Saturday, November 14, 2015

Remember the time we were driving down I 70 and passed a horse in the back seat of a car?

Horse 1

We traveled to Abilene today for Dan’s cousin’s farm sale.  Somewhere around the rest stop at Maple Hill, we passed a car and Dan said, “Did you see that horse in that car?”

I said that I did not, but we had to stop and let the car pass so I could see for myself. 

Sure enough!!

Here are two more to get a better perspective. 

Horse 2

Horse 1

Friday, November 13, 2015

And the leaves come tumbling down

This morning is was something like low thirties here.  The thermometer  is nailed on a tree outside the bedroom window but it’s hard to read  when I first get up.  The reason its hard to read is because I usually haven’t located my glasses.  It would help if I put them in the same place each night, but I don’t and that probably tells a bunch about my personality but that reflection is for another time…. 

Anyway, the hard freeze started the leaf rain as soon as the sun warmed the air, especially from the silver maples in the front yard.  Amazingly, this year we were ready for the cold.  Dan tilled the garden the other day and, as I said earlier, we’ve already winterized the camper.  There’s plenty of wood for the stove at the back door as well.

We ran some errands today and parked under a tree.  When I returned to the truck, I couldn’t help but snap a picture of the little leaf.  I have no idea how it got stuck there.  I picture it drifting slowly down and landing just so.  FullSizeRender

I hope this picture makes you smile, because there are a lot of sad happenings in the world today.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Early Thankfulness

Today we celebrated the four Hanney brothers with an afternoon of memories and current happenings.   A big thank you to Paul & Janice for planning, hosting and serving a delicious meal.

Here they are—the oldest 76 and the youngest 67.  Always a lot of laughs when these four are together.


Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Kansas Color

I guess it would be blue today.  In case there is anyone who hasn’t seen the picture taken during the parade for the Kansas City Royals today, here is one put out there to share.  Amazing!


There are years when the fall tree colors here in the Wakarusa valley have been more vibrant, but I don’t think the grass could get any more beautiful.  .  I’ve tried to take pictures, but they don’t capture the shades of gold in the native grasses especially as the sun slants in the evenings.  Dan and I think the reason our grass is especially pretty this year is because it was put up a little early and then we’ve had plenty of rain for a nice grow back. 

Our neighbors and Dan and I took a little off road trip a week ago.  Again, we appreciated Kansas yellow and reds. 

PicMonkey Collage

Why do people think it is OK to drive out to rural areas and  dump trash.  I saw it happen so many times when I was driving the mail route.  So, it was no surprise to find trash along the trail we were riding.  We stopped a minute to ponder why someone would do that, when our neighbor saw something peeking out from under some cans.  She pulled it out and sit it in the tree. 

I sure hope some young person who loved this little stuffed animal isn’t feeling sad wondering where it is. 


Monday, November 02, 2015

Home & Catching Up

We had such a great summer. The trips to visit family are always fun.  We will be making those trips each year because it is easier for us to go there then for them to come here.  We’ll find time to make a few other excursions too I am sure.

The reason I’m reminiscing a little is because we winterized the PW this afternoon.  Of course it is something that has to be done, but it is also a sign that our summer journeys are finished.  It is possible to travel without the water system up and running—we might do a little Thanksgiving/Christmas trip.  Those trips are short and sweet though.

The bikes have made our summer travels fun.  We learned on our last trip not to plan to ride on our way home.  We passed several interesting locations returning from North Carolina,  but we didn’t want to take the time.  Dan did consent to ride the Katy Trail in Missouri for a while.  We did a part of the Katy that we’ve never ridden before so that made up for the others.

Our small acreage of soybeans was harvested last week. 


This is always interesting to us so we like to hang around and watch our neighbor who farms for us.  This time, I got to ride in the cab of this big boy.  It was fully climate controlled and computerized.  At any given time, it told the moisture of the grain and the bushels per acre.  It could even be set to drive on its own!  Farming is on a different level now days. 

These few days of warm weather will find us out doors finishing up some chores.  Maybe I’ll just get the bike out and ride up the road too.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Tobacco Road Rail Trail & Blue Ridge Parkway

Sunday everyone but Aaron enjoyed the beautiful weather on the Tobacco Road Rail Trail which extends 22 miles in the Apex/Cary/Raleigh/Durham area.  We rode about five miles up and back. For being located mostly in a urban area, it feels remote, rugged and will be beautiful as the fall colors progress.  One of these times, I would like the ride the entire length of the trail. 

The rail road line was originally built to transport tobacco primarily for J.B. Duke who founded the American Tobacco Company in 1890.  In the 1970s the Corps of Engineers constructed Jordan Lake (where we stay) which required the moving of the tracks.  Then only 10 years later, the then Norfolk Southern rail way was bought out and the right of way became available for use as a rail trail. 

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The crazy thing about our ride is that I didn’t take any pictures. Not sure how that happened, possibly because there weren’t good places to stop with all the people on the trail on a warm Sunday afternoon.  The two pictures above are taken from Google pictures.   

The nearly two weeks flew by.  It was a good visit because we had time to do a little geocaching, walking to the library and just hanging out. We visited Kim’s new work site located in a health complex in Raleigh.  It didn’t seem that far from their home and she is happy with her situation there.

We didn’t leave Cary until almost noon on Saturday and still was able to spend the night at the Pisgah National Forest Campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We accessed the Parkway in Ashville and drove a south loop.  We were fortunate in that we were approaching peak color, especially in the campground area, which set at around 6,000 feet. 

This will be the second time we encountered cold temperatures on the way home.  I put my thermometer outside before we went to bed—it registered 26 degrees the next morning!  The sun came out and warmed things up quickly, so no water mishap in the camper. There was a Magnolia Tree near us in the campground.  I took a picture of it the night before.  The next morning it was frosty and drooping.

On the way out of the Parkway area and onto the interstate, we went through a little town where the residents didn’t get the word about the Confederate flag.  That picture, along with the campground and some of the color along the parkway are in the slideshow. Click here or on the picture below.  You know to click the “slideshow” in the upper right hand corner for the best way to look at the pictures.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

North Carolina Sweet Potatoes

Marc’s company, Bayer Crop Science, has opportunities for its employees to volunteer in the community.  One was scheduled while we were visiting so Marc signed us up.   That explains why Dan and I spent two hours helping pick up 8,051 lbs. (over 4 tons) of sweet potatoes!  Meals served from this project, 6,780.  This was all thanks to the owner who generously turned his harvested field over to the volunteers.

The project was coordinated by the Society of St Andrew, which is a faith-based group that works with local farmers to glean the left over vegetables and fruits to distribute to the hungry.  Its motto is, “Gleaning America’s Fields-Feeding Americas Hungry.”  We all feel we would like to help feed the hungry.  This organization helps by bringing many people  together, working to make a big impact.

Seventy-five employees, family members and friends loaded in the buses around 9:30.  It took about 30 minutes to reach the sweet potato patch south of Raleigh. 

The sandy loam dirt must be perfect for sweet potato production because there were a few monsters left.  Mostly, though, they were a bit smaller than what we see in the store which might explain why they slipped through. We were instructed to “bump” the dirt a bit to show any hidden potatoes right under the surface.  There were plenty.

Here is Evan working itIMG_2822

The two hours went fast but I would find it hard to keep up the pace if I were required to do this  work all day.



Bayer Volunteers

Of course, we got the t-shirt which had a nice message.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bayer North Carolina Bee Care Center

Bayer Crop Science recently opened an interesting and enlightening Bee Research center at their US office in the Research Triangle in the Raleigh area.  


As we know, bees are necessary pollinators.  And, farm chemicals are often pointed to as a reason for bee declines.  Bayer Crop Science is taking the pollinator/pesticide stewardship seriously. 

The modern building is beautiful.  It contains a research lab but is also loaded with educational materials including bee hives for people like me who find the bee story interesting and want to know  how to keep it going.  A pamphlet on protecting pollinators on Farms and Urban Landscapes emphasizes the need for farm chemicals to be applied as directed and with understanding of drift potential, etc.  Modern farming and pollinators must learn to live together in health.

I enjoyed the information on pollinator-friendly habitats.  They even had little packets of pollinator friendly seeds.  A few of the tips include plant native flowers, plan for a long season of bloom, include diverse flower colors and provide habitat for nesting and egg-laying. 

Here are two pictures of pollinator friendly flowers.  If you click on the picture, it will be bigger.


It’s good to know the Bayer Farm Chemicals corporation is looking out for these little tiny characters.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

North Carolina Week One

We’ve been busy keeping up with the family here in Cary. 

We have enjoyed two football games with two more this week.  Here is Adam, No. 20 playing for Davis Drive Middle School Panthers.


and, Aaron, No 66, who plays for Green Hope High School Falcons

IMG_7812-1and Evan, who plays basketball although this picture was taken at Jordan Lake where we spent the day fishing and hanging out.

IMG_2790Aaron’s JV team won their game with their nearby Cary rival Apex.  Adam’s team won as well.  We get to see Evan play a basketball game tonight and Thursday night both older boys play another game.

The weather is beautiful here—only one day of rain.  It rained the entire week before we arrived.  So glad we missed that. The water is high out at Jordan Lake, but we caught a couple small fish.  Not bad for no harder than we have tried.

Our trips back and forth from the lake to the kid’s home has been fun in our little rental “Nub:”

IMG_2787 aka Chevrolet Spark.  We’ve driven all over the place finally going through a tank of gas today.  It cost $17 to fill.  I have to say we have been surprised with it’s ride and handling.

Next,  Tobacco Road….

Friday, October 09, 2015

Dawkins Line Rail to Trail, Kentucky

As I write this, we are parked in a beautiful camp spot by Jordan Lake North Carolina—only about 15 minutes from Kim, Marc, Aaron, Adam and Evan’s house. We’ve been here two days and already saw two football games. But, more about that later.

We left for North Carolina Monday afternoon, arriving at our usual first night destination of Mt. Vernon, Illinois. The next day I planned a side trip to the Dawkins Line Rail Trail in eastern Kentucky. And, we made to the trail head in time for a short ride and then watch a beautiful sun set with a glass of wine.



IMG_7793The Dawkins Line rail road was originally owned by the Dawkins Lumber company.  Later, the train was used to carry coal.  Kentucky is proud of the trail now completed.  It has a prominent place on their State Park brochure.  There will be an additional portion opened within a year that will include another even longer tunnel.  

Since we intended to ride much further up the trail the next morning, we just rolled down the shades and spent the night. There were several moments of wondering if we did the right thing. I forgot to say the trail head was up a valley and remote. So, when a rather loud pickup truck drove by and shown a spot light over the PW, not once, but twice, we were a little concerned. Then when it went by the third time, we told ourselves it was low enforcement and they were just checking that we were OK.

There was a little fog over the valley when we woke, but the sun crept over the top of the hills and it was a beautiful clear day. We still had the area to ourselves. However, once we got on the trail, within one mile we passed by, or I should say behind, homes and businesses. When people were out, they were friendly.

The tunnel was long and dark in the middle. I still can’t figure out what happened, but I think I was a little disoriented by the dark and then hit some rough ground. Anyway, I ended up running into the wall of the tunnel! Thank goodness no injury, except to my ego. I know I will have a head lamp the next time I ride into a dark space.

Even though we were not at the peak of color, the trees were starting to turn so it was a  beautiful ride and drive.



Monday, October 05, 2015

Alvarado Campground and Bishop’s Castle

We were probably a week early for full aspen color, but still the Alvarado Campground was a beautiful destination.  It is located on the eastern slope of the San Isabel Mountain range. 

Friday morning, I woke to a bright glow coming in our window.  I grabbed the camera and was barely able to capture the beautiful morning light.


Doug has the cast iron cooking down to a science.  Drue and I mixed up the ingredients and in no time we were dipping in to this goodness.


The guys took off for the Westcliff to fill a propane bottle and we girls took off for the mountains.  It was a beautiful trek up through trees and streams.  Gunner loved the water and Eve had to take in all the smells.  And, I found a geocache.  Carly got some good pictures—I should have hers on here instead of mine.


P9180349P9170336 We were ready for the roaring fire which we built up after cooking steaks over the coals earlier.   We discovered a tiny bit of left over cheese cake was delicious in with the chocolate and marshmallows in our smores for dessert. 

The next morning we were up early—so were the dogs.  We know that because someone cracked open the PW door and they “slipped” in.  I wonder who it was that let them in….


Doug and Drue headed back home because they had tickets to the Monument Beer Festival.  The rest of us headed to Bishop’s Castle.

Bishop’s Castle was a lifelong project by one man with some help from his son.   This massive structure is hand made out of stone and iron.  Jim Bishop purchased the land near Rye Colorado in 1959 at the age of 15.  The castle grew over his lifetime to what it is now—a real castle, full of intrigue.  Mr. Bishop has strong convictions and the disagreements with the State of Colorado over his castle are made clear with handwritten signs on the property. 

Since Mr. Bishop was a welder by trade, I had to believe the globe where I stood to take Trent and Carly’s picture in the tower is secure even though it swayed in the wind and whenever I moved.  Without the kids cheering me on, I am not sure I would have made it up there. 

Click here or on the picture.  When the Smug Mug web site comes up, click on slideshow in the upper right hand corner.  It might help you appreciate Mr. Bishop’s dream.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Fall in Colorado

Our fall trip to Colorado most generally falls around the middle of the month.  It is the time of Doug’s birthday but it is also a beautiful time to visit the area. 

We timed our arrival to watch Trent play in his junior high football game.  The weather was perfect and his team won.  We were excited to find out there was another game on Thursday evening—a bonus. 

We managed a birthday “cheese”cake for Doug’s birthday.  Oops—no candles.


On Thursday, Dan and I rode a part of the Santa Fe Rail to Trail near their house in Monument while everyone was busy with their day.  This is a popular trail and well maintained.  We thoroughly enjoyed our ride from Monument to Palmer Lake and back.  This picture was taken at the shelter at Palmer Lake where took a little break.


Thursday morning we left early for the Alvarado Campground near Westcliff Colorado,  located in the San Isabel National Forest.  The rest of the family would come after work and school.  Since it was just the two of us, we stopped by the Arkansas City River Walk trail near Canon City.  We started at the east end of the trail and rode the seven miles into the city and back.  It was a beautiful trail that runs along the Arkansas River most of the way.  This was taken on one of the three bridges over the river.



A great spot to relax by the river.

It is late so I will tell more about our beautiful camp spot and Bishop’s Castle tomorrow.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Frisco Highline and South Wind Rail Trail

I am behind in my posting  so this is about a little roadtrip we took on September 11, 12 and 13.  We were invited to our neighbor’s induction into the Allen County Junior College Athletic Hall of Fame.  He played baseball there before moving on to Division 1 schools.


Since we were traveling south, we ventured over into Missouri to check the Frisco Highline Rail Trail.  This is the second longest trail in Missouri at 36 miles, with the Kathy being the longest.  The former Frisco Highline Railroad carried Harry Truman from Springfield to Bolivar Missouri to warm up for his Whistle Stop campaign. 

The part of the trail near Springfield is urban.  So, we started north of there in Walnut Grove.  The small town did not post “no overnight parking” at the trailhead, so when we arrived at nearly dark, we just spent the night.  The next morning, we  jumped on the trail where there were already riders at day break. 

Our plan was to ride north to the Little Sac River Bridge and back, about 15 miles.  We totally enjoyed the route through farm land, then along the Coates Branch creek.  The information about the trail had said it was rough and washed out in places.  It must have been an old review, because we found it mostly well maintained.  It had periodic benches and the stream was flowing nicely—even a little waterfall.  It was a fun, relaxing ride.




We might have spent more time on the trail, but we decided we better not cut it too short.  As it turned out, we made it just in time for the banquet at Iola, Kansas.  After the banquet, we decided to head south to Humboldt Kansas, once again parking for the night at the South Wind Rail trail head.

South Wind Rail Trail 

We had about an hour of time the next morning before we needed to head home.  Dan decided he would just pick me up at Iola, so off I went.  This is a beautiful, well maintained trail that connects the two small towns.  In a first for Kansas, this trail was built mostly through the efforts of Thrive Allen County, an active local non profit.  It is also maintained by the local county commission.  The trail was busy despite the early hour I was riding.  Here is an example of small rural Kansas towns working together to make something that can be enjoyed by all.  This Trail also hooks up with the 51 miles Prairie Spirit Trail that runs north to Ottawa. 

Congratulations Iola and Humboldt for working together for the good of all!



Thursday, September 24, 2015

Electric Bikes

In case any of you are impressed with our recent athletic prowess on bicycle trails, prepare to be less that way when I tell you that Dan and I are riding electric bikes. (If you look closely at previous pictures of our bikes, you will notice the batteries, the only noticeable difference).   We’ve had them about eight months.  I decided it was time I fess up and fill in details.   Who knows, maybe some of you are not thinking we are just old farts and want to join in the fun….they are becoming more popular on the west coast—as if that means anything.  Anyway, here is the skinny:

First, I will say there are probably already  refinements on the new models of electric bikes.  They seem to be improving all the time and the biggest change is battery advancement.     This is not an endorsement for any particular brand name but only what I feel is the best fit for Dan and I. 

Dan’s bike is a Prodeco—one of the more popular brands.  It is certainly not the top of the line, but has a 500 watt motor.  I spent a lot of time researching electric bikes and decided for his weight, he would need this more powerful motor.  He has had excellent results.  The 36V Lithium Ion battery has given him good distance.  Depending on how much he assists, he should have a range of 30 miles—we’ve never ridden that far on one charge to check that though.  Prodeco is an American made bike with an 8 speed SRAM derailleur.  Our biking kids are appalled at the weight—55 pounds including the battery.  But, it is a nice looking, solid bike.

My bike is an X-Treme.  It is made in China and not the quality of Dan’s.  However, it is also less expensive.  It is similar to Dan’s in many respects except for the less powerful  300 watt motor which should be an incentive to peddle more because that would only be about 20 miles with heavy battery use.  It has a Shimano 7 speed derailleur shifter.  It is also weighs in at a heavy at 52 pounds, including the 24 V Lithium Ion battery.

Now, how to carry the bikes on the back of the PW.   The 1upUSA Aluminum Quik-Rack Bicycle Hitch Carrier is an USA made all aluminum secure carrier.  We can’t say enough about how easy it is to load and unload the bikes.  The fact that it is aluminum reduces the weigh but still it is a beefy carrier.

Finally, I thought I would feel better about carrying the bikes behind the PW in all weather if they are covered.   I ended up with the brand name yardstash.  It seems for a while, every time we traveled, it rained.  The covers did their job of keeping the bikes fairly dry and clean.

A quick review of our electric bicycle setup. 

Obviously this is an investment.  However, I feel both bikes will certainly be sufficient for our needs.  The Prodeco has less rattles and squeaks.  Also the motor is a bit quieter.  Still, I am sure most people we meet on the paths would not know we have electric bikes.  There is a slight “whine” upon acceleration.  It is high pitched and animals seem to notice it most often. 

In case there is confusion, we do peddle like a regular bike and, only if desired, we activate the motor to get an assist.  This is when the more powerful motor is most noticeable.  On very steep hills, my less powerful motor has stalled out but Dan has yet to have that issue.

To address the question of why don’t we just get in better shape and ride a regular bicycle—especially since we enjoy the relatively flat rails to trails bike paths.  Well, we aren’t getting any younger.  Dan will be looking at double knee surgery sooner rather than later.  We really like riding together as we travel.  We are now getting a lot more exercise than we did before the bikes.  As we travel, we usually find at least one trail a day to ride.  As we get in better shape, we will peddle more and use the motor less.

In the next few days, I will be writing about three of our latest trails.  But, now you might not be as impressed as previously with our fitness level.  Just know we are having fun.