Eagle Bait at Moore's Creek

Jojo and I got a bit of a late start on Sunday, I was just plain tired from the Lotus Fest, and then we had to move a washer-dryer before leaving. Still it was quite warm when we left about 3pm, so we took our swim suits, figuring this may be the last hot day of summer. So we rode first to Stipp Road, hitting 45 mph down the long steep hill. We stopped at the corner of Stipp & Moore’s Creek and we found that the bay at the end of Johnson Hollow had totally dried up. Jojo tried the water by the shore, but it was warm, and as he turned to come back to shore, the mud held onto his feet, and down he went into about 6 inches of water. I tried not to laugh, but could not help myself. I decided to cross the bay, it looked like the water was deep along the far shore. It was a tough ride across the muddy flats, but we made it to the far side with no mishaps.

Dry bayJojo peddling at the edge of the bayBikes resting on the shore while we swim

I changed and dived into the water, and swam around a bit, it was so refreshing. The water was about 6 feet deep, and much cooler than in the shallows. Jojo soon followed and when we were out about a hundred yards just goofing around, Jojo yelled at me to spin around in the water, I thought maybe a CO officer in a boat was coming to throw us out (it has happened). But no, it was a mature bald eagle heading right at us, he circled, eyeing us as he flew over, then shot downwards, and hit the water a hundred yards from us. He came up empty, took off for the far ridge and disappeared into the trees.

There were some rather odd objects sharing the lake with us this time, Jojo had seen them before, and whether they are fish egg sacs or some plant based thing, they are definitely strange, slimy and gelatinous, with a number of compartments in each mass. The form on trunks or twigs or water plants, what ever is stable for them to latch on to and grow in size. This video shows one that broke loose and was bobbing in the water. If you have a clue to what these are, let me know.

Lake GoobersMitch Swims while eagles flyLooking towards Moore’<p>s Creek

Once we dried off, we started back. We noted how low the water was at the gravel boat ramp, you could almost walk across the lake. As we crossed the Moore’s Creek bridge, we stopped as there was no water in the creek bed other than a couple of algae covered pools. We walked downstream towards the lake and found several large holes in the bank. At first blush I thought it could be beavers, but on closer inspection it became evident they were spring heads that were normally under water. I knew this from the work the EPA did along Conard’s Branch, downstream from Neal’s Landfill, where PCB concentrations increase downstream due to creekside springs.

Almost a land bridge, the lowest we’ve ever seen the lakeMoore’s CreekbedDry Spring in Moore’s Creek

Pine Grove Eagles

Jojo got out early Sunday, I slept in due to a great party at Ken and Susanne’s. So I took the same route as he did, down 446 to Pine Grove. I just got the speedometer working again, it is 10 miles to lake from my house. Eileen drove down and met me there, but not before I heard and then saw a bald eagle fly over my head. We walked around a bit, then pulled out the binoculars, the bay was filled with great blue herons and great white egrets, all walking in the shallows on the other side of the lake, away from the channel that flows past the boat ramp.

We found this yellow flower growing in the damp soil along the shoreline where there is normally water.
Eileen in the wildYellow flower along the shoreBlue fall flower

After Eileen left, I saw this eagle sitting on a stump in the water looking for fish, and he eventually got into the water and waded around looking for fish, just like the herons and egrets. Out on the flats there were little bugs all over the wet mud. I found some heron or egret tracks coming out of the water.

Eagle on a StumpHeron splatHeron on a stump, part of the tree line defining farm fields

Eagle left, heron rightCorn field, Sept 16Sunset shadow along SR 446

Lawrence County Backcountry Ride

Sept 23, 2007

We got going about 9 am, hoping to get a long ride done and get home before dark. We rode down SR 446 to Cutright and stopped their on the other side of the causeway. Needless to say, the water was low and as usual, buzzards were circling overhead. About 40 feet from the water we found catfish bones laying on the stones. There are a couple of persimmon trees that the state mows around, and they were great, as were the flowers in the tall weeds surrounding the trees.

Jojo gets his feet wet
Persimmons by the lake
Catifish bones about 40 feet from the water

Late Summer flowers

We then climbed the hill going south on 446, and I got a shot of the most northerly Lawrence county water towers. I like taking pictures of water towers, they are always at the highest point around, it is usually downhill in every direction! We took the right off 446 at Chapel Hill and went west, then south, down the great long hill to Bartlettsville. We headed south out of town on the Bedford Road, we passed Ramsey Ridge Rd, and then had to twice climb out of the Little Salt Valley, from 500 ft. amsl to over 770 ft. to the broad ridge between Leatherwood Creek to the south and the Little Salt to the north. We stopped there at the corner of Bedford and Clovis Hearth Roads, and took a picture of the intersecting valleys to the northeast.

North Lawrence Water Tower
Bartlettsville, Indiana, 25 cent coffee!
Hilltop overlooking Salt Creek Valley

We then headed east on the newly paved CR 500, It is a great ridgetop ride of about 4 miles, nearly no cars smooth and “flat”. We stopped for lunch in the woods, sitting in the pawpaw patch underneath the oak and beech trees. Once refreshed, we started back east. The road traverses well kept farmland, passed Turner Doll Factory, Gilgal Church, as well as the water tower and baseball diamond at the intersection with the road down to Heltonville (in the Leatherwood Vally). We got to 446 and started back north to Lake Monroe. We climbed the hill (over 200″ of elevation between Hunters Creek and Dutch Ridge Roads, not the hardest we climbed, but we already had over 35 miles on the road, and it was a test, so we took a short break in the pine forest. We then road the ridgetop and sped down the hill, over the causeway, up the hill and home.
Lunch with the Pawpaws
Water Tower on Diamond Road at CR 550 in Lawrence County
Hay field along 446

Hoosier farm with brown fields
Pines in the Hoosier National Forest
Bikes resting in the pine forest

Distance: 50+ miles at about 9 mph with 5 big climbs.
Weather: Warm to hot and sunny.

First cool ride of Fall

Jojo and I left town about 5:30 pm on Friday, and headed into the cooling north wind. We decided to try going straight up old 37 as it was past rush hour, and this worked fine, we had very little traffic. We rode straight through to Musgrave’s Orchard at Hindustan, about 10 miles with 3 medium climbs. After stopping for a couple of moments at Musgrave’s, we went east on Chamber’s Pike, which is a nice quiet ride to SR 37. We crossed the highway, and took Dittamore to Denny, which ends on Bottom, which we took home, it was an easy ride with only one real climb out the Bean Blossom valley. We rode about 28 miles, saw a great sunset and new moon.

Nature Journal: The goldenrod and ironweed flowers are still blooming together along all the roadsides, we also so what looks to be a low growing purple flox, but I need to get a good picture for full identification. A hawk flew out of the woods between me and Jojo, then turned and flew over our heads, leading us for several hundred yards, then landed it on the telephone wires. It was a buteo for sure, most likely a redtail hawk, but we had the sun against us and could not see colors. A little farther down the road we saw a flock of 6 full grown turkeys across a fields, their heads and long necks are an ever-changing lavender gray, they were all the same large size, and on at least one I noticed the long “beard” feathers hanging out in front.

Chambers Pike Water TowerBarn at sunset

Right turn lanes

In Chicago, quite a few intersections have a special bike lane that allows cars to move to the right lane to turn, while bikers have their own lane that runs with the straight through car lane. This eliminates the numerous problems bikers have with right turn on red, it just gets us out of the way. Here is an example in Schaumberg, Ill., the lane begins where the street widens, and is an extension of the bike lane where the road is narrower.

Bike lane with cars turning 2 ways

Here in Bloomington, at 10th and Walnut, we could use just such a lane, I have often found myself trapped in the right lane with impatient car drivers waiting to get around the corner. We would have to paint a dotted line to move the lane to the left, but it could be done here.

Bikes go right, should have a lane to go straightturnlanewalnut.jpg

Rainy Pawpaw Music Ride

Since we knew rain was in the forecast, Jojo and I took some rain gear, though it seemed unlikely at the time. We went down Kerr Creek and cut over the highway, and as there was was not much traffic, we just rode the highway to Brummett’s rather than climb over Byrdie Galyon/Fleener hill. It was cloudy and hot, we started to hear thunder from south we got into the valleys. We stopped to peruse the pawpaw patch we found last year, and it was pitiful, I found only one bunch in the whole patch, and they were not yet ripe. If we go back in a week or two, whatever is there will have been eaten by raccoons and opossoms. The water was the lowest we have seen this year at Brummett’s Creek, there was a pool, but no flowing water.

Way down yonder in the pawpaw patchNot quite ripe pawpawsBrummett’s Creek Pool

As we came up the valley we stopped to visit the Spriggs Family music festival on their farm in a long and wide side valley that reaches back into Yellowwood Forest. Just as we pulled up the long gravel drive to the festival the rain started, so we headed for the hills, which were just across a field. We pulled into the thick woodlands, which gave us time to to pull out the rain gear and cover up. It was gulley washer for sure, and the cars poured out of the parking areas, but a lot stayed as well.

Clouds pile upSpriggs Festival across the fieldRain moves in

The music started up again, not on the stage, but under a picnic shelter. We wandered up through several meadows, talked to a blacksmith, found the mandolin workshop, then headed back, Jojo liked the antique truck and trailer, tricked out to the max. We then headed out and back up Brummett’s Creek, but less than a mile later, the rain overtook us from the south. This time we were lucky to find a lean-to shed roof to hide under while storm dropped wall of water all around us. It let up again and we headed. Just a we were making a turn I heard someone yell my name. It was Jay Record, he and Dan Schaffer were working on his house, right next to Jason and Ange’s. We watched them work and sweat for a bit, then took off. We got to the highway, and though it is a bit longer, we took Mt. Gilead back, the traffic was just too scary with wet road. We finally took a full soaking coming up the hill, but it let off quite a bit when we got to the top. It was still warm, and once you are wet and not cold, it is not so bad. We hit more rain in town, but it felt good and cleansing to ride and not worry about getting wet.

Music at the Spriggs’ FarmHillbilly Truck

Nature Journal:
The day was one of those that hang in the balance between summer and fall, the cool wet finally working to overcome the hot dry we have been living with. The day started as hot muggy, and ended in heavy cool rain, the summer drought broken. I saw a swarm of buzzards circling together over the ridge top just before rain hit.
Roadkill: Chipmunk, Box Turtle

Egrets eating, herons flying, sandpipers scampering, and a kingfisher too.

Jojo and I went to Pine Grove for a quick ride before Meeting, we left at 7:30 from the BBC. It was cool enuf for an extra shirt, it was clear and dry. When we got to the boat ramp, we found four birders with big spotting scopes. We told them about seeing the early tree swallows we saw there in April, and while we were there watching the family of great white egrets, we saw a kingfisher hit the water just in front of us, and then move to wire across the lake to eat his breakfast.

We moved to the other side of the Lotus Flats and explored the flowers up close. Animal tracks were everywhere the leaves and flowers, which rose above the mud.
Great White EgretsLotus Flowers with heron and deer tracksLotus flower heads in different stages of ripening

As I was looking at one of the flowers, and poked my finger in to see what was there, and couple of petals fell off, and I saw a bumble bee had been sleeping there for the the night! He took off, and I got a shot of the seed pod while it was still the same yellow as the petals themselves and just starting to turn green in the center.

Halfway to ripe Lotus podsLotus rises from the mudHey, look who’s been inside taking a nap

Lotus seed pod, what a color!Mud flats nearly across Lake MonroeMitch the Mudcat

Distance: 20 miles
Weather: 60-80 degrees
Nature Journal: Jojo and I played at bird watching, and as we were leaving a couple of spotters came to where we were out on the mud flats, walked over to a small thicket, and then started making what I thought were “owl sounds”.