Sunday 11 June 2017. To Philo, Center of the Universe, and Back

It was 66 degrees F under a cloudless sky at 5:50 this morning as I rode Rhododendron south on Race Street.

It sounded so calm outside, but the phone weather ap said there was a 9 mph south wind. Have learned to respect that information so planned for a trip to Philo IL, Center of the Universe, according to its water tower.

Indeed, riding south presented me with a noticeable headwind.

Stopped, as I almost always do, at the rabbit-statue bridge over McCullough Creek.


Noticed dying trees.

Too common, alas.

Saw the continued bloom of spiderwort


and Penstemon


Used restraint to continue around the prairie without further stopping to Windsor Road. Rode east to Philo Road, south to Old Church then east again.


Rode on Old Church Road to Yankee Ridge

that lovely little oasis of vantage and sacred silence, then rode around the corner onto Yankee Ridge Road, past a friend’s amazing house, complete with extensive prairie landscaping.

Turned east onto section road 900 N (County Highway 18) to Philo.


Rode to the water tower; went off the road along the train tracks to get a view of all the words.


On the way back saw my friend who lives in the amazing prairie-landscaped house, out walking her dog. It was nice to actually stop and talk a bit this time!

Then rode downhill with the wind at my back toward Old Church Road.


Stopped at Barnhart Practice Restoration


Could not see spiderwort but there were lots of Penstemon.


Saw a good number of prairie dock leaves: large, erect, serrated spade-shapes, with the sunlight and shadows showing through them.


Saw spiderwort farther down, along the road, among waving grass flowers.


Stopped on the way back to check for Amanita mushrooms under the spruce trees. They were prostrate and dried up.


Felt a little more centered for having visited Philo this morning.


Sunday 8 July 2012. Center of the Universe

Today was the day to get to Philo, no more excuses!

On this Sunday morning, the air was slightly cooler than it’s been for the past several days but quite humid.  No matter, out of the sun and with the breeze of motion, it was quite comfortable.

The moon, still bulging more than half, was high in the thinly clouded sky.

The early light had pink, orange, and purple in it and some finely textured clouds. It strikes me over and over again that at sunrise, what’s happening on the land might be ugly or boring, but the sky can always be beautiful.

To insure reaching the destination of Philo this morning, did not stop at Meadowbrook Park, even though I went right past it. (!?!) Actually, did not resist the urge to just ride over the Windsor/Vine bridge.  But didn’t see anything in particular.  It was kind of silly to expect to see anything by riding through a place where stopping and being quiet is what yields the wondrous sights.  Oh, well.  Makes me anticipate the next real visit.

Got more sunrise shots.  Not prize-winning, but ah, the sky.  At Yankee Ridge was struck again by how quiet it is up there.  Really, there isn’t a lot of time while moving on a bike that it’s really, really quiet–usually the least bit of wind makes considerable sound in one’s ears.  But at Yankee Ridge, a rise with lots of crops and little cover for birds, it is quiet.  The sun coming up over it intensified the lonely but very “present” feeling.

Emboldened by the pepper spray I remembered to bring this time, went right past the house with the border collie: the dog did not appear.  But I did suppress the urge to stop and photograph the prairie garden with all its full-blooming compass plants.

There were at least two places with horses on the way to Philo.

Took a left from Yankee Ridge Road (as I saw it labelled about two-thirds of the way to Philo).  Turned east toward the Philo water tower at the corner of one of the horse farms and continued to Route 130.  Ordinarily I would not ride on a highway of that size, but it was really quiet this morning and took it right into Philo, a town of 1500 people, according to the green sign at its edge.

Rode around the town of Philo, noting the tree-lined streets, the Philo Country Store (gas station/convenience store), the post office, the old train station and grain elevator (did not see any vultures there, unlike in St. Joseph), the Philo Tavern, Fire Protection District, etc.  Like Lake Woebegon, Minnesota, it had a Lutheran and a Catholic church.

My favorite thing about Philo was its water tower, on which it says, in large letters, “PHILO,”  and below it, in smaller letters, CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE.”   What seemed a little odd was that this message faced the town and not, from what I could tell, the highway (though I couldn’t be sure that the message was not repeated on the other side).  Maybe they didn’t want passers-by to be disturbed that the center of the Universe was located here, in this unassuming little town, rather than, at least maybe, say, the Grand Canyon.  Then I wondered whether the universe actually has some kind of center, or whether it might be possible to designate any particular location, like Philo, as the “center.”  Made me think of how we human beings are prone to thinking of each of our selves as the center of the universe, in a way.  It’s only natural, really, everything out there comes in through my/your own personal senses and brain.  Takes a whole lot of work to comprehend that there may be another center almost as important as one’s own, let alone billions of them.

Anyway, wondered about how the proposal to paint the water tower with this message came up at a town meeting and whether it was controversial or if everyone just immediately loved it….

On the way home, the wind seemed to have shifted and now came from the north.  Also, those lovely little hills down which I sped toward Philo seemed to go mostly up into Urbana.  So it was more work to ride.  But really, that was ok, because with looking around so much I tend not to really push myself.  It does feel good to exert one’s self.  Today’s velo was a nice, longish ride with no closeups of flowers or birds, but it was satisfying nevertheless.