mackerel sky and food and cycling

We set out to ride along the Des Plaines River but it was a Mackerel Sky – Never long wet, never long dry. At fifteen miles of rain it was time to turn about and admit defeat and try to get warm. There was a bit of color to offset the drab raining sky.

Chris and some of the lovely maple trees along the river

Chris and some of the lovely maple trees along the river

Once back, we were near Bob Chin’s Seafood Restaurant in Wheeling Illinois where ( we were amazed they let out wet muddy selves in ) and I enjoyed a fine clam chowder followed up by mussels and then finished off with a family recipe for dessert unlike any I have tried. It was pie, with the purple base made from potatoes grown in Okinawa which are regular potatoes with the purple color. It is whipped finely with coconut milk and served on a graham cracker and macadamia nut crust and topped with a layer of coconut with a texture like custard and that topped with whipped cream. It was rich and tasty and not overly sweet.

The perfect dessert, unique and satisfying

The perfect dessert, unique and satisfying

Of all the place in Chicago, Bob Chin’s is right up with the Publican in restaurants not to miss. It makes a day cycling in the rain and mud seem not so bad.


birds

More birds from my favorite youngest daughter. Birds make me happy.

Goldfinch, Woodpecker, Cardinal

Goldfinch, Woodpecker, Cardinal

The gift of beauty
Shared between two hearts as one
Goldfinches bring good luck


mountain blue-bird

If you ride in the meadows of the Big Horn mountains, you might discern small non-descript birds alone or clustered in groups of five or ten along the fences. Nothing much to see until startled they take flight and sunlight sparkles off their wings in the brightest blue.

Mountain Blue-Bird in Wyoming @Megan Webb 2014

Mountain Blue-Bird in Wyoming @Megan Webb 2014

My favorite youngest daughter captured this in her series of birds. She’ll have a series of eight birds out soon. How fleeting and precious are the moments.


iowa, planking, cycling, rootbeer and chicken livers

Iowa was so friendly, and the Wabash Trace so nice that it needs a second post. In Shenandoah at the restaurant called the Depot – you can get a locally crafted root-beer. Rich and smooth with just a hint of anise it was a treat.

Root beer from the Depot in Shenandoah - served in a frosted mug.....

Root beer from the Depot in Shenandoah – served in a frosted mug…..

We stopped at several other nice restaurants, but I couldn’t find one that sourced local Iowa beef, maybe that’s something to find in nearby Omaha which is a larger city, but when I asked the waitress what they recommended everyone said “Onion Rings” and “Chicken Livers”.

Now that's an Iowa onion ring, served at J Brunners

Now that’s an Iowa onion ring, served at J Brunners

I have to admit that all my life I’ve never tried a chicken liver, though my mother a farm girl loved them. So to honor Mom’s memory we tried the chicken livers and they were very tasty.

Breaded hicken livers, mushrooms and provolone - rich and tasty

Breaded hicken livers, mushrooms and provolone – rich and tasty

Maybe this is Iowa foie gras? It was pretty good but very rich.

So, if we’re going to enjoy the table – we’d better do some extra along the trail…

My favorite oldest daughter planking on a break in the trail

My favorite oldest daughter planking on a break in the trail

Well, we can’t let youth have all the fun….

planking on the bridge over the Nishnabotna river

planking on the bridge over the Nishnabotna river

Safe riding everyone!


wabash trace cycling in Iowa

If the Wabash Cannonball still runs, it runs in Iowa along the Wabash Trace, sixty miles of delightful trail in Iowa. The original Cannonball, as legend goes was the death caboose that took the hobos of the depression to a better place. I suppose I’ll defer my ticket till a later date and trust my bicycle along the converted trails.

Iowa is prettier than I imagined with it’s rolling hills and miles of grain. Some of the hills are terraced to conserve the soil, and I could feel the farmer’s love for the land as we rolled along the converted trail, with 73 bridges along the 63 miles and the gentle long inclines that the old steam engines so favored.

The Wabash Trace near Shenandoah Iowa

The Wabash Trace near Shenandoah Iowa

The many bridges span ravines, little streams or the Nishnabotna River…

Across the river and onward....

Across the river and onward….

Pictures don’t do Iowa justice. On the cold blustery day the sky is so blue and brilliant the vistas so large I liken it to the ocean. We a red-headed woodpecker, a black vulture flew overhead and a state where the goldfinch is the state bird has to be just fine.

Every hill has a new vista

Every hill has a new vista

You can hop on the trail at Council Bluffs, and ride the length in a day, the hills are gentle but long and the people of Iowa seem to be friendly. This trail and all the bridges are all volunteer build, so there is a small fee at the trailhead. It’s very worth it to see a piece of history in a great state.


the power of a child

Little acts can change our day. Today I found this in my mailbox.

If I interpret this correctly, in the eyes of a child I'm skinny - what's not to like

If I interpret this correctly, in the eyes of a child I’m skinny – what’s not to like?

It was from Tessa our neighbor’s six year old daughter. I learned a lesson too. Small sincere acts of kindness really do lift our spirits. Thanks Tessa, we’re never too old to learn.

Thanks Tessa, love is infectious, but it's something that's good to catch.

Thanks Tessa, love is infectious, but it’s something that’s good to catch.

Pass it on.


sunrise – cycling

At 6:00 am, the train station is desolate. The streets to the train station are empty and the air is cool. We were soon to be off on the train to downtown Chicago and from there ride our bicycles up along the lake and paths the 120 miles to Milwaukee.

Naperville-station, as isolated as if the zombie apocalypse was upon us

Naperville-station, as isolated as if the zombie apocalypse was upon us

Dawn rises along the tracks and soon enough the ride begins.

sunrise along the tracks

sunrise along the tracks

Every ride is full of wonders, like the scent of chocolate baking along the streets of downtown, or the sea of spandex when our path merged with a woman’s 1/2 marathon. It’s a chance to find mom/pop restaurants like the Mexican place in Evanston where you can get corn meal pancakes and the restaurant is so small that you have to walk through the tiny kitchen and ask the dishwasher move to get into the tiny restroom.

corn meal pancakes - like a corn muffin you can put syrup on - what's not to like ?

corn meal pancakes – like a corn muffin you can put syrup on – what’s not to like ?

Hope you ride your bike to new places and find adventures of your own.


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