Tag Archives: Walk

A Walk At Dusk On The Penultimate Day


Ben and Audrey on the Lindale Trail.

Ben and Audrey on the Lindale Trail.

Ben said these Christmas lights looked like a Tolkien hidden elven village.

Ben said these Christmas lights looked like a Tolkien hidden elven village.

Well, the Mayans clearly got it wrong, the world continued after their calendar expired even if the fiscal cliff looms.

On the penultimate day of 2012, after an afternoon nap, Audrey suggested we go on a walk. It was cool, but in the upper 20s, and when the wind is not blowing, upper 20s is truly not so bad. We headed up C Avenue with our son Ben, and headed east on the Lindale Trail.

The trail’s west end in Cedar Rapids was not cleared, but once we scrambled past a fallen tree, as we neared Marion, the Marion crew had taken over, and Marion does scrape its trails. The light was fading, so it was good that the trail was more clear. When we got to Lindale Avenue, we decided to walk through the neighborhood to the shorter trail, rather than take the long trail in faded light.

A winter walk makes you appreciate a city that scrapes its trails, and even more homeowners who do a decent job of snow removal. It has been many days since any snow fell, but some walks are clear, some were cleared after the heavy snow a week ago, but not since, and some merely have paths worn by the passage of booted feet.

It felt good to be out. The walk lasted about an hour, and when we were done around 5:30, it was dark, but not yet full night. It’s nice that the evenings are gaining, day by day, a little bit of light, and it was nice to be out for a stroll on a cool winter’s day.

So take that, Mayans. Long after some thought you said the world would end, the world was a nice place for a stroll.

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Some Fun Based on Old Technologies


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They had a book sale this week at the MMU library, and I felt a bit odd because I stopped by after the books and picked up nine movies.

They were all on VHS tapes. Well, just as I sometimes buy an old album at Half Price books because I still have a record player to play vinyl, I still have a VHS tape player. So, what the heck? I got “Oklahoma,” some kids movies I have not seen, including two about dinosaurs, and some more modern movies—the remake of “The Manchurian Candidate” and also “Air Force One.”

Well, Friday we drove to Ames because ISU gets all of Thanksgiving week off, and that night returned to Cedar Rapids. We decided it was family movie night, but we had no microwave popcorn. No matter, we had some “old school” popcorn, so I got out a large pan, nuked some butter in the microwave and, voila, had fresh homemade popcorn. It was better than anything that comes popped in a bag. You kids don’t know what you’re missing.

My dad used to make popcorn often on a Saturday night, but he usually burned it. And since we did not have a microwave, his method of buttering it was to smear some margarine on top.

Well, I think mine turned out a bit better. We watched “Air Force One,” a mediocre action movie with a good cast that was worth every bit of the nothing I had spent on it.

Old technologies had done us well.

Today, we walked on what I’ve usually called “the trail behind Walgreen’s,” but signs have been put up dubbing it the Lindale Trail, so LT it is. The LT is an old rail spur converted to trail use, and we noticed the very old poles in a dip of land beside the trail. I thought they looked a little forlorn and odd—why were the poles in the dip and not along the elevated rail line? And when were they put in and when did they fall into disuse? Were they phone lines? Electric? Telegraph? They had some old glass insulators one them, which were just cool to see.

Well, it was a fine afternoon for a walk, even if I’ll never know what the poles were for.  Old technologies again, this time fallen into disuse.

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A Walk in the Woods


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Bill Bryson, one of my favorite authors, wrote an amusing book of that title, about his trekking along the Appalachian Trail.

I took my own walk in the woods this morning, although it was only a bit over 30 minutes long and ended due to excessive insect activity.

Anyway, when the kids were younger and at home, once in awhile one of them and I would tromp through the woods south of Dry Creek. I returned to that area this morning, figuring a hike would count instead of gym time this morning—could not bear the thought of being inside, so I went out.

The first obstacle is a widening canyon cut by an ephemeral creek that runs from a street storm drain. Someone at one time actually built a bridge, but the rickety think now lies on the bottom of the creek bed—I’m just glad I was not standing on it when it fell in.

Well, I just paralleled the cut until I came to dry creek. Since no water is running in the ephemeral creed, there was a wide rocky delta that was easy to cross, and then I returned to the woods.

The main route is a deer highway (which, by the way, simply cuts across the canyon—deer can leap more easily than a middle-aged man, apparently). And there was traffic of the Bambi variety this morning.

Two does were on the same path, well ahead of me. Several times, though, they stopped and looked back, as if to say, “well, slowpoke, are you coming?” Eventually, they sped ahead out of sight.

The “woods” are partly settled. By a somewhat iffy looking tree house, someone had abandoned a bike some time ago. As I walked on, I felt a little like I was lost in nature, but in the distance I could often see signs that I was still in my Cedar Rapids neighborhood—yards and houses were never far away.

There were some mysteries along the trail, such as why were the wings of the butterfly there? What ate or otherwise destroyed the body that connected those wings?

Nature is a toothy place. I wrote in my last post about the baby cardinals in the back yard. Sad news today, blog fans. The nest is empty. Something got to the babies the night after the day when I found them—some neighborhood cat or raccoon. Something has been drinking our hummingbird nectar off of our back deck, too. A cat might eat the cardinals, but a cat wouldn’t drink nectar. A raccoon might do both. And Thursday night I saw a giant of a ‘coon cross Brentwood drive and run into my yard—could that be the baby bird killer-nectar drinker?

Oh well. I hope Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal will rebuild and try again, and I hope whatever won’t find the nest this time.

Back to the walk. I don’t know why I’ve never had a poison ivy rash, as much as I tromp through Iowa woods and wouldn’t recognize the nasty stuff if it bit me. Lucky, I guess.

Anyway, after 20 minutes or so the mosquitoes were starting to zero in on their Joe target, so I turned around. As I was walking back, there was a loud crackling crash. A substantial branch broke off a dead tree and went smashing to the ground, not 20 yards from where I stood.

Well. I’m glad to say that the branch was no nearer to me.

It was a fun walk, but I think I’ll reserve most future rambles for when Dry Creek dries up or after a nice cold frost in fall. Either a faster pace in a dry creek bed or some freezing air will reduce the mosquito issues.

By the way, one more update, a happier one, this time. Audrey Skyped today with Jon and Nalena, who are safe and sound, and have a nice host home, in Paraguay. They are undergoing training before deployment, so no final word on where they will be inside Paraguay, but they are doing well so far!

Much more of an adventure than my walk in the woods …

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Flying Frisbees On A Fine Fall Day


Frisbee Golfers

Audrey, Ben and Nicole are ready for some Frisbee Golf at a park in Ames, Iowa.

I’m not sure if Mark Twain really said it—sources vary on the veracity of the quote—but golf has been called “a good walk spoiled.”

No doubt, if Twain did say it, he was not talking about Frisbee Golf. In recent years, we’ve started to enjoy playing that game now and then, and today was one of our finer rounds.

For our one full day “off” during Fall Break, Audrey and I went to Ames today to meet Benjamin for lunch. Ben also introduced us to Nicole, his girlfriend. She is a sweet young lady from Omaha who is majoring in aerospace engineering—they met in a math class. Well, they would. Sounds like a rom-com, no?

Nicole taking a shot.

Nicole puts the Frisbee in the hole as Ben watches.

Anyway, after a find repast of Thai food (Ben correctly forecast not just the eatery, but what his mother would order) we went Frisbee Golfing.

I can’t really compare it to “regular” golf because I’m not a golfer, but I suspect it has more appeal to me for several reasons:

  • It’s not an upscale game. You don’t have to pay fees or belong to a country club to play Frisbee Golf. It’s not something fat white businesspeople do to make deals. People don’t wear ridiculous outfits, drive around in silly carts or hire boys to carry around their Frisbees. It’s just you, your disc, your tennis shoes (or feet, in Nicole’s case) and the thrill of the throw. It’s very Wal-Mart rather than Nordstrom’s, and thought I’m not really a Wal-Mart kind of guy, the egalitarian feel of Frisbee Golf appeals to me, while the snobbery of that other golf does not.
  • It’s a walk through a real park. Not a good walk spoiled, but a nice park stroll enhanced. Nobody grooms and poisons a Frisbee Gold course until it looks like an artificial green carpet. Frisbee Golf is played in areas that are barely mowed. Frequent trees are part of the course. I think I would get nervous being out on a “real” golf course—the saccharine perfection of the greens would disturb me, and calling those regular lawn areas a “rough” is an insult to anything that’s rough. Being on a Frisbee Golf course, on the other hand, is to be out in a fine, slightly wild, real seeming Iowa park.
  • The company is grand. I’ve usually been Frisbee golfing with my kids, who seem to run to rather laid back sorts whose fierce sense of competition is more devoted to who can make the most awful jokes while out on the course. Ben’s gal Nicole seemed to fit right into that mold, chatting and laughing and joking along with us. No doubt, we’re obnoxious to any Frisbee Golfers who care, but fortunately most Frisbee Golf courses aren’t often crowded, so our dawdling, joking, 10-shots-a-hole style of play can’t disturb others too much, and we don’t let the golfing interfere to much with the strolling, the talking, the joking or the laughing. And that’s the way it ought to be.

We played hole 1 and hole 18 and some holes in between in a rather random, rambling fashion. It was a fine, fun, warm fall day to be out, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a good use of a sunny fall afternoon!

Your's truly

Your correspondent, as Nicole borrows my camera to take this shot of me taking my shot.

Ben and the tree

Ben and the chewing gum tree we found at the park.

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How Dry I Am


Dry Creek

Audrey strolls along the dry creek bed of Dry Creek Oct. 9, 2011.

How dry has it been lately in Cedar Rapids?

It’s been several years since the bed of Dry Creek, which runs behind our house, has been dry. Today, Audrey and I took an afternoon walk. She wore her pink “puddle stomper” boots, but there were not a lot of puddles to stomp in.

During the recent wet years, fish have migrated upstream from Indian Creek, and the few remaining pools are teeming with desperate life. It might rain Tuesday night, but don’t know if that will be in time to keep these pools from drying out.

Audrey  sitting.

Posing on a log. She shot me in the same place, too.

We only could walk a few hundred yards, however, until our way was blocked by water. We’ve gone much farther in the past. When my kids were growing up, it seemed like several times a year—in the dry winter months or in the hottest part of summer—the creek would be bone dry.

But, as I noted, that has not been its recent trend. Until now. Well, if it’s going to be super dry, better October than July. We have some new fall planted grass that might not make it, but otherwise, dry days now won’t matter much.

I just hope we get a little rain before the ground freezes hard this winter.

Fish in a pool

Many of the isolated pools we found teemed with trapped fish.

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The Turtle and Other Signs of Summer


Big turtle

Big turtle we saw by the lake in Central Park near Monticello.

It was 80 today and felt and looked like summer, even if it’s not really summer and cool weather over this next week will make that point.

Still, I posted grades by noon and am officially ready to give my office a thorough and overdue cleaning. Time to start to look ahead.

Turtles were a theme of the day. We went to Monticello to visit Theresa and Brandon, and went with them on a stroll at Central Park, a pleasant county park with a lake that we’re considering re-visiting as part of our summer kayak adventures.

The turtle by the lake.

I did not feel like asking if it would grant wishes like in "Magic by the Lake"

Anyway, while walking beside the lake, we saw this monster turtle. The photo doesn’t give you an idea—I’ve seen some big turtles along the Sac and Fox trail in Cedar Rapids, but this dude was Moby Dick Turtle. Ugly sucker, isn’t he?

Theresa warned us to stay back, saying it was a snapping turtle. Later, at a wildlife display in the park, the snapping turtle shown and described there gave her some credibility.

OK, so it’s a good thing we didn’t get snapped.

Central Park

The kind of day it was, imagine 80 degrees with a soft breeze. Yes, it was nice.

As you can see from the panorama picture, the turtle of doom was a diversion from the theme of the first beautiful day of faux summer, a foreshadowing of the season yet to come. New flowers are abloom. The painted daisy in back made for several interesting images—I think the lone flower looks almost like it was pasted in with PhotoShop, but it’s not.

We got home and got righteously dirty planning annuals—geraniums, marigolds and coleus. Wore us out.

We were like a pair of basking turtles tonight, sluggish but ready to snap. Still, it was a good day. Somehow, I never feel cleaner than when I’ve gotten dirty with sweat and soil and then take a shower.

Painted Daisy

Looks fake, to me, like this painted daisy was not pasted in, it's a straight photo.

Painted Daisy

Painted daisy again-I think the one in the previous photo is one of the ones in the background of this one. I like these early summer daisies!

Bush

Common flowering bush, but the name escapes me. Help?

Rhododendron

Final image to finish post--Rhododendron near deck just started blooming.

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