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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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Oh well. Nice enough.

Did get a nice yellow coneflower-misty sunrise.

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

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spherical pink common milkweed blooms and already-red blackberries.

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

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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.

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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.

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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,

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

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

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Farther on, saw a sign I thought was rather humorous

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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!

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There is something special about this place.

Then rode to where the road bent to the north

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

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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.

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

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Stopped for a view of the beautiful Salt Fork

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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.

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Sunday 26 June 2016. Homer Lake Road, with Dog

This morning at 5:55 it was 74 humid degrees, the sky mostly cloudy but with gaps in the clouds.

After a lot of anxious indecision (why exactly?) decided to take Rhododendron eastward in the direction of Homer Lake.

This meant a quick stop at the “buffalo-wallow” pond at Weaver Park, where Culver root already were blooming, along with wild bergamot and yellow coneflower.

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Heard a number of bullfrogs, who seemed to take turns vocalizing rather than sing in a chorus. Actually saw one jump up and “fly” across the lily pads and disappear back into the water. Also saw what I think were tadpoles leaping up out of the water (and falling directly back in).

Saw ducks too far away to ID, and then a swimming mammal: a groundhog, I decided (two thirds of the way down, just to the right of center).

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And back on the road.

Noticed what a nice place the area near Washington and High Cross is to see the eastern sky.

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Stopped after the place where Washington jogs into Homer Lake Road for a shot of the steel drum where they have been burning things since I first started riding out this way six years ago.

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Along Homer Lake Road, the corn was taller than I in lots of places. “Corn to the left of me, soybeans to the right, here I am, in central Illinois!”

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I know they make the economy go, but the spirit loves flowers. At least on the edges.

Rode on, periodically remembering to observe the breath. It wasn’t the Pranayama experience of last week but still nice for some stretches.

Passed a fenced yard in which there was a dog; trusted the fence and rode on. No problem. But in another yard not long after saw a rather large brown dog, unfenced (I think at least once in the past I have turned back after seeing this dog). Felt lucky and rode on, when the dog began to bark and come after me. There was no time to dread and work up fearful anticipation: here it was, the thing I dreaded happening.

So, carefully avoiding eye contact with the dog, just put the pedal to the metal, as it were, and rode ahead.

Oddly, felt almost calm; decided the dog didn’t really want to attack me. So envisioned him(her) just wanting to say “hi” the way my family’s 12 year old Bichon does with every person and dog we pass on his walks.

And soon the dog went back. Big whew.
But resolved not to pass this way on the return trip.

Reached the bridge over the Salt Fork of the Vermillion River and paused to look into the high water.

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Rode a little way down, to the historical marker of the site of Kelley’s Tavern, a place that Lincoln was said to have frequented. It has a lovely little planting of native prairie plants, which today featured a bloom of common milkweed, with bees

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as well as milkweed-specific (true) bugs

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and beetles

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as well as butterfly milkweed

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Then turned back and veered off on a road that became Windsor Road, which, after an early turn, is straight as an arrow and seems to include uphill all the way to Meadowbrook Park. But it was better than risking another ride with the dog, who might no be so friend this time.

Had a treat crossing the little creek a little way west of the Salt Fork: a fairly large group of wood ducklings and adult female ducks.

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If it hadn’t been for the dog I might have missed them. Wondered whether there is some special habit in the immediate area: have seen wood ducks in that creek once or twice before and never anywhere else on these bike rides.

Saw a nice collection here and there along the road of great mulleins (Verbascum thapsus),

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(Ah, the inconsistency of human prejudice about “nature!”)

Heard many dicksissels to the right and left and above me on utility lines.

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Seemed, like last year, to be a good year for them.

Was glad to reach Meadowbrook Park but also was ready to be home and didn’t stop.

Saturday 21 June 2014. A Trip to the Edge of Sidney

Saw pink in the eastern sky at 5 this morning of the longest day of the year, but didn’t get out the door till almost quarter after, oh well. The phone weather ap said it was 64 degrees F, but it felt warmer, perfectly comfortable, in fact.

The moon, in its last quarter, I guess you would say, was about 10 o’clock to the east and one o’clock to the south. By the time Rhododendron was rolling on Race Street, the sun was rising behind clouds, the disc obscured until it was well over the horizon.

Headed south toward Sidney (my second attempt at one of my summer goals) and resolved to go past Meadowbrook Park but not stop there. And almost made it, but from Race Street, a little before it crossed McCullough Creek, noticed a very localized mist (thought “magical mist”) just inside the park. So how could I not cut across the grass at the southwest corner of the park to check it out?

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The mist was confined to a corner of the park, but its condensation left lots of wonderfully large dewdrops on the abundantly open spiderwort.

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Saw an antlerless deer rather close-up that didn’t seem concerned by my approach.

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Then tried hard just to pedal toward Sidney, though the spiderwort with Baptisia did stop me on the way out.

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Also stopped at the turn onto Yankee Ridge Road because I liked the little bit of curving and topography in the fields.

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Turned east at 1000 E, which became the “Sidney Slab” east of Ill 130. There were a fair number of cars going west, which made me uncomfortable. Only a couple passed me going east. Made myself ride toward the middle of the lane so cars would have to go around me rather than try to squeeze by. Don’t think I would want to bike this road any later in the day.

Stopped to look over the bridge where the Sidney slab crossed a branch of the Salt Fork

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and saw a group of about five dark ducks. Was able to zoom in enough with the dedicated camera to see a white eye ring and identify at least one as a female wood duck.

My slightly cranky right knee-hip felt a lot better with just that short stop.

Reached the first (black letters on white background, a little plain, I thought) sign saying “Sidney,” got a photo,

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and turned back. Fortunately the westbound traffic was less busy on the way home.

Out in the countryside noticed how dark green the tall prepubescent corn was, with broad, arching leaves.

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It’s been a good growing season so far.
Saw the marks of what must have been an interesting, energetic maneuver on the intersection of Philo and Curtis roads.


After the trip felt a very satisfying fatigue, the satisfying part of which (especially reaching a summer goal) stayed with me for the rest of the day.