hiawatha” became America’s most widely read poem of the nineteenth century, spreading the fame of Minnehaha Falls and the uppermost regions of the Mississippi and the “shores of Gitche Gumee by the shining Big Sea waters.”

The falls are on Minnehaha Creek which flows from Lake Minnetonka west of Minneapolis, through the city and on into the Mississippi River.   By late summer they are often reduced to a trickle. In fact, one year (almost 50 years to the day) President Lyndon Johnson was scheduled to view the falls on a visit to Minneapolis, but they were almost bone dry.  In order to create something worth seeing, the city had to open many fire hydrants, upstream and out of sight, to feed water to the creek.”

That’s not the case this year.  June brought the all-time largest rainfall in Minnesota, which created new bodies of water and raised the level of the Great Lakes.  That meant little Minnehaha Falls became a raging torrent and it lured professional kayaker Hunt Jennings to give it a go.  Over the falls he went to the surprise of many bystanders–and he emerged in one piece.

I don’t suggest kayaking over the falls, but if you visit the park, a safer bet would be to try out Sea Salt Eatery for fish tacos and other goodies amidst the beauty of the park.