Sunday 10 September 2017. A Short, Chilly Ride on the KRT

It was 48 (no way!) degrees F at 7:00 am under clear skies as I headed out Main Street to the Kickapoo Rail to Trail bike path. Usually I’m not a fan of doing the exact same ride so soon, but I like this trail so much just want to keep doing it and observe the subtle differences from one time to the next.

In the interest of warmth, did wear a long-sleeved shirt and my cycling windbreaker but with shorts and Keen sandals. And who would think mittens would have been useful in early September? Big mistake!

So didn’t think too much of the chill I felt stopping at Weaver Park to get some nice early-light views of tall Coreopsis,


Black-eyed Susans


compass plant


and rosinweed,


not to mention that most handsome pairing of common goldenrod and New England aster with a foil of cup plant leaves

img_3645and a tall but leaning-over sawtoothed sunflower


Figured it would get warm as I rode on.

Passed the little grove of oaks where I used to see a fox every time I rode past it on a Sunday, but for the second time (last week also) did not see one. Guess it could be hiding among the soybean plants.

Crossed High Cross Road where the trail begins and recorded a view of its terminus.



The scenery was beautiful, the Helianthus blooms as yellow as road signs,


but I was not warming up. Debated internally whether to push on or to turn back at some point short of the original destination of St Joseph.


My fingers were numb and my toes were cold (Keen sandals had been quite comfortable before today), but pushed on.


Made it to Cottonwood Road


then turned back.

But stopped for the enticing view of white masses of tall boneset among the goldenrod.


Back in town, stopped at the Walmart near the beginning of the trail and bought a pair of socks and a pair of high-vis fleece gloves.


It was too late to really get warm but was glad for the little bit of protection.

At the very beginning of the trail, just west of High Cross Road, saw a nice spray of goldenrod with contrasting thistle and stopped to catch a shot of it.


Then high-tailed it on Washington Street

toward the warmth of home!


Tuesday 4 July 2017. Almost to Flatville

It was 68 degrees F and mostly sunny and calm at 6:45 this morning of American Independence Day as I filled up Rhododendron’s tires (it made a helpful difference!) and headed east on Washington Street into the dappled canopy.


Could not skip a stop at Weaver Park, even with having to traverse a stretch of trail-less grass, across which a couple of apparently well-fed ground hogs undulated toward the tree-lined street side of the park.


The edge of the purported buffalo-wallow pond was richly decorated with newly blooming prairie plants, like Monarda,


yellow coneflower, cup plants, an early aster,


and, most whimsically, the candelabra of Culver’s root,


all beautifully set in front of the water lily pads and cattails of the pond.

Then headed back on Washington to Route 130 (High Cross Road), where there is a lovely place to view the sun rising over the landscape


and on past Cottonwood Road to the “T” at 1800N.


A couple of cyclists behind me went right (perhaps to Homer Lake) and I turned left, to the north. The road was narrow but smooth and mostly without farm houses (that is, potential loose dogs) close to it.

The bridge over I-74 was simple and without much bordering vegetation.


Continued north, crossing the Saline Ditch,


and detecting some roll in the grade of the road.


Just before heading back stopped to look down into a creek


then turned back at the road just past Ford Harris Road.


Came back to Ford Harris and an debated just continuing to retrace my path, but craved a little novelty. At the same time, could not remember this stretch, so took a bold gamble about its safety and plunged westward on Ford Harris Road.

Close to High Cross Road was a cemetery on the side of a little (central Illinois) hill.


Got a distant shot of a dickcissel


the calls (which which sounds to me something like “Uru ahim!” (“awake, my brothers!”) from the Israeli folk, song “Hava Nagila”) [Note: the dickcissel recordings I found on YouTube were not exactly like the birds I heard, but maybe you get the idea. Head out on a country road some morning and see what you think.) from conspecifics of which had been accompanying me for much of this trip.

At Perkins Road was a nice prairie planting that included non-native but handsome mullein.


It was another satisfying 20 miles!

Sunday 23 October 2016. High Cross Road, Mid-Autumn

It was 8:30 am, late by Vélo du Jour standards, but it was a beautiful fall morning au velo, and I headed in the direction of north High Cross Road to see the colors, wearing a wide smile.

Found myself flying along east Main Street with ease, stopping first at the grove of oaks across from the Dart plant. Though of the fox I used to see there Sunday mornings but didn’t expect to see it: who knows what might have happened to it since then, and it was later in the morning than when I used to look.

By then it caught my eye, closer than it was last time. Had no great hope of getting a photo but went for the iPhone just in case.


It’s the tiny dog-like head and neck at the base (left side) of the large burr oak tree.

It always makes me think (though I know it’s ridiculous) that it was waiting for me to show up.

Then it ran off into the field to the west across the train tracks.

Got a fall-color photo of the planted parkway maples


and rode up Main with, seemingly, effortless effort, through the Berringer subdivision, and over I-74. Stopped to peek at the possum-bone site (where I’d been observing what happened to a road kill over the past four years or so)

which was so full of trash, like it was a designated dumping station, alas. Saw a couple of bones there, but I think more probably recent chicken than old possum.

Trees near the Saline Branch were just starting to turn color.


Passed the edge of Brownfield Woods where there were a few late asters,

surrounded by stinging nettle and poison ivy. Hoped I hadn’t already stepped in it.

Rode on northward noticed a delightful tiny hint of a hill sloping away, a lovely slight departure from total flatness, near Ford Harris Road.


Oh, the subtlety of the central Illinois landscape!

Turned east on Ford Harris and stopped at the Yearsly (so it was labeled) Cemetery.


Seemed like a nice location to contemplate mortality. Did not spend enough time to look exhaustively but did find a few thought-provoking markers.


Getting back on the road noticed recently emerged asparagus plants. Didn’t know they showed up so fresh in the fall. Global warming, perhaps.

Planned to ride east to Cottonwood Road and south to Oaks or Airport and back to High Cross, but just after the turn saw a large brown dog in front of the upcoming farm house. The dog didn’t look especially aggressive, but I wasn’t up for the possibility of any form of problematic interaction. So without hesitation turned around to head back.

On the way back had a chance to photograph spilled corn kernels on the road


that were not interesting enough to make me stop on the way out. But I do like to catch the harvest, the yearly “results” of this sprawling land of central Illinois, in the middle of its process, when I can.

Passed, as I have many times without comment, the sign for the U of I Aeronomy (the study of the upper atmosphere, as I again googled to find out) station.


On the way back faced a bit of a head wind–no wonder it was so easy on the way out. Not bad, though. Was grateful for the lack of rain and for the mild temperature.

Close in to town was a cornfield all ready to harvest. Reminded me of a crowd of starving men.


Wonder how much longer crops will grow this close to downtown Urbana. Change keeps happening. Autumn is our yearly reminder of that.

Sunday 25 October 2015. Kidnapped by Maples

It was 45 degrees F under a mostly blue sky  spread with  wispy clouds at 7:30 this morning, after a yoga practice where I focused a lot on how to explain rolling the leg muscles in and the arm muscles out. How good it is to practice!

Afterward, it was later than I liked but just had to have some bicycle contact with the beautiful fiery maple leaves!


In spite of the shortness of time, obeyed the urge and took off in the direction of North Lincoln (normally too busy for my taste but comfortably quiet on a Sunday morning) and pedaled into the northerly breeze. It felt very good!

Rode past lots of trees (featuring fiery  maples) with gorgeous fall colors and did not stop until I was over I-74 and at the Mysterious Pit,  

the gate in front of which was wide open, and it looked like the soil had been moved around. I’m guessing there won’t be a Mysterious Pit there very much longer. But can’t imagine what will be there instead.  

Was sorely tempted to go farther north on Lincoln, but knew the time was short and so turned back. It was happily unlikely to have been pulled this far!

Rode back via the short but still thrilling hill between Woodlawn Cemetery and Busey Woods.  (Wheee!). Most of the way down, spotted the big oak tree that had been standing in water only a few (it seemed) weeks ago.  

Then all the yellow leaves deep into Busey Woods looked so inviting, so got a shot of them. 

Successfuly went non-stop through the curves and over the Saline Branch and around the corner and south on Broadway.  

But in the little prairie near Crystal Lake Pool there were quite a number of prairie flowers still blooming amid the dry foliage of late October, and didn’t want them to go unphotographed.  

There were goldenrod, 

 false sunflowers  

asters,  brown-eyed Susans

 and most amazingly, yellow coneflowers 

 as if it were July!

On top of that, a little father down, 
was an amazing display of autumn maple foliage.  

 How satisfying not to have missed it!

Then proceeded south on still-in progress but bike-passable Broadway  Avenue. 

Miss the quaint bricks, but the ride was “like butter!”

It was so good to let the pull of the season lead, another example of how a short ride is way, way, much better than none!

Saturday 3 October 2015. Early Fall at Japan House Pond. And Mushrooms 

This morning at 6:35 a.m. it was 50 degrees F under cloudy skies. Was feeling the brevity of the growing season and wanted to see flowers while they still were out. 

Also really wanted to see the mushroom surge. Yesterday late afternoon took the dog for a walk to the place and stopped for a quick couple of shots  

And when I finished, realized that the slackened leash didn’t mean  he was  sitting obediently behind me; he’d slipped off the harness and was frolicking in a large area of grass.  Will let the story go at that, but was looking forward to coming back to get more pictures.

And sure enough there were lots and lots of mushrooms coming up. But it seemed that some force was battling against them or at least damaging some. 

Noticed that there were a lot of small ones. 

  Maybe there had been small ones all along, but of course, one tends to get drawn to the gigantic individuals when they’re there.

On the way to Japan House stopped at the little prairie planting at Florida a Avenue and Orchard Street, which still featured lots of goldenrod/aster

though many  were well on their way to seed.   
At Japan House some flowers remained, 


Like these great blue Lobelia 


But it was necessary to get pretty close to them  to get a colorful photo.  

Was happy to see so many bottle gentians, though it seemed to be past their peak bloom. 


Still, found some gorgeous flowers, and even a few buds. 

There was still a nice patch of lemon yellow evening primrose, a weedy species 

perhaps, but one that worked wonderfully well among the purple-blue flowers. 

Also caught another goldenrod-aster shot along the pond. 


Marveled again at the vision and care that goes into creating and maintaining this place of beauty and calm. 

Thursday 1 October 2015. The Time of Many Mushrooms and Gentians

It was 48 degrees F under partly cloudy skies at 6:35 this morning. The daylight is getting shorter and rides are squeezed in more tightly, alas. But such is the cycle of the year.  Funny that even after so many repetitions I still need to grieve the transition. 

Rode on Rhododendron right past the lovely white irises, the lovely pink cabbage roses, and the still many apples hanging from “my” apple tree to see how the “kingdom” of mushrooms under the spruce trees was doing. 

It seemed to be doing well!

Saw Amanita muscaria in many stages


with a preponderance of “new” ones, trails and rings of them!

There were mushrooms of various sizes. 


Was glad to see them going strong and hoping I wouldn’t get too used to seeing them so numerous. They are mushrooms, after all, never to be depended upon or taken for granted. 

Stopped for an early fall sky shot with ginkgo leaves just north of Windsor Road.   

Then went on through Meadowbrook Park directly to find bottle gentians 


which were quite numerous by the Marker statue, and apparently mostly in good condition!


Then wanted to see if I could find the other population along the “soft” path, and proceeded there. But the path was quite obstructed by overhanging grass and goldenrod. 


Briefly thought I could push through it, but then realized I wasn’t up to sustaining the effort and turned back. Alas. Another day!

On the way home snagged a goldenrod-and aster shot icon of this time go year. 


Even though I still didn’t know about the second bottle gentian population, was glad for the first, glad for the complementary goldenrod/asters, glad for the mushrooms. 

Sunday 2 August 2015. Looking for Cardinal Flowers and Finding Liatris  at Japan Garden and Meadowbrook Park

This morning at 6:05 it was 64 degrees F and clear, birds singing with vigor, i.e., be-utiful!!

The goal for today’s ride was to see whether, as a friend had reported last year, there were cardinal flowers at the Japan House garden, to check on the known cardinal flowers at Meadowbrook Park, and then check the site at Meadowbrook where cardinal flowers used to be and see whether they may have come back. 

On the way out stopped for an apple tree shot.

 The apples were many but small and rather spotted. Definitely organic. 

Decided to swing by the little prairie on Florida and Orchard just to see what was up there, which was rosinweed, 

some nice wild quinine,

black-eyed Susans, Monarda, late vervain 

  the summer’s first asters,

 mountain mint and Liatris.   

Then moved on to the Japan House garden. 

Which was full of beautiful scenes, but my mission this time was to find cardinal flowers. 

Did not find any, but did see beautiful Liatris along the pond,

  set off by yellow evening primrose. Not cardinal flowers but still gorgeous.  
A lot of love (and vision!) is being put into the care of this pond!

Then headed on to Meadowbrook, by way of Windsor Road, around some obstacles.  

At Meadowbrook saw the cardinal flowers from the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek  

which (the cardinal flowers) are not visible in this shot but could just be detected with a little zoom (and perhaps a bit of imagination).   

Did not brave the stickers to go in for a close-up, but went on to look at the other possible cardinal flower site, the wet area where irises had bloomed in the spring.  Alas, did not find them there. 

Did, however, see the cluster of Liatris between and around the two little trees nearby, which I’ve seen and admired in years past.  


Had to let go of wanting to see the cardinal flowers in order to enjoy the perfectly lovely Liatris