Saturday 30 June 2018. KRT to Geschenk

It was 76 degrees F under partly cloudy skies this morning at 7 as I departed for St. Joseph via the KRT.

Had to start later than I would have preferred because the Geschenk cafe, which I’ve wanted to try, doesn’t open till 8 am on Saturdays.

Rode pretty much directly to the straight-line KRT, soon amid expanses of soybeans and especially corn. Noticed two kinds of corn smells: one of Fritos (not Tostitos or Doritos) corn chips, the other like the pot of water left after boiling sweet corn.

Along the trail were some native prairie plants (spiderwort, yellow coneflower, false sunflower, Monarda) but the landscape belonged to exotics, like mullein

and soapwort.

But had to admit I liked their floral presence. It was a way of accepting what I couldn’t change (would that they all were natives!) at that moment, and was rewarded with joy.

Dickcissels on utility lines and in shrubs sang all along the way.

Saw at least one monarch and quite a few black butterflies with yellow near the bottom edge.

The temperature was starting to climb.

Crossed the bridge over the Salt Fork,

stopping to observe the flotsam and jetsam collected on its north side.

and rode into St. Joe, to the Geschenk cafe.

Which I just noticed was in a Masonic Temple.

Had a great Florentine egg wrap and cafe latte and worked on the blog at Geschenk. Sat close to the front window, and the atmosphere was very pleasant, except maybe for the TV playing instead of music. The young barista was very pleasant and I thought it would be nice to bring a family member or friend here.

Also wrote a quick letter that I mailed from the St. Joseph post office and then headed westward into the now-high, unimpeded sun. Did wish it were earlier.

Tried not to lengthen the trip (felt hot and tired) by stopping but did get drawn to the white (exotic) morning glories.

The glaring sun and heat made the ride a little less pleasant than earlier, but tried to allow this measured discomfort and to imagine it as any situation in life that didn’t feel especially good but where there was nothing to do but endure it.

Overall I enjoyed this latest ride on the KRT and my visit to Geschenk in St Joseph.


Sunday 24 June 2018. All the Way to St. Joe on the KRT

It was 64 degrees F under clearing skies at 6:20 this morning as I rolled Rhododendron down the driveway to head to St, Joseph on the Kickapoo Rail to Trail. The weather ap indicated fog, but by the time I got rolling it had pretty much cleared, leaving dew drops on the vegetation and spiderwebs.

Rode east on Main Street and stopped at Weaver Park to catch the bloom there:

Saw lots of lavender-pink Monarda,

some yellow

and purple coneflowers,

horse nettle,

and the stately foliage of cup plants.

Along Weaver Park saw branches of elm; survivors of the mid-century devastation?

Rode straight eastward out on the trail, feeling the rhythm of the rotating pedals.

Here at some things I saw but wasn’t able to photograph:

Singing dickcissels

Swooping goldfinches

A thirteen-lined ground squirrel (!?!)

Two black butterflies

Two monarch butterflies

One or two groundhogs

Noticed that the black-eyed Susans looked pristine and free of disease,

which may be why I didn’t pass them by as I often do and stoped to get a photograph of one.

The soapwort were abundant and lovely, not native, but fresh and of just the shade of pink my sister Vickie would have loved,

some accented with the foliage of prairie dock and common ragweed (which are native.)

Sumac on the south side of the trail made a handsome border for this bean field in the morning light.

There were mullein (not native) with beautiful, fuzzy, dewey foliage.

Saw a flower that might be another exotic but it caught my eye.

[Later looked through my handy Wildflowers and Weeds book and came up with moth mullein (Verbascum blatteria).]

At Full’s Siding stopped to check out the clever book- exchange.

Have to remember to bring something next time.

Saw post-fog dew-beaded spiderwebs among the (non-native) chicory.

Crossed the Salt Fork on the lovely wood-surfaced, metal-sided bridge.

Stopped for a view of the St Joe Post Office.

and of a coffee shop I need to come back to try.

On the way back stopped for the scene- punctuating red hollyhock.

And for more beautiful pink soapwort.

Spiderwort (native!) was abundant but couldn’t get close to it without getting down into the vegetation.

Headed back home after another soul-filling passage (and ready for the next one) on the KRT!

Sunday 2 July 2017. A Perfect Ride to Windsor Road to Homer Lake Road

This morning at 5:30 it was 65 degrees and clear, with a 2 mph breeze from the WSW, calm enough to head in pretty much any direction. So headed Rhododendron in toward Windsor Road (which I was pretty sure was free of loose dogs) with the goal of going a ways east.

Was glad to get a reasonably early start without sacrificing headstand or Pranayama, and pedaled smoothly through the perfectly comfortable (with the light cycling jacket) morning air to Windsor Road.

And there was Meadowbrook Park, which I hadn’t planned to visit, but thought, why not? and soon was taking a photo of the sun coming up over McCullough Creek at the rabbit-statue bridge.

A mud bar separated Davis Creek from its connection with McCullough Creek.

The cup plants on the on the downstream side of the bridge stood vigorous and illuminated with the sunrise.


A layer of mist rested on the prairie and spread out the light of the climbing sun.


The air was scented with mint and bergamot.

Wondered if the willowy wet area harbored queen of the prairie but didn’t see any. Did spot a swamp milkweed, but didn’t stop for a photo so I wouldn’t miss the sun rising over the remaining mist.


Might have gotten a really nice shot of the deer in the mist if I’d arrived at the site two minutes earlier.

Oh well. Nice enough.

Did get a nice yellow coneflower-misty sunrise.


Stopped at The Freyfogle overlook and saw fresh Culver’s root with mountain mint,


spherical pink common milkweed blooms and already-red blackberries.


Noticed how lovely were the lead plants,
which seemed to thrive despite a recent onslaught of insects.


Then rode out of the park and straight east on Windsor. The air was calm, except for a “biker’s breeze”, and the grade seemed to go up for stretches (though mostly down), which promised a reasonable return ride.

Was filled with the joy of early morning out in the country in perfect weather.

Did not expect quite this perfection and tried to let as much of it in as possible. Yes, yes, yes!

Rode past a ditch where I remembered seeing a family of raccoons.


There were no raccoons today, but it’s always fun to peer down into a stream, a different world from the surrounding farm fields.

Above the creek banks, near the road, were abundant soapwort blooms,


exotic weeds, but so softly pink and fresh and dewey.


Even these plantain weeds looked like stately sculptures in this morning’s fine light.


Farther on, saw a sign I thought was rather humorous


The dangerous hill actually was hard to detect. Ah, my beloved central Illinois!

Then crossed a little tributary of the Salt Fork (of the Vermillion River)
where I think I always have seen wood ducks whenever I’ve been there, adults and ducklings, no less. Looked into the water, and there they were!


There is something special about this place.

Then rode to where the road bent to the north

A little way and then “T’d” into Homer Lake Road.


Rode east a little way, crossed the Salt Fork, and stopped at the nicely landscaped marker of the historic site of Kelley’s Tavern, where it says Lincoln used to visit.


The bloom seemed different from what I recall from last year. Lots more milkweed.


Stopped for a view of the beautiful Salt Fork


Then turned back and retraced my route. There were horses fenced on the southeast corner where Windsor Road met Homer Lake Road, and the tail of one caught the morning sun as swished and spread wide its long horse-hairs. Didn’t manage to get a photo, but the glittering image stayed with me as I returned home on this pleasant ride, pleasant to the end.

Sunday 10 July 2016. Weaver Beauties, and the Fork in High Cross Road

It was 61 degrees F, the sky clear, this morning at 6:15 as I wheeled Rhododendron out of the garage (and then back in briefly for some lubricant on the chain) and headed toward Main Street and High Cross Road.

The sun was well-clear of the horizon so didn’t get any sunrise shots.

But the morning was beautiful, and the buzzing of waking doubts and worries about the usual things, and and now some new ones, began to yield to the sweet, cool air and the road under my wheels.

Stopped at the outer edge of Weaver Park, where an abundance of native prairie plants had been planted. And a lot of them were blooming together–a mid-July prairie bouquet.

Included were wild bergamot


false sunflower and cup plant


yellow coneflower,


purple coneflower




and compass plant.

Also saw flower stalks of the fourth Sylphium “sister,” prairie dock, but it was too far into the middle of the planting to get a good shot.

Did not venture southward to the buffalo-wallow pond but rode on through the Beringer subdivision to High Cross Road, over the I-74 bridge and over the Saline Branch through slightly moist air that varied from comfortably cool to comfortably a little cooler in the lower micro-altitudes.


Along Brownfield Woods, not much was obviously blooming among the poison ivy, stinging nettle, and giant ragweed except Joe Pye weed,

Which is so tall and the flowers so small that it’s hard to get a good photo of them.

Seemed like herbicide had been applied to a good stretch of the edge of Brownfield between the road and the outside of the fence. Alas.

Saw the sun catch the fuzzy leaves of a field of vigorous-looking soybean plants.


Then noticed a visual pun,


which made me laugh out loud. Reminded me of the bones and other materials I’ve observed imbedded in roads, how the road has modern fossils and is made of more things than we’d guess.

Went as far as Ford Harris Road


a nice little corner where soapwort


and a few other non-native but nice enough flowers bloomed.

Also it was a good place to see how crazy-huge and already-tasseling the corn was.


On the way back saw an impressive three-flower-spiked great mullein plant.


Across Airport from Brownfield Woods spotted a cluster of attractive very pale-pink flower-spikes I couldn’t immediately identify.

Close-up, the structure of the flowers looked wildly exotic.

Later looked it up, and it turned out to be American Germander (Teucrium canadense) which now I remember finding a couple of years ago, a little farther north on High Cross and wondering why its name referred to three (or at least two) different countries.

Noticed in the home stretch back that now I felt all engaged in this ride, that the worries and doubts were folded and stowed into the appropriate compartments and for this while I gratefully occupied the present. Hooray!

Saturday 21 July 2012. The Return of the Beavers, then Out in the Country

There was no rain yesterday, but at least this morning was cool and clear. The light sweater I wore was (at least for the first three quarters of the trip) was comfortable.

Planned to ride out in the country this morning, to stay more in the ride itself and worry less about documenting the sights.

But first I really wanted to try again to see the beavers.  The morning was just so beautiful, the stream calm and clearer even than yesterday. The railing at the Windsor/Vine bridge was cool and wet. There was rather lively frog song. Then downstream from the bridge I could see the whole surface of the water shift and twist, gently but unmistakably, though without any indication of its source. But a little patience yielded a view of the long-awaited beaver!  It swam smoothly upstream, submerging for a while then

resurfacing as it made its way under the bridge and toward Windsor Road.

Thought maybe the other adult beaver would appear if I were patient, and lo and behold, first was that water movement and then there was a beaver!

This one was a little smaller, I think, and it swam more slowly.  It even turned a slow circle just before reaching the bridge and paused, enabling me to get a decent photo of it before it went in the same direction as the first one.

Well, there they were, two beavers after days of not seeing any!  But I had heard that there were four of them; maybe they also would show up.  I stayed and watched the place from which the others had come, and at first didn’t see anything.  Then there was that tell-tale motion in the water.  It took a while, but then the third beaver made its way upstream.

Since I had a nice, new SD card in the camera, it occurred to me that I could take some video.  What a concept!  Here it is, Castor canadensis swimming!

I suppose a fourth might have appeared, but it was time to go.  Another day, perhaps!

After all the beaver excitement, was able to tear myself away from the park and just ride down Windsor out to Yankee Ridge via Philo Road.  It was good to be out in the country in the relatively uniform fields.  The soybeans looked pretty good for being in a drought.

Old Church Road was misty near Yankee Ridge.


A  large patch of soapwort (Saponaria officinalis) provided some variety in the mostly uniform (monotonous?) road of Old Church east of High Cross (Illinois 130.  And I have actually seen it also spelled both “High Cross” and “Highcross” on different signs.  That doesn’t seem right somehow.)

Noticed when I stopped to take a photo near the power lines that they crackeled and buzzed.  Yikes!

In the cool air and thrill of seeing three beavers this morning, it felt good to put the camera away and just do some vigorous pedaling along the country roads and on home.