Saturday, August 11, 2012

The final 10ish before Ragnar

I haven't been able to join the Clinton running crew since May but given their scheduled 11 miler a week before the Ragnar Great River Relay, Aug. 16-17, I made it priority #1 to get my butt out the door and to the Clinton riverfront by 7 a.m. today. Five of us showed, including our maimed, but spirited leader, Pam, who exemplifies the meaning of "support." Today was her first day off crutches since hobbling over the finish line of the Crossroad's Triathlon last weekend when her knee went crunch/pop/OUCH during the last yards of the 5k. She continues to go above and beyond what the sport/hobby/mental illness of running requires by being the first to arrive and the last to leave, not only at the starting point, but with water and bananas at the midway AND finish. You rock, woman! Now . . . on with the pictorial show!

Having run into some friends along the riverfront, I stopped to chat while the
other three runners kept going. When it came time to cross over the river, I
veered off the rec trail for new scenery. Even though the morning temps were
in the 60s and I was wearing capri tights, this summer's blinding sun and
spirit-killing heat had me automatically seeking  the shade of Clinton's Pershing 
Blvd. where I got to see first hand the damage from last weekend's crazy storms. 

Many trees were lost in the 80 mph winds.

It's amazing how everything seemed so changed! Having been in Wisconsin for
the last week, the weather has dramatically changed here in Iowa. Gone is the 
heavy humidity and sizzling, triple digit heat, not to mention the browned, 
crispy lawns. The greens were gorgeous and the blooms were colorful!

I don't know why trees get me so. Probably because they are
pretty irreplaceable. What was once beautiful symmetry
greeting visitors to this front door is now lopsided and "off."

But rather than focus on the sad, I found plenty of cute out there, too.

Wh, wha, what?!!! A couple of weeks ago, I'd had my kids out on the 
Great River Trail from Fulton to Thompson, Ill., and the three of us
were amazed to see cactus growing wild along a portion of the trail.
I'm guessing it's a perennial in this person's flower garden, too!

Is it just me, or does anyone else see a tree growing in a spiral
and wonder, "What the heck?!"

One of my favorite things about running in town is freaking out the
neighborhood guardians. These two were quite miffed by my presence.
Just look how the left one's giving me the stink eye!

Since I began running in Clinton, I've had an affinity for the Lyons area on
the north end of Clinton. This gorgeous Siamese feline is always lolling in her 
shop window, stocked with various cat couches and toys.

Waking the neighbors! Note the head of the black hairy beast on the left. 
The vigor with which he threw himself at the fence told me
he was hungry for a stinky runner. 

And speaking of stink . . . check out the kybo! Isn't nice to see that the
railroad bosses are thinking of everything.

After climbing the killer hills en route to Eagle Point Park, I stopped to
smell/wheeze the berries . . .

Again, have the leaves always been so GREEN! It seems
like all sorts of colors and hues have been returned to nature!

Not sure how I've missed this sign in the past, but it instantly
had me thinking of the British "Keep Calm and Carry On" signs.

It was mentioned in our pre-run talk that once we entered Eagle Point
Park we could either run with or against traffic. I'm usually an 'against traffic'
runner, but in this park, I've ALWAYS run with traffic. It's never occurred
to me to run opposite within the confines of the park. What a treat! It was
amazing how different the park looked and felt!

The shadow this hedge cast made me think of tiny, little gnomes.

Viewing the widest part of the Mississippi River.

This is another tree that made me think, "How the heck?"
But not only how it grew that way, but how the heck 
have I missed it all these years?!

A fir almost bonzai in nature.

I've been coming to Eagle Point Park since my age was in single
digits and today's the first time I really LOOKED at this obelisk.
Any Dan Brown or National Treasure fans think there could be
some masonic secret being communicated here?
Where's Tom Hanks or Nick Cage when you need 'em?!

Several hydrangia bushes edge the entrance to the park.

This quaint cottage serves as the office for Oakland Cemetery
that, along with St. Ireneaus Cemetery, sits adjacent to the park.

After leaving the park, I opted to remain on city streets and wend my way
back toward the riverfront. I was totally psyched to spot my favorite flower! 
I don't know its name, only that it's a perennial that just springs up in late summer/
early fall. I'd LOVE to grow some of my own . . . if I only knew its name.

Not long after the flower, I happened upon this sparkly ground cover.
Upon closer inspection, I realized it's broken beer bottles! How clever!

It wasn't until I reached St. Boniface Catholic Church, which
was decommissioned and now serves as the Catholic Historical
Center for Clinton, that I noticed more broken glass around Mary.

I loved the homage to the rosary!

One of the two steeples on St. Boniface.

Just south of St. Boniface is The Bicycle Station.

I just love those beak-like adornments!

Even though today was supposed to be an 11 mile LR, I only did half of Eagle Point Park because my knee's been feeling quite well and the short, mean little hills throughout the park was taxing the legs so I did not complete the full 2.5 mile loop through the park. Also, in stopping several times to chat with different people, I forgot to restart my Garmin. Soooo, it's a strong estimate that I banked about 10 . . . ish.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A 16 mile tour of Moose Lake

It's T-minus 12 days until the Ragnar Great River Relay and our team, Masochists in Motion, has been living up to its name: members Greg and Pam have been leveled with injuries and, speaking only for myself, I'm gimping my way toward the start line. In spite of being completely and totally bummed by the absence of these two wonderful people, I'm hopeful Ragnar will still be a memorable experience and that we'll be together on another relay in 2013.

That said, the "injury" to my right knee in Phoenix two weeks ago turned out to be an easy fix, thankfully. After visiting my family doctor, he sent me to my chiropractor before ordering a bunch of x-rays. The next day, my wonderful chiro discovered the right hip was not only way out of whack, but made my right leg a half inch shorter then the other. He suspects it's been out awhile. Grrr. So I've been slowly moving toward longer distances with today's 16 mile tour around Wisconsin's Moose Lake "in the heart of the Chequamegon National Forest" where my brother- and sister-in-law's quintessential lake cabin served as a breathtaking backdrop to a lovely, drawn out jaunt.

The boat access at the end of Moose Lake Club Road.

In the event the knee failed me, I opted to cover the area closest to the 
cabin first and headed away from Moose Lake via Moose Lake Club Road
and then south along Pine Point Road. Taking the short, but steep hill of
Whaley Drive, I was soon enjoying the coast downward past fun, 
kitschy signs and mailboxes such as this.

Coming off Whaley Drive and back onto Pine Point Road, I was able
to catch mist riding off Moose Lake.

Pine Point Road heading away from Moose Lake. This soft, steady incline
was much more forgiving then some of the climbs that lie ahead.

Isn't a morning moon referred to as a Children's Moon?

Pretty flora along Wolf Island Road.

Is anyone else worried about the bee population? I'm happy to document
that bees seem quite active up here in Wisconsin's North Woods.

The fork in Wolf Island Road. The road circles the outer rim of the island
where numerous cabins and homes enjoy lakefront views.

When you turn onto Wolf Island Road, it offers a delicious dive down toward
the island. But coming back up is another story. I approached it as I do 
Davenport's Brady Street: slow and easy.

After reaching the summit of Wolf Island Road and coming back onto
Pine Point, I enjoyed another descent and turned left onto Fin & Feather.
As with much of the roads off the main artery of Pine Point, Fin & Feather
is a dead end with cabin lanes dotting the edges. After a Saturday of rain,
others were eager to be outdoors and I met some happy cyclists
enjoying the out-and-back nature of Fin & Feather.

While much of the Midwest has been drought stricken, northern Wisconsin
has enjoyed regular rainfall as evidenced by the lush forest floor
and backwater areas of Moose Lake.

More backwater coves off Fin & Feather.

From the Pine Point Road bridge spanning the northeast "antler" of 
Moose Lake. A view to the east where Moose Lake is fed by the
West Fork Chippewa River.

The west view from the bridge: the west antler of Moose Lake.

More bright flora along Pine Point Road.

Self portrait.

The head of Pine Point Road off Hwy. S.

Flora along Hwy. S.

More color amid the green . . .

Along Teal River, a small, northern trickle from the West Fork
Chippewa River, was this corn plant!

This is what I love about running. I'm not burdened with my bike or car,
keeping me from getting close to these views!

Teal River flowing toward West Fork Chippewa from Hwy. S.

Lovely lily pads.

The innocence of a deserted little dock off the backside of a cabin near Hwy. S.

I love silly stuff like this!

An historical marker off Hwy. S as Moose Lake Road crosses
West Fork Chippewa River. The bridge was recently rebuilt
(and done so BEAUTIFULLY) and this marker was surrounded
by beautiful foliage and a bench. As I was approaching, a couple
on a tandem bike was leaving. I think the marker is visited frequently.

Gorgeous glads . . .

The depth of color slayed me!

This was a bench near the historical marker, looking out on the river.

The south view of West Fork Chippewa from Moose Lake Road.

Louie's Landing Road veers off Moose Lake Road.

My sister-in-law had told me elk have been spotted in the area! Unfortunately
luck was not with me. Despite hearing of sightings, neither elk nor bear
wandered before my lens.

As Louie's Landing Road drops down to its namesake,
Moose Lake pops from the cover.

The day before on Saturday Aug. 5 was the annual Moose Lake Festival.

The mailbox at Louie's Landing.

I may not be a drinker anymore, but I still appreciate "Hamm's"!

After gaining a few cell phone bars and calling Hubs to tell him not to worry,
I continued along Louie's Landing Road to the bridge at Muskie Rapids.
Again, another example of the freedom to go "off road."

This photo was actually snapped AFTER the next one, but I wanted to provide
better context. This recently rebuilt bridge serves to help control the water
level of Moose Lake as it spills into Muskie Rapids.

Here's the view from the bottom.

The pine-y splendor of the growth along Louie's Landing Road.

Heavenly . . .

While I love my road bike, I can predict a time in the future
when I may crave a mountain bike so the kids and I can
find out just how awesome the trails around the lake are.
I left Louie's Landing Road and headed back toward the
cabin along Pine Point Road where one of several rec 
trails cross the paved Pine Point.

More sweet flora. This I found along the Chippewa River Road 
off the north side of Pine Point.

While the clear cutting to enable phone and electrical service
is pretty sad, I have to admit that the swathes leave some
interesting "islands" of trees.

Even the backwater bracken off the Chippewa River Road was lovely!

A trail of pine cones edge the Chippewa River Road
as I head back out toward Pine Point and the cabin.

I'm thinking a tour of mailboxes are in order! This one I spotted along Pine Point
just before crossing the bridge near Fin & Feather Road.

What once goes down must come up and that's the case with Pine Point Road's
return to the cabin as I lumbered up the hill.

Not all is lost when trudging along with your head down!
While doing so, I spotted some lucky charms!!!

Nearing and passing the turn for Wolf Island Road. I never tire of the lush ferns.

Pine Point's gorgeous canopy as it drops toward Moose Lake Club Road.

Ah! Lakeside again!