Monday, December 31, 2012

2012_12_31 Sugar River Alder Forest Preserve

Wilma and I had a nice hike. Slow going in the snow. We only did 4.6 miles including a stop for lunch in a little over 4 hours. We got up to Avon Bottoms (a WIDNR property), although I am not sure whether we ever actually crossed into it or not. The border is not well marked. It was kind of breezy when we left but once we got into the forest the trees mostly blocked it. We have been here several times before. It is a good hike. Nice winter scenery.
ETA 1-1-13 I forgot to put the GPS track and map into the video so I just added here as it is a lot easier then editing the video.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Light My Fire Spork

I bought this on eBay a few weeks ago. I think it was $1.68 shipped. I have tried sporks that are more like a spoon that has some small tines on it and never liked them much, so I thought I would try this style.

This one works pretty good as both a spoon and a fork. Its a little short to be ideal but for what it is, it works.

One side of the fork is serrated in an attempt to make it into a knife of sorts. It worked on softer foods, but I think it would break if I tried to use it to cut into something more substantial.

It has made its way into my day pack for use when out hiking.

Amazon review here.


Friday, December 28, 2012

ICW Boot Update - Heel Replacement

A few weeks ago I began to experience some discomfort after hiking in these boots. I realized eventually my feet were rolling a little because the back of the heels had worn down over time. You can see in these photos just how worn down the back sides of the heels had gotten.


So I took them in to get the heels replaced. It only cost me $30 and they came out almost like new. The guy had to rebuild the heels and then glue on a new Vibram heel surface. The rest of the surface of the soles were fine so hopefully I will get another few years of service out of them.


The place that did the work is called Charles Street Show Repair in Rockford. About a block west of 20th street in a former gas station. Nothing fancy with the location.

 I took them hiking on 12-27-12. Just 3.5 miles but on a fairly difficult mountain bike trail with lots of elevation changes. The boots worked quite well and no ankle pain.

I also used them on a 5.1 mile hike on 12-28-12. They worked well again in fairly difficult terrain and about a half an inch of new snow.

I have no idea how I managed to wear down the back of one of the heels almost half an inch before noticing it. Having the heels repaired makes a huge difference in comfort.

2012_12_28 Rock Cut State Park

Wilma and I come to this park on a regular basis. Partly because it is close, but partly because there are a lot of varied trails. I kind of had in mind hiking the trails along Harlem Road over to the trails that go north along Perryville, but the trail conditions slowed me down a lot, so I cut it short so we would get back before the park closed. The park is especially nice with the new snow that fell this morning.

 We had lunch at a CCC style picnic shelter that appears to have been abandoned some time ago, despite appearing to be in nice shape after all these years.. It seems a shame that a nice old structure like that has been abandoned. Foot prints in the snow show that even though the DNR may have abandoned it, people still come though it while hiking in that end of the park.


12-20-12 Rain video I took when I got to work.
12-24-12 I took this picture of the drawings my wife's nieces made on our kitchen whiteboard a couple weeks ago.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012_12_27 Espenscheid Forest Preserve Hike On Bike Trail

Wilma and I have hiked here a couple times before. We even walked a short segment of the bike trail. The bike trail is a single width trail that goes in an almost dizzying path through part of the forest here. Amazingly, it is about 3 miles long according to Base Camp. It seems to have been up hill the whole way too. :)

 It was something done by a local bike club (Rock Cut Trail Crew) with permission from the forest preserve district.

 Wilma and I saw two deer in the forest and two bicyclists.

 The district trail map does not show the bike trail, but the bike club had one on their web site.

 This trail is just diabolical. I was never sure where I was, and not even sure what direction I was headed most of the time as the sun was behind the clouds all day. Many places there are temptations to take a short cut between trail sections that run adjacent to each other, but it is a loop trail and one might easily get confused as to which way one should go. At least one place it seemed to cross itself and I was somewhat confused as to where to go and had to think about it for a few seconds.

 All in all a great hike. The grade changes made it seem a lot farther than the just about 3 miles that it is. Counting the distance to and from the trail head to the car it was 3.5 miles.

ETA 12-28-12: This is not an easy hike, although it is not real long. Much of the trail you have to walk in the bicycle ruts, and in some places the rut was not wide enough to comfortably do so. In a few places there was standing water that had frozen over into ice.

There was also the typical bike tail obstacles where they have put trees across the trail with ramps made of smaller material. Thankfully, in most cases these had bypass lanes around them. I hate these things. They are usually too big to comfortably step across, especially in the ice and snow, and are unstable when stepped on.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

George Nylon Crew Socks - Walmart

My Fox liner socks have all developed holes in them and most have gone into the trash can. A suggestion was made to me somewhere on an outdoor forum that regular dress socks make good liner socks. So, I thought I would try some. I got three pair of XL George brand Nylon socks at Walmart for <$6 last week. I been wearing them since. They seem to work pretty well. They also seem less likely to rip as they seem sturdier than the liner socks I was previously wearing. I think they were polypropylene, while these are Nylon. I don't know what difference that makes, if any. They still seem to draw moisture away from my feet and into my socks.
Not the greatest of pictures.

Ranger Pac Boots Update

Updates this and this.

And now for the rest of the story.

These boots are lightly constructed in the heel and insole area. It is like a waffle pattern there. Makes for a comfy walk and warm but there is not a whole lot of rubber between the foot and the road.

Towards the end of the cold season in the spring of 2011, both boots sprung a leak in the heel area. It was already warm enough that the snow was melting so there was a fair amount of water, and my feet were getting wet, so I stopped wearing them in favor of my ICW boots.

I had read somewhere that RTV can be used to repair the wear surfaces of shoes and boots, but beyond buying a tube of RTV I did not try to repair these boots until last week.

I know - a year and a half is a long time. I did not attempt the repair at the time and then never got around to it because I was not using them, mostly since I was not wearing them because they leaked.

Here are some pictures I took a few days ago. I put a flashlight inside the boots. You can see the blue light shining through the holes in the heels.

So, I filled in a little inside the waffle matrix where the holes were, and built up the surface of the heels with some RTV. I have tried them a few times and it seems to work OK for the limited use I have put them to. I will have to report back after more extensive usage. The boots are not really suitable for serious use anyway, but they are handy when I go someplace I  have to remove my boots as they come on and off easily. They are also handy for short trips outside like to shovel the porch when I don't want to go to the trouble of putting on and lacing up my other boots.
I did not do a bang up job of it, just kind of globbed it on. We will see over time how well it holds up.

Mountain High Instant Coffee - Dollar Tree

A comment on a post I made about some cheap instant coffee I bought at Walmart convinced me to stop at Dollar Tree and pick up a jar. It was $1.01 with tax. Says made in Egypt.
I have tried it a number of times since I bought it back in June of 2012. It is definitely better then the Pampas coffee. It is not as good as other instant coffees I have tried, but for $1 for a whole jar, I doubt one could find anything better.

9W LED Police Outdoor Torch Flashlight Pocket Lamp Blue

Another aluminum body Chinese made flashlight. This time claiming 9 Watts!

-100% Brand New
-Weight: 40g
-Size: 9.3cm x 2.6cm
-A good companion in the darkness
-LED bulb, operation life up to 100,000 hours, never need replace
-Ultra portable, ideal companion for, camping, hiking, traveling, etc
-1LED 9 Watt white bright light
-Comes with a black strap, you can take with it anywhere easily
-Material: metal aluminum water-and shock- proof
-Powered by 3 x AAA battery (NOT included)
-Color: blue
No mention anywhere on light output. Like most of these kind of things, the ad copy is probably close to meaningless. But for $0.99 shipped, you really cannot lose a whole lot. Tracking included.

Pretty typical of the 3-AAA cell cheap light designs.
Reasonably bright.
I got the light back in late May of 2012. It has been sitting on my desk since then with only occasional uses, but so far has worked well. No complaints, although with the minimal usage it is hard to make any judgement as to how well it will hold up. The on/off switch has a nice snap to it, and seems well made though.

2012_12_26 Atwood Park Hike

Wilma and I have been here before. They have a small assortment of birds of prey near the lodge. The trails are a mixture of asphalt, former roads, roads, dirt, grass, and dirt covered by wood chips. Mostly in good shape. A few places trees were down, but nothing that was not fairly easy to get around. I do not bother reporting downed trees to the park district as they almost never respond to emails. Kind of hilly in spots.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

12-26-12 Rock Cut State Park Hike

Wilma and I walked around the lake clockwise. 4.1 miles according to GPS. It is a route we have been on several times before. It is especially nice once the snow comes.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


12-23-12 Photo of possible Yeti foot print at Hononegah Forest Preserve next to my size 13W boot for scale.
Wilma guarding the house after our walk today.
One of my favorite Christmas tree ornaments.
Christmas hand towels.

2012_12_23 Hononegah Forest Preserve Hike

Our first foray in the woods after Thursday's snow. This forest preserve gets a lot of use, even in the winter time. Lots of foot prints in the snow on the trails. We met a woman skiing along the river and then again along the creek as she lapped us. We also saw two huskies who had taken their human out for a walk, and a puppy pit bull named blue who also was walking his human. I got some video of a Yeti footprint as well.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Additional stuff

12-04-12 Logli Open House
12-11-12 Seen at Walmart - Christmas Pizza.

Dog Wash

I took this picture back on 11-14-12 but forgot to post it. I have seen several of these dog washing stations around town next to car washes. This one is at a gas station at Harlem and Alpine in Loves Park.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

12-16-12 Rock Cut State Park

Wilma and I went to the park late this morning for a short hike. We parked by the dam and went in on a trail we accessed from the Willow Creek Bike Path and wondered around in the hilly area above the path. Wilma even got some creek time in as water has returned to the creek!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

12-14-12 Two Rivers Forest Preserve

This is a long (0.6 miles) skinny (20-75 feet) preserve located along the west bank of the Pecatonica River stretching from Freeport Road (Route 75) up to the Sugar River. It is located entirely between Harrison Road on the west side and the Pecatonica River on the east. It has the usual forest preserve amenities - a pit toilet, well, picnic shelter, picnic tables, grills, and fire rings, along with a boat launch. Not much as hikes go, as you have to walk either along the road or the bank and they are only a few feet apart. But Wilma got to play in two rivers and we had a nice riverside walk here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

2012-12-14 Four Lakes Forest Preserve Hike

Wilma and I passed through here once before on our way back from some other place we had been hiking but we had not hiked in here previously. The north side of the preserve along Route 70 is mostly a field and dog training area. To the south are four ponds that are the original preserve (I think they were a state fish hatchery at one time) and to the west of the four ponds are three additional ponds acquired in December of 2011. The trail map makes it look like there is not much in the way of hiking here but we walked 3.3 miles along trails, walkways, and fire breaks, and I think we skipped some along the way. Has the typical forest preserve amenities. It was not the most noteworthy hike but a nice walk. lots of geese.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

2012_12_12 Lowden Miller State Forest Hike

ETA 12-19-12
I had an email exchange with the park superintendent recently. He indicated the chunk of land along the river labeled private was leased by the tree farm but they have since gone out of business so it is no longer private. He also said the state just last month purchased the tree farm to the east of markers 34 and 35 so it is now part of the forest.

Wilma and I have not hiked here before. We came on a scouting trip once before, and tried to hike here a few weeks ago, but it was closed for deer hunting that day.

 It was a nice hike. The trails are well marked and the trail map is pretty good. The trails even have trail maps posted at most intersections. There are numbered posts along the way that correspond to numbers on the map. I think only one of the numbered signs was missing.

Parts of it are a little hilly. The web site calls it gently rolling hills. Probably not the worst description. Some of the trails we were on were actually gravel roads. The trail map does not distinguish between gravel roads and dirt trails.

 We did not seen any critters other than birds and squirrels. Lots of birds and squirrels. There is a nature trail called Logger's Trail that starts and ends at parking lot 1. Kind of a typical children's nature trail. I did not know it was there. I took a look and it is briefly mentioned on the web site.

 There were porta-potties in the parking areas I looked at (1,2,3, and horse parking), along with trash cans in most of them. I did not see a trash can at lot 1. I recall seeing a water spigot at the horse parking area. I did not check to see if it was on. Horse trails closed November 15, so it might well have been off. There were 5 benches on the nature trail at what looked like a gathering area. The only picnic tables I saw were at the horse parking area.

 Wilma was able to get to the river for a drink in one spot, and was also able to get to what my GPS map shows as an intermittent creek. The creek was about 12" wide but did have water flowing through it.

 The trails seemed well maintained. I only saw one tree that was down across a trail, and it was a smallish one so I just moved it off the trail. I also flipped a fair number of smaller branches off the trail with my hiking stick, as I usually do. There was one bigger tree that was down, but it had purple streamers tied to it, so maybe it was intended that way. There was a sign banning horses on that trail. Maybe they left it there on purpose.

 We ran across a dog and his human out running as we were about to get back to the car. The dog was a poodle named Betty. She and Wilma wanted to roughhouse. I think Wilma was a little jealous that Betty was not on a leash. Did not see anyone else in the forest.

 Each of the three regular parking lots had a place for hunters to sign in. They all had copies of the park hunting regulations and park maps as well. At parking lot one there was a box with some booklets about the nature walk.

Monday, December 3, 2012


12-3-12 New preacher.
Someone left these 5 mostly empty drywall mud buckets in the Logli parking lot.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Big Red (Zero Calories)


I was at Walmart yesterday and saw this brand of pop. I think it was 99 cents for a 2 liter bottle. I had never heard of it so I thought I would try it.

After it cooled off in the fridge and got cold I took a few swigs. That was enough to convince me not to buy it again. I may not even drink the rest of it.

I cannot even describe the taste. It is not a fruity taste. It is sweet, but I did not like the taste.

So, I call it a fail.

ETA 12-3-12
Copied review to Amazon.

2012_12_02 Rock Cut State Park Hike

Another hike at Rock Cut on the horse trails. A nice day - mid 50s. Not bad for Dec 2. We parked up at the 173 lot and hiked down to the horse camp and back.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

2012_12_01 Lockwood and Anna Page Parks Hike

Wilma and I went hiking again today. Pretty nice hike. 4.4 miles. Mid 50s. It did sprinkle on us for a few minutes 3 or 4 times, and most of the rest of the time it was spitting at us, but no serious rain. I put my Sherpa Poncho on, but the rain was so light it was not much of a test. It did turn out to be a decent light jacket though, but I don't know how well it would work in very windy conditions. We ended up cutting our hike shorter than I would have liked, mostly because I did not want to be out in the dark and rain in the woods. We saw a deer. Wilma met a llama and two donkeys (near the end of the video).