Sunday 3 September 2017. To St. Joe with a Stop at Weaver.

It was 64 degrees F under party cloudy skies 8:15 this morning as I headed Rhododendron to the Kickapoo Rail to Trail path and St. Joseph IL.

But first there was morning yoga practice (!!!) wherein I tried to get my shoulders ready for the un-yogic downward reaching for the handlebars, including slithering into a self-assisted shoulder Savasana, lots of Ardha Parsva Hastasana, and Sirsasana using a chumball. Yes, it costs watching the dawn break from the bike, but the rest of day is just so much better if yoga is first!

Rode east on Main Street (did not see the fox) and made a quick detour to the Champaign County Nursing Home to drop a promised pair of sun-viewing glasses for a friend who lives there. Then proceeded to Weaver Park and stopped to see what was blooming there.

The season had advanced and flowers were mostly on the decline, like these cup plants, accompanied by big bluestem and

img_3215

stiff goldenrod and near rosinweed foliage.

img_3221

Saw blackeyed Susans

img_3217

tall Coreopsis,

img_3219

some remaining compass plant blooms,

img_3216

and even some late purple coneflowers.

img_3225

Proceeded along Main Street to University Avenue and the head of the Kickapoo-rail-to-trail towards St. Joseph, Illinois.

img_3234-1

And what a pleasant trail it was.

img_3238

Since the CU Across the Prairie ride there were fewer species in bloom, but still there were plenty of flowers along the way:

Exotic but colorful morning glories,

img_3242-1

Jerusalem artichokes (or sawtooth sunflowers–I wasn’t sure which, glorious golden sun-bursts either way.

img_3241

and sawtooth sunflowers were just coming into bloom.

Also were the beginnings of the goldenrod and more than a few prairie dock sun-flowers

img_3247

which were complemented by the pink Gaura,

img_3258

Rode on with minimal photography (I get conflicted between riding on and not interrupting the experience versus stopping to document it) to the town of St Joseph.

img_3269

Then turned back, and this time photographed the Salt Fork crossing.

img_3278

Got a shot of the lovely photograph of unionid mussels at the educational marker.

img_3285
beloved inhabitants of my former life as a biologist.

On the way back stopped for (sawtooth, I’m pretty sure) sunflowers,

img_3307

including a group visited by monarch butterflies (saw at least four in one small area).

img_3315

Farther along looked across the paralleling highway and saw soybean fields beginning to turn yellow, with Gaura and tall(?) boneset between the highway and the bike trail.

img_3338

At the Fulls Siding crossing, stopped to photograph this dear bicycle book-exchange box.

img_3343

Must remember to bring something to exchange next time.

And on toward home!

My second KRT ride was just as wonderful as the first!

Advertisements

Sunday 27 August 2017. Falling and Rising in Late Summer

It was 59 degrees F at 7:15 under party cloudy skies as I finished yoga practice (wish I could do everything first thing in the morning!) and headed on Rhododendron for Meadowbrook Park. Wanted to get a close look at the cardinal flowers as their bloom was concluding.

Stopped at the rabbit-statue bridge; the bed of McCullough Creek was dry even with heavy rain one night last week.
The cardinal flowers are just barely visible here, with a little imagination.

img_3023

Since the bloom would be done soon, I climbed down to the creek bed, and actually encountered the red bird-flowers on the close side of the stream.

img_3025

Saw many cardinal flower plants, their red flower-spikes distributed more widely around the creek bed than I ever remember seeing them!

img_3032

The contrast of goldenrod gave the red flowers even more intensity.

Noticed also sneezeweed, another lovely yellow counterpoint for the red cardinal flowers.

img_3037

Was happy to see the last, top blooms above the stack of spent flowers: the process of growth and decay.

img_3039-2

Down the path a little way were the annual Bidens, or tickseed, another species of photogenic Compositae.

img_3042

Got a shot of the beautiful blue sage near the little arched bridge over Davis Creek.

img_3045-1

This white flower with handsome dark green foliage, which I’ve decided is tall boneset, was abundant.

img_3049

The thistle hosted a bumble bee as well as several small beetles.

img_3052

Saw some handsome bush clover,

img_3060

with its blue-green leaves and contrasting rusty flowers.

There was rosinweed with a cricket in its center,

img_3067

Gaura,

img_3069

compass plant holding forth,

img_3061

prairie dock above and cream gentian down low,

img_3065

and lots of invasive but gorgeous goldenrod about to burst into golden yellow,

img_3053

Fall approaches.

Saturday 26 August 2017. CU Across the Prairie Homer Lake and the KRT!

It was about 54 degrees F under mostly (but lightly) cloudy skies

img_2946

this morning at 7:20, when I checked in at Parisol Records for the 2017 CU Across the Prairie ride. Yesterday when I registered online I’d thought maybe I’d go for the 20-something mile ride, but when the guy checking me in asked if I was doing the 40-something ride I said “Yes.” Ok. That’s one way to decide.

But before that, got myself to the yoga studio for a pre-ride practice.

img_2949

So was ready to ride!

Took my cue sheet and headed out!

Spent a little time (as did other cyclists) figuring out a mistake in the itinerary early on, but after exploring the neighborhood just east of Crystal Lake Park, where there was, e.g., a well-laden apple tree,

img_2950

soon was in familiar territory.

Headed out Brownfield Road,

Crossed Interstate 74, observing the first of the goldenrod bloom.

img_2951

Farther along, noticed what I thought was a run-over garter snake.

img_2955

There is a word in Sanskrit that describes this kind of mistake (Viparyaya), which is one of the disturbances of consciousness and can be the origin of a lot of personal suffering and interpersonal conflict. Btw.

Rode on, pondering the nature of mistakes and alternative perceptions, southward on 1800 E and east toward Homer Lake Road.

For the third time in a month passed “Gehenna,” which today was active and issuing smoke.

img_2957

The road opened under the mostly cloudy sky. It was quite pleasant.

img_2958

Crossed the Salt Fork.

img_2959

Where a great blue heron waded.

Stopped at the prairie-planted Lincoln “shrine”

img_2963
which featured Physostegia, tall Coreopsis, and rosin weed.

Met up with another cyclist who was deciding which way to go, a young woman from Canada who had just gotten a job in Champaign. We decided on a direction and chatted as we rode.

We made it to Homer Lake,

img_2966

but after that there were lots of not-well-marked twists and turns on the route around and through the Homer Lake Park, and neither of us could be sure we were where the cue sheet said we should be.

Thought it might be cutting off some distance from the ride, but sensed which was the way back and wanted to proceed there. So we decided to go different ways and wished each other a good conclusion of the ride.

img_2968

Eventually made it to St. Joseph and the head of the long-awaited (and just opened the day before) Kickapoo Rail to
Trail!

img_2969

The trail made its own beautiful crossing of the Salt Fork on what presumably was a form of a railroad bridge.

img_2972

The trail was lined with prairie flowers, most notably prairie dock,

<a href="https://velodujour.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/ Continue reading “Saturday 26 August 2017. CU Across the Prairie Homer Lake and the KRT!”

Sunday 6 August 2017. New Cardinal Flowers and Homer Lake Road, One Month Later

It was 64 degrees F under thickly cloudy skies at about 6:15 this morning as the New and Improved Rhododendron (especially the new freewheel and chain!) and I headed to Meadowbrook Park.

Saw the wondrous cardinal flowers from the rabbit-statue bridge,

img_2103

but did not go down to see them close-up.

Close to the banks, cup plants were in bloom.

img_2105-1

Rode over the bridge, around the corner, and down the path to look for cardinal flowers in the wet willowy area where they had been in some (not all) years past, but saw none.

But then noticed two spikes of cardinal flowers on the other side of path,

img_2111

close enough to view without walking in at all!

img_2109

Then a little farther east, on the south side of the path, was a profusion of pink, purple, and blue-violet flowers: swamp milkweed (some aphid-bearing),

img_2114

Liatris,

img_2126

and blue vervain.

img_2122

Farther down the path were tick trefoil,

img_2136

which was not as abundant as I’ve seen in past years, victims of insect herbivory, it seems, Monarda, and a spike of American bellflower.

img_2132

Later focused on the yellow flowers, Sylphium species: compass plants (S.laciniatum)

img_2142

rosinweed (S.integrifolium),

img_2147

and even the occasionally prairie dock (S. terebinthinaceum) bloom,

img_2182-1

in addition to the cup plants (S. perfoliatum) farther
back: four tall, robust, sandpaper-leafed, yellow-flowered Sylphium “sisters!”

Also in yellow, a little more distantly related and more delicate, were tall Coreopsis.

img_2157

Interspersed was bush clover,

img_2151
with its handsome, delicate bluish foliage.

Hidden lower among other foliage saw the first buds of this year’s cream gentians

img_2174

The list of common native flowers observed this morning still is incomplete; they are so many now! I will just mention: common milkweed with maturing pods, Baptisia with green pods, and remaining though past peak rattlesnake master, purple coneflowers, yellow coneflowers, false sunflowers, and Culver’s root.

Then headed away from Meadowbrook Park, east on Windsor Road.

Corn to the left of me, soybeans to the right, here I am, central Illinois!

img_2184-1

Rode next to the creek, a little tributary of the Salt Fork that paralleled Windsor Road for a while.

img_2186

As I did a month ago on this route, stopped to photograph the exotic but lovely pink soapwort blooms.

img_2194

There was the sign to warn of the dangerous hill

img_2195-1

but still couldn’t tell exactly where it was.

img_2196

Central Illinois, alright.

Looked down at the crossing of another little tributary where I’d often seen wood ducks before,

img_2197
but saw none this time.

Did see some nice swamp milkweed.

img_2191-1

Rode as far as the junction with Homer Lake Road

img_2198

and this time instead of doubling back headed left, toward east Washington Street. On the way passed a small clearing at the edge of a cornfield, seemingly devoted to burning things.

img_2200

It’s been there since the first time I remember passing it in 2011 or so. It makes me think “little Gehenna.”

Back in town, on Washington Street, I pass the Brookins baseball field (it may be called something else), northward across which is the shaded area where my friends from the Champaign County Nursing Home and I have popcorn, brownies, and coffee on nice days.

img_2202

Back home, there was a Cooper’s hawk in the dead ash tree behind our garage.

img_2205

Made me wish my phone camera had a better zoom.

If I had to compare this time with my ride of a month ago, I’d say it was slightly less magical (that time has not been displaced!) but it had its own particular, considerable delights.

Especially remembered from October!

Sunday 25 June 2017. North on High Cross to Ford Harris, with a Glimpse of Weaver’s Early Summer Bloom

At 6:12 this morning it was 56 degrees under clear skies as I pointed Rhododendron to the east and north to check out High Cross Road.

img_9983

Did not expect a Meadowbrook-like flower display, but on the way, Weaver Park was just starting to offer a bouquet of prairie flowers:

False sunflower,

img_9985

Monarda,

img_0002-1

mountain mint,

img_9993-1

at least three of the Sylphium sisters (cup plant, rosin weed, and prairie dock; cup plant is shown here) and budding yellow coneflowers

img_9995

common milkweed

img_9984

butterfly milkweed,

img_9998

Baptisia,

img_0008-1

and an early-blooming aster.

img_0005

And this on a pretty casual inspection.

Then rode on Main Street, across University through the Beringer subdivision and north on High Cross Road.

The corn and soybean crops were well underway.

img_0009-1

Rode as far as High Cross and Ford Harris

img_0010

and turned back.

Noticed bone-like pieces (turned out to be wood) imbedded in the road.

img_0011

Saw a dead possum, presumably hit by a car, with its immature babies scattered around it. Alas. Almost showed a photo but decided against it. Photographs of violence have their importance, but they always feel disrespectful to the victims.

Stopped on the pleasant ride southward (it seems there is a bit more downward slope in that direction) to get a picture of chicory (exotic weeds) because their discs of pale violet-blue radiating petals seemed exceptionally lovely just then.

img_0012-1

On Main Street on the way back stopped at the place with the native plant garden, across from Weaver Park, where lead plants were blooming.

img_0022

And, as at Meadowbrook, troubled by Japanese beetles.

img_0026

Shortly afterward I was troubled by the next-door dog, who must have thought I was about to trespass on its territory. I used the high-pitched “Good doggie!” approach, its owner called it back when he saw what was happening, and no damage was done.

Except that I got out of there so fast I didn’t get my phone securely into my pocket. After crossing the street I heard a sound that reminded me of crushing an empty bottled-water bottle and unwisely rode on without investigating it. Only when I stoped for another photo did I realize that the phone was not there.

Alarmed at being without my life-support (sad, I know) phone, I retraced my path and desperately hoped it was near the site of the sound I’d ignored.

Fortunately it was! I retrieved it, and the day proceeded without any more such near-disasters.

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.

img_9349

Noticed dying trees.

img_9351
Too common, alas.

Saw the continued bloom of spiderwort

img_9359

and Penstemon

img_9354

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.

img_9366

Rode on Old Church Road to Yankee Ridge

img_9367
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.

img_9374

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

img_9378

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.

img_9385

Stopped at Barnhart Practice Restoration

img_9388

Could not see spiderwort but there were lots of Penstemon.

img_9394

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

img_9395

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

img_9398

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

img_9399

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

Saturday 3 June 2017. Greeting the Early Sun and Catching the Abundance of Spiderwort and Penstemon

It was 67 degrees F under mostly clear, mostly calm skies at 5:17 this morning as I wheeled Rhododendron down the driveway and toward South Race Street.

Was determined to be present to receive the gift of additional daylight and thus additional time with which to take in the outdoors. I am a morning person but this year have not quite managed to get up with the birds and not squeeze in too many little activities to make it out the door before official sunrise. Until today!

The bike felt smooth and easy, and the morning was fresh and of a perfect temperature, but today I felt very much not quite awake. As an inveterate morning person, this does not happen to me very often, but when it does I think of the night-people who have to be awake early for something unusual and am sorry for my past insufficient empathy for their situation.

Stopped not far into the ride for the irresistible pastel cabbage roses

img_8931
and the fuchsia-colored sweet peas

img_8934

Looked like there were lots of little apples on “my” tree.

img_8937

Saw some Amanita mushrooms under the spruce trees,

img_8938

but not tons of shiny, new, succulent specimens.

img_8941

Saw also a couple individuals of another species,

img_8939
which looked healthy enough.

At Meadowbrook Park, was delighted to welcome the rising sun.

img_8945

Stopped at several spots to take it in, over McCullough Creek at the rabbit-statue bridge

img_8948

and down the path a little way

img_8949

Wondered whether there still would be blue flag irises, and, oh, there were!

Framed by prairie dock leaves,

img_8951

and close-up.

img_8954

The park was empty, the morning fresh, already mint-fragrant!
the Penstemon

img_8959

and the spiderwort

img_8962

therapeutically abundant!

img_8998

Stopped at the Freyfogle overlook

img_9007

to check on the lead plant, which were in bud, but, alas, bearing a collection of robust shiny reddish-brown beetles on their foliage.

img_9020

Fervently hoped the beetles were just resting there or at least readily sated with little damage to the plant’s integrity.

Rode on through gloriously abundant white Penstemon and blue spiderwort. The landscape was deeply soul-filling. Was happy to be smack in the middle of another stage of the year that’s anticipated before it comes and missed when it’s finished.

Near the Vine Street entrance to the park got a shot of the abundant serviceberries

img_9039

Then rode west on Windsor to check the lead plant at the City of Champaign Prairie Restoration, which more than ever looked in need of stewardship,

img_9054

so overgrown with invasive exotics. But the lead plants looked well enough.

img_9056

Did not want to walk through the overgrowth to check for beetles on these.

Rode south on First Street, which felt mostly uphill! My hip muscles were starting to tire though knees and shoulders were happy enough. At 900 S, turned back.

img_9060

img_9057

On the way back stopped at the roadside prairie garden, which featured spiderwort, lace-edged (not an official name, just a description) cup plant,

img_9068

butterfly weed

img_9064

and a small, less showy milkweed.

img_9073

Spied a great blue heron while crossing over a creek on First Street. Parked the bike and carefully walked back to the bridge, Just in time to see the heron take off.

img_9079

They sure are wary.

Got a shot of a dickcissel (had been hearing lots of these “mini-meadowlarks”) on a fence post.

img_9084

The way home was mostly downhill, which I gratefully enjoyed!