Friday, November 30, 2012


11-20-12 Clock on range 2 at Pine Tree Pistol Club.
11-23-12 Seen on evening walk with Wilma.
11-24-12 Seen on midday walk with Fran and Wilma. Santa sleeping on the job.
11-29-12 My wife's nephew CJ called her yesterday to tell her Jupiter was going to be the next to the moon. I took this picture with my cell phone camera while walking with Wilma this morning.

Silver Tone Wide Tip Straight Stainless Steel Head Tweezers

A purchase. 49 cents shipped. I ordered them Nov 5 and they arrived Nov 20 from China.

I put them next to a package of AA batteries just for scale.

I have been wanting some decent tweezers for my first aid kit in my day pack, and these fit the bill.

I tried them out and they seem to have a very solid grip. Hoping not to need them, but splinters on the trail can be a real pain if one does not have a way to deal with them.

County Line Forest Preserve Hike

Wilma and I have been here before. It is a nice hike. County Line is located along the Kishwaukee River between US20 and I39. It takes up almost the whole area there to the Boone County Line. Not quite all the way, but close. The property line is not quite N-S along the eastern border but it goes almost all the way to where the big electric transmission lines are. The boundary there is well marked as it is a farm field and there are signs.

Wilma liked the water. We took what appears to be an old ATV trail and some fire breaks, and bush whacked a little to basically go around the perimeter of the preserve instead of just walking the trail like we did last time. We had to walk through a small creek twice as we followed the ATV trail, but it was not real deep and I had my ICW boots on that are waterproof.

There is what is called a box culvert shown on the map that it appears ATVs used to use. It is a square tunnel about 5 feet square that goes under I39.

We came back through the Boone County Conservation District property. I am not real sure what the name is there. We took the fire break all the way we could to along Newberg Road and then crossed to the trail across the street that I think is in part of LIB conservation Area, but I am not sure that is the name of that area. In any case it is directly west of LIB.

We finished by walking south along Ipsen Road back to the trail head.

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.


Lowden Miller State Forest - Closed

Wilma and I drove to the forest intending to spend the day hiking there. Imagine my surprise to find it closed for hunting.



Sunday, November 25, 2012

2012_11_25 Clayton Andrews Forest Preserve Hike

Wilma and I came here this morning. We have not hiked here before. It is not all that easy to find being located in a well to do section of Roscoe with a lot of streets that dead end and don't go in any particular direction.

 As hikes go, it is not bad, but much of the trail goes along the back yards of houses that abut the preserve so it is kind of like walking through a bunch of back yards.

 The trail map shows a trail along the western edge of the preserve that only goes a short distance from the north end of the preserve before it seems to have been abandoned some time ago. It was all but impassable so we turned back.

 The trail map is a bit of a bust. There is a segment of trail it does not show that we took back, along with the segment it shows along the west edge of the preserve that seems to have been abandoned, but the trails are well maintained and not real hard to follow. There are two creek crossings using stepping stones. The one we went out on had a fairly steep approach down to the creek but was not too hard to get across with some care. The other one we came back on was a bit harder as the first stone is not flat and level and is a little precarious for getting to the center stone. The creek is not real deep there so I skipped the first stone and just walked in the creek to the second stone.

 The north end of the preserve along Kiowa Crossing Road where the preserve sign is located (and is the official address) is a complete fail as far as parking. There is nothing there, and nothing close unless you are willing to park in someone's front yard. We went to the south end of the preserve. There is a dead end street there at the entrance to the preserve where we parked in the grass next to (or maybe in) the preserve.

 Wilma had a good time playing in the creek so it was not a bad experience although as a hike goes, it is not my favorite forest preserve. I think the west side of the preserve would make for a nice hike if there was some way to get to it, but for whatever reason the district has chosen to make that side practically inaccessible.

ETA 11-26-12: I emailed the district and asked a few questions and suggested they get some parking near the south end of the preserve. I suspected the trail along the west edge of the preserve was abandoned due to the low lying nature of that side of the preserve as it probably gets pretty wet. The reply confirmed that was why they abandoned the trail there after getting equipment stuck a number of times.
The reply did not directly respond to my suggestion about creating some parking spaces at the south end. I suspect that the neighbors prefer it not have any parking to discourage use of the preserve.  I guess I am not real surprised they did not respond directly to this. The neighbor issue is always a tough one for any park or forest preserve to deal with, and this is a very well to do area of Roscoe, so that probably makes it a lot touchier to deal with.
They also did not respond directly to my comment on the stepping stone that is not flat and makes it harder to cross the creek than is really necessary. I don't know if that means they ignored it or just don't want to admit it might be an issue. Generally I have found they are pretty good on maintaining the properties, so it is possible it got added to the bottom of some one's "to-do" list.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

2012_11_24 Seward Forest Preserve Hike

Wilma and I have been here several times before. We saw four deer this time, but were only able to get one of them on camera. Nice park. We were running a little late so had to cut our hike short a little bit.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rugged Wear Magic Gloves

I saw these at Menards. They were 50 cents a pair - black Friday deal I think. I got a pair to try. I doubt they would be very warm by themselves but I think they will work pretty well as liners inside my regular gloves when it is colder. It may be quite some time before it is cold enough to know if they do much good or not. I did try them out inside my regular gloves and they fit nicely there. The tag says 95% polyester and 5% spandex. They had various colors.
The glove stretches to fit over my hand. You can see through the weave so I doubt it will do much good by itself as any wind at all would get easily through it.
Compare it when it is not stretched out to the size of my hand.
ETA 11-27-12 It was 12F this morning when Wilma and I went out on our normal morning walk. A good chance to see how well these work as liners. The first half of our walk I wore just my regular gloves. While, my fingers were not freezing cold, they were noticably cool. About mid-way of our 3.27 mile walk, I put the Magic Gloves on under my regular gloves as a liner. Noticably warmer. I have to say for 50 cents, they worked pretty good as liners. As gloves, they just are too thin and open weave to provide much usefulness though.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Mom's Christmas Cacti Are Blooming



Rock Cut State Park Hike 11-22-12

A nice 4 mile Thanksgiving morning hike on the horse trails in the NW side of the park.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

11-21-12 Trask Bridge Forest Preserve

We stopped here on our way home so Wilma could get a nice drink out of the river. We wondered around just for the heck of it. We passed though once before but never got out of the Jeep.
It was getting dark so the video is not real great.

Hartley Memorial Forest Preserve Hike 11-21-12

Hartley is a small (40 acres according to the FPD web site) preserve in the NW part of the county just south of Durand. It is at the corner of Route 70 and Campbell. There is little here in the way of facilities other than the sign and two spots to park. Not even a trash can. There is no trail map on the district web site, likely since there is nothing to put on a map.
I basically walked the perimeter of the preserve although I was not paying much attention and managed to lose track of where I was at one point and went a little off where I intended to. Not a big deal in such a small place, especially when I can see outside the preserve most of the time and get reoriented pretty easily.

It is a fairly typical hardwood forest in that it is pretty open at the ground level so one can usually get where one wants to readily, although detours around fallen trees and thickets are pretty common. Some nice scenary if you like wooded areas. Probably not the best place to bring a leashed beagle. She wants to go where her nose says to, and usually that is under obstructions rather than around them.

Original German Esbit Style Alcohol Pocket Stove w/ 12 Tablets of Fuel Surplus

I bought this solid fuel stove on eBay in February of 2012 for $3.35, including shipping. The item was described like this:
This Auction is for Original German Military Issued Pocket Stove with 12 tabs of fuel
These are unissued and never used but in surplus condition
size is 4"x3"x1/2"

I think it is a heck of a bargain compared to a new Esbit type stove that typically goes for around $10-15. I tried to see if I could snag a couple more at similar prices, but no such luck.

I see the stove as mostly a pot stand. I might make myself a pop can alcohol stove and see how this works as a pot stand. Many of the home brew pot stands I have seen are pretty unstable.

I only recently got around to trying it out. The fuel tablets are thin and circular and only burned about 5 minutes each. The stove came with twelve of the fuel tablets. I was unable to light them except by breaking them in half and lighting them with a butane lighter. I might try the ferro rod approach again, but it just did not work this time. I even tried scraping the broken fuel tablets and trying to ignite the dust with the ferro rod - no luck.

A little lint or cotton might do it though. I was unable to light the fuel tablets even with a lighter until I broke them in half. The lighting issue may have something to do with the age of the tablets. Or maybe they are deliberately made that way.

It was kind of breezy and that probably did not help any, plus I did not have a lid on the enamaled steel cup I was using. Even so, it seemed to work OK. I used two tablets to heat the water up to something just under the temperature of a hot cup of coffee, but tolerable.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kinnikinnick Creek Conservation Area Hike 11-20-12

Wilma and I have been here I think 4 times before. It has some nice horse trails and a nice creek for Wilma to splash around in. Lots of up and down. We saw one guy out riding his horse. Not much else to see today in the park. We did see some horses in pastures next to the property, along with a ground blind and a tree stand. But no deer or turkeys, or any other exciting critters. Not even a squirrel.

Trail map (scan).
GPS track.
Video, such as it is.

Monday, November 19, 2012

11-19-12 Pecatonica Prairie Path

Wilma and I headed to Sumner Park in Pecatonica to hike out to the part of Pecatonica Wetlands Forest Preserve that is south of the river and can only be reached via hiking there on the path. I kind of had in mind wandering around on the island side of the preserve and maybe walking west on the path, but we never made it to the far SW side of the preserve as we ran into bridge work.

The county is working on the path. I knew they were working on it but did not know they have effectively closed it for now. We were able to get to the SE corner of the preserve but not the other corner.

My understanding is that Stephensen County is taking over the part of the path that is in that county (the preserve lies right along the county line), Winnebago County is taking most of what is in Winnebago County, and the Rockford Park District is taking some of it on the far eastern end of the path.

The part Winnebago County is doing will be crushed stone, and they have laid it down from Pecatonica west to the county line as best I can tell. I read somewhere the park district is going to pave its portion.

I don't recall what Stephensen County will be doing if anything yet - I read somewhere they have no money at present to work on it.

The county has rerouted the path as it goes through the fairgrounds to go along the river instead of under the power lines. A nice choice I think.

The path now goes right by the entrances to the Sumner Nature Preserve. I have seen the sign for it before but figured it didn't amount to much so never bothered to go in. It is considerably bigger than I had figured and with a very nice trail system. A hidden gem. It is well worth the time spent wandering through it. The main trail goes along the winding river the whole way. There are a bunch of side trails, most seem to be for fishing access to the river. We saw no facilties there other than two benches along the trail. GPS track.
Trail map of Pecatonica Wetlands FP with some additions I made.
Plenty of video of the creek beagle in a creek and in the river.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lib Conservation Area Hike - Boone County

Wilma and I have been here before. It is south of the river from the Distillery Road Conservation Area we hiked a few weeks ago. It is not a huge area, but its a nice hike.

After we were done, another hiker (Tony) was coming back and we had a nice chat. He archery hunts in the area and was out more or less scouting. He said he saw some coyotes once.

We did not see much in the way of critters except some geese, a squirrel, and a deer stand. Tony said he knows of at least three deer stands in the preserve.

We also saw a picnic table in the river. it was the only picnic table we saw. Not much in the way of facilities here. Two stone benches and a trash can. Parking for maybe a dozen cars. However, it is just a few blocks from County Line Forest Preserve which has a pit toilet and a well.

The map I got from the district does not show the western part of the park. There is a larger version of this posted at the information kiosk.

It appears from the aerial photo posted on the kiosk that all of the property between Newburg Road and the river belongs to the district to the west of what the trail map shows.
For some reason the GPS segmented the route into two chunks. We basically walked the perimeter.
Short video.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

11-16-12 Rockton Bog Scouting Trip

I like to go take a look at potential hiking spots before actually hiking them. This is a small natural area NW of Rockton. No trails - not much in the way of facilities beyond a small parking lot and a trash can. I took a look in the sign in log. Looks like a fair number of archery hunters have been in and out recently. Maybe later in the week Wilma and I will come by and hike it.
Short video.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Millrace Isle Forest Preserve 11-16-12

We have not been here before. I have seen it on the forest preserve district website but never thought much about it as it is listed this way:
Millrace is undeveloped and does not have an access site. It is along the north bank of the Rock River, west of the Village of Rockton, south of Rockton Road.
Not long ago, I noticed that there were FPD boundary signs and some fire breaks that had been mowed along Rockton Road so after some digging came to the conclusion that this must be Millrace Isle FP. There is no map on their web site for it. It is located right at the intersection of the canal and Rockton Road along the west side of the village. I emailed someone at the district and asked and he advised that hiking is allowed in the preserve but there is just one parking spot at present along the gravel road that forms its eastern most boundary. So, off we went to explore.

As advertised there are no facilities here other than the one parking spot. Not even a trash can. It was very slow going as we had to bushwhack most of the way. There is mowed fire break that extends about 1/2 of the way along northern edge of the preserve along Rockton Road, but the rest of it is either fields or forest. The wooded areas were mostly somewhat open at ground level so mostly easier to walk through, but lots of downed trees so lots of minor detours.

We saw one live deer, one dead deer, one dead turkey, three tires, and one hub cap. All in all, a nice walk.

GPS track.
Google Earth image.
Deer at 6:41 if you look real close.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Arrow Plastics H2O On the Go Jr. 1 L Water Bottles

I bought a couple of Arrow Plastics 1 L water bottles to use with my fanny pack back in January of 2012.  They were pretty nice but both eventually sprung leaks and ended up in the recycling bin.

I went to their website and told them and they offered to replace them. Unfortunately, they send me something called a jr bottle that is shorter and wider and will not fit in the fanny pack pouch. Maybe I will find something useful to do with them.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

11-11-12 Sugar River Forest Preserve

Wilma and I have come here before. Wilma likes the river. We have seen deer, turkeys, and great blue herons here.
We walked a shorter route than we could have to get back for the start of football.
We saw some deer - maybe 5 or 6 - about 1:44 in the video.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

11-10-12 Roland Olsen Forest Preserve

Wilma and I did not get to walk very far as it started to rain so I wimped out and cut our hike short. I had a poncho I put on but it got sort of windy, so back to the car we went. We have been here several times before. It is all horse trails.
Short walk. We only did the south loop.
Short video.


11-6-12 Polling site signs.
11-10-12 Wilma in the Rock River at Atwood Homestead Forest Preserve.

Outdoor Products Morph Pack Update

I got it out and gave it a look over the other day in preparation for using it during the winter. I found the two shock cord loops on the back had frayed. I gave them a good yank and one broke. I cut them both off and they were replaced with paracord (with Fran's help) that I just tied off. I use one to clip my gloves to and the other for Wilma's water bowl and as long as there is some place to hang them from it does not matter a whole lot to me if they are shock corded or not. I have since replaced the huge D ring the gloves were hanging from with a smaller one and Wilma's water dish has been folded up inside the paracord loop. Other than this issue, it seems to be in good shape for another season of winter hiking.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

11-7-12 Rock Cut State Park

Vacation day so after I finished some chores this morning, Wilma and I went for a short hike at the park. We only went 2.9 miles, but the terrain for some of it was steep and off trail so it was slow going. We parked at the parking lot just south of the dam and hiked in the SW quadrant of the park, coming back part way on the Willow Creek Path.

Shortish video.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

11-4-12 Distillery Road Conservation Area - Boone County

Wilma and I have hiked here before. Its a nice walk. The district's web site says it is closed as of November 1, but the gate was open and there was no posting at the site. My guess is that by closed they mean they won't be plowing and might leave the gate locked once it snows. Hard to tell. Maybe I will email and ask, although as always, getting responses to emails from government employees can be very spotty.

It looks like they posted new trail maps out on the trails. In some respects they are somewhat better then the brochure map. I am pretty sure the dashed line that more or less shadows the river is the power lines and the trails actually go under it a couple of times and it is not shown that way. The brochure map is not real accurate either. But, they suffice for finding one's way around, and the ones posted on the trail are good for getting you from segment to segment.

This is the map posted along the trails.

Our route as tracked by GPS.
The map I scanned from their brochure and added the northern power lines to.
Wilma and I looked around at what I thought was a canoe camping area along the river below the abandoned pit toilets for a canoe landing area, but never found it. Maybe the canoe camping areas are not accessible from inside the park.

The only critter of note we saw was a dead possum on the trail.

Short video. The highlights of course, are the clips of the creek beagle in the river.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Signs Seen at Rock Cut State Park Today



11-3-12 J. Norman Jensen Forest Preserve

Wilma and I have hiked here before and visited it a couple times without hiking it. Its a nice if small park, with a shortish trail. Nice scenery though. No cars in the parking lot when we got there but two others when we left. One of them was probably the person taking pictures of a dead tree we saw near the end of the trail, and the other was a guy walking his golden retriever. This park map is a picture I took of the map that is posted. I cleaned it up as best I could, but it is not that great. No park map on the web site.

Our route as recorded by GPS.

Short video. We walked down the stairway to the river from the overlook, and then back up this time around. Fourty nine steps down, and fourty nine back up.

11-3-12 Deer along Yale Bridge Road

Wilma and I saw these two deer in a corn field along Yale Bridge Road. We actually saw another one a short distance farther down the road but were unable to get any pictures or video.

11-3-12 Laona Heights Forest Preserve

We saw a pheasant along Yale Bridge road on our way here. We tend to see a lot of critters out in this neck of the woods. It is pretty much just farms. Lots of open space. We left here and saw two deer (and later a third) along the way on the same road as we went to Jensen Forest Preserve. Wilma and I came here once before planning to hike it, but didn't find the trail. I am not sure how we managed to miss it. There are two trail markers right along the only park road, one at the main gate and one about halfway to the parking area.
The trail is not real long here. The district web site says half a mile. It is "U" shaped and basically goes along the perimeter of the site. One end being in the far NE corner and one in the far SE corner. The open side of the "U" is the east side of the park. There appears to be no trail through the woods to connect the two end points. We just walked along the road to get between the two points. It appears the total actual trail length is about 0.75 miles end to end.

The part on the north side of the park is beter maintained. Not much in the way of debris on the trail. The part on the south side (in the nature preserve) appears to have very little in the way of trail maintenence other then cutting up big trees that fall on the trail and getting them out of the way. It makes for a much more foresty feel.

While it is a small preserve, and a short hike, it was worth doing.
Short video.

11-2-12 Lowden State Park Statue

Fran wanted to stop here and look at the statue so on our way to Castle Rock State Park we stopped.

This is the sign board at the base of the statue.
The statue has a few cracks. Looks like some repair work is in order. Probably won't happen any time soon due to the state's financial mess.
More of the statue. Impressive even with some cracks and chipped pieces.
The river boat across the river at Maxon Manor.

11-2-12 Construction on Route 2

This is just south of Meridian Road north of Byron, IL. It appears that the Rock River has cut into the bank causing damage to the road so they are having to repair and shore it up. Fran took this video as we were passing by on our way home from Castle Rock State Park.

11-2-12 Oregon Park East - Oregon, IL

We stopped here on our way to Castle Rock State Park to look at the dam. Kind of a typical city park. Playground equipment, picnic facilities, port-a-potties, drinking water, canoe launch, fishing. It even has a short bike path (about 0.3 mile long according to Google Earth). Located along the east side of the Rock River just north of IL64. I submitted the bike path to Traillink. Who knows if they will accept it. Their new web site seems very flakey.

Backwards sign

Seen 11-2-12 at Riverside and Alpine. Picture by Fran.