Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Lakewood Forest Preserve -- Fall Biking

Today was yet another beautiful Fall day -- despite being a bit cooler and a tad breezy -- so we biked 17 miles on the Millennium Trail from the house to and through Lakewood Forest Preserve. This 2886 acre gem was acquired by the Lake County Forest Preserve District in 1968 and for the last 40 years, they have judiciously added to its size and developed recreation facilities within it. Even though it is the last day of October, enough trees retain their vibrant colors to provide visual delight as seen below.

At our usual turn-around point, Ellen declared she wanted to keep going, so I showed her the hills and lakes in Lakewood Woods, including the off-trail hidden treasures around Davis Lake seen in the 2 photos below.

We also ran into 2 riders with 3 horses on the Millennium Trail...

... and later were delighted to discover our pair of resident Sand Hill Cranes had not left for the winter yet...

... and neither had our resident swans.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Deer Park Woods redux

We biked Deer Grove Forest Preserve's mountain bike trail -- Ellen's favorite of all the trails I've shown her -- on yet another magnificent Fall day.

Ellen led for much of the 11 mile ride, giving her the exhilarating feeling of exploration and discovery as she topped each hill and turned each bend, each revealing sights new to her.

My favorite tree is still beautiful, and some of the yellowish leaves have deepened into orange and red since our ride last week.

What a glorious October it's been! Today I surpassed 300 miles for the month -- the best ever for an October.

Monday, October 29, 2007

5 Weeks to go...

... until our December 1st and 2nd Christmas Concert by the Village Singers of Lake Zurich. A number of us members answered the call to come early to fold flyers and stuff envelopes for the mailing announcing the upcoming Christmas Concert.

It wasn't all just work though, as demonstrated by our director, Jeannine, as she adds some well-deserved horns to our super-salesman and board member, Scott.

Less than 5 weeks until the December 1st and 2nd concert dates and all are hard at work learning and memorizing the music.

Eva, the group's resident comedian, piques our interest with a preview of her costume for her (sure to be) hilarious number in this concert.

Moraine Hills State Park

Sunny and 63 degrees again! What a magnificent October this has been in Chicagoland. A year ago we had snow already the first week of October, the earliest snowfall here in history. Our biking group is hoping the good weather continues for another month or so, and when the higher temps finally end, we'll become a hiking club until next Spring. Here are Dave, Ellen, and Patti as we relaxed at McHenry Dam. The water level is down so much we could see the individual stones making up the dam (double click to enlarge photo), and we noticed all the great blue herons, fisher herons, and great white egrets were gone, though the seagulls and ducks were still fishing alongside the human fishermen.

Ellen and I in front of the island which had been under water not so long ago when the water was at its highest.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bonefish and Vine Tastings

We met at Bonefish last night, and arriving early, we walked the Schaumburg Towne Square park , which has received national acclamation as an exemplary urban renewal effort.

Bonefish, a subsidiary of Outback, specializes is seafood, so began with a sampler plate of grouper, salmon, swordfish, and sea bass, each topped with a different sauce -- warm mango salsa, lemon butter, virgin Mediterranean, and pan Asian. Wonderful!

My entree was Snake River Rainbow Trout with lemon butter sauce.

Then we drove a bit south to Vine Tasting in Roselle...

... where we tried several varietals...

... and enjoyed the guitar mastery of Merv Collins again, who had a few new selections with an electric guitar.

A delightful evening!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Grant Woods Bike Trail

We got in a quick 70 minute bike ride on the way to the grocery store today. Not as nice as the last few days with 52 degrees and wind and cloud cover, but the woods were still magnificent and the hilly terrain warmed us up quickly.

It's been a few years since I biked Grant Woods and I'd forgotten how lovely the area is. It was Ellen's first time here and she heartily concurred. We, the residents of Lake County, gave the Lake County Forest Preserve District over 200 million dollars over the past 15 years to acquire new lands in our rapidly developing area before subdivisions and strip malls take over, and this preserve is a prime example of what an outstanding job the LCFPD is doing.

Here is evidence that Illinois is not flat as a pancake. Lake County, especially, with its proximity to Wisconsin, has many hills left behind by the glaciers.


The Lone Ranger and Tonto stopped in the desert for the night.

After they got their tent set up, both men fell sound asleep.
Some hours later, Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, "Kemosabe, look towards sky, what you see?"

The Lone Ranger replies, "I see millions of stars."

"What that tell you?" asked Tonto.

The Lone Ranger ponders for a minute, then says, "Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, it's evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What's it tell you, Tonto?"

Tonto is silent for a moment, then says disgustedly, "Kemosabe, you dumber than buffalo shit. It means someone stole tent."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Biking Deer Grove's Fall Colors

Wow! The rain got delayed and we were granted another magnificent Fall day to bike. Today we headed to Deer Grove Forest Preserve, the only remaining mountain bike trail in the area.

We had the place practically to ourselves as we biked 12 hilly miles through dense forest and through delightfully painted trees.

I also showed Ellen the single-track on the east side of Quentin Road and her smile never dimmed. She joyously announced at the end of the ride, "That's the best place yet!"

Then I took her to my favorite tree in this forest preserve -- check out the reason why below. (For perspective, that's Ellen in the lower left corner of the photo.)

More of the lovely colors...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Volo Bog State Natural Area hike

Volo Bog State Natural Area offers a hilly trek through various ecosystems. Cyrus Mark, the first director of the Illinois Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, managed a fund-raising campaign in 1958 that collected $40,000 in donations from school children, groups, and individuals for the purchase of the 47.5-acre bog. The land was deeded to the University of Illinois which retained ownership until 1970 when it was dedicated as an Illinois Nature Preserve and three years later was registered as a National Natural Landmark with the U.S. Department of the Interior. More than 1,100 additional acres of land have been purchased to protect and enlarge the state preserve, which now includes marshes, prairie restoration areas, woodlands and two other bogs. Here we traverse the floating walkway as we cross over an edge of this quaking bog, the only "quaking" bog in Illinois to have an open water center. This area is an important migratory stopover for songbirds, waterfowl and wading birds, including green-backed herons, cross-bills and sandhill cranes. Volo Bog also shelters a variety of orchids, such as delicate grass pink and rose pogonia.

The tall grass prairie to the right of the trail exceeds 6 feet in height...

... and when you step into the grass it is like being in an ocean of grass. Illinois is "the prairie state" and this replicates what much of Illinois once looked like.

Volo Bog is significant in that it exhibits all stages of bog succession. A floating mat of sphagnum moss, cattails and sedges surrounds an open pool of water in the center of the bog. As substrate material thickens, a shrub community dominated by poison sumac and leatherleaf invades the mat. This is eventually replaced by tamarack forest. Surrounding this forest is a second, more extensive shrub zone which abruptly ends and becomes a marsh/sedge meadow community. This photo shows the watery bog, the cattails, and the forest in the background.

Information taken from the Illinois DNR website.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cook County's Des Plaines River Trail

Today we met in Wheeling and biked 25 miles on the northern segment of Cook County's Des Plaines River Trail, which connects to Lake County's DRT, giving a 60 mile or so trail. The Fall colors continue to intensify and further delight our eyes, as seen surrounding Patti and Ellen.

We stopped at Dam Number 1 Woods to see the river level and discovered this behemoth beauty, dwarfing Ellen beneath it.

Another shot of the colors as Dave, Ellen, and Patti ride beneath the canopy.

We left the trail in Glenview and passed this home paying homage to the Bears and Halloween...
.. as we pedaled to Moon Doggies for lunch.

When I got home I discovered that today I passed the 1500 mile mark for the year on my fat tire mountain bike. Whoppee!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fall Colors on the Des Plaines River Trail

I love Fall in Chicago! 60 degrees, blue skies, and a veritable palate of coloration on the foliage enhances any bike ride, and when coupled with a fine lunch and good friends to ride with, who could desire more out of a day? Here are Ellen, Patti, and Dave...

... and Ellen and Chuck enjoying the scenery and conversation...

... and here Dave and Patti look at the fallen Ellen entangled in the fallen tree limbs. (Note: No humans were harmed in the staging of this photo.)

Here are 2 shots I took while riding:

Great day! Try it sometime -- Chicagoland has dozens of trails, comprising hundreds of trail miles, available in forest preserves throughout the 6 county region, and I have many of these available trails listed on my website, complete with info and photos.

Poem #18: Groovin' Down the San Juan River (Utah)

Author’s note:

To answer the oft asked query about a river trip, this is how you go to the toilet. The appliance is called "the groover" because in early river-running days, an ammunition box (like the white box in front of the toilet) was used to accumulate and carry feces out of the canyon, and sitting on the narrow ammunition box left grooves on one's butt-cheeks. Mike (Goat) and I volunteered to set up the groover each afternoon when we made camp, and pack it up the next morning as one of our camp chores, something much appreciated by all the others on the trip (who therefore didn't have to do it.) The raft paddle is the signal that the groover is available for use.

Groovin' Down the San Juan River

The job that no one wanted to do,
Fell to the stalwart groover crew,
So the first thing set up when we beach the boat
Is the groover box, carried by Chuck and Goat.

A scenic view and some level land
Are the basic needs of the groover can.
We remove the lock and install the seat
And give them scenery that can't be beat.

Place the paddle where all can see
And if it's there, you've got the key!
All are happy that the job is done
And traipse the groover trail, one by one.

For relief is only a stroll away
So mosey on over without delay,
Lighten your load and put on a smile,
Please close the lid, then walk back with style.

But leave only solids, no liquids, you see,
Use the brown river when you pee,
And don't worry about water pollution,
'cause it's all taken care of by San Juan dilution.

Everyone contributes their weighty concerns
Before launch time as our canyon world turns,
And just before shove-off we pack away
the groover's accumulation of the remains of yesterday.

copyright Chuck Morlock 2003

Photos of San Juan River raft trip