Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014: Jacksonville, Ill to Camden, Ill - 54 miles

It was a perfect summer day, except for one issue facing a biker! The breeze! No, it was wind! The 12-15 mph wind was coming out of the northeast and Cal was riding north most of the day, so he faced a head wind almost the entire time!  Headwinds are demoralizing as they slow you down by at least 3-4 miles per hour. The wind was relentless. Cal’s legs really took a beating today pushing against that wind.  Thank goodness the temperature only went up to 80 degrees so there were no heat issues. 

Cal's View - Go Rachel Go

Starting a New Day

More Corn

The Winding Road

A Round Barn
As for me it was another perfect day to have the windows of the vehicle open to hear the birdlife and country sounds. The crops of corn and soybeans continue to look great.  The landscape is beautiful Midwest USA.  At noon I told Cal I was taking photos of ears of corn.  He said, “That is a sign you are bored”. I said, “No, I am just being creative in my photography.”   I also took photos of the flowers in the ditches along the roadside.  The Queen Anne’s Lace (or wild carrot) is in full bloom.  It is such a delicate white bloom.  Then I came upon a Killdeer bird that would not leave a certain area on the roadside where I was stopped.  She just kept returning.  I took a few photos of her and then I realized something was moving at her legs.  I spied two fussy chicks.  It is interesting how they have full coloration already at this point.  I was not bored! Life is just going a much slower pace.  I am continuing to read my magazines too. 

Corn - In Full Tassel

Corn - Silked

Seed Corn Field - Four Female Rows between Two Male Row.

Queen Anne's Lace

Cat Tails

I saw at least 4 Indigo Bunting birds (blue) and several yellow Goldfinches.  I am surprised I have not seen more Goldfinches in that the thistles are blooming – they use the fuzz from the seed to line their nest.   The Goldfinch is the Iowa State Bird, so I may see more when we get into Iowa. 
Indigo Bunting on the Wire
Mother Killdeer with one Chick
Two Killdeer Chicks
Cal Finally Catching up with The Envoy

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014: Atwater to Jacksonville, Illinois - 65 miles

Today was lovely, the temperature did not get as hot as forecasted which was GREAT!  It did get up to 84 degrees, but not 92! Cal rode 65 miles and felt better than he did yesterday at the finish. 

Lush Countryside through the Morning Haze

Small Deer on other side of fence along the Road

Country Road Through the Corn Fields
However Cal did have tire issues today.  He could not understand why the bike was peddled so hard, well the back tire was almost flat!  He changed the inner tube, but it went down again.  This time he patched the tire itself, along with changing the tube. This afternoon after arriving in Jacksonville, the first place we went was a bike shop for a new tire and tube.  Hopefully this will take care of the whole issue.  These tires have lasted Cal a long time – many miles!  

It was another day of seeing lush fields of corn and soybeans, and more soybeans and corn!  We continued on the back country roads meeting relatively few vehicles and riding through a tunnel of corn.  These roads are used mainly by the farmers and delivery services to and from the farms. 

Rural Cemetery in the bean field

Red-Winged Blackbird watching us go by

Beautiful Farmhouse with out-buildings

Barn in the Bean Field
Today I saw a small deer, rabbits, squirrels and of course lots of birds. I like when we go on an overpass so you can look down on the fields of corn that are all in tassel right now.  There is simply a yellow hue over the corn from the tassels.

Riding Historic Route 66 Again

An OLD Barn

A Dove perched on a Decorative Steel Wheel

Corn field in tassel with blooming Queen Anne Lace in the foreground
As yesterday, we drove by some lovely country homes and homestead farms. Then there are some not so lovely places.  It is simply pure agricultural Mid-West America!     

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday, July 21, 2014 – On the Road Again!! Carlyle Illinois to Atwater, Illinois. - 67 Miles

We started from the spot in Carlyle where we stopped last summer.  It was a lovely morning in Illinois. The crops looks great and they have that beautiful deep green color.   
Leaving McDonalds after Breakfast
Newly Baled Hay
Beautiful Farm Reflecting in the Pond
Killdeer Trying to Detract you from the Nest
Newly Harvested Wheat Field

When we were in Australia and New Zealand, people would ask about Iowa or the Mid-West.  I told them, “you will see corn and bean (soybeans); and corn and beans; and then more corn and more soybeans; and then when you are tired of that, you will see soybeans and corn!” That is exactly how we felt yesterday and today, and the rest of the week will be the same. We are in the heart of farm country.   However as I just said, the crops look fantastic and we hope they continue to get the needed rain with no storms.

When you drive along at 20-30 mph you hear and see things you do not see driving at 55-60 mph.  This morning I heard and saw Bob-White along approximately a 10 miles stretch. Also saw 2 adult swans and an immature swan on a pond.  I kept looking for deer.  Yesterday we saw one deer, and neither of us saw any today.  When Cal is riding I go ahead to where we will be turning, and I pull off the road to wait for him.  While sitting there, reading, I enjoy the sound of the birds in the area. I love this silence.  It is not boring for me.    
Bob White along the road

A Hawk Watching us go by

Swan in a nearby lake

Sheep in the Pasture

Lamb with its Mother

We have only gone through towns with maybe a 500 people and this being a weekend, everything has been closed except the gas station – usually a gas station is the only commercial business in town.  Today I read newspapers and magazines, of which I will be doing more! I have a 7+ week backlog of magazines to read! 
Entering Pocahontas
Riding the Historic Route 66
A Vineyard in the Bean Field

An Interesting Name for a Cemetery

All went well today with Cal riding 67 miles.  A very good day! But he was hot and very tired when we stopped.  Since we returned home Cal has been training at least 2 days a week, so he felt he was in fairly good shape.  The high temperature today was in the upper 80’s, and this afternoon the soft tar on these back roads was becoming like glue on his tires.   

Sunday, July 20, 2014 - Mt Pleasant, Iowa to Carlyle, Illinois – Driving to our starting point.

Another week on the bicycle! Another push for the Canadian Border!!
Since we returned home almost a month ago, June 24, 2014, from spending 7 weeks in Australia and New Zealand, we have been in catch-up mode, which at some point switched to preparation mode. Most of the items on the catch-up list were things we would have normally done during early summer, plus while we were gone Iowa had a fair amount of rain, so the weeds had a real hay-day growing where they pleased.  Several of our shrubs had more than normal winter-kill so replacement was in order, and several of the ornamental grasses need to be divided.  Every year we put fresh mulch on the flower beds after the shrubs had been trimmed.  All of this has been staring us in the face since we returned home. I can say after this week that things look great, new planting are in, and the flowers are blooming.  We will need to continue watering the new plantings if we do not have sufficient rain.        
Due to our summer schedule we decided Cal needed to ride his bike from where he left off last summer, Carlyle, Illinois to Mt Pleasant sometime during the month of July.  Later in the summer (Sept) he will continue to ride north from Mt Pleasant, but he needed to ride home first. For those just joining our blog, last summer Cal rode a 1000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to Carlyle, Illinois.  At that point we drove home, due to other commitments. So we have now returned to Carlyle to resume where he stopped last summer.  The Canadian Border is our final goal!!!
Sunday morning, July 20, when RAGBRAI’ers were heading west in Iowa, we finished packing and began our drive south.  We actually were also scouting out the route we would ride north, as while riding in southern Illinois last summer; we had several issues finding ride able roads.  We know that while riding we will actually be retracing our drive today, but it will be at a much slower pace.
We had a good Illinois bike map, indicating the traffic flow on roads.  This map was extremely useful, as we want paved roads, but lightly traveled roads. 
Rachel's Flower Garden