Posts Tagged ‘Passaic’

This was a 10-mile paddle downstream and then back upstream on the Passaic River from from Bloomfield Ave. following Hook Mountain Rd. and into the beginning of Great Piece Meadow.  I started out the day thinking I would be able to go from Rags’ last day of agility class to a one-way paddle down the Passaic River through the Great Piece Meadows.  The plan was set up nicely with Kathy being dropping a car off around Passaic Ave. in Fairfield and then driving me and my kayak back up to the Horseneck Rd. crossing of the Passaic River in Montville.  When we arrived in Fairfield we saw the river was very low and the take out would be a mess and a and long trek so I chickened out.  More importantly, it was getting late and cool and the days was getting shorter so I wasn’t confident I had time to do the trip safely before I ran out of light.  I have never done this entire stretch before.

I therefore went to impromptu plan B.  I took the car alone and parked in the warehouse complex off of Bloomfield Ave. and entered into the River from there.  I had done this once before but that was when the river was flooded.  Today, the river was low and I had to lower the kayak down a steep embankment to get it into the river.  It was a bit tricky but I got in without incident.

The trip was 10 miles and just under 4 hours going down and up the lazy Passaic River.  There were no places that I had to portage around but it was close at times and the water level was probably as low as it gets.  The autumn colors were still around and there are some nice photographs of the colorful trees and nice reflections off the water.  That is what I was going for.  Wildlife was restricted to a close encounter with a blue heron.  Additionally, I came upon this farm in Montville that had some shaggy horses, sheep and goats that were free to graze up to the river.  So I was able to get a good look at them also.

I finished the trip at 3:15 and had a couple of hours to spare and looking back at it all, I could have easily made the journey through the Great Piece Meadows.  The only thing that could have stopped me would have been a leak in the boat or something.  When hauling the kayak up the steep embankment at the takeout point I discovered the boat  felt very heavy.  I  discovered the back storage compartment was partially filled with water.  Apparently, I did spring a leak and that could have been an issue on a longer trek.  It looks like a pin hole in the back of the boat but I now have to look at getting that fixed or getting a new kayak for next year.  Maybe it was good I didn’t do the whole  Great Piece Meadows paddle.  It will have to wait until next year.

Access point to the river was a steep embankment

The timeline of the trip based on phot stamps is provided below:

  • 11:33 – First picture on the water
  • 11:37 – Go under Rt 46 bridge (789 feet)
  • 11:49 – Go under Rt 80 bridge (4,526 feet)
  • 12:30 – Go under Horseneck Road bridge (3 miles)
  • 12:54 – Approach horses and goats
  • 1:06 – Turn around at blow-down (5 miles)
  • 2:03 – Back under Horseneck Rod bridge (7 miles)
  • 2:54 – Back under Rt. 80 bridge (9.15 miles)
  • 3:10 – Back under Rt. 46 bridge
  • 3:14 – Last picture on the water (10 miles)

To view a slideshow of the photos taken on this trip or to purchase downloads ($0.99/download), prints or other items, go to my SmugMug link below.  There is some really nice foliage in these photos to look at, so check out the pictures.  You can also vote on your favorite photos so let me know what you like.


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Though it hasn’t rained much in weeks, I decided to take this trip at the headwaters of the Passaic River, accessing the river at Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge.  I knew I would have trouble navigating this part of the river with such low water levels, but with the leaves in full color, I decided to compromise on length to take advantage of the beauty of the moment.

The foliage didn’t disappoint on this trip.  The trees were red, orange and yellow and they reflected psychedelically against the smooth and still Passaic River.  The only real thing harming the beauty of the reflections on the water were all the leaves that have fallen making their way downstream and the occasional cloud that blocked the sunlight.

As soon as I got in I realized the water level was super low because the lagoon area by Lord Stirling Bridge was just a river and not the typical lagoon.  I immediately headed upstream into the Great Swamp but that trip was very quickly interrupted by a blow-down that I decided not to portage around.  I had only gotten into the kayak 5 minutes earlier.   If it was this bad at this juncture I knew I would be just as bad further up.  In the end the trip was a very short 2.5 mile loop.

I turned around and went downstream.  First I saw a Blue Heron hanging by the bridge, he never flew away and then I went under Lord Stirling Bridge.  This was definitely the nice part of the trip as the multicolored forest lazily hung out over the river’s edge.  As the sun came in and out of the clouds the colors changed subtlety in front of my eyes.  It was like a flash back to a Grateful Dead show.  There were many blow-downs along the way but I was able to got in, under and around them.  Eventually, I turned around at one of the more challenging ones about a mile and a quarter down the river and headed home.  I probably could have gotten through it without portaging if I wanted, but enough was enough.  On the way back the sun was shining the best and I got some of the best photos of the day.  I have to be happy with the photos I got on this day.  In comparison, I did this same basic trip on October 29, 2009, exactly one year earlier so you can compare the trips.

This trips timeline is as follows:

  • 12:16 – First picture on the water
  • 12:26 – See Blue Heron
  • 12:30 – Go under Lord Stirling Bridge
  • 1:06 – Reach furthest extent down the river and turn around
  • 2:05 – Last picture on the river

To view a slideshow of the photos taken on this trip or to purchase downloads ($0.99/download), prints or other items, go to my SmugMug link below.  There is some really nice foliage in these photos to look at, so check out the pictures.  You can vote on your favorite photos so let me know what you like.


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I had somewhere to be on this Saturday at 1:00 p.m., but the weather was slated to be good and the fall foliage is just about peaking where I live, so I really wanted to get a paddle in before needing to be home at 12:00 noon.  With this in mind I decided to hit up the Passaic River at the access point where it crosses South Orange Ave. in Livingston.  This is 20 minutes from home and I hadn’t been there since the leaves started turning.  Additionally, I knew I couldn’t go far either since it hadn’t rained significantly is weeks and the water levels all over are still low and a few trees are bound to be down blocking my access.

One thing I noticed when I put in is that the brightly colored trees of Red, Orange and Yellow that are present all over my neighborhood are a rarity instead of the norm on the river.  This isn’t to say there wasn’t some spectacular foliage out there.  Hopefully I have one or two more trips in the fall foliage before it all disappears.

I was resigned to take the trip slow, capture the light, where it presented itself, and try to focus on photography of the autumn leaves.  Subsequently, there is only a short 2-minute video segment and very little wildlife to see or comment on.  The only wildlife I did see was a deer early in the trip but he did let me get close to him.

Based on photograph timestamps, the trip is as follows:

  • 8:39 – First photo on the water
  • 8:54 – Photograph deer
  • 9:00 – Reach furthest extent upstream I would go at a series of downed trees
  • 9:15 – After paddling downstream I arrive back to the launch site.
  • 9:17 – Go under South Orange Ave. bridge
  • 9:50 – Reach the furthest extent downstream I would go
  • 10:24  – Get back to the launch/take-out point and last picture on the water

To view a slideshow of the photos taken or to purchase downloads ($0.99/download), prints or other items go to my SmugMug link below.  There is some nice foliage just on the brink of turning.  In addition, there are some good shots of a deer aI got pretty close to.

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This Monday looked as if it were to be a nice day following the weekend, so with the autumn leaves beginning to turn, I decided to take the day off and take a solo kayak trip.  Water levels in the area are still low due to a lack of rain but I still wanted to hit the close personal meandering of the Passaic to catch some of the burgeoning colors.

I guess the trees that grow along the river bank are less colorful than the trees I see in the woods around my neighborhood because for the most part they were green and yellow with an occasional colorful tree.  Additionally, the sun never came out in a good way.  While I got some good photos, I’m still too early to catch the leaves peaking. Additionally, the low water level limits my solo kayaking abilities in the Passaic River to certain areas.  In any case, a successful day paddling  on the river is better than any day of work.

I grabbed a roast beef sandwich at the new Fairchild Market and Bakery on the way to the river and off I went.  I parked at the convenient Essex County Environmental Center at Eagle Rock Avenue and the Passaic River.   Unloading there was quick and easy and the launch was clean and easy.  Easy seems to be the word of the day and the Passaic without a current was easy to go down and up.  When I reached the Rockaway River I made a left turn and took that upstream for a half-hour so so.  I turned around and retraced my voyage.  Back to the Passaic, back under Route 280, back under Eagle Rock Avenue and I was back where I started.  I headed upstream, past the abandoned railroad trestle and turned around and headed home.

While I was marginally disappointed in the photographic opportunities of the foliage, I was pleasantly surprised by a good chance to photograph both a blue heron and a turtle.   I was afforded pretty close access to the two of these creatures before they moved on.

To view a slideshow of the photos taken or to purchase downloads ($0.99/download), prints or other items go to my SmugMug link below.  There is some nice foliage just on the brink of turning.  In addition, there are some good shots of a hawk, a heron and a turtle.

Timeline of the trip based on the photo time-stamps was:

  • 9:28 – First picture on the water
  • 9:33 – Crossing Eagle Rock Avenue
  • 9:40 – Go under the I280 Bridge
  • 10:19 – Reach Rockaway River and turn upstream
  • 10:53 – Reach furthest extent up the Rockaway and turn around to head home
  • 11:13 – Reach Passaic River and turn upstream
  • 12:09 – Go back under I280 bridge
  • 12:10 – Photograph blue heron
  • 12:19 – Go back under Eagle Rock Ave. bridge
  • 12:36 – Go under abandoned railroad trestle
  • 12:38 – See tremendously large flock of black birds
  • 12:49 – Reach furthest extent up the Passaic River and turn around to go home
  • 12:56 – Go back under railroad trestle
  • 1:07 – Photograph brown-tailed hawk
  • 11:11 – Photograph turtle
  • 1:21 – Last Picture on the water

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I had the day off from work and it was a sunny hot day so I decided to take Rags along with me a kayak trip.  I didn’t want to do much but get Rags on the water with me, get some bonding time in a hopeful take a few nice pictures and enjoy some peace and tranquility on the river.  I got all of that and no more.

With the summers lack of rain I was expecting the river to be low and it was as low and I have ever seen it.  Getting the through the railroad trestle just south of the Essex County Environmental Center’s launch area off of Eagle Rock Ave. was tricky due to the low water level.  Additionally there was also a fallen tree that was difficult to get through a bit further up the river.  Both of the these obstacles were much easier to deal with on the way back home.

This trip was virtually the same one we took with Scraps and Rags on April 26, 2009, which was Rags first tip on the kayak.   Since I was solo today and since it was hot and sunny outside, Rags was calm and well behaved.  She never did leave the comfortable bow of the boat I set up for her except for the one time she fell into the water.

To view the photos I took from this trip in my Picasa online album go to:

As far as wildlife, we chased a couple of blue heron but only got photos of them flying away from me.  Rags and I saw a few deer on the Morris County side of the river.  One of the deer was depressingly and obviously lame.  Thanks G-d Kathy wasn’t with me on the paddle cause she would have had me calling 911 to help the poor thing.  I also saw a lot of turtles sunning themselves on logs.  Like the blue heron, the turtles are tough to sneak up on and get a good photo of.  Fortunately, Rags the dog wasn’t going anywhere and I got some good shots of her.

In total, we were on the water for about 2 and one half hours.  It was easy and relaxing and we pulled over in the shade about an hour into the paddle and ate a roast beef sub I got from the new Fairchild Bakery and Deli on the way out.    That is about it for now.

Time line according to photos is:

  • 1:30:  First picture in the river
  • 1:43 Approach railroad trestle
  • 1:54 Catch blue heron taking off.
  • 2:10 See lame deer on Morris bank of the river.
  • 2:35 Cross power east-west easement
  • 2:47 Come to turn-around point
  • 3:30 See healthy white tailed deer on Morris riverside
  • 3:36 Approach railroad trestle
  • 3:48 Approaching Essex County Environmental Center
  • 3:49 Last photo on the water
  • 4:10 Pulling out of parking lot.

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‘Twas a beautiful Saturday in late April, upper 60s with just a few wispy clouds in the sky.  With a few hours in the middle of the day to kill, I decided to take a quick kayak trip to enjoy the weather and the blossoming spring foliage.  With Kathy working at the Habitat for Humanity Restore I was once again solo on my paddle.  I figured I would take the easy and uninteresting trip from the Passaic River’s access point on South Orange Avenue.  My plan was to travel as far upstream as I could until I hit a portage point due to a downed tree.  I figured this would happen because we really haven’t had any significant rains in 3 to 4 weeks since the floods of late March.

The Passaic River today was a much different river than the expansive flooded river system I previously encountered.  On this trip, I just witnessed remnants of that flooded period.  The banks of the river were dark, wet and muddy from the floods.  Accessing the river was a little muddy but due to the placement of a few key rocks , a 2×4 and an old welcome mat,  I was able to get in the river pretty clean.  Getting out of the river was also fairly uneventful.  I did gfet out parallel to the riverside, using a tree to hoist my body out of the kayak.  From there I kind of just carried the boat out of the water directly to the parking lot, avoiding a muddy exit for the most part.

I got into the river no problem and headed up stream.  In what seemed like 10 minutes I reached a blockage in the river that would have required me to get out of my kayak to get through.  This was in just about a half mile.  I didn’t think it was worth getting out of the kayak on this casual day on the river.  I knew what I was in store when I came out on the Passaic, I was more into the relaxation on the water more so than the exploration.  I therefore turned around at this point and headed back downstream.  There is a swampy area by some big concrete pipes that we have been in before that I decided to go into for as far as I could.  It wasn’t too far but it gave me a place to go.  I actually saw a small bird with a sharp pointy beak that I have never seen before.  It was standing in the water eating some food.  I saw a few of them in there.

I also saw a family of 5 in a canoe   some time later.  They told me about a heron they saw and some duck but I never saw the blue heron.  I’ve seen them before on many other an occasion on this stretch of the Passaic.  While I did see some ducks they were always fleeing down the river as I approached.

I took the river past my starting point and headed down under the South Orange Ave bridge.  I had paddled a mile only a mile and I also knew I could only go so far until I encountered another blockage with the water levels being as low as they were. While it was significantly further than my upstream leg, the downstream portion of the trip was nothing to write about, so I’m trying my best.  It was another 1.2 miles to the turn around point and another 1.2 miles back.  The entire trip was 3.4 miles in about two and one half hours so as you can tell, I took it easy, seldom paddling and just listening to some music from my iPhone in wireless bluetooth headphones.  Sweet! For the record, a Karen Ackers bootleg I mixed singing the show tunes of Kander and Ebb and also Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I paddled with the beat.  It was a beautiful day so I took it for what it was worth, an easy paddle under beautiful blue skies.

For those who track such nonsense, below is the timeline based on the time and GPS stamps of the pictures I took:

  • 1:46 p.m. Car is unloaded at South Orange Ave. parking lot and access point
  • 1:47 p.m. First picture in the water and heading upstream
  • 2:02 p.m. Pass entrance to open swampy area
  • 2:05 p.m. Reach furthest upstream extent of the trip at the blockage
  • 2:19 p.m. Go into swampy open area, “That’s what she said.”
  • 2:32 p.m. Leave swampy area
  • 2:52 p.m. Reach the starting point of the trip
  • 3:31 p.m. Reach furthest downstream extent of the trip by the Cedar Hill Country Club
  • 4:17 p.m.  Take my last picture on the water and pack up for camera in preparation for landing.

I used that stump sticking out of the water to pull my boat close to the shore and lift my body out of the boat.  Using the rocks I was able to pull the boat cleanly on shore and carry it out to the car without too much mud.  It worked well but I could have just as easily slipped and fallen into the water.

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It’s an extremely hot and sunny Easter Sunday here in New Jersey, yet the rivers are still flooded from last week’s rains so I figured I would complete this 4 day weekend with my 3rd kayak paddling adventure.  Today I decided to enter the Passaic River at the Pio Costa industrial park off of Bloomfield Avenue.  This is a new launch site for me but I have seen it from the road and from the river and always wanted to try it.  Being private land I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but there is lots of room back there along the river behind the warehouses.  I read someone’s trip logs where they recommended this parking lot for access, so I figured I would take the chance.  Being Easter Sunday I assumed no one would be there anyway.

I quickly got unloaded which was expedited by my own stupidity.  I first took the straps off the Thule Hulla-Port J Carriers and then when taking off the stern anchor rope off the iBolt the entire kayak came tumbling off the roof and onto the asphalt parking lot.  Fortunately, the kayak seemed okay but I suffered a bad rope burn across my right arm.  No big deal but a scar to remind me never to do this again.  I kept going forward and got the kayak ready for taking off and got into the water at 11:15.  Ready for what would be an 8-mile kayak trip paddled in 3 hours.

The water came right up to the  parking lot and I launched the kayak parallel to the shore and had no problem pushing off.  The current was pretty strong at that section, seems to be the case at the access points, and it took me a second to get my bearings and get the camera out.  At that moment I unexpectedly saw a police car pulled up to my parked car, looked around and pulled away.  I think he saw me in the river and wasn’t too concerned but it did concern me during the paddle that my car may not the there when I get back or it may have a ticket.  Neither was the case.

I was on my way snapping pictures to more so to mark the time rather than getting nice pictures.  Like the days before, the foliage was still in its winter hibernation and there was little color to see.  Paddling up the flooded Passaic was strenuous but I kept a steady paddle forging ahead.  After passing through the Bloomfield Avenue bridge and the Kevah school bus terminal I left civilization and the river’s current behind me.

There was no wildlife, no fish, just a few bugs and small birds but nothing to photograph.  Just me and my blue-tooth headphones.  I didn’t even have a new Adam Carolla podcast to listen to.  He was even on absent from Carcast, who was I going to listen to Sandy Ganz?  I resorted to listening to shuffled music and enjoyed it .  I even got an appropriate Brokedown Palace with all its reference to flowing rivers.

In 25 minutes I reached the mouth of the Rockaway River and made a right turn up it.  Kathy and I had ventured up this section of the Rockaway once before in November 2009 but much shallower water made the fallen trees an issue.  The flooded river today made all those type of issues non-existent.

In about 20 minutes since entering the Rockaway I went past the point I stopped and turned around in November and started exploring new territory.  That’s a bonus for me on any kayak trip.  My goal was to head toward the Whippany River and the area close to the MCMUA transfer station along New Edwards Road.

The whole area was flooded from the prior rains so what was and wasn’t river was tough to decipher at times.  I really appreciate my iPhone for all it does for me out there.  It plays music, makes calls, tweets in case of emergency and it gives me a GPS.  These are a great things and the GPS helps me keep track of my route and a perspective on my time.  It gets me to where I want to go pretty accurately and confidently.

I entered the swamp land that goes along north of Route I-280 and the exit ramp for Edwards Road.  Usually that wouldn’t be that flooded as it was and it was kayakable today.  I could see the swamp grasses through the water below me.

I found my way back to the river channel and came to the mouth of the Whippany.  That is where you encounter the Sharkeys Landfill (Superfund site) which is also the location of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Wastewater (sewage) Treatment Plant.  Just down New Edwards road is our transfer station.  It was further away from the river than I expected.

I took the left turn at the landfill and headed toward the terminus of New Edwards Road which is closer to the MCMUA transfer station. The river current picked up here in the Whippany.  All the flood waters from the other side of Ridgedale Ave. and I-280 was draining right toward me.  Like all the current I discuss in the Passaic , it is really no problem paddling through.  Choke points around bridges and concrete embankments is a way of kayaking.  The flood gauge at the end of the road read 7.16 feet.  I really don’t know what it means but I was there to read it.  Hopefully, I’l be here once again to read the gauge.  I guess I could read it from the end of the road, using it as an access point, and if it’s high enough, it’s worth putting the kayak in.  This area is obvious reliant on the level of the water more so than the Passaic.

I crossed under 3 bridges, 2 for I-208 and the last for Ridgedale Ave.  After that the entire area opened up to the expansive Troy Meadows which were flooded for as far as the eye could see.  On the western horizon I see the bunkers which tower above Powder Mill in the far distance.  While the Whippany follows the Troy Meadows to the right I took a tributary that feeds into the meadows to the left for a few minutes.

My paddle up the Whippany for today ended at a big power easement tower located near the end of Stmis Lane in East Hanover.  I turn around here and headed back.  My ass was hurting by then, I have been in the kayak a lot over the past few days.

On the way back I decided to tour the Rockaway River in between two cells of the Shakeys Landfills.  I discovered an old stone hearth standing majestically by the water.  There were also hunting stands darted amongst the river-scape.  I’m sure it’s landscape during drier times.  It’s going to be mosquito-scape soon.   There is actually a bridge that crosses the river from landfill cell to landfill cell.

It was just past this landfill bridge where I turned around once again to head home.  It was located behind the small strip mall offices located along New Road heading toward Route 46.  With turning around, the current, if there was any, would be with me.

Breakers from the landfill. They look ike they are made with a fabric cover.

When I finally started going down the Rockaway and approached the confluence with the Passaic River, I got lost a bit in the flooded jungle but my trusty GPS and the high water level told me not to worry. I ran into the Passaic River a few hundred yards upstream from where I had left it.  You wouldn’t nor could you do that if the flooding wasn’t as severe as it was.

Once I picked u the Passaic River it was just a matter of hauling ass to the take out point.  I had to piss and my ass was killing me.  I addition, the sunny 75-degree weather was beating down on me.  In no time I made to to the take-out point and was pleased to see my car there.  I also saw another car there which belong to these two river hobo types that were fishing in the river where I parked.  As I approached the area they asked if I was getting out.  When I confirmed they moved their rods out of the way.  This was a steep, parallel to the shore exit which was going to be tricky and I was not excited about doing it in front of two people.  Fortunately, I drifted into the shoreline, backwards and one of the guys pulled me out of the river back first.  I got out dry and clean.  Fifteen minutes later I was packed up and heading home.  New territory and a new launch site.

The timeline of the trip based on photo time-stamps as well as tweets was:

  • 10:39 a.m. – Leaving my house with kayak on roof
  • 11:01 a.m. – Parked at Pio Costa parking lot on Bloomfield Ave ready to unload
  • 11:09 a.m. – Kayak on side of river ready to go in
  • 11:13 a.m. – Tweet from the bank of the river that I’m going in.
  • 11:15 a.m. – In the water taking my first picture
  • 11:19 a.m. – Go under the Bloomfield Ave. bridge.
  • 11:27 a.m. – Going past Kevak Korner bus company dispatch yard in Montville
  • 11:49 a.m. – (1.25 miles) Tweet that I’m at the mouth of the Rockaway River and baring right to go up it.
  • 12:10 p.m. – Reach the the furthest extent point from 11-8-2009 trip, from here on is new territory
  • 12:15 p.m.  – Enter flooded swamp along Edwards Road exit ramp off I-280
  • 12:25 p.m. – (2.5 miles) Tweet That I’m at the Sewage treatment plant and the mouth of the Whippany
  • 12:27 p.m. – Enter the mouth of the Whippany as I make a left at the sewage plant toward New Edward’s Road and I-280.
  • 12:32 p.m. – Reach New Edward’s Road terminus and read flood gauge which read 7:16
  • 12:36 p.m. – (2.85 miles) Go under I-280 and Ridgedale Ave. bridges
  • 12:55 p.m. -(3.4 miles)  Tweet that I’m at the turn around oint off the Whippany near Stimis Ave.
  • 1:05 p.m.  – (3.95 miles) Go back under Ridgedale Ave. and I-280 bridges
  • 1:08 p. m. – go back past New Edwards Road terminus.
  • 1:15 p.m. – (4.30 miles) Back at mouth of Whippany where it meets Rockaway at sewage treatment pant sign.
  • 1:26 p.m. – (4.85 miles) Approach Sharkey’s Landfill bridge that spans the Rockaway.
  • 1:29 p.m. – (4.95 miles) Reach turn-around point on Rockaway River as I explore the landfills.
  • 1:34 p.m. – Tweet that I’ve explored Sharkeys Landfill and am heading back.
  • 1:40 pm. –  (5.6 miles) Heading away from landfills
  • 2:00 p.m. – (6.7 miles) Tweeted that I’m back on the Passaic River.
  • 2:15 p.m.  – (7.84 miles) About to go back under the Bloomfield Ave. bridge
  • 2:18 p.m. – Take the last picture from the river before stowing the camera away in preparation for landing
  • 2:23 p.m. – (8.00 miles) Kayak on shore
  • 2:34 p.m.  -Kayak on and ready to go
  • 2:35 p.m.  – Tweet that the car is packed and I’m driving out of Pio Costa parking lot.

MCMUA Transfer Station just down the road.

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