Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dr. Jim's sign

I noticed recently that Dr. Jim's sign has his phone number on one side but not the other. Maybe he ran out of "4"s. Or perhaps he does not want people coming from the west to call him.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

RayOVac Platinum Rechargeable NiMH Batteries and Charger

I got tired of buying the expensive lithium batteries for the camera so bought these a few months ago at WalMart.

The charger came with 2 AA and 2 AAA batteries. It was <$15. I bought two packs of 4 AA batteries as well. Each pack was $7 or $8.

This is what the WalMart website says about these batteries.
•Low Self Discharge technology
•Batteries hold their charge 3x longer than standard rechargeable batteries
•Platinum batteries are pre-charged and ready to use right out of the package
•Batteries can be used in any device and in any charger
•Ideal for high-drain devices

I did not try to use them out of the box. I recharged them all first. I think the package claimed 60% of the charge remains after a year on the shelf and can be recharged 300 times.

I have been using them in my digital camera. I replace the used batteries with freshly charged ones after each use so the batteries are always fresh. Recently I started using them in my Garmin GPS. Also gets replaced after each use, although since I have only 10 AA batteries I don't have a set to rotate through both devices and have to recharge some before replacing the 2 in the GPS. I think next time I am at WalMart I will get another pack.

I numbered the base of the batteries to make sure I rotate them in pairs and even out the use.

So far so good. They only take a few hours to recharge. You have to recharge them in pairs but being as they are always used by me in pairs, that does not bother me any.

There is a red light for each pair that comes on while it is charging that pair. The red light goes off when it is done charging. One time one pair the red light turned off and the other pair the red light was blinking when I checked it. The instructions do not cover what a blinking light means. I just unplugged the charger and plugged it back in and it seemed to charge normally.

They are not the expensive Eneloops, nor is the charger one of the expensive chargers that are out there, but for my needs, these seem to be working fine.

The instructions claim the charger works with both NiMH and Ni-Cad style batteries.

I am not currently using the AAA batteries for anything.

ETA 12-1-11
I posted a link to my review on an forum. there was some discussion about these  batteries that may be useful. I don't know how long the link will work. has a goofy system of storing older posts.

ETA 12-3-11
I was going to try some Duracell white tops that are purported to be Eneloops but WalMart did not have any today. They only had black top Duracell NiMH batteries that are not of the low self discharge style, so I bought another pack of the RayOVacs to use with my GPS, as the Li batteries in them gave up the ghost recently. $10. Don't know if they went up in price or if my memory of what I paid before was faulty.

ETA 12-13-11:
In addition to using them in my camera, I am now using them in my GPS. My GPS has a setting to select what kind of batteries are being used, so I selected NiMH. I have not had any problems since switching from disposable Li batteries. I change them out after every use, just like I do with the camera. Yesterday the GPS was on for over 6 hours. Still had 2 bars left. Don't know quite what that means. But it had not discharged to the point where the device refused to turn on the backlight, which is when I was changing out the Li batteries previously. I rotate the batteries in pairs through the devices in whatever order I happen to change them, so I am not using any particular set with either the camera or the GPS.

ETA: 12-26-13
I have had good luck with them so far. No real problems to report. I even found a use for the AAA cells. I put them in the outdoor sensor for an indoor/outdoor thermometer. They lasted longer than the batteries that came with it. We got the thing about last Christmas.I don't recall doing so but my wife says I changed out the batteries that came with it before installing the NiMH AAA cells in it. I think it was back in the summer some time. They just quit the other day. I recharged them and put them back in.

I have noted that they do not do well in extreme cold. I had some in the camera out in the car recently in near zero temperatures. They just did not work. They seem fine above 15 or 20F though. The ones in the temperature sensor seemed to work OK during the extreme cold of late so maybe as long as they are being used they will work in the cold. The ones that would not work in the cold seemed to work OK once it warmed up and I have not observed any issues with recharging them.

ETA: 03021-14
Bad news on the AAA cells. It appears one of the AAA cells that was outside in the cold this winter failed. It won't take a charge.

Recent stuff including Wilma's Xmas Picture

I took this photo of the new door at Logli's. I have been wondering what they are going to put there. Now I know.

Wilma in her Christmas costume. She is not anywhere near as tolerant of being dressed up as Woofie was.

More road construction video

They were out today installing pavers in the rain. Getting desperate to finish as the end of the year rolls around.

The road crew installs pavers in front of our driveway today - a Sunday.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Belleville ICW Boots Update

Update to

No complaints about them. They are comfy, warm, and held up well, and are waterproof. A bit heavy maybe, but they are cold weather boots.

Walmart Faded Glory Boot Socks Update

Update to

I have to rate them as pretty good. They have held up to daily wear. They are warm enough when it is cold, but my feet don't sweat excessively when it is warm out. I have found them comfortable. One sock shows some wear.

Update on Columbia Trail Meister Hiking Boots

update to

I rate them as pretty good. They held up well to a lot of use since July of 2010. The soles show a lot of wear. Maybe they are worth having resoled.

Atwood Park 11-26-11

I emailed the Rockford Park District not long ago and asked if there were any hiking opportunities in any of their parks, and if so if there were maps available. I got this response back from someone that works at Atwood Park.

"There are 334 acres of hiking trails out here at Atwood Park, 2685 New Milford School Rd. We have trail maps (see attached) and the park is open to the public. We have a north and south side to our park, separated by the Kishwaukee River. There is oak/hickory forest, a restored prairie, marsh area and a quarry. It is also quite historic, as Atwood Park was the site of the Camp Grant rifle range during WWI and WWII. There are still remnants from that area (target pit, bunkers, trenches) as well as several structures built by the CCC. An additional attraction is our Birds of Prey area that is housed just down from the main lodge. We have a bald eagle, owls, kestrel and a turkey vulture!"

I don't know if that means there are no other places with any trails in the RPD or not. In any case, this is a place well worth going to for an afternoon or morning hike.

I got my chance today. I missed the quarry and marsh, and the remnants of Camp Grant the email mentions. Maybe next time. It was precipitating the whole time, either light rain or drizzle, but neither Wilma nor I melted. We both got pretty damp. My jacket is not waterproof, not really even rain resistant.

The birds of prey exhibit is OK, but I think I would prefer to see the birds of prey flying about instead of caged up. Perhaps they are birds that have been injured. The red tailed hawk we saw looked like he might have been injured. I especially liked the turkey vulture.

This is the site that was once an army camp - Camp Grant. There are signs about every ten feet it seems warning of possible unexploded ordinance.

There is an obstacle course up by the lodge. They don't call it that. Something more PC like "challenge course". Don't recall for sure.

The trail system is pretty extensive. Mostly well groomed and pretty well marked. If you have a trail map and pay attention (like I didn't) you can't really get lost. There are some trails not on the map, along with what I now realize are firebreaks through the prairie areas.

There are some informational signs out on the trails but a number of them have faired poorly in the weather, and are not readable anymore.

We did 4.5 miles (per Mr. GPS) in just about 2.5 hours. A nice leisurely pace. We could have probably gone another 4 or 5 miles without repeating trails (except at the river crossing). A fair amount of grade change along the way as well.

I saw few people in the park. Possibly due to the weather. We ran across a single hiker along the trail and saw one car moving along the park road at the entrance we unintentionally went to. A couple of people at the birds of prey exhibit, along with someone I took to be a bird keeper.

I kind of had in mind walking around the perimeter of both sides of the park but as you can see I got sidetracked a few times. I made a wrong turn onto a trail and headed in the wrong direction and was not paying enough attention to even notice until it was real obvious. This is in a park with marked trails and a trail map. The other day I was in a place with no trails and no map of any consequence, and managed to not get lost. Got to pay better attention to what direction the trails are going.

I was getting pretty wet so I cut short our excursion in favor of going back to the car and breaking out the thermos of coffee I brought with us.

I don't recall seeing any bathrooms there. I will have to email them and ask them. Maybe there are some at the lodge but it was closed today.

ETA 11-28-11: I got this reply back from the Park District.
"No bathrooms this time of year - only during summer months."

Menards Guidesman SS Water Bottles 2 pack

Not all that much to say about these. I have seen them there before right by the entrance. <$4. I don't think they were reduced for Black Friday.

They came with split rings and carabiners attached to the cap. I did not like the noise they made flopping around and are pretty useless IMO so I removed them. There was a warning that came with them that stated the carabiners should not be used for climbing.

I washed them out after we got home yesterday from the Black Friday festivities and tried one as a normal water bottle. Worked OK. My only gripes are the size and that you can't use them one handed since the lid has to be unscrewed to use. I really wanted some 32 ounce SS bottles, but have not been able to find any I really like. These are only 24 ounces, but they will do for now until I find exactly what I really want.

The plastic screw in lid comes with a gasket. No leaks, and it looks pretty substantial so I expect leaks will not be an issue.

For the price, they are a great value IMO.

ETA: 12-6-11
I used to use some recycled polycarbonate pop and juice bottles but over time they all developed holes so I started looking for something better. I have started using these to take with me to work. I freeze a small amount of water in them to keep my water and lunch cold. I wish they were one hand use and 32 ounces, but they work Ok as is.

Friday, November 25, 2011

11-23-11 Sugar River Alder Forest Preserve and Avon Bottoms

Today, we hiked from Sugar River Alder FP with a brief excursion into Avon Bottoms, a WIDNR property across the state line. It was a nice hike. Lots of water. We flushed a turkey, just about scared the crap out of me when it took off about 10 feet directly behind me.

We did get to explore a little north of the ox bow pond shown on the preserve map, and the NW corner of the preserve.

I had hoped that it would be possible to get farther north in the bottoms, but there is a channel of water that is 10-20 feet wide north of the state line that stretches from the Sugar River on the west all the way to the east edge of the WIDNR property and connects to the ox bow pond, and then back to the state line. The channel starts about 400 yards north of the border at the river and heads generally SE.

Our first attempt to cross into WI was at the SE corner of the WIDNR land. There is a 5 or 6 foot high perm going north along the east edge between the ox bow pond and a channel of water to the east that is next to a corn field. I am guessing the channel to the east and corn field are private. Hard to tell about the berm although being as there are two old electric fences on the west side of the berm, my guess is maybe the berm is private as well. In any case, the berm is overgrown with brambles and not really passable without a machete.

I managed to get around the ox bow pond by heading west but discovered the channel that blocked me from going farther north of the state line. The GPS trek appears to show I never got more than about 1000 ft into WI, and that was over along the river.

I sort of thought I could see it in the satellite images from google, but where I thought I saw it on the image was farther to the south. As you can see from the GPS trek, we just sort of meandered around in there. It is not real hard to get around, but since you can't go more then short distances in a straight line and there really are few landmarks it is easy to get turned around. I had a satellite image, map, and a GPS, but none showed the water feature that blocked me.

The GPS was the only way I could really tell I had crossed into WI. I encountered no one wearing cheese on their head. The ox bow pond and the Sugar River are the only things you can use to navigate in there, and the ox bow pond is not on my GPS map. It appears to me that the ox bow pond shown on the preserve map may actually be slightly farther north than the preserve map depicts.

I managed to get three deer ticks on my chest. As best I can tell Wilma escaped without any ticks, although they are small enough that I could have missed them when I checked her. We had fun. 5.6 miles according to GPS. Took 5 hours and 20 minutes. Very slow going in there.

I got some guidance from a fellow at the WIDNR. I contacted him via their website.

There is a lot of this up there.
Interesting fungi all over the place.

Wilma in her safety vest (it is gun deer season in WI).
A hunter we saw from the preserve side sitting in a tree stand across the state line, maybe 20 feet away.
A nicer map of the preserve is posted at various spots along the trail than what can be downloaded.

Some interesting bits in the video.
10:50 Wilma and I scare up a turkey.
12:55 Wilma goes in a hollow tree.
13:05 we find the remnents of a deer camp(?).

ETA: I was even able to use my GPS I got for Xmas last year for more than keeping track of where I went for after I get back. I must admit I did most of my navigating using the sun ,the zipper pull compass I bought last week, and a forest preserve map I printed off their web site. Hard to get lost in the small area I had to work with, and I really have not come to terms with the GPS yet in lieu of a map and compass. Although up there it was kind of handy since I was often not real sure where I was with any great degree of certainty as far as what state I was in.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Recent road construction stuff

Forms were set out this morning to make the sidewalk where our driveway is.

These three were taken by Fran later in the day.

We now have a sidewalk where our driveway is. No driveway yet, but they are making progress.
The pavers they are using instead of concrete or blacktop to make our road.

Empty paver pallets.
A tag I saw on the ground. Probably came from one of the pallets of pavers.

Fran took this picture of the end of our driveway. They removed the sidewalk forms and put in the gravel bed to prepare for the blacktop.



Pictures taken on our walk this morning. They blocked the road right next to pur driveway.
Just up the road, maybe 200 feet.
In case the road crew gets thirsty I guess.
A wonderful piece of technology.
I have noticed several places where pavers that are chipped have been installed. I wonder if they will replace them or not.
The machine they use to set a whole layer of pavers at one time. It is hydraulically operated and appears to just squeeze the pavers together as it sets them in place. I took a look at a couple of th open pallets and there is no mesh holding them together as I suspected there might be.
Empty paver pallets stacked up at the west end of the construction zone.

Hinchcliff Memorial Forest Preserve 11-22-11

We were not far away from this tiny FP, so thought we would drop in for a look. It turned out the bridge it is next to is being worked on. It looked like there might be access to the FP via a dirt road but it was raining and I was uninterested in getting stuck in the mud.

No pics.

Recent Stuff Wilma and squirrels

The guy kitty corner from us put up his Xmas decorations this weekend.

Wilma in the car on the way back from our excursion to Kilbuck Bluffs FP.


Wilma in the car on the way home from Sugar River Alder FP.

Taken on our walk this morning.
Zoysia grass lawn. It goes dormant when it gets cold. The lawn owner told me that sometimes it does this in August if it gets hot and dry.
I wonder if this is also Zoysia.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

J. Norman Jensen Forest Preserve 2-27-11

I realized I did not post these. We passed by here on our way back from Sugar River Alder FP the first time we went there. Better late then never I guess.

The district web site says it is under development. It is just off Rockton Road so when we go to any of the three FPs along the Sugar River, it is just a few blocks north of Rockton Road.

I saw the sign on our way back and forth today. It reminded me we had stopped there once in the past. It was already dark today when we went by or we might have taken another look.

11-22-11 Kilbuck Bluffs Forest Preserve

Note the park map is oriented with north to the right.

It was drizzling thoughout our visit here. Not much in the way of mapped trails here but a great view of the creek from the top of the bluffs. It is worth coming to see just for that.

The park map does not show them but there are outhouses near each of the shelters. The one next to the Edgewood shelter looks to be like the fancy new one like we saw at Countyline FP the previous day.

The trail shown on the downloaded map is not shown on the map posted at the park. It basically goes down the side of a hill near each shelter to the creek, and then back up the hill to the other shelter a few hundred yards away. About 25-30 steps is involved at each end. We went up and down twice, so got 100+ steps in. The trail has a large tree that has fallen over it. But it is possible to walk around it.

Downstream a ways is a picnic table out on a rocky outcropping along the creek edge, but there is a large tree fallen in front of it that impedes access.

Given the nature of this property, it would be quite possible to bush whack around if I had not been tied to a beagle with her own ideas of how to get around inside the forest. I may come back sometime without her and explore some.

We drove through the park and went to the other side of the road to visit the rest of the park to the west. The park map says there is an outhouse and well there. The outhouse is about where the map shows the well, but we never saw a well on that end of the park, despite driving the road loop twice.

I never saw either well the map claims are on the east side of the park, although the outhouse shown on the map is there next to a baseball field that you can see if you look real close on the park map, but I think the outhouse is actually on the other side of the baseball field. I did not look real close for either of these wells so they may be there. One is shown in an odd spot off the road so it might not be readily visible from the road. The other is shown near one of the shelters and I did not see it, if it is there, even though I would have been within 20 feet of where the map shows it. But I really was not looking for ether of them. They may be there and I just did not see them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fox River Liner Socks

I got these at Farm and Fleet. $3.49 a pair. I bought several pairs last year as well, and one or two pair in black of another brand from some place else. I find they make a huge difference in comfort when worn under a boot sock while hiking. I typically don't wear them except on longer hikes. The boot socks I wear every day.

If I had a complaint about these type of socks, it would be that they don't seem to last long. They develop holes and runs pretty quickly by comparison with any of the brands of boot socks I have purchased and wear everyday. It would not surprise me if I get less than a dozen uses of a pair before they develop holes and runs in them.

ETA 11-29-11:
A poster on another forum stated that one common reason for getting holes in these kind of socks is toe nails that have rough edges. I have noticed that to be true. He also stated that even rough skin like on calluses can be problematic as well. I have not had that problem. Thread on AR-15

Monday, November 21, 2011

11-21-11 County Line Forest Preserve

We did about 4.5 miles in about 2.25 hours. Flat terrain and easy trails made for a quick hike. We took a detour that is not shown on the map coming back. There was a mowed path that kind of follows the tree line to the east of the river that we took back to a gate at Newburg Road. Then we walked along Newburg and Ipsen Roads back to the trail head.
The trail on the map is pretty close except that the loop at the south end is much smaller than depicted.

Lots of deer tracks and scat on the trail, both on the Boone County and Winnebago County sides.

11-22-11 ETA:
I sent an email to the operations director at BCCD. Like many places, the key to getting an email reply seems to be to get an actual person's email address.

I asked if there was a plan to extend the mowed path that goes along the tree line back to the trail head. He said they were planning to extend it under the bridge into the area north of Mulford and extend to the trail system at LIB. He said they were scouting the area currently and it was possible they might extend it back to the trail head. He said there is lots of work to be done there.

I had mentioned in my email about the fancy outhouse. He said it was part of some kind of insurance settlement and said "We were extremely
lucky to get that outhouse". Apparently someone ran into a WCFPD outhouse and this was the replacement but they could not get the old one out, and the old one was what was going to be moved to this place.

ETA 12-3-12
I emailed the Boone County Conservation District and asked. The eastern part of the property south of Newburg Road is Ipsen Road C.A. and the western part is Newburg Village C.A.

I updated my County Line map to show this.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Coleman Zipper Pull Compass and Thermometer

$2 at Farm and Fleet yesterday. Seems to work OK when I tried it on our short hike today. Kind of handy to have it readily available.

Has a wind chill chart on the back, for whatever that may be worth.

Can't beat the price.

ETA 11-29-11:
During our excursion to Atwood park Saturday, my jacket got pretty wet so after we got home I put it in the dryer to dry. The jacket came out fine but the zipper pull did not survive the experience. :)

I will have to get another one the next time I am somewhere they have them. I really liked having the compass readily available.

ETA 12-10-11:
I went back to Farm and Fleet recently and got two more of these items. I really like them. I added a small snap ring to my zipper on my jacket. I will be removing the zipper pull when it is not in use so as to keep it from getting destroyed again. I got one for my day pack and one for my fanny pack.

LIB Conservation Area 11-20-11

Located just west of Belvidere, IL. Not a huge place. We basically walked the perimeter. About 2 miles. No facilities here at all. There is an outhouse down the street at the trail head to County Line Forest Preserve.

Trail maps posted at the parking lot. The yellow dots are numbered. No idea what they are supposed to represent.

County Line Forest Preserve 11-20-11

We didn't hike here today. Just stopped by on our way home from LIB. It is just a couple blocks away I took a picture of the sign and the fancy outhouse.

No facilities at LIB, but I guess you could come over here if you needed to.

It is some kind of cooperative project between the Boone County Conservation District and the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District. WCFPD had some property along the Kishwaukee River but there was no way to get to it except through Boone County.

I am going to try to come here later in the week for a hike.

ETA: 12-3-12 The trail head is actually located in Ipsen Road Conservation Area and the trail passes thru it and Newburg Village Conservation Area on its way into County Line. I updated my County Line map to show this.