Sunday, June 10, 2018

In Which I Contemplate Shifting Iowa Skies

June isn’t the cruelest month, but it can be the most interesting. Almost exactly 10 years ago—June 13, 2008—the Cedar River crested after it spend days rampaging out of its banks and destroyed a chunk of Cedar Rapids. We were aghast at the power of our usually calm stream, and the whole city came within on functioning well of losing its water supply.

Whole neighborhoods were destroyed and lives upended.

Well, here we are, 10 years later. A slightly short and dry spring has given way to a volatile and rather damp early June—and there are starting to be some flood watches posted for the Cedar River due to heavy rains up north. Let’s hope history does not repeat.

Anyway, while much of yesterday was sunshine, there were also thunderstorms. Today was the day after. I attended church in the morning and then went on a late morning-lunch-park ride with my wife, daughter and grandson.

And then it was nap time. I woke up about 3. My wife had urged me to get out of the house and get on one of my bikes, because I need the training rides. The sky looked a little ominous, but I checked radar and it said I was good to go.

So , by about 3:30, I went. All in all, in a rather leisurely 37-mile ride, I got sprinkled on just a tiny bit, but was mostly dry, and the sky was an interesting kaleidoscope of change. Here is a gallery, in the order shot, of some sky images from the ride today:

Lowe Park trail in Marion, headed west to ball park area.

Nearing Tower Terrace Road in loop in neighborhood east of Lowe Park.

Boyson Road, heading into my neighborhood, before turning down Boyson Trail.

C Avenue headed north from Lindale Trail area.

Emmons and Center Point in Hiawatha. More blue appearing slowly in sky.

Nearing Cedar Lake from the north.

On the shores of Cedar Lake.

View of sun from south end of Cedar Lake.

Northeast edge of lake, looking west.

Noelridge Park at about 7:45 p.m.

On C Avenue bike lane. Lots of  large birds--buzzards or hawks--congregate near broadcast tower in this area.
At Corner of C and Old Marion Road.

Final two images--both looking west over C Avenue pond t Rockwell-Collins.

My ride was in two parts. In part 1, because I had not “Map My Ride” recorded it, I followed the same route my wife and I had ridden last night on our tandem bike. I went out to Lowe Park, rode the trail there, did a loop through some neighborhood streets that led back to Tower Terrace Road, and then returned home via the Boyson and Lindale trails.

The ride, it turns out, was about 14 miles.

I knew I wasn’t done for today—I needed more miles. So I decided the hill challenge was next. I rode up the Bowman Woods Hill on Brentwood Drive from one direction, looped around to the other side of the hill, did it again, and then looped back up another route, going down into a valley neighborhood and climbing back out. All in all, I tackled the hill four times.

That was enough. I next headed west to the Cedar River Trail, stopped at the Boyson Road trail parking lot for water and to eat the nuts I had brought with me, and then headed south to Cedar Lake.

On the way home, I took the shorter route that leads through Noelridge Park, but backtracked a bit to come into my neighborhood via the C Avenue bike lane.

Besides watching a shifting sky, I was impressed by the number of bikes and walkers out on the trail today. It was definitely the “day after,” as a large tree had split in the previous day’s storm, and clearly a city crew had already been at work to clear the trail.

Down by Cedar Lake, I encountered a young couple ripping leaves off of a milkweed plant. Hmmm. Turns out, they are “caterpillar hunters.” They find milkweed leaves with monarch eggs on them, and take them home to shelter and raise the future butterflies. “I have more than 60 chrysalis right now,” the woman noted.

Well, good luck, egg hunters. I don’t think they were hurting the plants—they were clearly only taking a part of a leaf when they found an egg—and it seems they are doing some good.

Between the 8-mile park ride in the morning and the 37-mile sky scene ride in the evening, it ended up as a 45-mile day. My wife told me to break 50, which I did not quite do, but I’ll make that a goal this week, weather willing. One day of 60 miles? OK, 50 is the “hard” goal, 60 is the “stretch” goal, and we’ll see.

Milkweed in bloom near Cedar Lake.
Big limb off of tree north of J Avenue on Cedar River Trail. Clearly, city crews were at work today.

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