Saturday, August 30, 2008

Poem #37: Cyber Spacey

(Note: Today we embark on our 9 day adventure -- canoeing down Utah's Green River -- so check back in 10 days for photos of the trip. Until then, here's some new-mown fodder to chew on.)


Cyber Spacey

Do you consider blogs

As bottomless cisterns?
Or vast and valuable depositories?

As homes for secrets and musings
and dreams and longings --
or for rants and rages?

As narcissistic, self-obsessed ramblings
to be ignored and avoided,
or jewels to be
appreciated and emulated?

As bloggers peck keys,
are their uncensored fingers
vomiting ire
or eliciting our laughter
and edifying our minds?

As they (perhaps) ungrammatically
vent and spew exasperation and vitriol
or enlighten and encourage
with grandeur-laden words
providing unexpected thrills
and occasional pearls

As all are welcomed - both regular readers
and fortuitously arriving peripatetic visitors,
to digest their brilliance or swill,
daily visiting and revisiting
their ramblings or ragings or priceless pearls,

As the visitors increment blog counters,
thus encouraging newfound wisdom
or more digressions or swill

and the next day...
and the next after that...
and yet again the next..........

Thanks for visiting my swill!

Y’all come back again, Dear Reader -- y’hear!

copyright 2008 Chuck Morlock

Friday, August 29, 2008

Biking A Scenic Byway

For a less strenuous day, we biked 22 miles today on the flat, paved Potash Road (aka Highway 279), a designated Scenic Byway, and it lived up to its billing. The views were wonderful as the road nestled between the Colorado River and high red cliffs, as seen below...

An added bonus was Jug Handle Arch right along the highway...

... as well as these petroglyphs completed by the San Rafael Fremont culture as far back as 600 A.D.

Huge white lilies abounded alongside the roadway, including this one with a busy bee at work...

Once again the temperature rose from 78 degrees to 93 during our 2 hour ride. Then it was off to our motel to pack for tomorrow's start of the canoe trip.

Go, Cubs, Go!

I'm cheering all the way from Utah!

The Cubbies won their 38th come-from-behind win this year with a pinch-hit homer by Fontenot and a grand slam by Ramirez, both in the 8th inning, to win 6-4!

It was also their 50th home win this season. They now enjoy a 6 1/2 game lead over Milwaukee.

The rest of you cheer them on for me the next 10 days while I'm paddling the Green River and out of communication range.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Arches National Park - Devil's Garden Trails and Arches

Today we got an early start again to beat the heat, and returned to Arches NP to hike the 7 miles of trails at the Devils Garden section. Again today -- as I have noticed over the years at other national parks such as Grand Canyon -- the vast majority of hikers who venture miles from the trailhead are visitors from other countries. I'll leave you to draw whatever conclusion you wish from this observation.

The arches below are presented in order from the parking area, starting with Tunnel Arch...

... and then Pine Tree Arch, both just short walks...

Landscape Arch is the longest span at 306 feet, and it created quite a stir in 1991 when a 180 ton section measuring 60 feet long fell down. At that time, the trail looped under the arch and people were under it, so for safety, the trail has since been re-rerouted and going under the arch is now off limits...

Just beyond WAS Wall Arch until 3 weeks ago when it fell! The opening beneath the span was 71 feet wide and 33 1/2 feet high and it ranked 12th in size among the over 2000 arches in the park. Here's a photo of the debris pile...

Black Arch is seen from a viewpoint just off the main trail

After a hike up a steep, high rock slab you have access to Navajo Arch...

... which brings you alongside a cliff wall of Navajo Sandstone which has been weathered into unusual intricate patterns. Unfortunately, no explanatory sign has been placed there by the National Park Service, so I can't explain its creation...

Partition Arch is nearby on another spur trail and is really 2 arches, one still very "young" which will eventually merge with the larger arch...

Another mile which includes several hundred yards of balancing on a rock fin, with dropoffs of 20 feet on the left and hundreds of feet on the right, seen below...

... and then you arrive at Double O Arch, a long span over a shorter arch...

... and another half mile out is where the trail ends at Dark Angel rock spire.

Click here for photos of our Arches NP visit earlier this week.

The temperature was in the upper 70s when we began, and 3 hours later as we left, it was in the mid-90s, but at least there was a bit of a breeze today!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Moab Rafting

Today we rafted 13 miles down the Colorado River on an all-day adventure with Western Rafting Expeditions out of the Moab Adventure Center. The drop-dead magnificent scenery was awesome as we paddled the canyon's class 1 and 2 rapids.

We also spent much time in the water between rapids, escaping the sun's upper 90 degree temperatures, as Ellen demonstrates here...

... and our fellow raft-mates show here...

White's Rapid is a technical rapid with large boulders creating an obstacle course which our guide, Sam, negotiated with expertise...

... as she regaled us with local stories, geologic information, and her charm. Here Sam maneuvers the raft as I capture it on my waterproof camera. Sam also joined us in the water several times, and even did back flips off the front of the boat.

I'm not sure which rapid this shows, but since we were busy paddling as we ran each rapid, photographic style points were far less of an issue than survival.

I've done many rafting trips across the country, but today's riverside BBQ buffet at Red Cliffs Lodge was the best ever, with all-you-can-eat burgers, hot dogs, brats, chicken breasts, salad, baked beans/chili, fruit, and many other sides, after which we hit this rapid...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Unlocked and Back in Business

This has been a long, frustrating slog through frustration. Now -- should I return to Blogger with new posts? Or continue using my new WordPress blog?

Readers, please respond with your vote in the comment section below. Which version of my blog do you prefer -- Blogger or WordPress?

Here's the history of this ordeal:

On August 5th, I was locked out of my blog. Like thousands of others, it had been erroneously marked as a “possible spam blog” by automated Blogger “robots.” I followed the link to prove I was a real person and requested Google (which owns Blogger) to have a human verify my blog wasn’t spam and unlock it. After about 4 days, Google issued a sincere and lengthy apology to us all and unlocked all the suspected spam blogs - a wise public relations move. We were happy again.

Unfortunately, they then re-locked thousands(or perhaps tens of thousands?) of the same blogs and the ordeal resumed. Google is a mega-corporation. This free Blogger service, like their many other free offerings, are wonderful services, but they are also public relations tools for Google. But this fiasco has been a disaster to their image. They provide NO phone number for support. They provide NO email access for support. The only recourse for those of us affected is via forums where I (and many others) have posted pleas for help from some Google employee, all to no avail for three weeks (for me.)

I did learn from another “victim” that WordPress offered an identical free blog service, and that they provided an import tool which allowed me to transfer my posts from Blogger, thus recreating my entire blog on WordPress -- nearly 600 posts, 2000 photos, and hundreds of comments from visitors -- which I successfully did.

And I sat and waited. For 3 weeks I waited. Four times I appealed for help by leaving messages on the help forums. Finally, just now, I tried accessing my blog and discovered it was unlocked. (But I was not notified by email it had been unlocked, as had been indicated I would be. If I hadn’t checked my blog, I wouldn’t even know.)

Hallelujah, and thank you Blogger.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Deer Grove Biking

Today we went for haircuts in Lake Zurich (only $9 for “seniors” 62 or over!) so we took our bikes and ventured into Deer Grove Woods again, completing the mountain bike loops in both Deer Grove and Deer Grove East. Ellen calls this preserve “deer-less grove” because she never sees deer here, but today a spotted fawn was just off the trail browsing. He sped into the underbrush, so I stopped and looked more closely into the foliage and spotted mom (photo below) and her two fawns. I only had my iPhone, so the photos in this post aren’t the best…

Here’s Ellen with a huge smile as we negotiate one of the two singletrack sections. Most of the 12 miles are graveled and wide, so we relish the segments that are more “mountain biking-like.”

Monday, August 11, 2008

Today we drove to Foster Avenue lakefront parking and biked 31 miles south to 50th Street and back, a good portion of Chicago’s magnificent Lakefront Trail. Here’s Ellen as we bike the area around Montrose Harbor, with the downtown in the distance…

The Lakefront Trail extends nearly 20 miles, the entire distance encompassing Chicago parks land, and the trail passes numerous marinas, playgrounds, several skateboard parks, many beaches, a bird sanctuary, boat ramps, fishing piers, picnic areas, a chess pavilion, and too much more to list. As we near the Loop, pedestrian and bike traffic increase and care is required to avoid problems, although gawking is impossible to resist with all there is to see. I did get this photo while biking during a break in the crowds…

Navy Pier was our first destination, and a sumptuous lunch of mahi mahi and shrimp at Bubba Gump’s was our reward. (See Ellen’s blog for photos of our meals.) This shot is of the pier and the boats moored there, providing cruises along the lakefront, many with meals included.

The photo below shows the downtown as seen from a few miles south of McCormick Place…

Here are more photos and info on the trail.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Biking, Baseball, Birthdays, and BBQ

First we biked 18 miles on the Millennium Trail and then it was on to Steve’s playoff game. They were up against the top team in the league, but led 8-3 after 3 innings. However, the good fortune ended as the final score was a loss by 23-9. Then it was the big birthday bash — Mom’s 84th birthday and Suzi’s 20th birthday — complete with BBQ brats and burgers, all the trimmings, and 3 desserts! Here’s Mom opening her gifts…

... and Suzi opening hers...

... and the group as we all played "Apples to Apples" while watching first the Olympics and then the Cubs as they beat the Cards 6-2 -- a wonderful end to a wonderful day!

Illinois Prairie Path honored...

... by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (of which I am a long-time member) as a "Hall of Fame" trail, and rightly so, since it started the rail-to-trail movement. Back in 1963, schoolteacher May Watts wrote a letter to a Chicago paper proposing preserving the abandoned Chicago, Aurora, Elgin Railroad line as a trail, and she also spearheaded a grass-roots effort to see it accomplished. Now, 45 years later, it extends 62 miles from Maywood to Wheaton, and then sends 4 spurs west to Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, and Elgin, and conencts to numerous other trails, including the Great Western and The Fox River Trails. Over 80,000 use the trail each year and about 1000 volunteer to maintain it through the auspices of the non-profit Illinois Prairie Path Corporation. And though it was the first such trail, over 1500 rails-to-trails now dot the country.

Photos and more info are available on my site and also using the links above.

The other trails in the Hall of Fame are Pennsylvania's Great Allegheny Trail, Boston's Minuteman Bikeway, Seattle's Burke-Gilman Trail, Florida's Pinellas Trail, and Missouri's Katy Trail. I've biked all but the first 2 of the above and have photos and info on them.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Millennium Trail extension...

...beyond Fish Lake Road has been paved for a half mile and awaits landscaping and completion of the approaches from the road to the trail. This segment is under the auspices of the Forest Preserve District.

However, the pavement ends as the trail hits the Autumn Grove sub-division as seen here...

As I understand it, the Village of Volo is responsible for this segment through the sub-division, then up a wooded hillside and down the other side as it circumvents the new Village Hall and then parallels Fish Lake Road across Route 60 and up to Route 120. Much of that trail corridor has been graded and awaits gravel or pavement -- all to be finished by Fall.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Prairie Trail biking

Today we met Len and biked 16 miles from Crystal Lake south. Ellen passed 1600 miles for the year, a fantastic accomplishment for someone in her first year of biking, especially since much of that mileage is on gravel trails and fat tires. I, too, am in personal record territory, passing my previous best year’s mileage of 1732 and still with 3+ months of biking weather ahead. Afterward, we had a tasty lunch at Colonial Restaurant — home of one of the best milk shakes in the world.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Locked out again but still blogging...

I’m locked out again by Blogger (since Wednesday, August 6th) as a suspected “spam blog,” a determination made by their “robots,” so for a while at least, I'm at WordPress which seems to be a perfectly respectful host and even transferred my blog in its entirety over here, comments and all. Now I have a bit of a learning curve to discover how to do things which had become second nature at Blogger.

Yesterday we biked 21 miles on the Des Plaines River Trail south from Half Day Preserve, checking out the detour required to bypass the missing 1/2 mile segment in Lincolnshire. According to a source I talked to, the jerk who owns the fine Par King Golf establishment refuses to sell a corridor along the river to the forest preserve for the trail. He is apparently demanding “prime real estate value” for the land instead of “flood plain value” — and that comes after he sold a huge tract to Sedgebrook Retirement and no doubt made out very well on that sale.

We discovered that the detour is neither long nor a real burden. Turn right on Riverside where the trail ends, go a few hundred yards and turn left onto the gravel trail behind Sedgebrook. Take it to the end where you turn right onto a paved trail along the south edge of Sedgebrook, bike to Milwaukee Avenue, turn left, proceed a bit to Cubby Bear North, and resume on the DRT at the rear of their parking lot.

Locked out again!!!

I've been locked out again!
So I'm sitting around hoping I get reinstated soon.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Grant Woods and Chain of Lakes Path

Today we biked 15+ miles through Grant Woods and then on to the town of Fox Lake on the connecting Chain-of-Lakes Path. This preserve has a wonderful mix of dense forest and verdant open meadows replete with wildflowers, which Ellen chronicles on her blog today. We saw 3 deer, including a still-spotted fawn. This photo shows Ellen photographing the doe but the fawn is just behind the mom, hidden in the bushes (click to enlarge.)

More photos of this trail.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

McHenry Prairie Trail biking

Today, after Ellen's Yoga class, we headed to McHenry's Panera Bread for lunch and then biked 20 miles on the Prairie Trail to Genoa City and back. We often have wildlife sightings since most of our mileage is through forest preserves, and today was no exception -- EXCEPT for the wildlife involved. Normally it's deer, waterfowl, and birds, but today it was frogs, lizards, this good-sized turtle...

... and a swarm of hundreds of yellow butterflies, which we tried to photograph, but though their swarm formations were large, they were difficult to photograph.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mom's 84th Birthday

Today is her big day. The "official" party will be Sunday, and will be celebrated along with Suzi's big #20 (Linda exclaims gleefully, "She's no longer a teenager!")

However, we didn't want to have to wait until Sunday to celebrate, so Linda, Ellen, and I took Mom out for lunch at the wonderful and highly acclaimed Fuego Mexican Grill in downtown Arlington Heights, and afterward we went to Mom's for some relaxed conversation. You can see pictures of the delicious dishes we ate on Ellen's blog.


I love the commercials on TV featuring Yogi Berra. Here are some of his (mis) sayings:

"It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."

"He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."

"You have to give 100 percent in the first half of the game. If that isn't enough, in the second half, you have to give what is left."

"Never answer an anonymous letter."

"It's like déjà vu all over again."

"I know, Texas has a lot of electrical votes."

"It gets late early around here."

"A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore."

"A home opener is always exciting, no matter if it's home or on the road."

"If I didn't wake up I'd still be sleeping."

"I usually take a two hour nap from 1 to 4."

"When you get to a fork in the road, take it."

"I didn't really say everything I said."

"Nobody goes there anymore because it's too crowded."

"We have a good time together, even when we're not together."

"Our similarities are different." (Attributed to his son, Dale.)

"If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be."

"That's his style of hitting. If you can't imitate him, don't copy him."

"It was hard to have a conversation with anyone; there were so many people talking".

"We make too many wrong mistakes."

"Slump? I ain't in no slump... I just ain't hitting."

"You can observe a lot by watching."

"If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up somewhere else."

"The future ain't what it used to be."

"If they don't want to come, you can't stop them."

"Always go to other people's funerals -- otherwise they won't go to yours."

"Think! How the hell are you gonna think and hit at the same time?"

"Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel!"

"Ninety percent of this game is half mental."

When asked what makes a good manager of a baseball team, he said "A good ball club."

When asked what time it is, he said "What? You mean right now?"

"It ain't the heat, it's the humility."

When he was asked if first baseman Don Mattingly had exceeded expectations, Yogi said, "I'd say he's done more than that!"

His wife Carmen asked where he would like to be buried. His reply: "Surprise me!"

When he was told that he looked cool in his summer suit by the Mayor of New York's wife, he said, "You don't look so hot yourself."

"The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase."

"He can run anytime he wants. I'm giving him the red light."

"I always thought that record would stand until it was broken."

At a dinner in an Italian restaurant, he was asked how many slices should be cut in his pizza, he replied: "You better make it four. I don't think I could eat eight."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Forest and Grass...

... today as we biked 75 minutes on Deer Grove East/Deer Grove's mountain bike loops, which occasionally get blocked by downed trees as seen below as Ellen works her way around and under the limbs...

... after which we watched Steve's softball team end the regular season with double-header losses, 33-15 and 11-8. Steve had to pitch both games because the 3 usual pitchers were all absent and he is the only other player with any pitching experience. Next Sunday the postseason begins as all teams start fresh in the double-elimination tournament.

What's In A Name?

Did you know that Mercedes-Benz was named for 11 year old Mercedes Jellinek, daughter of the Austrian Consul General (who was a friend of Gottlieb Daimler)? Emile Jellinek, who was also an entrepreneur, suggested to Daimler in 1899 that his cars would sell better if 1) the engine was mounted lower to improve speed, handling, and stability, 2) the engine was in front of the passenger cabin, and 3) a sexier name were given to the vehicle (Mercedes). Daimler took the advice, and in 1901, the cars became a raging success as both street and racing cars. (BTW - the car had a whopping 35 horsepower then!)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

There is a free lunch...

... at Fox Lake Toyota today, where we have our vehicles serviced (Ellen's '07 Prius and my '07 RAV4), so after a 15 mile bike ride we headed over for brats and burgers and all the trimmings. There was absolutely no sales ploy involved. They had good food and cold bottled water, a clown making balloon creations for the kids, free car washes, and various displays. Cars were available for perusal, of course, but no salesmen or pressure was involved -- the event was simply a "thank you" from the dealership to customers.

The nearby Camping World RV dealer also had display units, so we checked out the 2 travel trailers -- a bare bones one for $10,000 and a larger unit. Years ago we had a camping lot in western Illinois and had 2 travel trailers over the years on our lot, and getaways there were sort of like going to a cottage on a lake. We also had friends who had larger units which we saw the interiors of. So today, out of curiosity, we checked out the 40 foot Discovery motor home model on display. Wow -- it was luxurious, as is evident in this photo...

Then the sales guy told us it was a mid-level unit selling for only $200,000! It seems they also sell longer units and the top price is $750,000!

We leave for a 6 week trip soon, heading to CO/UT/AZ/NM/AR, and we'll be spending 25 or more nights in our tent without all the amenities offered by these trailers and motor homes, but that's what camping is about -- being out in nature and doing without TV and mattresses and stoves and refrigeration. We always see these big rigs in national park and national forest campgrounds, and it seems to me that these people -- who ostensibly go "camping" in order to "get away from it all" -- instead are taking it all with them! And it also seems most of them spend all their time INSIDE their unit, watching satellite dish TV or on their computers. Good for them, but that isn't for us!

Palatine Band Concert

Friday was the third and final summer outdoor concert for the band, and they didn't disappoint, with rousing renditions of 75 minutes of music. Again blessed with a magnificent summer evening, the hundred or more spectators clapped along or bounced feet in time with the rhythm and did lots of smiling, and the band members were obviously enjoying the final performance, too. Now they get a month off before returning to rehearsals for the Fall concerts.

We met Scott and Sarah at Palatine's Baker's Square, one of the chain's restaurants that is still open for business. I've promised Ellen for a while I'd get her to one of these places so she could have a meal but more importantly, try a couple "taster" slices of their wonderful pies. Many of their locales have closed, though, and I hadn't yet fulfilled that promise. This is also one of Sarah's favorite places to eat, so we jumped at the opportunity to spend time with them and eat here.

No, they aren't bored by the music -- this is before the concert started as we waited and people-watched.

The final concert after darkness fell...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Locked Out!

I've been locked out! Blogger, the host of my blog, locked me out of my blog! I received this email today:

"Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog."

Apparently, Google, the owner of Blogger, sends out "robots" looking for spam blogs which can be recognized by their "irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site."

Why my blog fit their "algorithm" for spam I do not know. I hope my posts aren't irrelevant or nonsensical, since I've authored over 750 posts, all different, and containing over 1500 photos!

I then "appealed" and received this email:

"Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive. We received your unlock request on August 1, 2008. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam."

Since you are reading this, it means I have finally been "unlocked" and am back in business! Hooray! Maybe I am relevant and "sensical."

NOTE: Blogger posted this today:

"... sometimes we have to step in and admit a mistake.

"We've noticed that a number of users have had their blogs mistakenly marked as spam, and wanted to sound off real quick to let you know that, despite it being Friday afternoon, we are working hard to sort this out. So to those folks who have received an email saying that your blog has been classified as spam and can't post right now, we offer our sincere apologies for the trouble.

"We hope to have this resolved shortly, and appreciate your patience as we work through the kinks."

Go, Cubs, Go!

WGN Radio, the baseball home of the Chicago Cubs for longer than I've been alive, has produced a short video featuring fans and WGN Radio personalities lip-syncing the Go, Cubs, Go theme song. Here it is if you are interested in seeing it:

NOTE: The song, "Go, Cubs, Go", was written by Chicago native (and Cubs fan) Steve Goodman, who in his early 20s was diagnosed with leukemia and to which he succumbed 15 years later. Goodman wrote and performed many humorous songs about Chicago, including three about the Chicago Cubs: "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request", "When the Cubs Go Marching In" and "Go, Cubs, Go" (which has frequently been played on Cubs' broadcasts and at Wrigley Field after Cubs wins.) His 2 most famous compositions are "City of New Orleans" and "You Never Even Call Me By My Name" (with John Prine.) Check this Wikipedia entry for more info on one of Chicago's hometown heroes.

Des Plaines Trail biking

We biked 18 miles with Len and Marlene Friday and got to see Len's new bike, purchased while they were in Colorado the last few weeks. It's a wonderful upgrade for Len as he can now "retire" his 40 year old Schwinn! (When he dragged it out of storage from his garage a year or so ago, he took it to the local bike shop for some rehab, and the same gentleman who sold it to him a hundred or so years ago was still working at the shop!) Below are Len, Ellen, and Marlene. For a better look at Len's new bike, see Ellen's blog.)

Afterward we had a delicious breakfast at Egg Harbor where I saw a handmade pillow on display which sort of sums up much about life: