Thursday Doors – The Critter Cottage

I have two doors to showcase this week… They are from a log cabin B&B (The Critter Cottage) The Mrs and I stayed at on a trip to the Marthasville, Missouri area. The log cabin was an original 1 room structure built in the 1800’s that was carefully disassembled and reassembled at its current location. Here is The Mrs standing on the front porch…

The Critter Cottage B&B
Outhouse at The Critter Cottage
Outhouse at The Critter Cottage

This next door could be considered the most important one – the door to the Outhouse! To be honest though, there was a modernized WC inside the cabin that we used….

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. It is courtesy of Norm 2.0

The Critter Cottage



Day 2 of Backpacking Ramsey Lake

I was planning to finish this posting about our Ramsey Lake trip yesterday, but it was a crazy busy day…. in the morning I ended up weeding the garden, plucking hornworms off the tomato plants, and moving the perimeter fence surrounding the garden a bit further away from the garden beds to stop the deer from leaning over the fence and eating the tomato plants. There was a moderate breeze blowing across the lake and I really wanted to sail, even if only for half an hour, but just no time! My free time was only available until about noon, at which time I had to get ready for an appointment with my ophthalmologist. The visit went GREAT! Eyes healing well, and vision in right eye is now 20/25… considering that it was 20/BLIND just a couple years ago, I would say it is miraculous! Downside to the visit is the dilation drops… We got home, I lowered all the blinds in the living room and wore my sunglasses to try to get comfortable. Eventually I went to bed and napped a couple hours, but my eyes did not return to normal until late evening, much too late to start blogging… End of excuse.

Sunday morning, Garrick & I broke camp (in record time, especially considering we were drinking coffee and swinging in our hammocks) and stepped carefully out of our bramble patch and headed to the fire road which then lead us to the horse path which would lead us back to the parking lot next to the horse campsite. On Saturday, we had counted 8 horse trailers at the horse campgrounds, and saw maybe 5 riders total throughout the day. We did not anticipate any horse traffic this morning since the path we were headed on was a minor trail.


On the trail again….


That is just the coolest spider web!

Once out of the woods, and on the trail, we rounded a bend. We were talking and laughing, just making noise in general. Coming towards us we saw three horses and riders – a woman on the lead horse, a child, maybe 4 or 5 years old on the middle horse, and a man on the 3rd horse. We drifted to the right side of the trail in a single file, but continued to chat. One of us scuffed a foot as the lead horse stepped from bright sunshine into the shade. The horse wheeled around clockwise and the woman rider landed on the ground. She held onto her reins though! The horse with the child, and then the horse with the man both wheeled around dumping both the child and man on the ground. The man kept his reins and the woman grabbed the reins of the child’s horse. And then the little girl started to cry, although she was not hurt…. just scared/startled. I told Garrick to just stand still until the riders (now grounders??) got themselves and their horses back in order so we wouldn’t startle any of them again. After a couple minutes they called us to go ahead and pass. We asked about the child, and offered an apology, and the man and woman were friendly and said the lead horse was just startled, not expecting to see walkers it seems… The remainder of our walk was uneventful after that!


This is Garrick back at the horse camp parking lot. Note that his rucksack does not extend either above his head nor past his sides. My ruck is exactly the same. I point this out because one of Garrick’s co-workers told him that the reason the horses were startled is because they did not recognize us as people because the packs towered over our heads and around our sides. Nice theory, I guess… reality doesn’t support it though. I think the lead horse went from very bright sunshine to deep shade and heard a noise ahead of it but could not see clearly because its pupils were still constricted.


TSV still there, ready to hit the road…

We stopped at the Ranger Station to check out and got to chatting with Ranger on duty. He mentioned that they never get backpackers at the Park, just horse folks, or people with campers or tents who roll up in their vehicles. He then told us that the only other backpackers any of the Rangers remembered were there a few years ago, and it was two guys in homemade buckskins carrying old flintlock rifles. Garrick got a twinkle in his eye, smiled broadly, and told the Ranger, “That was me and another friend of mine…” Funny how the Rangers still talked about those two crazies, and now they have another story about crazy backpackers to talk about!!

We drove north from Ramsey Lake on US 51 to Pana, IL.  This is a little town of just over 5600 people. As we drove into town we saw a good sized park… with a CANNON! Garrick asked if we could stop, I said, “hell, yes!”


Kitchell Park, Pana, IL

Japanese captured artillery piece

Kitchell Park (40 acres in size) was given to the town of Pana by Civil War Veteran, Captain John W. Kitchell and his wife, Mary, in 1908. It was listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1992. What a glorious park!

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We drove from the park and stopped nearby for a cup of coffee and to use the FLUSH toilets! Back in civilization!

Finally, a word about the 2016 Olympics…

19 year old Competitive Shooter.
She won the FIRST gold medal of the 2016 Olympics.
She won the FIRST gold medal for Team USA.
She is the youngest female to ever win the first medal in Olympic competition (ever).
She set a NEW WORLD RECORD with her winning score.
Congratulations to Ginny!
In 2007, I trained at the US Olympic Training Center to be a Foil Fencing Coach. The training was fantastic, the other coaches and athletes I met were great, the Center was awesome! Since then, I have taken great pride in the dedication of our Olympic athletes…

Birthdays, Backpacking, & Olympics…

I wonder if I can adequately cover the three topics introduced above in a relatively concise posting…. sure hope so, otherwise I will bore myself!

Last Thursday, August 4th, Billy Bob Thornton, my buddy Garrick, and I all celebrated our birthdays. Billy Bob couldn’t make the party here in Springfield, so Garrick & I had to party on without him! My celebrations lasted for a couple days, which is funny because I really am happy not spending too much energy getting excited about another birthday. Nevertheless, I got a fair pile of loot, including Dr. Who stuff, Deadpool stuff, Archer stuff, socks, boat stuff, camping stuff, and…. a WOOBIE !!! Here are two links that pretty much cover everything there is to know about a Woobie:  Military Perspective   Civilian Perspective  .


My new Woobie!!! It is presented tastefully in USMC Woodland Marpat and  Coyote pattern. And below is my other loot haul!!


Not bad considering all I asked for was a Back-hoe, preferably one with metal tracks… And just for the sake of disclosure, this stuff was all given to a 59 year old guy!

Let’s talk about backpacking for a moment now. I haven’t backpacked seriously since I was in my twenties, the last time probably being when I spent 10 days in the Colorado  Weminuche Wilderness backpacking. I have camped and hiked and traveled a lot since then, but that was the last time I packed everything on my back and took off on foot. Until this weekend. My buddy (and adoptive brother cuz we adopted each other) Garrick & I decided to go backpacking at Ramsey Lake State Park, which is about midway between Pana and Vandalia, Illinois off US Rte 51. We had been preparing for a few weeks, getting gear bought, or found, and organized. Coordinating food and water supplies. And we both decided to try Hammock Camping, which meant we didn’t need a tent, just a couple trees each. And a camping hammock. Garrick bought a hammock and a separate mosquito netting add-on, while I bought a hammock with an attached netting… We did a trial set up in the back yard a week or so ago, which motivated us to change the hanging system to a strap system because it would be less stress on the tree bark. Here we are in our hammocks at Ramsey Lake…


Ramsey Lake !  Saturday morning I drove over to Garrick’s just after 8 am in the TSV (Tactical Scooby Van), we sat and had a cup of coffee. Well 2 or 3, and chatted merrily away and then hit the road at the crack of, hmmmm 10-ish or so… I had already programmed the GPS for Ramsey Lake so we drove merrily along doing whatever the GPS told us to do until we got to Taylorville and stopped for coffee and a quick potty stop. All seemed to be going well until the GPS started taking us on very small and mostly unused little two-lane paths… The ranger at the park later told us that for some reason GPS devices are notorious for adding 6 miles to the trip from Taylorville area to the Park. We finally got to the Ranger station at the park about noon.


We checked in at the Ranger Station, paid for my overnight camping fee (Garrick gets to camp free cuz he is an Army Vet), used the flush toilet, then headed out to park the TSV at the Horse Campground area. In no time at all we had our packs on, and Garrick started to try to figure out the Garmin eTrex GPS. He does like his toys! The Ranger had given us a route suggestion that kept us off the most used horse paths, and would guide us into some quiet wooded areas, so we took his suggestion and between the eTrex, our maps, and my compass … we were golden!


Consulting the eTrex, Garrick is…


Minnows in a small, clear creek in case we run out of food…

004We did encounter a fair bit of mud on the trail from recent rains, but fortunately, very very few mosquitoes!

A couple miles in and we got off the horse path and onto a walking path. We stopped to enjoy the butterflies fluttering among the wildflowers. We walked another 30 minutes and stopped at the top of a hill, in the shade, for a light lunch. We both brought tuna salad snack-boxes (a 3 ounce can of tuna and 6 crackers – 23 grams of carbs) and I brought a couple packages of fig newtons and pureed fruit/veggie pouches. A perfect light and nutritious trail lunch!

According to the GPS, we hiked a bit over 3 1/2 miles, although it was pretty hilly, so we didn’t break any land speed records. We found a nice wooded area a little distance from a fire road and walked into the brambles looking for some trees sturdy enough and spaced just right to hang our hammocks.

So we spent a little time clearing the brambles from under our hammock areas, hung the hammocks, then settled down for a quick cup of coffee.  I could have easily fallen asleep and taken a long nap! But we needed to do some more training with the eTrex. So, leaving everything but water and some snacks, we headed back out onto the trail. We logged a couple more miles on our “training hike”, and found some brackish water along the trail, and some potable water to refill our canteens.


This is NOT the potable water, believe it or not…

By the time we returned to our campsite, we were hungry and tired. Fortunately, supper consisted of a package of dehydrated camping food…. Mexican Style Chicken & Rice. Just needed to add boiling water, which was easy because I brought along my “SoloStove“, a great little stainless steel wood burning base unit with a 60 ounce water pot on top. It is amazing how fast we were able to boil water using just twigs and small sticks for fuel! (This is a wonderful present The Mrs gave me last year, thinking we could take it on our Wales hiking trip. We opted to only take folding Esbit stoves for that trip, because all we needed to heat was water for our trail-side afternoon tea… and 60 ounces was a bit of overkill…)

{UPDATE: 8/13/2016 – Garrick was so impressed with my SoloStove that he just bought a smaller version of mine and is on his back deck right now boiling water for coffee for his bride and himself with it!}

We finished eating and cleaning up by 6:00, and I think I fell asleep around 7. I think it was 7:30 when I awoke enough to zip my mosquito netting closed, tuck my woobie under my head for a pillow, and started snoring. By about 1:30 am it was getting quite cool, so I got up, found my sleeping bag, and crawled back into my hammock cocoon, wrapped warmly up in the SB and my woobie. I lay there listening to the incredible cacophony of the various insects and owls owning the nighttime with their sounds. I slept soundly until about 6:30 am or so.

Sunday morning… quiet, cool, the woods gently brightening with the sunrise. I got out of my hammock, set the billy to boil, made coffee, and we sat in our hammocks just chillin’.


We had a simple breakfast of golden oat biscuits and clover honey sticks, followed by a couple handfuls of trail mix (the kind with cashews, raisins, and chocolate! YUM!) We were in no hurry, so we drank coffee and told stories for a while, then we both decided it was time to break camp. Taking down and packing the hammocks & sleeping bags took all of about 6 minutes…

We eventually got our packs closed up… Oh, the packs! I forgot to mention that we had each weighed our packs before we started this adventure. Garrick’s with water in his camelback and side pocket bottle tipped the scale at just under 30 pounds. When The Mrs & I were walking the Wales Coast Path, my day pack was about 25 pounds, with water. Well, my medium ruck, with water, scaled out around 48 pounds! When we were sitting around in our campsite, I was comparing our respective equipment to see where I carried so much more weight… Food, first aid gear, and diabetic supplies. Don’t want to run out of food on the trail so have lots of quick carb snacks & glucose tablets. And carry two extras of everything for the insulin pump and blood glucose meter. And I want enough emergency first aid stuff to handle anything that we might encounter on the trail… I don’t pack my EMT gear, but I come close to my First Responder kit… I took pictures of my gear for comparison based on used and not used on this trip.  I will discuss that in my next posting.

So I’ll wrap up with a photo of the little path we came to as we walked out of our bramble patch to head back to the horse trail and then back to the TSV… more tomorrow! Olympics get to wait too…


Memories of Veddw

It is a cloudy, drizzly, and earlier this morning, foggy day, plus I am fighting the cold that is floating around, sooooooo… it is a good day to sit at the computer and reflect on our trip to Wales last August. I had started doing a chronological recap of our trip, but got so busy with other things that I stopped  after writing about our trip across the pond by ship. The Mrs has been keeping up with the journey on her site, and has posted a few entries about our visit to Veddw, an extraordinary garden located in Monmouthshire, Wales, UK. I feel motivated to jump into MY reflections about this day of trip even though I am due to write about our hike on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path…

When The Mrs & I decided last year that we wanted to spend a walking holiday in the UK, we finally settled on  somewhere in Wales (I have ancestral ties there but had never been there). And we started walking seriously (sorta) to get conditioned for our upcoming hike. I also started researching the internet to find out everything I could about hiking in Wales. And I came across the blog of a gentleman who had extensive experience hiking in Wales… Charles Hawes – Walking The Blog. I contacted Charles with many questions about the “best place” to hike in Wales and what equipment/gear would be suitable for our trip. In the exchanges back & forth, I felt I got to know Charles well, and appreciated his candor and wisdom. Turns out he and his wife, Anne Wareham, live on a property called Veddw, and they have created a wonderful and unique garden space on the property. The Mrs & I discussed visiting Veddw during our holiday after viewing their website, and we both felt it was REQUIRED!

So, after we finished walking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path over a period of a week from Dale north to St. David’s, and then 4 days in Ireland. On Sunday, August 23rd, we visited the Gardens at Wyndcliffe Court, near Chepstow and Tintern first thing in the morning, in a fair bit of drizzly rain… We had tea and cake in the wonderful Tea Room, snuggled up nicely next to the fireplace.860


The Mrs next to a sculpture…

Then, we headed off for Veddw as the sun broke through the clouds…


They have their very own highway directional signage!!!

The Little White Car is our Wales rental car… Note the high-tech signage … I think Charles posted that just for us, knowing that we Colonials easily  get lost & confused…


First view of Veddw… and the view they have of the countryside is below…


I took 32 pictures of Veddw…. hardly enough!!! But The Mrs took bunches more (plus video) and she is posting photos on her blog (here) . I will try not to post duplicates of her pics… and I am not going to post all 32, either. I may refer to her pics in some cases (kinda like back-story, or He-said/She-said).




The reflecting pool… so COOL!!!! Anne discusses the challenges of getting the reflection to “work” in her book, The Bad Tempered GardenerSpeaking of her book, we bought a few copies of her book while at Veddw and had her sign them (some for gifting, some for keeping!)  I love the interplay of the organic curves of the hedges and the linear boundaries of the pool and paths…


The recurring poetry of the curve of the hedges echoes throughout the garden…



The Mrs had a couple pictures of the thistle plants on her last posting, and said how much she loved these… But in her photos you couldn’t really get an idea of the SIZE of these plants… as you can see, they are much taller than she is!!

I love this little pebble/water bowl with Charles’ and Anne’s names on the rim….


One more endearing photo of The Mrs….


And finally, a picture of Grace with Charles as we were saying our goodbyes…


At one point during our visit, it started to rain and so I scurried down to the house and sat on the sun-porch with Charles & Anne chatting while The Mrs continued to wander the garden taking pictures…  Charles then invited us to stay for tea, and I graciously accepted.  I assumed he actually meant tea, although from my time in Australia, I knew the in the Queen’s English, tea usually refers to dinner/supper.  A little while later, Charles said he just wanted to clarify that he meant just tea, not a meal, and explained that one time he had invited some other folks to stay for tea, but they expected the full tucker! I told him it was understood, and we were more than happy to just have tea… and biscuits!


It was then back to our B&B,  Parsons Grove Holiday Cottages

Finally … and it’s only July 1st


Sunrise over Lake Springfield… and the Miss Mollie mast is stepped, and already The Mrs & I have been out twice. We went out for about 2 hours yesterday afternoon, and it was lovely!  So after 2 years of vision impairment issues, I am back to being able to participate in my hobbies/interests.


The Mrs at the helm whilst I mess around doing seemingly important , ah, STUFF!

And since I am discussing boat things, I ordered a new sail for the Hilu from Neil Pryde Sails and when it arrived this past week, I installed it… hmmmm…038

TOO BIG! it is about 12″ too long for both booms. I contacted Neil Pryde Sails as well as another sailing company I have dealt with, and it turns out the sail rig on the Hilu is for a Minifish, not a Sunfish. So NPS was happy to swap my Sunfish sail for the correct Minifish sail for the cost of shipping.  More than fair I would say… That’s it for boat stuff for now…

Next on my lists of Back To Fun Activities, is my participation in the 114th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry. The flag lowering ceremonies at the Abraham Lincoln Tomb resumed, and I once again able to march in formation and fire my musket for the Tomb ceremonies. This is one of the really cool activities of Co. A of the 114th. Co. G of the 114th is a competitive group of us who shoot our Civil War era firearms (and/or replicas.) Last weekend we competed at the Sandy Ford shoot just outside of Streator, IL. I came home with 2 First Place ribbons and two Second Place ribbons. Pretty danged good for having to learn how to shoot all over again after 2 years of blindness issues (sorry for the bragging!)


And here is a picture of some of the guys from the 114th on the line…. except for me as I was taking the picture.


So, all in all, a good start to the summer. And today I plan to clean the gutters!!! Just for fun of course….

Blue Water Days

I will make this entry of our trans-Atlantic voyage a “broad brushstrokes” overview. The Mrs will do a more detailed (and interesting daily summary I am certain) on HER BLOG… As a side note, her blog is currently undergoing a major upgrade, which it has been due for a while, and her techie guru, Gary in UK, is hard at work to make it incredible…

We were aboard the Queen Mary 2  from Tuesday August 4th through Tuesday August 11th. The only major SCHEDULED events we had to adhere to were the mandatory ship safety meeting at 5 pm on our first day on board, and evening dinner in the Britannia Dining Room at 8:30 pm. We chose the 8:30 time slot because we intended to go to the Formal Afternoon Tea each day @ 3:30, and between the finger sandwiches and scones, we needed a few hours to make room in our tummies for dinner! All other meals/eating and activities were purely subject to our whim…

Nils guitar
Nils guitar

On-board activities we participated in included listening to lectures on the Magna Carta, opium, and Howard Hughes. These were separate and unrelated topics, btw! We also attended a concert by a wonderful classical guitarist, Nils Klöfver , a Swedish guitarist living in London. We bought a cd of his, from him, after the performance.

The 7th level has a promenade deck, and three laps of this deck is 1.1 miles around. We walked the deck most days. Just cuz this is a walking blog, here are the basic stats of our walking while over the Atlantic.

Just anothern warm & sunny day on the Atlantic
Just anothern warm & sunny day on the Atlantic
Another sunset...
Another sunset…

Aug. 5 – 3.3 miles. Sunny & warm.

Aug. 6 – 2.2 miles. Rain.

Aug. 7 – 2.2 miles. Sunny & warm.

Aug. 8 – 2.5 miles. Partly cloudy & warm.

Aug. 9 – 3.3 miles. Sunny & warm.

Aug. 10 – No walk today (packing day). Overcast and warm.

We arrived in Southampton, and we disembarked the ship at 10:15 am…

Our first task was to take a taxi to the Hertz car rental to get our waiting Ford Fiesta. Next stop… we call it  SIMPLY RED‘s House….

Grocery detail ! Sept 13

We have been home just a week and finally, today, Sunday, we hit the point of NEEDING GROCERIES! Grace’s sister, Amy, had done a quick stock-up for us so on our return we would have milk & creamer and some meals ready to pop in the oven, but today I faced the sad truth that we desperately needed some more essentials. Like laundry detergent, and margarine, hazelnut coffee, and cookies/fig bars!!! Oh the Catmanity!!!

Soooo…. The Mrs had to work today (she has a meeting in Peoria) so I found myself sitting at home herding the kitties and contemplating the lack of hazelnut coffee and fig bars. Finally I got motivated enough to put shorts & t-shirt on, pull on my hiking boots, and head out the door to go shopping at WalMart.

I walked through the soccer fields at UIS to avoid having to walk on the roadway to get to South 11th Street. While The Mrs & I were stumbling around Wales & Ireland for the month of August, UIS installed what they labelled a Challenge Course on the grounds of the Spencer House and along the perimeter of the fields. Interesting!!Ch course

Challenge sign

So the first part of my 5.5 mile walk was on the grass and fields of UIS. It was a warm sunny day, perfect actually…. Just like everyday in Wales! I continued through campus until I got to 11th Street and headed north. Nice walking this area is… sidewalks on both sides of the street, 2 lanes each direction, mostly fields to the left and right…

11th Street, Springfield
11th Street, Springfield

The walking here was smooth and level and I was having a great stroll. Before I knew it, I was at the front door to the South 6th Street WalMart. I looked at my watch and it was exactly 46 minutes. When I got home (just under 45 minutes on the return, I entered the route into MapMyRun and it put me at a total distance of 5 .5 miles and about 3.3 miles per hour.

I spent about 30 minutes picking up the essentials, checked out my 14 items, packed them all into my hiking knapsack, and headed home.  Here is a photo of everything I bought… although I see I had already moved the bananas and I had gotten a bottle of water at the checkout and drank that on the way home…. and so the empty bottle was already in the recycle bin.

Grocery essentials
Grocery essentials

G, if you are reading this on your smartphone… note I bought you CHOCOLATE Belvitas!!!!!

On my return trip, I took a photo of the UIS sign at the corner of 11th & Hemingway Drive. This sign was installed years after I had graduated from UIS…

UIS sign
UIS sign

Preparations for Blue Water time…

We are starting to organize our trip logistics including snack items and boredom deflectors.  Amazon has proven to be a really great source for finding packaged food items that we can carry in our packs and/or pockets for a quick carbo boost. And at reasonable cost. This is important as:  1) I am a type 1 diabetic wearing an insulin pump, and 2) our hiking trips will be pretty much done all day in countryside without passing through any towns/villages.

One new item I just tried is an Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze by Munk Pack.  I read about these on another hiking blog and thought they sounded just about perfect. I got Apple Quinoa Cinnamon. Ingredients are pretty simple:  oatmeal, apple, apple juice, flax, quinoa, cinnamon, & citric & ascorbic acids. 19 carbs (3g of that is fiber), 2g protein, 80 mg potassium.  I like the flavor, it is easy to pack, and easy to ingest. These are going in my pack! And I checked the UK regulations to make sure I can bring with me… No Worries!!!

Munk Pack... yum!
Munk Pack… yum!

I have finished the arduous task of selecting reading material for the transatlantic voyage and the down-time during our hiking.  Eight books made the final cut. The toughest part now is not reading them before we travel!!!  The first two at the top of the list were written by Jean Reinhardt, an Irish writer I met through mutual blogging.

Jean's first 2 books
Jean’s first 2 books

These are historical novels set during the time of the Great Hunger in Ireland and afterwards. Some of my Irish ancestors came to the States at this time, so this holds a special fascination for me. I bought these copies on Amazon, and they are also available on AmazonUK. Jean’s 3 other published books are also available, which I intend to purchase after I read these first two.  Our Ireland walks will be a couple hours north of Jean’s location, so I will have to wait for our next trip over to get her to autograph my copies!  🙂

The Bad Tempered Gardener
The Bad Tempered Gardener

This next book is by a Welsh author, Anne Wareham, with photos by her husband, Charles Hawes. I found Charles first as he is an avid hiker and has a great blog about hiking in Wales. He has been my “answer man” throughout our struggles to organize our trip to Wales. Anne is an accomplished author on the subject of gardening, and her gardens (Veddw) are open for tours. We will be visiting their gardens on our trip!!  I am hoping to convince/cajole/bribe Anne into autographing my copy….

Enough about books… I was hoping to take the Hilu out on the lake today, but storms were threatening early this morning, then as the temperature and humidity rose, the wind petered out to a galeforce of 2 mph.  Now it is clouding over again, and the radar is indicating more rain.  I guess I might try to mow the lawn instead…

Watching the skies, and no wind...
Watching the skies, and no wind…

Caught up, July 24th…

3rd day in a row to walk, which is good and right on schedule.  Our first 3 days in Wales will be walking days, then a rest day.  I am hoping to walk five days a week within the next few weeks to get well above the demands of anything the Pembrokeshire Pathway has to challenge us with.

We again got up early and had coffee/tea and cereal. I was feeling a bit sluggish until I put my boots on, then I felt excited and energized! That is a neat thing… So out the door and headed down the road before 8 o’clock. No driving today, just walking.

029We walked around the UIS soccer fields, up and down a couple hills there, across the sunny grass fields….

UIS woodsWe did a big loop around the fields, then along the woods/fields perimeter on the west edge of campus, then over to LLCC campus. We started aiming for shaded areas as the sun rose higher and the air warmed up. We walked under a line of shady trees east of the stadium, then past the Prairie Restoration area. We followed the shade past the LLCC Child Care Center and saw two men intently walking around what looks like a golf practice tee-off area… lots of astroturf on top of a cement footing it looks like, and a long wide open field beyond that…

026 028

That took us back towards the soccer fields and Disk Golf course where we walked along the treeline seeking shade until we got to the woods path just west of the Spencer House. We use to walk our dog, Mollie, through those woods sometimes up to 6 days a week. The path use to be pretty clear and both the The Mrs and I could run that path. Now it is pretty overgrown and even walking it was a bit tough in spots!

We got home in just under 2 hours and credited with 6 miles of walking. I think we have earned a steak dinner tonight!!

Heavy dew = wet boots (outside)
Heavy dew = wet boots (outside)

July 23rd – Another day, another cemetery…

Overnight temperatures had dropped to the low 60’s so we both got up early, I cooked up some healthy steel-cut oatmeal w/ raisins & craisins, restocked our snack pockets in the packs, and drove to Lincoln Memorial Garden. Our plan today was to make a “warm-up” loop around the perimeter of the Garden then head south to the KOA Campground. The Mrs uses Map My Run on her iPhone to track our course mileage and times, which works okay most of the time. This morning, 30 seconds into our walk, it suspended its tracking and it wasn’t until we were over half way around the perimeter loop that we realized what had happened. oh, pooh…. So we completed our first loop, stopped at the Main Building for a potty-stop, then did another loop so we would know what our distance was… No big deal! The Garden was awash with children who, once they got out in the woods, were hootin’ & hollarin’ as kids do so we were glad to finish the warm-up laps and headed out to the road in search of Brunk Road. Brunk Road is almost right at the property line between Lincoln Memorial Garden and Villa Marie Retreat Center.

008We took Brunk Road east to Lake Service Road, then south on LSR to KOA Road. Walking on LSR we went past a Morgan Horse Farm on the west side of the road, and an old ruin of a big old brick farm building on the east side. A little research enlightened me that this is the Brunk Farmstead  aka Cotton Hill Farmstead. The Farmstead was posted to the National Register of Historic Places on December 17, 1999. In 1893, Joseph Brunk established a Morgan horse line named the Brunk Line, one of the more influential lines it turns out! The Morgan horse breed is honored as the First American Horse Breed!!

As we walked along KOA Road, we came to the intersection with Brunk Cemetery Road. I asked The Mrs if she would like to check it out and she agreed. We walked along the road which at one point had been paved over with asphalt, and was now a mix of asphalt, crumbled asphalt, and dirt. Our exploration took us to the gates of the Joe Brunk Cemetery.

Brunk Cemetery Road

Joe Brunk CemeteryAt the time we knew NOTHING about the Brunk story or family, other than they have a road and cemetery named after them. We decided we should look for the biggest and oldest looking grave-marker to find the Brunks… It didn’t take us too long to see a promising marker in the northeast corner of the cemetery. We wandered that direction, stopping to read numerous tombstones along the way.

George BrunkIt was George Brunk III’s (1804-1868) grave marker we found, well, George and his 3 wives. #1 – Mary Boyd (d. 1847); #2 – Eliza Armstrong (d. 1860); #3 – Emily Talbott (d. 1903).

Geo Brunk

Just to the west of the Geo. Brunk family plot The Mrs pointed out a marker for a member of the Civil War unit – 114th Illinois Volunteer Regiment, Co. E.  Near that was a marker for a Revolutionary War veteran Thomas Royal, who also fought in the War of 1812. I am a member of the 114th Illinois Volunteer Regiment, Reactivated (Co. A & Co. G) so I feel a special affinity to the  past members of the 19th century 114th…

114th Co ERev War Vet

It appears, from the sources I have at hand, that Thomas Royal was the 2nd husband of Eleanor “Ellen” McCue,  the widow of George Brunk II. I’ll have to return to this cemetery to do more research!!!

We returned back down the hill and road to KOA Road and marveled at the beautiful assortment of native flowers, and the standing water in the ditches and fields to either side of us. It was quite pretty almost the whole way to the campground.

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The KOA is a nice campsite, the sign was easy see!!!The Mrs at KOA entrance

We walked around the campgrounds checking it out, then went into the office to get a cold drink and chat with the owner. She told me they have been busy since Father’s Day weekend, which they are quite pleased with. We wished them well, and headed back down the road back to the Lincoln Memorial Garden.

deerWe got back to the Garden and decided on another perimeter loop was in order to wrap up the day. It was much quieter now, the children were either snacking or sleeping or gone or some thing or another. We came upon a doe and her fawn… They walked up a pathway to the left, we took the path to the right.

Our last mandatory event was to stop at the 1787 oak tree and pay our respects and take a break on the nearby bench enjoying the great breeze blowing in off the lake. After a snack of fig bars and water we walked back to our car and clocked out with 8 1/2 miles under our feet this day.