The show is completely staged, we're into run-throughs, and soon we'll be moving into production week, the week leading up to opening night, where we finally get into the theater and begin working with costumes, makeup, the set, the orchestra. Most of this will take place in the evening, leaving the days free for --- what else? Working out!
Being in Princeton has been a special challenge; I'm blessed here with a very friendly, social cast, and that has led to a great deal of socializing at restaurants and bars, which has in turn led to a short circuit of my healthy eating. I have healthy food at home, but it's been way too easy to grab a slice or a burger when out with the gang. And that can't go on.
However, I have been taking advantage of the lovely weather and my host's bike to cycle to rehearsal whenever possible, and make other forays around town. Today was a day off, and I celebrated with a 24-mile RT ride along the Delaware & Raritan Canal.
I started off in Cranbury, where I'm staying, in a nice suburban neighborhood surrounded by thick forest. It's not uncommon to see woodchucks, bunnies, foxes, and deer. There's a bike trail that leads past the busy main road and gets you all the way down to the canal --- this is what I take to rehearsal. It's so beautiful that it just feeds the soul -- not until you reach the bottom of the big, mile-long hill leading up to the church where we rehearse does it actually begin to feel like exercise!
Upon leaving the neighborhood, I pass a beautiful pond where a Great Blue Heron is almost always in residence. Today he took exception to my passage, spiraling up over the water with harsh complaints. His flight took him too close to a nesting robin, who took exception and chased him away as I've only seen smaller birds do to hawks.
Next, I pass a huge, sweet-smelling field of grasses, richly inhabited with butterflies and red-winged blackbirds who dart and dip among the waving fronds. And then it's on past some wetlands and woodlands, which border a couple of major corporations who have created hiking and biking paths for their employees and kept much of the forest surrounding them intact for that purpose. Onward, past banks of wildflowers in riotous colors: white, purple, pink, yellow, and bright orange, all massing together. Sadly, this photo doesn't do the colors justice; or the sweet herbal scent that perfumes the air.
Soon after this, a quick detour down a side road brings me to the entrance of the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park, and in short order I am crossing the first of the bridges which will take me towards the Princeton University campus. Look carefully at the photo below; there is a pile of turtles on a dead branch. Such turtle piles heavily stud the canals and their banks! There is quite a healthy turtle population here, including some sizable snappers.
Today, I had to make a decision about whether to turn left, towards Trenton, or right, to Kingston. I decided to see if I could make it to Trenton. First, I paused on the bridge to snap the beautiful river. No scullers this year; last year it seems I saw them fairly regularly.
The trail is pretty shady, which did not keep me from coming home with an impressive farmer's tan. Along the way I saw adorable little chipmunks, a fat woodchuck who scurried out of my path, and plenty of Canadian geese on the canal. My hosts take exception to their presence (too much poop, I suppose) but I think they are beautiful.
Now, what would an adventure be without ... well, and adventure? As I peddled along, I heard yelling and splasing in the canal. There are lots of canoe and kayak rental places, and I correctly assumed this was a group of kids --- but they were stranded. There were about 10 of them, far too many to be in two canoes, ranging in ages from about 8 to perhaps 12. And they were clearly part of some religious group. All the girls were wearing black mid-calf skirts, opaque stockings, blue button-down shirts and black sweaters or sweater vests; the boys were dressed the same except they had slacks, of course. Not your typical canoeing attire, and far too hot for the weather. As they had managed to capsize their canoes, they were all soaked and must have been miserable. They saw me approach and yelled at me for help. The biggest boy was in the water, trying fruitlessly to empty his waterlogged canoe; but it was too heavy for him to tip himself, and they were on the far side of the canal. Now, this water is not very deep; nor is it very inviting, being a muddy brown. I stopped, and called out some encouragement, telling them how to empty the canoe. (They just needed to drag it to the bank, get it slightly on the bank, and tip it over, which, working together, they could have done). In retrospect, I probably should have just stayed there and hollered instructions until they managed it or made them pull the canoes and wade over to my side where I could have helped them without getting too wet myself; but they asked me to ride on and get the manager of the canoe concession, so after a few more words of encouragement, I did. There were several other canoes with their colleagues in them dotting the canals --- not a single adult superviser in sight, either. I got to the canoe concession and found the one adult, a very pissed-off woman who said that the manager was not helping them at all. I told her she was just going to have to walk down there and help them, and told them where she was; and went on my way. She herself was wearing a knee-length black skirt and sweater, and heels. I felt kind of bad for the kids and just a little bit for the woman but honestly, this was not well-planned. Those kids were all over the place with no supervision, and not dressed appropriately for the outing. It was not well thought out. Anyway, there were plenty of other people walking and biking the trail, and by the time I got back they were gone, so the poor things must have eventually either rescued themselves or gotten help!
The first of many deer I was to see along the way. In fact, around the next bend the trail began to taper off and become nothing more than a footpath; so I had to cross to the other side. At the crossing, I happened to glance down the trail a bit and saw a doe resting herself along the banks of the canal, among the lily pads. (They aren't actually lily pads; I'm not sure what they are, but that's what they look like. Sort of).
Click on the pic to enlarge, and if you look carefully you might be able to spot her. The camera on my phone unfortunately doesn't have a zoom. When I got to the other side, I was able to see what I couldn't from my first vantage point --- the doe had two darling little fawns with her! They are well-camoflauged. Look at the water's edge.
There isn't much signage along the trail. Occasionally you will find a map of the WHOLE trail system (which is quite large) but they never show where you are right then; and none of the bridges have street names on them. However, there was a little trail shooting off the main, which promised to go past a house built in 1761; so I thought that was worth a little detour. This was in Lawrence Township.
Sure enough, the house was a pleasant sight and there were picnic tables and chairs. It was time for a break, so I stopped to eat some trail mix and enjoy the view.
There were a number of people in office clothes walking by on the trail, and when I left I followed the trail from whence they were coming, which led to some large building in the middle of cleared forest. They had made a trail connecting to the D&R Canal Trail, and I passed many of their employees having a lunch time jaunt. What a great idea!
... and continues, lovely and serene, for many more miles. However, by this time, I wasn't quite sure how far I'd gone or how much further it was to Trenton. I'd had fantasies about getting there and having a little rest in a cafe before heading back; but none of the maps showed how much further it was, or had any distance markers on them at all, and I realized that I'd gone about as fur as I could go and still hope to make it back.
So, at the next road crossing, which happened to be where this dilapidated but still lovely house stood, I stopped and whipped out my new phone with its fancy GPS, and figured I was still in Lawrence Township, on Carnegie Road, and it was about 12 miles from home. I figured that'd be a good ride, by the time I got back. So turn around I did.
My path was strewn with flowers ---these pretty orange lilies that grow wild everywhere around here.It was a good ride. I do confess to stopping for frozen yogurt on the way home --- hey, I only had trail mix for lunch --- and when I did get back, I took a quick shower and then lay down on the bed while the overhead fan did its work in finishing drying me ... and promptly fell into a heavy two-hour nap. So it must have been a good workout. ;)