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.

042

On the trail again….

040

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!

039

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.

037

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!”

061

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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  .

104

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

103

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…

030

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.

043

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!

001

Consulting the eTrex, Garrick is…

002

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.

034

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’.

025

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…

031

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.

017 019

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.

July 22nd & Fairgrounds again

The day dawned clear and cool and we drove to the Fairgrounds and met up with Jill for a supposed easy stroll around the Fairgrounds, Lincoln Park, and Oak Ridge Cemetery again. No lost/stolen wallets to be found today… Jill didn’t bring her water bottle so we didn’t have to shuffle things around in the packs, The Mrs just assigned her one of her two bottles. We went around the horse track areas, cut through part of Conservation World, and walked all the way around The Arena. We were only going to cut across it, but there was only one gate open so we ended up walking the entire inner perimeter. Once we escaped the Arena trap, we stopped to take a picture of this interesting sign!

Jill & The Mrs
Jill & The Mrs

We walked across Lincoln Park, past the horseshoe pits, up through the woods along the Disk Golf course and across the street into Oak Ridge Cemetery through the restored Original Main Gate.

We walked past the GAR Memorial, which I had mentioned in a previous post. I lamented then that a number of the cannon balls had been taken from the memorial…. here is a picture of it from this walk…

004We walked areas we were not familiar with, primarily looking for hills, and Jill brought us to Baby Land. It is so sad to think about… We walked past the Lincoln Tomb, down the hill by the old Receiving Vault, and exited through the old Main Entrance again. We climbed a couple hills in Lincoln Park and returned to the Fairgrounds parking lot to our cars and ended our walk at just about 8 1/3 miles.

July 16th ~ Lincoln Memorial Gardens

This made 2 days in a row for our hiking workout, as yesterday was a moderately long hike followed by a somewhat shorter hike. We drove to Lincoln Memorial Gardens for a fairly easy walk on soft mulch covered trails through woods and along the lake. Believe it or not, our first stop was at the main building for a quick use of the restrooms… Then off we started, making a big perimeter loop (LMG Trails Map) . We had been to a trail walk a few weeks ago led by one of The Mrs’ dearest friends, Erica. Erica had written an historical overview of the Gardens and then proposed to present it as a historical walk to the Board of the Gardens. They approved it, and Erica did the walk  6 times I think. We got to go on the last one. It was fascinating, a wonderful way to get familiar with the Gardens, and Erica did such a great job of presenting her talk. Our goal this day was to walk 5 or 6 miles depending on our pace and the weather… A storm looked to be rolling towards us, but The Mrs’ weather app predicted we had HOURS before the storm reached us.

We tromped the wonderfully soft (compared to concrete/asphalt roadways) paths and worked our way southwest towards the Ostermeier Prairie Center. We went up and down some hills, and through nice shady woods until we reached the prairie grass fields. The OPC is a 30 acre farm that was acquired by the Garden and restored with the fields planted with native prairie grasses. We found a nice picturesque walkway and bridge that crossed the pond …

011 014

The pathway took us past the old farmhouse and a restroom building with picnic tables under a nice shady porch roof. We headed into the prairie field to the north and made a big counter-clockwise circuit of the fields. As we were returning to the farmhouse area, we saw a large beautiful sumac tree.

Sumac tree
Sumac tree

We continued on the pathway past the farm buildings and as we were walking past the restroom building, I told The Mrs I wanted to just check it out… It is a nice, clean,  and modern facility, and the toilet is a composting toilet! I have read alot about composting toilets on my sailing forums, but never got to use one until THIS HISTORIC DAY!

The Mrs
The Mrs

We worked our way back to the Garden trails and continued our counter-clockwise journey. Almost immediately we were rewarded with the serendipitous stumbling upon the Historic Chinquapin Oak tree (a species of white oak). This oak has stood here at least since 1700’s…

The Plaque
The Plaque

Note that the plaque signifies that this tree has been here since the signing of the Constitution of the United States in 1787… How is THAT for cool?!!

The Tree
The Tree

It is noteworthy that one can see the Vachel Lindsay Bridge from this area… The bridge was recently revamped and is quite a nice feature of the lake!

The Vachel Lindsey Bridge
The Vachel Lindsay Bridge

Shortly after we left the oak tree, we could hear thunder rumbling in the distance. We marched merrily along the pathway along the lake shore and discussed whether we would need to put on our rain gear in the “unlikely” event it would start to rain on us since the computer models clearly indicated we had hours before the storms arrived. We decided we wouldn’t need to because the day was getting quite warm, and a little rain would be cool and refreshing.The Lake Trail

And so we walked as the clouds moved in overhead. We followed The Lake Trail until it intersected with Fringe Tree Trail, which would lead us back towards the parking lot. We opted to head back, figuring we had enough mileage and it sure was looking like rain was going to be our reality in the very near future. We had barely gotten headed south again when we began hearing raindrops hitting the canopy of leaves above us. Then the clouds decided to let go of everything they had and we were slogging along in quite a heavy downpour!! We got soaked, but it truly WAS refreshing. We made it back to the van after about 5 minutes of this fun and loaded our wet selves and packs in the van.  We did manage to walk 5 miles, so not a bad day…

Around the Fairgrounds (again…)

July 15th ~ We met The Mrs’ friend, Jill, at the State Fairgrounds for a walk around the Fairgrounds then over and around Lincoln Park. A sunny and pleasant morning, perfect for our shorts & t-shirts gear. We moved water bottles around in our knapsacks so I could put Jill’s water bottle in one of The Mrs’ pack pockets. This allowed Jill to walk unencumbered by a free range water bottle. About 15 minutes into our walk as we walked past a parking lot on the north side of the fair grounds, Jill saw a billfold wallet lying in the gravel between two vehicles. I said something about how a politician’s eyes will ALWAYS notice a wallet (she is mayor of a little town nearby) but I was the only one who laughed… go figure!

The wallet had a checkbook, a few credit cards, no money, a DL, insurance cards, and a business card for the owner. Jill called the owner on her cell phone, and we made arrangements to meet her at the Coliseum where we gave her her wallet. She was thrilled! She said it looked like the only thing missing was cash… Non-traceable, cash is; unlike checks & credit cards. The owner told us someone had stolen 6 or 7 wallets from a number of the horse stall areas while people were working or showing their horses…

We walked back to the parking lot where we found the wallet and walked through it looking under vehicles and in dumpsters hoping to rescue more wallets, but found none. So we finished our big loop around the Fairgrounds and then walked through Lincoln Park into Calvary Cemetery. Jill gave us a tour of some interesting burial sites. We somehow found a way into Oak Ridge Cemetery without having to walk out onto N. 1st Street. We got to see Jill’s plot, situated on a hilltop near the Lincoln Tomb area. We walked past the GAR burial area for 97 Union soldiers of the Civil War who did not have other family plots in the cemetery. I was quite distressed to see that a few of the cannon balls that were cemented into a memorial stack had been broken out of the cement and taken…  We also walked past the Masonic burial grounds and I commented how it reminded me of the Nicolas Cage movie (National Treasure I believe) where he is following cryptic clues that take him to various locales trying to solve the puzzle of where the Founders hid the BIG TREASURE. We didn’t find that treasure either…

We returned to the Fairgrounds because Jill is important and has a job that she has to attend to (unlike me!), and walked her to her car. The Mrs & I decided to continue our walk so we could rack up 10 miles for the day, and as we walked north again through the grounds, I directed us to the west when we got to a sign announcing Barrel Races the Weekend of July 17/18. The Arena was built and opened long after I stopped working at the State Fair, so it was new to me, and I was curious to see what it looked like. There were a number of grounds workers mowing and weed-whacking, obviously in preparation for the upcoming show.

The ArenaWe walked on the nice walkway to the covered Arena and sat down overlooking the huge field. We sat down in the chairs seen below, propped up our feet, and had a break. It was a glorious day!

010

007008After relaxing, we went around to the front of the building. I figured that since we were only a couple days away from an event in this building/arena, the bathrooms would be open for the workers to clean/use.  The Men’s Room was locked, but The Mrs found the Women’s door open. I followed her in, it was dark, no lights… But The Mrs found the switch. It didn’t appear this restroom had been cleaned yet… there was standing water in the middle of the floor, and the seats on the stools were covered in black mold… A bit of hand sanitizer on toilet paper and the seats were usable. I was washing my hands when The Mrs announced we were locked in. I walked over to the door and verified she was right (you doubted her???). When I had entered, I let the door close behind me, whereas, it was propped slightly open at first. So I could see three lock tabs up and down the door, the spring-loaded kind that will snap back and block the door from opening when it closes. I was able to push the tabs away from the frame with the blade of my Scout Knife and yanked the door open….WHEW! 

Once free from our moldy prison, we headed west, then north again, and looped past the Dept of Ag main building and back to the van… We completed our 10 miles, had a wonderful walk, no blisters or even sore feet, and ALL WAS GOOD!