Friday, October 2, 2020

Backing Up Hill


I am writing in a lovely campground overlooking a shimmering lake.  It is morning and I have on a jacket and a quilted vest, but I have moved my computer, tv-tray, and chair out of Lilac to get better cell service and to enjoy the scenery.  Earlier the song birds were singing, but now it is mostly crows making noise.

I can't believe I let so much time and travel pass without writing you.  It just seems like my time has been filled with driving, maintenance, exploring, and visiting.  But some of the gap might be due to procrastination... I don't really know. 

Today I have a pause, a time to reflect and share.  One of the reasons for this is I am not unhooking the camper.  

There are two reasons for that.  One, I am only here two nights and I need to just stay put a day to regroup and rest and write.  The second reason is that where my trailer is sitting is flat, but I had to back up quite a hill to get it there.  

The picture doesn't really show the slant, you can't hear the roar of the van engine as I backed that trailer up the hill.

My van is still sitting on that hill.  If I unhook then I would have to re-hook.  On the flat is is trickiy enough to make the one or two inch adjustments using the gas pedal.  Up a hill I would hate to give it too much gas and ram into Lilac.  So instead, I am playing it safe.  Besides, I need to stay put and it is a good excuse.

For those of you who are just checking in, Lilac is my Weeroll trailer.  It stands for Life Is Living Adventurously Camper.  

To you people checking in from the far future, We are in the middle (I guess) of the COVID-19 pandemic (this is 2020) and President Trump and several in his circle have just tested positive... or so it has been reported. He is a showman and has lied a lot before, so you may know better than we do.

So let's start where I left off...  if you want to know where I am right now, you will have to scroll down to the end, because I am not revealing it just yet.


Historic Jubilee College State Park


Peoria, IL

When I arrived at this State Park I had no idea what this Jubilee College was.  I had thought (and hoped) it was something exciting like one of the first black colleges in Illinois, or first college for women, or ???

I walked over the hilly roads to the site from the campground.  It felt like at least two miles.

It was an Episcopal Bishop that wanted to train ministers to spread the religion in the frontier West.  But he didn't get enough volunteers so instead it was mostly a boys prep school and a school for girls.
I didn't bring money on my walk for the museum so I sat in the garden and chatted with my sister on the phone.  Then I went through the cemetery.  Sometimes you can find interesting tombstones in cemeteries.   This man had two wives for a while, I thought, looking at the dates.  Silly me, sometimes my brain...

I noticed on my walk back to camp that there appeared to be lots of three-leafed plants that could be poison ivy.  I wasn't going to do a cut-through.

I have found that a good way to clean my wash cloths is to, wash them a bit and then set them in the sun.  It bleaches out any mustiness.

The site I had was quite slanted front to back.  I had the toungue all the way down to get close to level.

I called my childhood friend that lived in the house behind ours as I was growing up.  Her sister was my best friend when I was in the neighborhood.  George and I had visited her on our tricycle ride from Illinois to Florida.  I arranged to visit her.

I arrived early before she was home and so I sat in the back yard looking over the valley.  Lovely.

I had a great visit with her and her husband Michael.  While I was there we called her sister to wish her a happy birthday.
Sandy had prepared a yummy egg-plant parmesan for dinner.  We dined on the back patio.  I went in her home, but didn't feel comfortable doing so without my mask.  
Sandy wanted to show me a lovely throw she had knitted and crocheted.  

As I was getting into the car she drew me back into the house to show me the wood carving done by her 92 year-old friend.

When I got back to camp I had left a window open a jar.  It has a screen on it but there is a gap between the screen and the window and bugs can find their way in.  I usually stuff paper towel into the gap, but I had gotten lazy.  There were about a dozen of these big bugs on my curtains and walls.  I think they are stink bugs but I never smelled anything.  I killed and took out a bunch, but kept finding more... on my bed, on the floor, just yukky!
It was a long drive for me from Peoria to Rend Lake, IL.  I used Google maps to find a park to stop at and stretch my legs and do some exercises.  This one had a lake and walking path... and wow, I bike path!

It turned out I had stopped in Marine, IL which is a town at the end of one of the branches of the many trails in Madison County, IL.  Madison County is just east of St. Louis, Missouri and is a good place to visit if you like trail riding.

Remember when I was with Mark and Jane at the Elroy Sparta Trail?  Mark, as I have told you before, started sending out a picture a day in about Mid-March when we were isolated during the COVID shut-down.  Since we are still in the pandemic, he is still sending out pictures.  He sent out these three pictures from our ride on the Elroy-Sparta.  His pictures are so much better than mine, so I am sharing them with you.  Three Photos by Mark Blackman


 Riding Rend Lake, IL

 I met Jane Weber Lewis first via the Ohio Impromptu Trike Riders Facebook group and then rode with her last winter in the Miami area along with several other trike riders.  She started riding trike after she had a stroke at a young age (she is still young compared to me).  The stroke and the trike were both big life-changers for her.  She is living her best life and shines. I camped at the KOA by Rend Lake to see her.  She is a work-camper there.  She took me on a nice trike ride on the trails there. 

A large flock of Pelicans were on the lake.  Jane and I wondered if they were migrating or getting ready to migrate.

We rode about 26 miles.  I only stayed two nights at the KOA south of Rend Lake.  

Tunnel Hill Trail

The Shawnee Forest Campground in Vienna, Illinois is where I stayed in June on my way to Wisconsin.  It is clean and short drive (2 miles) to the Vienna Trailhead

On the drive from Rend Lake to Vienna I stopped to stretch my legs at a park in Frankfort?  The park had at least 10 baseball fields in it.  They must host tournaments.

My first morning in Vienna there was a lovely cloudy mist.  This campground used to be a golf course, so there are cement walkways that were used by the golf carts.  I went up to a beautiful location and did some yoga.
Oh!  Wow!  Sitting here writing this, I just looked up and I see an otter playing on the shore.  Now it is on a log sunning and preening.
At nine that first morning in Vienna, I was scheduled to meet up with Jeannie Clayton.  I met her on Facebook when I put a showt out there to trikers asking if anyone was in the area of the Tunnel Hill Trail and wanted to ride.  I had a lot of fun with her on on the journey north, so I had returned to ride with her again.

She has electric assist on her Catrike 559.  So she bought these nifty, sturdy yet light-weight ramps for getting the heavy trike in and out of her car.
Jeannie's friend, Candy, joined us for the ride.  Though the day started out cool, riding up hill to the tunnel, we warmed up quickly. 
Now, what are the chances of this?  When I finished riding the trail in June, in the parking lot I met a woman just unloading her trike, an orange Catrike Villager.  She was from Missouri and was visiting the trail for the day.  
Well, now it is September and I am riding the trail and who do I see, but Dianne from Missouri!  I gave her my card so she could email and we could meet up to ride.  Later I remembered I gave her my card last time and she never contacted me.  So I guess she prefers riding alone.  But she sure seemed excited to see fellow tricycle riders!
I was telling Jeannie that I had several women interested in renting a room from me.  I had listed the rooms on  I said that if I got a roommate, I would need to move my fridge that I use in the trailer back into the house.  That means asking friends for help or hiring someone because it was too heavy.

Later in the day, I had Jeannie over to my campsite for a roasted-veggie supper.  She brought her collapsible thingy... yes, I am definitely losing my ability to find words.  Scarey!

We rode on the trail in the opposite direction the next day.  This time her friend Pam joined us!  We wanted to ride all the way to the Nature Center at the South
end of the trail.
The nature center was open!  We donned our masks and went in.  I learned that there were two 1000 year old trees that we could bike to!

I told my companions I was going to go see the trees and they could ride on without me.  But they decided to join me.  It was only a mile or so off the trail, out of our way.  We went to two trails but didn't find the trees and then Jeannie saw that her battery was losing power and she better head back.  They went on and I went only .2 miles further to a very mosquito infested trail where I found the trees... at least I think I did.  They weren't labeled.

 I couldn't linger with the tree.  The mosquitos wouldn't let me.
I rode back to Vienna on my own, listening to The Jew Store audiobook.  Ruth Glick and Ann Abeles had recommended the book when we were talking books this summer on the Root River Trail in Minnesota.
Jeannie met me at a El Torito for dinner.  We were the only customers on the patio.  I drank a margarita and found myself staggering when I got back to camp.  I better not drive after a margarita!

Nature Observations

I didn't tell you that on the first day I saw several hiking trails and decided I needed to be here a couple weeks later in the season next year so that I could hike some trails and enjoy the fall colors without bugs and snakes.   
Jeannie had pointed out a Polk plant.  

She said her grandmother gathered the leaves to eat, "you got to get em when the leaves are no bigger than a squirrel's ear."  Don't eat them bigger than that because they get poisonous.   
Jeannie also told me she learned that the juice of ragweed is good for wasp stings.   Though she tried it once and didn't think it helped.  The ragweed blossom I took a picture of was crawling with yellow lady-bug-like beetles.  Unfortunately none of it was in focus.

When we were at the nature center they had a nice display about the Monarch Butterfly.  I took pictures of their flight patterns for their migration.

The Viceroy Butterfly looks a lot like the Monarch.

What is the difference?  Ann Abeles knows.

I have been working on this writing and uploading for a few hours now.  I stopped and made my lunch, actually I made my weekly pot of veggies that I put in jars and use throughout the week.  For lunch I added pesto sauce.
Then I  did some squats and physical therapy exercises for my back and hip.  
Now I am having to move the computer around to get out of the sun.  I have removed the quilted vest.  I am still trying to find the spots where the cell reception is at least two lines.  It is a challenge.

Traveling Toward Hattiesburg, MS

My next meet-up with someone is near Hattiesburg, MS.  So I am traveling toward there.  On October 1st I packed up in the dark and left Vienna while it was still early dawn.  Soon I was telling the map to get my off the interstate.
For a while I followed this truck and tried to figure out what he was hauling.  Does it hold hay up off the ground?  Looks like a door in it...
He turned into a field.  Maybe it does have something to do with hay.  Any farmers out there know?

It was over four hours of driving.  I stopped at a Civil War battle field.

If you like that sort of thing, I recommend this place, Parker's Crossroads.  There was a nice paved pathway with kiosks along the way.  A sign at the beginning said it was about 8000 feet.

I had my packed lunch in a cemetery.  I expected graves for Civil War soldiers, but didn't find any.  Nearby was Buford Pusser Museum.  I had never heard of him so I looked him up with Google instead of visiting the museum. 

Those dang bugs are still appearing!  I found two last night and one this morning!

I am two nights here at the Davis Lake Campground near Tupelo, Mississippi.  The sites are big and the place is very quiet.  The lake is a "no-wake lake". 
I drove about 20 miles on the Natchez Trace getting on at Tupelo.  George and I rode the Trace on our tricycle ride, but I don't remember where we got on or where we got off.  As I was driving it I noticed there is no shoulder and the speed limit is 50 mph and there are quite a few cars.  It used to be a great place to ride, I don't know if it is anymore.
The day is turning out lovely.  Time to go hike one of these trails.  I guess I better call Debra and let her know I am going on a hike and I will text when I get back.  Just in case.

Topping It Off In Wisconsin

 Hello, A special shout out to the three guys that advised me through the purchase of my Ford Truck in May, Jim, Bill and Regis. On July 26t...