Homer's Travels: September 2018

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Hiking Hitchcock In The Rain

When it comes to hiking in the rain I'm a chicken.  You would think that I thought I would melt.  I am trying to change.  Today I went hiking at Hitchcock with a 34 lb pack in the light drizzle.

It wasn't raining too hard but I think a drizzle is a good start at changing my feelings about walking in the rain.  I was wearing my Ferrino Trekker backpacking rain coat so I was fairly dry.  I love that coat.  It keeps me nice and dry from the knees up and I didn't overheat like I did with my old rain jacket.

Cool Fungi (???).
There is one secret to keeping cool in rain gear.  If you push your sleeves up to your elbows, exposing your forearms, you will cool down.  Yes, your forearms will be wet but you won't sweat like you are in a sauna.  I figured this out on my last Camino and it worked well on my hike today.

There is more rain in the forecast this week and I'm sure I will be doing more hiking in the rain.

Monday, September 24, 2018

I Have That Rising Water Feeling

I went for a bike ride today heading south and east along the Papio Creek and Missouri river.  The rivers are high with the Missouri river approaching flood stage which, I believe, is unusual for this time of year.

The Keystone and Bellevue Loop bike trails run on top of or beside the levees along the two rivers.  The trails dip down to pass under road overpasses.  The last dip under was along the Papio creek where it feeds into the Missouri river.  The river was backing up into the creek raising the water levels.  This is what that underpass looked like this morning:

A flooded Bellevue Loop bike trail.

I ended up going over the road to get around the water.  The trail ends at Haworth park which is closed due to flooding.  There is a farm field between the trail and the Missouri river along part of the trail.  Today this field was a lake that was being enjoyed by three pelicans, a rather rare sight near Omaha.

In the end, I ended up riding 41.5 miles (66.7 km) which is the longest I've ridden since RAGBRAI back in 2015.  My thighs are still screaming.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Happy First Day Of Autumn!!!

It is the fall equinox today and I went out to celebrate with a hike at Hitchcock Nature Center.  I've been going to Hitchcock once or twice a week for a while now to train myself for hill climbing.  I've been training with a 35 lb (15.8 kg) backpack to give myself a good workout.

We've had a hot August and the past few weeks have been tough hikes.  Between the heat, humidity, and clouds of starving mosquitoes, it's been a struggle to meet my distance goals.  Fortunately fall has arrived and with the changing of the seasons the temperatures have dropped nearly thirty degrees.  The lower temperatures and the blue skies made today's 6 mile (9.6 km) hike much more enjoyable.

Over the past few weeks I've seen the Monarch Butterfly migration come through.  Soon birds will start migrating through the area and the leaves will start changing.  I think I seen something different every time I visit Hitchcock.  I even saw some Iowan Hemp this hike - might explain why Iowans are so happy.

A little Iowan Hemp along the side of the trail.
I think Autumn may just be my favorite season.  I hope you all have a great first day of Autumn!!!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Book: John Scalzi's "The Human Division"

After finishing "ZoĆ«'s Tale" last March I re-entered the world of the Scalzi's Old Man's War.  My latest read was the next in the series: "The Human Division."

The book is a fitting continuation of the saga.  Earth and the Colonial Union are divided.  Rivals to the humans, and especially the Colonial Union, are vying for an alliance with the Earth thus depriving the Colonial Union from its life blood.  In the background a mysterious third party with unknown motives is sabotaging the negotiations.

The book is a good romp in the Space Opera genre with interesting characters.  The one thing I wasn't keen on is how the book was put together.  The book was published by the chapter.  This means each chapter almost has to be an independent short story that, when combined with the other stories, make one coherent novel.  This made the book feel a bit disjointed at times and transitions from one venue to another were sometimes a bit jarring.

I still liked it and gave it four stars out of five on Goodreads.  The book ended with many loose ends that will be tied up in the next book of the series already available for purchase.

Friday, September 14, 2018

To Brighten Things Up A Bit

One of the Wife's Sunflowers.
To help balance out the ugly politics and the ugly hurricane news, I give you two pictures of the Wife's sunflowers.  She's tried to grow them for awhile now and pests had conspired against her by eating most of her attempts.  This year she was successful.  They were not large but they were pretty ... before the bugs ate them.

A small - 1 inch across more or less - sunflower.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Seventeen Years Ago Today ...

Seventeen years ago today the towers began to fall.

They continue to fall today.

When, if ever, will the falling end?

Friday, September 07, 2018

Canada: Magnet Edition

People who follow Homer's Travels knows that the Wife and I collect travel magnets from our world travels.  Our Canada By Rail trip was no different but I think we went a little overboard.

One of my favorites - a multicolored polar bear from Churchill, MB.
We bought magnets at every stop along our train trip across Canada from west to east.  We bought a magnet for each city, each province, and each attraction we visited.  In Jasper we also bought magnets for attractions we did on our honeymoon which we took before our magnet habit started.

An Inukshuk from Vancouver, BC.
In the end, after seven provinces, seven cities, and a large number of attractions, we ended up with fifty-four new magnets (bringing our total to four-hundred-fifty-seven).

An inclusive version of the Canadian flag acquired I Jasper, AB.
I have photographed all the magnets and added them to the Travel Magnets tab (at the top of the web page under the title).

A Sailing Ship from Halifax, NS.
Awhile back the travel magnets moved from the refrigerator to a sheet of plywood clad in metal.  Later I added an additional half sheet of metal clad plywood.  Both display boards are now full and there is not enough room for most of the Canadian magnets.  I will have to look for a way to expand our magnet displays.

A Halifax Lobster with springy legs.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Eaten Alive

I went to Hitchcock Nature Center yesterday to do a short hike.  The short hike turned into an even shorter hike.  Apparently all the rain, heat, and humidity is the ideal environment to breed mosquitoes.

I've been going to Hitchcock a lot lately since it's the only place in the area to add elevation to my hiking.  I am also going back each week in the hope to catch the Monarch butterfly migration that comes through here in August and September.  Last weekend I didn't see nary a mosquito but yesterday - Yowza!

I started my hike and was immediately swarmed.  I would wipe my hand along my arm and kill four to six mosquitoes at once.  All I could see as I walked the trail were mosquitoes swarming around my head.  I don't remember anytime the mosquitos were this bad.  Not even in Churchill or Alaska.  After maybe fifteen minutes of swatting, smacking, and swearing I gave up and headed back to the car.

Today I have too many bites to count on my arms and a few more around my neck.  My elbows, apparently, are a mosquito delicacy.  I got welts everywhere and they are starting to itch.

Next week when I go it will be a long shirt and lots of bug spray before I head out again.

Now I'm wondering how long does it take for West Nile to start showing symptoms?