(All photos by Robin. 2007)

The Conowingo Dam, built in 1926, is a large hydroelectric dam located on the lower portion of the Susquehanna River in Maryland. Interesting tidbit: The dam is named for the town of Conowingo, the original of which is now under the reservoir created by the dam. The town was relocated about a mile or so away. To learn more about the dam, visit Wikipedia’s entry: Conowingo Dam.

The primary attraction of the Conowingo Dam are the birds. Lots and lots and lots of birds. Thousands of birds. There are mostly gulls (of many varieties), some herons and ospreys, and the main attraction: the bald eagle. When the turbines of the dam are running they suck large amounts of water and, most importantly, fish through the dam providing an excellent feeding area for piscivorous birds.

If you click on the top photo, you will see lots of little white flecks. Those are birds, mostly gulls. The same is true of the next two photos.

Unfortunately, due to security restrictions since 9/11, some of the viewing areas are closed. Getting a closer look at the birds is almost impossible.

Fortunately, the turbines were running when we got to the dam and so there were plenty of birds of various kinds to be seen. We saw several great blue herons and countless numbers of gulls.

The highlight was spotting the bald eagles. We saw some across the river from where we were, small specks in the trees. Then, on our way out, I saw one sitting in a tree just above us. Here s/he is:

S/he must have spotted us, too, and after allowing me one or two chances at a good photograph, took off:

Even though I didn’t think I’d get that lucky a second time, lo and behold, I spotted another just a few clumps of trees up from where the first one was. This guy or gal was having lunch:

Nice fish. Looks like a yummy lunch to me.

Update on my back problems (because a few people have asked): I’m pretty much back to normal these days. After realizing I’d have to wait more than a month before our new insurance would kick in, I did a lot of research and designed an exercise program for myself that appears to have worked. I started with light weights and very short, very leisurely strolls on the treadmill. I’m now lifting 50 lbs. on the weight machines (which do a very fine job of supporting the back) and walking up to an hour on the treadmill with a top speed of 3.5 mph. Considering I couldn’t go more than 1 mph a month or so ago, I’d say that’s a vast improvement.

There are still a few exercises I’m unable to do or unable to do for long. Mostly things like reverse crunches and back extensions. Yoga is sometimes problematic, but modifications and props generally help. I get twinges of sciatica on rare occasions, usually when I’m trying to do something I shouldn’t be doing. My back often feels a little achy and tired in the evening, especially after a full day of activity. I am a long way from the horrid pain that had me depressed and barely able to move or walk or sleep for the last quarter of 2006.

In addition to exercise, I spent a lot of time icing my back and doing guided visualizations designed for healing. I’ve lost some weight too. Not a whole lot. Enough to make a difference apparently. (Actually, I’m not sure about the weight just yet because part of the Fitness Challenge I’ve been engaged in this month includes staying off the scale. I can only go by the fact that my clothing has losened.)

Today I started on the Weight Watchers Points plan, something I used a few years ago to lose the weight I’d gained when I quit smoking. Being practically crippled from pain was a big wake-up call for me. I have quite a bit of weight to lose and I’m going to use this time in Sabbaticalville to do it. All the usual excuses are gone. I have time to exercise, time to cook healthy meals, and time to take care of myself.

It is in moments of illness that we are compelled to recognize that we live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom, whole worlds apart, who has no knowledge of us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body. ~Marcel Proust