Cake
  • Log In
  • Sign Up
    • Robert Baker

      Life is either a great adventure or nothing - Helen Keller

      Time-travel back to the year 2000.  I had just moved to Alaska and bought a home thinking my restless feet might finally settle down. As I grapple with the sedation of a rural bedroom community 50 miles north of Anchorage, it only takes a few months for me have my adventure radar on full tilt seeking other adventurous souls.  Enter Stage-right as Sean and two other peeps from New York City team up with some local Anchorage folks to form a four-person opera ensemble chartered to deliver micro-sized operas to elementary school children and Bush Alaska as a cultural education offering.  Being tasked as the photographer to document a weekend program in remote Dillingham, Alaska, the adventures were to begin.

      Our crew of four left the muddy airstrip to stroll the muddy sidewalks and peruse “downtown” Dillingham. The Yup’ik people claimed Dillingham for 100’s of years but when Skipper James Cook arrived to the Bristol Bay region, the Russians, British and Americans immediately saw the opportunity to fish. Nowadays the average population can run over 3000 people in the summer as fisherman and opportunists arrive. Our group stroll led us by a gun store and there were two very interesting characters keeping shop.   We walked in and it was obvious we were all “big city folks” and the gentlemen were very engaging.  Turns out the one gentleman ran his own radio station out of his home and we returned later that night so he could interview the troupe on live radio.   The opera installation went well and Sean and I became good friends.

    • Fast forward to 2015 and I end up running the New York City Half Marathon with Sean (or, we started at the same time). I did not finish LAST!  He mentions he recently scored a good deal on a second property out at Westhampton Beach on eastern Long Island.  I say “let’s check it out!”. We did a quick trip out for two days and I absolutely fell in love with the vibe of Westhampton Beach.  Sean took me nearby to his fav surfing break; shipwrecks out at Cupsogue Beach.

    • Cupsogue sounds like a weird name to someone unfamiliar with Long Island. It turns out many of the towns and hamlets have Native American references to their history. Dated from the 1690s, the Native American word Cupsogue means “a closed inlet”. The park’s land was entirely part of Fire Island until a 1931 Nor’easter created the Moriches Inlet, which enlarged between 1933 and 1938. The park was acquired by the Suffolk County Parks Department in the 1950s, and by the 1970s Cupsogue Beach County Park was given a pavilion and boardwalk. A breach connecting the Atlantic Ocean and Great South Bay occurred on the east end of the park as a result of high tides during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The breach widened from 150 feet (46 m) to 300 feet (91 m) less than a week later when a Nor’easter hit. Officials closed the breach with a $6 million project that pumped in 200,000 cubic yards (150,000 m3) of sand.

    • Not long after the English colonizers settled Southampton, they explored and soon took up a few sparse settlements further west. Their first deeds were for lands east of Canoe Place (Shinnecock Canal) in 1640. There were conflicting ownership claims between the settlers and the local Shinnecock Indian Tribe, before being awarded to Southampton Town by the governor in 1666. That deal was known as the Quogue Purchase. The Indians were paid 70 pounds in British money plus a few trinkets, historians say. Indians called the purchased area Ketchaponack, or “place where large roots grow.” It covered land that now includes Westhampton Beach Village and surrounding parts of the town including unincorporated Westhampton.

    • Like most of the shoreline of eastern Long Island, the beach at Westhampton Beach was eroding shoreward. This became a political issue in the 1960s. The project to protect the beaches in the area from further erosion was started by the Army Corp of Engineers in 1966, but was only partially completed because of the failure to secure funds from the state and local government. In addition the project design was seriously flawed. As a result, there was increased erosion at the beaches in Westhampton Beach while, up current, the beaches actually grew. During the late 1970s and through the 1980s, beach homes were washed away with every severe storm (nor’easter) that hit the coast. It was only after the nor’easter of November 1992 destroyed over eighty homes, that the Army Corp of Engineers began renewed repair efforts. In the mid-1990s, fifteen historic houses were relocated by the Army Corps of Engineers. The homes were moved off the beach and out of harm’s way, at least for a while, but the beach is still eroding and addition damage is incurred with every storm. Additional work was required after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

    • Without any commitments or official proclamations, the 3rd weekend in September has been my designated “Head to the Hamptons” adventure as Sean gets us out to wherever the waves might be cranking. This is the perfect calendar date as the ocean water is still warm, the summer crowds have gone back to the city, and the fall colors are starting to warn of the upcoming winter. For the past three consecutive years, my cumulative experience is best described as Cupsogue Yeauhh!

    • There are quite a few human-created nests for eagles around the inlet area and several bird sanctuaries. With all the fishing to be had, birds are a dominant feature.

    • Robert Baker

      I normally shoot aperture-priority but on occasion I try and shoot shutter-priority if I can pull it off. I usually suck. But, I was happy with this photo because I was trying to convey the "anger" of this confluence of the bay and ocean and this is where the fishermen catch much of their fish. You have to click for the larger image to see the slight blur of the static objects.

    • These folks were amazing. These are the 5-minute connections I love when I travel. He was a CPA in the city, she was a Secretary. They got married and the CPA's bro thought they should open a t-shirt shop in Westhampton. They have been doing it for 30+ years and KILLING IT. They loved the old days drinking in bars where they drummed up alot of business but nowadays people don't do that they said. But, generations of families buy all their summer apparel there.

    • Robert Baker

      There is a classic-looking Performing Arts center downtown and I asked my buddy as we were driving around about the Saturday night billing of Tom Papa / Comedian. My buddy Sean has done some standup comedy and actually did a warm up act for Amy Shumur a few years ago. I had never heard of Tom Papa and Sean had never been to the PAC so he bought us two tickets. WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL theatre! Tom was funny as hell and it was really great how he tactfully made fun of the presumed $30Billion net worth that was in the audience.

    • Lastly, even though my first surfed wave was at Steamer's Lane in Santa Cruz in the mid-70's I TOTALLY SUCK at surfing. But, I love the sport and love to shoot it. As I had posted in a previous thread, seeing this kid catch his first wave and kill it was amazing. Probably the highlight of my trip. I love seeing fearless kids.....inspiring....My full writeup is HERE

      BTW....when I do a writeup some of it is about Google SEO so I try and pick a unique title that gets picked up by Google. If you query the Urban Dictionary for for Yeauhh you will know it makes sense. LOL

    • Wow that was awesome. Thanks for taking the time to write all this up and post such great photos. I can't imagine the wide cultural gulf separating rural and bush Alaska from the Hamptons.

      Funny thing about the Hamptons, I've heard about them all my life as the place where rich New Yorkers go on the weekends and I loosely pictured mansions and exclusive gated properties. Until reading your story, I didn't know a thing about the history or that you could surf there. Nor'easter destroying so many homes? Settlements in the 1600s? Paying Indians British Pounds and trinkets for the land? I'm ashamed I didn't know any of this.

      I guess my fuzzy notion of the Hamptons was like this:

    • Robert Baker

      Chris....that was my impression as well..There are gillions of said mansions out there but also a majority of upper middle class homes that have been passed down for generations. And as much I think I am above snobbery, I do like saying out loud in my Vegas social group..."I am headed to the Hamptons this weekend..."

      It does seems like a filtered nexus of the Universe. Here is a photo of my buddy Sean (snatched off his FB wall) getting a podium finish for paddleboarding out in Montauk with probably my greatest hero of all time - Laird Hamilton. Him and his wife pro volleyballer Gabby have a huge following and delivery of their super extreme kick-butt workout series called Extreme Performance Training. I think you can spend anywhere from $5K to $100K thus their "clients" out in Montauk appreciate the hands-on celebrity training medium.

    • Wow, I followed that link to Extreme Performance Training out of curiosity because you called Laird Hamilton your greatest hero of all time and I had never heard of him. I've gotten bored of P90x and had a few bad ankle sprains lately so...

      It led me to their advisor/sports doc Kelly Starrett, who wrote a bestseller:

      The thing is Starrett has an extremely useful YouTube channel for how to handle things like ankle sprains, my curse in life:

      Really glad you told me about them.

    • Hmmm....I might have to check out that book....the older I get and regrettably less active, the aches and pains in the morning are not fun.

      Calling Laird my hero is mostly as a sports icon but at much deeper levels. As a haole surfing Hawa'ii, it is one thing to be the master HUGE 50'+ wave surfer he was, but, his quest to understand the science of big wave surfing and developing the now obvious "foil" I could consider on par with Steve Jobs obsession to refuse to accept the norm.

    • It's available to stream on Amazon! It's an Amazon Choice and gets amazing reviews. I'm gonna watch it with @kevin . Oh my God that wave on the cover. Chills.

    You've been invited!