Biking the Sangamon Valley Trail, Part 2

by grace on November 25, 2020

Kevin and I went on a great bike ride on the Sangamon Valley Trail on Sept. 16th, our 14th anniversary. It’s a lovely, flat path, and 23 miles round-trip.

We decided to hit the trail again on November 6th and I was looking forward to the ride because it was a lovely warm but not too warm day.

After we’d ridden about eight miles we stopped to take a look at the Sangamon River. Kevin said Glenn knew that a house on the river had recently come up for sale and we talked about how fun it would be to have a house on the river. The house is over there on the far left but almost impossible to see from the bridge.

We reached the end of the trail, 11.5 miles up the road, stopping briefly and then headed back, realizing that the wind had been helping to propel us forward. On the return trip the upstream wind was kind of a challenge to ride into, but still all good.

Until we got back to the bridge that is. We stopped on the bridge again and then cycled to the end of the bridge to a bench.

Well, I cycled to the end anyway. I turned around to see Kevin pushing his bike. “Why aren’t you riding?” i asked. “I have a flat,” he replied.

Oh boy.

Kevin had a few tools but there was no way to see where the hole in the tube might be so he couldn’t fix it and he didn’t have a spare tube.

Now what? Kevin said i should finish last eight miles of the ride, put my bike on the truck and ride back to pick him up. meanwhile, he’d walk his bike a little way. He said I’d be safer riding instead of walking.

This made me a little panicky and I suggested that he could ride my bike and I could walk his, but once again he said it’d be better for me to ride. Because I’d looked up the map on my phone and I’d taken a few pictures, my battery level was low – since my phone is kind of old the battery tends to drain pretty quickly. I asked Kevin how I’d find him and berated myself for leaving my phone charger in the truck, but he said we’d be fine. He gave me the truck keys and off i went.

I got about a mile and a half down the trail and heard a dog in a yard at the edge. I climbed off my bike and yelled over to a woman in the yard, explaining that MY HUSBAND HAD A FLAT TIRE AND I HAVE TO COME BACK AND PICK HIM UP and asked her if there was a road in front of her house.

Of course there was a road in front of her house, because houses are always on roads. I was feeling way too panicky about the whole thing. She told me her address and said that he could wheel his bike through their driveway up to the road.

I thanked her and decided to use my precious phone power to call Kevin. YOU NEED TO GO TO 1335 TOZER ROAD, I said to him. That’s not the actual address, of course i can’t remember it now, but you get the idea. I tried to describe the spot to him – there was a flag and a fence and the house was a beige ranch style.

He said he’d do that and I continued down the trail, convinced that something very very bad was likely to happen to either him or me. Instead of nodding to passing bikes I constantly looked in my rearview mirror, convinced that the next guy riding up to me was surely going to attack me.

Yeah, quite hysterical. One guy riding up behind me was on a single-speed cruiser and i watched as he got closer and closer…and then i was indignant as he easily passed me right by. HOW IS HE GOING SO FAST ON A ONE SPEED BIKE WHEN I’M PEDALING AS FAST AS I CAN???

Sometimes the wind got really strong as I continued my frantic journey. I worried that something terrible would happen to Kevin, but what was I thinking could happen to him?

Finally there was only one more mile to go, and shortly thereafter I coasted to a stop at the parking lot. The lot was completely full at this point and I called Kevin and told him I’d made it back safely. We agreed to meet at the point where Tozer Road came to a dead end. I plugged my phone into the charger and managed to hoist my bike up onto the rack. I’ve never done this and it was mighty heavy, but I safely finished that task and then had to back the giant truck out of the parking space as two cars waited at the lot entrance to fight for my spot.

I’m never good at backing, and I don’t recall ever trying to back up in the giant truck plus now there was a bike attached to the back. I inched backwards an inch at a time, turning and backing, turning and backing, as I’m sure the people in the cars thought I must be a complete moron.

Finally I made it out of the lot and rushed down the road to get to Kevin. By this time it was rush hour and the roads were a little crowded, and he was twenty minutes away. That’s pretty far. But traffic thinned down to nothing by the time I reached him. There he was, pushing his bike down the road.

I was so happy to see him! He was cheerful, telling me how several people had asked if they could help him. A couple of people asked while he was on the trail and then as he sat down at the side of the road a kid ran out of his house and asked if he needed assistance. A couple of guys working on a car in a driveway also offered to help. He always cheerfully replied, “nope, i need a new tube and my wife is coming to pick me up,” not realizing that his wife had worked herself into a complete dither.

But Good Times for Kevin. I was extremely happy that he drove us home because i realized I was exhausted from the furious pedaling and the frantic driving and the general hysteria.

It’s especially good that Kevin had a positive experience because many years ago, before I knew him when he was living in northern Illinois, he was riding his bike on a country road and a gravel truck purposefully hit him, knocking him on the ground and leaving him for dead. Monstrous.

Kevin managed to crawl to a nearby farmhouse where the owner said he could come in but Kevin said he didn’t want to bleed on their floor. He laid on a picnic table trying to remain conscious after they called an ambulance. His shoulder had been dislocated, his retina detached, he had a minor concussion and lots of scrapes and bruises. And the trucker had hit him on purpose and drove off, leaving him for dead…

So this little adventure was good for him, restoring faith in humanity and all that, and good for me, maybe I won’t be such an incredible wuss if this happens again.

It also makes me think about our bike trip in Scotland several years ago, how we were out in the middle of nowhere a lot of the time and it rained almost every single day and sometimes the roads were gravel and the hills were very steep and it’s a miracle that nothing bad ever happened to us back then. But Kevin says he did have a spare inner tube back then, and I’m sure he’ll have one from now on.

And tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I hope you have a safe one.

ok then,



the beautiful trees

by grace on November 21, 2020

I’m pretty sure that every year i post photos of the dazzling red trees over by the university. but that’s not going to stop me from doing it again. here they are on October 25th.

Here are a couple from November 4th when they hadn’t changed much.

But then, November 8th after a few days of strong winds, the leaves were mostly gone. that didn’t take long.

Here’s a couple of lovely trees back on November 4th. they’re at the spencer house, on the way over to the field.

Here’s mom on that same day. i just drove along here today and there’s not one single leaf left. so it goes.

We’ve had a few unexpectedly warm days in November; yesterday i went running in a t-shirt and shorts. It was supposed to be nice last night and we were going to have our last cookout down at the dock but then it started getting cold and rainy in the afternoon so instead kevin took a very long nap.

today it’s gray and chilly but eventually i’ll peel myself up off the couch to go for a walk with mom.

this morning i made a very last-minute decision to go to the store to get some cat food. we’re down to five cans of fancy feast chunky chicken cat food, the one with the green label. the last time i was at the store they were out and this morning i decided i should get some now instead of waiting til monday because by then the shelves would be bare.

i got up at eight and was in the store by 8:45. and bitterly disappointed because they were once again out of chunky chicken in the can with the green label.

i texted kevin to see if he could order some on amazon but they were also out, and he did an internet search and they didn’t have it in stock anywhere. on the Meijer website it said they had it so i regretfully drove all the way to meijer…and none was to be had there, either.

i called kevin and we discussed other options to try for our incredibly fussy and fuzzy kitties. i got an assortment of different kinds so hopefully they’ll eat some of it at least.

i cam home and did another search and i think they’ve discontinued it, but i can’t find those words exactly.

it’s always something.

ok then

saturday afternoon grace although it feels like it’s still early morning.


wrapping up October

by grace on November 17, 2020

Friday October 30th, mom and i walked at Lincoln Memorial Gardens and it was mighty chilly and windy, but the trees were beautiful. We’d put on our masks whenever people passed by but they were actually good for protection from the wind.

Sat. Oct. 30th, I took Les Paul down to the water for a walk and these white pelicans had been swimming around the dock and we scared them. i just read that there are hundreds of them somewhere off the lake in Chatham, so the few who show up here must be more adventurous.

they didn’t fly too far away.

Les, on the other hand…when we take him for a walk we have to carry him down into the yard because otherwise he’d sit under the deck, waiting for birds to hop down and find him. he can sit under there for a very long time.

on this morning he instead sauntered down to the rocks, also another favorite spot.

He kept walking towards Amy and Jim’s house and I called him because the last time I’d taken him he listened to me and climbed right back up on the shore.

This time he just looked at me…

…but then decided he needed to investigate an opening in the rocks.

I was talking on the phone to Bev while we walked and I told her about how Les proceeded to walk along the walks towards the little beach, where i hoped to grab him.

But as I stepped up on the rocks he shot past me and onto the beach, running up into the neighbor’s yard. oh boy. He darted under their dock up on the shore and i kept calling him and luckily he decided he needed to check out their long dock over the water.

When he turned around he had to get past me and that wasn’t going to happen. Whew, as usual. It was kind of a long walk, carrying him back home, especially because he’s not quite as tiny and delicate as he used to be.

And that’s it for October as November continues to sneak on by. I hope you’re keeping safe and not too crazy in these ever-perilous times…

ok then,



the last warm day of the year…

by grace on November 10, 2020

kevin and i have been doing all kinds of projects outside because indian summer is coming to an end later in the day. it’s been in the 70s and i’ve gone running for the the past couple of mornings in shorts and a t-shirt. yesterday afternoon i power-washed the deck and all the splashing water didn’t feel cold at all, plus now the deck looks fantstic.

i have a couple more things to accomplish before the rains starts. it’s predicted for 4 p.m. so that gives me time, except it’s already cloudy. i’m going to clean mom’s gutters so hopefully the rain will hold off.

kevin bought a nifty boat cover to over-winter the pontoon boat in the driveway. the last couple of years we parked it in a building on the New Berlin fairgrounds but when the pandemic began last year there was some consternation that they might close the fishing ramps and we wouldn’t be able to launch the boat before they did so.

that didn’t happen, but i’m happy that now we can launch the boat whenever we feel like it in the spring – there was only one weekend in may where they’d let us get our boats out, and i had to call the guy in charge many times to persuade him to get them out early.

if this cover works out, it’ll also save us money. it took a very long time to put together the shell on October 25th. the instructions were very sparse it was really difficult to connect the pieces.

whew, the shell was ready to go. it seems very stable and we have confidence that it’ll survive however much snow and wind we have over the winter.

next, we unfolded the giant tarp. the brand is called “navigloo,” like a navigable igloo. it seems sturdy.

inside the boat as we had to move the poles around after securing the cover.

Mom and i helped with the project, and when it was done Kevin and i wove ropes under the tarp to secure it to the trailer. we started in the back, covering the motor, but when we got to the front there was a gap.

kevin said we could shift the tarp and scoot all the straps forward to close the gap, but we were too tired to finish that day.

we planned to do it a couple of days later but kevin finished it when i was gone. not that he didn’t appreciate our help, but i think he’s content to do it all himself.

even though the tarp seem strong it might not last all winter, but hopefully it’ll survive at least one. we can always replace it but maybe the structure will last a long time. we’ll see.

and that’s it for this morning as i’m about to leap up and go for one more jog in my shorts.

ok then,



running and painting near the end of October

November 4, 2020

first of all, Kevin replaced the second bearing on his truck yesterday. the first replacement took a day and a half and the second only four hours. soon he’ll be replacing the mysterious bearings all over the place. On my October 25th jog I decided to run out on the road and then cut back […]

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more happenings in October

November 2, 2020

the white pelicans are back and as usual i keep trying to get a good close-up. this one on october 16th wasn’t too bad. the problem is that when i walk down to the water they start to quietly glide away. Kevin bought and assembled another component for our kitty condo and now it’s wider […]

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Mostly Riley in October

October 31, 2020

First, to clarify – my last post had a photo of Kevin on the sailboat wearing a lovely lavender t-shirt from bev and wrote that she got it for bowling. yesterday she informed me that she’d bought a bunch of them for a line-dancing performance she did last September, and had given Kevin and me […]

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ricocheting from one thing to the next…

October 24, 2020

i can’t say why i’ve been so productive lately. On Friday it was, indeed, really warm outside and I dug up most of my gerbera daisies but when i was done putting them in pots i realized i’d missed a small one and decided that enough was enough, and that one poor little flower could […]

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October 22, 2020

this might be the last warm day of the year; it’s already 63 and it’s supposed to get up to 81. tomorrow the temperature is going to plunge throughout the day and rain is in store, so if i’m going to get stuff done today i need to get going. but here are a few […]

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Kangaroo Kitty

October 20, 2020

I have plenty of photos for October but right now i just have time to show you this incredibly funny photo of Riley. Kevin took him for a walk in the back yard on Sat. October 10th and Riley bounced in such a comical way… it’s now the crack of 11:23 in the morning and […]

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