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Posts Tagged ‘outdoors’

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Hey Adventure Foot readers!

You must be wondering what I’ve got on my docket for the first half of 2013! Okay, maybe you were and maybe you weren’t.  But I’mma share the list with you anyway.  The important thing to know about these events is: YOU are invited!   So hop on a bike, lace up your shoes or grab a paddle and follow your Adventure Foot this year!

February 2013

Feb. 16     Fight for Air Stair Climb, Springfield, IL- to benefit the American Lung Association

March 2013

March 30      Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon or 10K, Lexington, KY

April 2013

April 6      Allerton Trails Half Marathon Monticello, IL or 10K to benefit Make a Wish Foundation

April 6     Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon, Springfield, IL (I’m not doing this one, but if you’re looking for a  nearby half marathon that’s affordable, you should check this one out!)

April 13     Race for HOPE 5K, Palmyra, MO  To raise awareness of suicide risk.

April 20     Abe’s Mini or Sprint Triathlon, Lake Springfield, IL

May 2013

May 4  Quad Cities Bike Club Tailwind Century

May 11/12  TOSRV– Columbus, OH to Portsmouth, OH and back. Tour of the Scioto River Valley- Century or half options each day.

May 18     Bridge the Gap Quincy, IL  5K, 10K and Half Marathon to benefit Med Assist

May 25/26     Pedaler’s Jamboree  Columbia, MO  Bike on the Katy trail for two days… with lots of live music!  I’m actually planning on pedaling the entire Katy Trail this weekend- but I’ll catch the Jamboree in the middle section.

June 2013

June 8/9  TOMRV– Starts in Bettendorf, IA 2 day cycling event with Century or shorter routes. Read blog from last year! 

 

As always, all of these events can be found on my events calendar.

Other things, both big and small, I hope to do this year:

 

  • Explore Maquoketa Caves State Park

 

  • Ride Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park

 

  • Ride my bike to Mark Twain Cave and get them to let me explore “off tour.”

 

  • Kayak.  A lot!  And get people to kayak with me.  And enter another kayak race.
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Baby it's cold outside!

Baby it’s cold outside!

I had a conversation with myself recently:

It’s cold outside.

Well it’s winter.  What’d you expect?

But I wanna go for a bike ride!

So go for a bike ride!

But it’s so coooooooold!

Suck it up! You’ve got a hat!

…And that conversation went on in my head for about a half an hour when I finally gave in and decided that I’d bundle up and try it out.  My hubby aired up the tires to the Dream Machine while I put on 2 Under Armor Cold Gear shirts, a pair of medium weight tights, a pair of fleece pants and a pair of wind pants (Yeah, I wore 3 pairs of pants.  If I had some fancy cold weather tights, I would have done that.  But I don’t, so I layered.)   I also donned a neoprene face mask, a fleece ear wrap, my helmet, 2 pairs of gloves, and my new neoprene toe covers. Oh, and my coat.

I’ll admit: it was a lot of work.

A picture I took of an eagle a few days before this ride but in the same area.

A picture I took of an eagle a few days before this ride but in the same area.

But then I rolled my bike out passed my snow covered lawn onto the slightly-icy street, hopped on, took off towards the river, and was immediately glad I’d talked myself into going!  Afterall, the day was sunny, and most of the ice was confined to the edges of the streets or occasional bad corners, so it wasn’t that bad outside. Once I reached the river road, it was smooth sailing and I cruised along.

I decided to ride a route most Quincy cyclists would be familiar with- the Knaphide Loop- and it was a great choice for the day.   I spotted no fewer than 5 bald eagles, probably a half dozen red tail hawks and even a triplet of kestrels all out hunting.  One of the red tails had a fish so big in tow that he couldn’t seem to make it higher than a couple of feet off the ground and occasionally had to land in the field and rest.  I followed him a while.  He really didn’t like me so close, but then again, he wasn’t going to leave his prize either, so he tolerated me for a while.

The 34 degree weather didn’t bother me much.  In fact, when I was heading North, I was almost overheating. I especially enjoyed my double pair of gloves.  I’ve been putting a pair of rubberized football receiver gloves over a cheap pair of cotton gloves and they’re just the right combination of wind-proof and warm while still being nice and thin.

Here's a picture of the complete get-up. Stylish, I know.

Here’s a picture of the complete get-up. Stylish, I know.

By the time I turned back to the South, a pretty decent breeze had picked up (an aside: can I ever go riding on the bottom road without a South wind!?!??!) and for the first time I felt a little chilled.  To combat the cold, I just pedaled harder, and before I knew it I was back in town.  I even stopped at River Skate, Quincy’s new outdoor ice rink, to say hello to my friend Chris before heading back up the bluff hill towards home.

It was a great solo ride and I was happy to get outside and enjoy the day.

What I learned is that it’s sometimes more work to talk yourself into going out the door on a cold day, but just like any other day, you’re going to be happy you found a reason to say YES to your Adventure Foot.

2012-milesThis little bike ride happened to be on December 30th and was my last bike ride of 2012.  It made my total miles this year 2504.  That’s well over double my 1230 miles registered in 2011 when I started this whole cycling thing.  As a matter of fact, that’s like leaving my house, biking to San Francisco then taking the coast up to Portland.  My 2013 plan? I guess I’ll just keep on riding.

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Ice skating on Quincy’s riverfront. I know what you’re thinking: I’m very graceful. 🙂

It was 60 degrees.

We were ice skating.

Outside.

And it was AMAZING!!

This past weekend, my husband and I had the opportunity to check out Quincy’s newest outdoor attraction, “River Skate.”  The business, owned by Quincy natives Chris and Marion Dye, opened last week on the Quincy Riverfront.

Romantic skate-date!

River Skate is much what you’d expect from an outdoor ice rink.  Patrons are greeted by a friendly staff at a cute wooden warming hut where they can rent hockey-style skates in all sizes and pick up Pepsi, hot chocolate or snacks.  The staff is happy to help you find the right size skates and even help the kids get laced up and moving on the rink.  There are benches to change into your skates and to tuck your shoes underneath.

There’s just one major difference between River Skate and your average outdoor rink- it’s that River Skate has no ice!

River Skate employs a unique synthetic ice surface called Super-Glide.  According to the press release, Super-Glide is, “A specially engineered polymer and lubricant, with precise production methods and an innovative assembly method; which come together to make Super-Glide® an almost magical synthetic ice surface.”

But the real question was: how would the synthetic ice feel to skate on?

The answer: it was great!

Justin was the best skater there… until a 7 year kid old showed up… 🙂

Justin and I laced up some freshly-sharpened skates and stepped tentatively out onto the surface, and after the first ten feet I could tell that River Skate was really on to something great.  The surface felt smooth and unbroken and just like regular ice.  The synthetic surface even peels up a little around your skates and creates a sort of synthetic ‘snow’ that clings to the outside of the blades.  To this untrained skater, there was no noticeable difference between this surface and an ice rink.

Well, that’s not true. There was one noticeable difference: I wasn’t cold!  It was gorgeous outside and we were skating in t-shirts!   Quincy’s climate just isn’t consistently cold enough to freeze an outdoor rink, and refrigeration that’s required of regular ice is both loud and expensive (besides, where would you get a Zamboni in Central Illinois??) so synthetic ice is a great fit for this area.

Justin Gangnam Style Skating

Justin and I really enjoyed our afternoon on the ice.  It’s an innovative use of Quincy’s riverfront area and the Bayview Bridge makes a photogenic backdrop for all the fun.  I loved that the rink pipes fun music out while you skate- you should have seen Justin skate Gangnam Style…!

There were maybe 15 other skaters on the rink when we were there- a good mix of kids and adults- and more arriving when I was finally worn out and ready for some lunch.  Owner Chris Dye explained that there are going to be some great theme-night skates coming up, and that the regular hours will also be expanded while kids are out on winter break.

I hope everyone gets the chance to go down to the river and experience this new Quincy adventure!  It’s inspiring to see a pair of local entrepreneurs bringing a unique activity to this area and to help develop Quincy’s riverfront.  If you’re going, give me a call… you know, I gotta go work on my double axel…  😉

Owner Chris Dye shows off the great new hockey style skates. Patrons are also allowed to bring their own skates (any style) provided the staff checks them for safety first.

WHAT: River Skate, Quincy’s First Outdoor Synthetic Ice Rink

WHERE: Clat Adams Park (Quincy Riverfront between the bridges, or kind of in front of Kutter’s Bar and Grill)

COST: Only $3 for kids and $5 for adults.  Includes skate rental and admission. Concessions available at additional cost.  River Skate accepts cash and major credit cards.  Punch cards are also available.

WHEN: Normal hours of operation are Wednesday through Friday from 4:00 pm until 9:00 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 pm until 9:00 pm. River Skate WILL be open for Thanksgiving from 4-9 pm.  For complete hours visit http://www.riverskateqcy.com/events/

PRESENTED BY: Title presenter is Refreshment Services Pepsi.  Also presented by Rokusek Design, ABNG CPAs, First Banker’s Trust, Quincy Medical Group, Town and Country Bank, Heetco, Quincy Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Rupp Rental, Mercantile Bank and Blessing Hospital.

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A sky that is hard to describe (from Andrew’s Bald in the Smoky Mountains)

My favorite kind of sky is the kind which, if I were to paint it on canvas, people would remark that it was just too colorful to be realistic.

I follow my Adventure Foot out the door for lots of reasons, some of which are easy to put in to words.  I like to get healthy, make friends, stay busy, visit new places, and be part of an active community.  Other reasons I follow my Adventure Foot are harder to describe.

After being caught in a storm, which is hard to describe. (Near Hull, IL)

There’s something hard to describe about kayaking quietly enough in the backwaters of the Mississippi River to get up close to a Great Blue Heron.

There’s something hard to describe about putting your head down and running through sleet when most people skipped the run and are warm and dry in their houses.

There’s something hard to describe about viewing the stars hung in a clear sky on a crisp night while standing on the flanks of a far flung mountain.

A day on the Mississippi, which is hard to describe.

There’s something hard to describe about the ornery way a friend smiles when he deliberately paddles a canoe the opposite way in which you’re paddling the same canoe!

There’s something hard to describe about cruising my bicycle down a hill where the golden evening sun has lit the tall corn through the summertime haze.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re a follower of my blog, you’ve read about a lot of the things I’ve done in the last year or two, and I’m frequently asked why I am so busy all the time and why I feel the need to write about it.  All of those easy to describe reasons are true- health, friends, community- and they’re all great benefits of a life of activity.  The better reasons though, are all of these millions of tiny moments where the everyday turns spectacular and that the only way to describe them is, “I guess you had to be there.”

My husband and I on a hike in the mountains… which is hard to describe.

I write about these places because I feel like it’s really important to help other people find their own moments that are hard to describe.  It doesn’t have to be some huge expedition- it can be (and often is) just a regular day.  If you’re out exploring the world, you’re sure to see an amazing sunrise or two, to spot a bear or a beautiful bird, to share a laugh on a lake or make a story about being lost in the woods or caught in a storm.  Adventure Foot is about inspiration to find inspiration.  Ironically, it’s about giving you ideas about how to get away from your computer and explore the Midwest and beyond.

Do you spend a lot of time daydreaming about going on a vacation and seeing the sunset over the ocean?  I’d put it to you that a sunset over a Mississippi levee is no less awe-inspiring.  Get out and explore the Midwest.  It’s great… though it can be hard to describe.

PS- Have you had an adventure trying something you learned about on Adventure Foot?  I’d really, really like to hear about it!  There’s this wonderful “Comments” section below… I’m just sayin.

PSS-  Enjoy this great cartoon by Adventure Foot contributor Jamie Green!

Cartoon by Jamie Green for Adventure Foot!

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Photo by Brandon Glasgow of humming birds at Siloam Springs State Park. There are feeders in the parking lot by the boat launch area with many hummingbirds always around!

This Saturday is National Trails day, and I’ve got good news if you’ve a mind to get out on local trails: the weather is going to be beautiful!  Sunny, highs in the 70s- a perfect day to follow your Adventure Foot!

Deer Run Trail runs near open prairie lands and is great for birdwatching!

There are many, many good trails at every state park in the area, but I wanted to take a minute to highlight Siloam Springs State Park.

The 3,323 acre park was purchased in the 30s and designated a state recreation area in 1940, but underwent major improvement in the late 1990s.  The park provides ample ideas for fun- there are great shelter houses, a playground, around 12 miles of hiking trails, campsites with restrooms, showers and electricity or primitive campsites, 23 miles of equestrian trails, and a large lake which is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, rainbow trout and more (you need to purchase an Illinois fishing license with trout stamp before fishing at the park.)  At the lakehouse, you can rent canoes and row boats very affordably.  There is also bait and tackle for rent.  The park is only about a 30 minute drive from Quincy or a couple of hours by bicycle if you’re in the mood for a nice long (65 mile round trip) ride!

Great Blue Heron at Siloam Springs State Park

I had the opportunity to visit Siloam last weekend, and was once again reminded how wonderful outdoor recreation close to home can be.  My husband, my friend Clint and I headed to the park in the very hot weather to spend some time on the lake.  We brought along a kayak (important note: if you bring your own kayak/canoe/boat you must have a current IL sticker to use the lake) and also rented a 2-person canoe.  The canoe cost $8 per hour and included lifejacket rental.   We had a nice time paddling around the lake and exploring each shoreline.  I especially enjoyed seeing wildlife including several great blue herons and lots of turtles!

After our paddle, we headed out to Crabapple Trail. This trail traverses 1. 5 miles of woodland, crosses a creek, and has neat outcroppings of limestone every so often.  It’s also one of my favorite trails in the springtime for mushroom hunting.   If you’re looking for a nice easy hike that you could do with a family, Crabapple trail is a good one to try.  It starts and ends in the parking area by the lakehouse, so its location is ideal.

Emerald Jewel Wings are common around the lake shore.

Mmm marshmallows! There are great campgrounds at Siloam Springs!

Another good route to try, especially for groups of adults or those with older kids along, is a combination of the Deer Run, Hoot Owl and Old Village Trails.  Deer Run Trail picks up at the Ranger Station and heads past some open prairie and down a moderate hill to the main Springs area. The prarie area is a great place for bird watchers- there are purple martin boxes and I’ve spotted indigo blue buntings, many types of finch and woodpeckers and even Baltimore Oriels in this area.  When you get to the end of this trail you’re at a great little creek.  I highly recommend fossil hunting in that area!  There are lots of shells, snails and crinoid fossils to be found in the creek bed.  After fossil hunting, you cross the park area and pick up the 1.5 mile Hoot Owl Trail.  This trail goes steeply uphill for a few hundred yards but is fairly easy after that.  I like it because it’s got the best view of the valley in the park, and also a dense stand of pine trees where I always spot deer or red tail hawks.    When you exit Hoot Owl, cross the county line and the bridge and, maybe after a stop for a picnic lunch at the shelter house, go find the Old Village Trail.  This short trail will take you up the bluff and back toward the Ranger Station where you started.  The whole loop ends up being 3-3.5 miles and will give you a great tour of the entire park.

I hope you get out and enjoy some trails this weekend.  Remember to keep our parks clean and leave no trash behind.   If you’d like to read more about another close-to-home State Park- check out this blog from last year about Cuivre River State Park in Troy, MO (1.5 hours from Quincy).   For more info on Siloam Springs including campsite fees, hunting regulations and other amenities, click here!

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