I took advantage of a moms-and-kids playdate today to take a long, fun, and tiring bike ride on gravel roads east and south of Northfield. I didn’t have enough time to make it all the way to Kenyon, but I did enjoy a steady ride through a countryside that’s looking increasingly, beautifully bleak. I detoured off my route to visit the well-known Vang Lutheran Church (slides two and three in this slideshow), a classic Norwegian-American church in that it’s roughly five miles past the middle of nowhere. Those old Norwegians liked their churches white and far, far away.
Elsewhere, I saw acres and acres of cornfields in various conditions (standing, harvested, plowed under), several flocks of sheep, plenty of horses and cows, dozens of farms, and of course miles and miles of wonderful rolling roads. The roads were all substantially less rutted but more gravelly than they had been the last time I took this ride, in September. I’d guess that the county dumped more gravel on the roads and graded them in preparation for the winter. If so, I’m sorry to have carried a few pounds of that gravel back to Northfield in my tires, tights, and pack.
The weekend was pretty much perfect, thank goodness. It started off well, with a “daddy-daughter” breakfast outing to the coffeeshop on Saturday morning. $8 for enough food for all three of us? I’ll take it, especially since the novelty and fun of it set the whole day off right. The good weather encouraged lots of outdoor time, including – for the girls and me – a long walk after breakfast, a good bike ride before lunch, and another walk on Saturday; then a morning bike ride and an afternoon walk in the Arb on Sunday. The girls verily fell into bed tonight, and were out like that.
The “Arb walk” was gorgeous and fun. Vivi danced along to the various Wiggles songs she mastered earlier in the day, which entertained Julia and me and quite a few passers by. In between glances at the setting sun, we also found some good walking sticks, though Vivi liked one that was a bit disproportionate to her stature. Fun for all!
Riding through the Arb on the way to work the other day, I rounded my favorite corner and discovered that the young oaks in the “Alumni Field” had been topped with brown paper lunch bags. When I asked the Arb’s director, Nancy Braker, about this, she said that it’s a very low-tech but effective way to keep deer from browsing (and killing) the red oak and bur oak saplings. It’s also kinda funny-looking.
This weekend’s highs were pretty low, but things wound up well when the girls and I went on a lovely afternoon walk with their two best friends and their dad. As you can see, this pleased pretty much everybody.
And when we got home, Shannon had just finished a home-cooked meal of turkey meatloaf and oven fries. More, please.
Okay, okay, I know I’m going overboard with the photos this week, but my brain’s too overworded at work to let me compose any coherent prose at home. And today’s bike ride to work was so fantastically pretty, I have to blog it.
My bike tires’ track through the frosty grass on the field behind Carleton’s Rec Center. The frosted grass crunched like peanut shells as I rode over it.
The Lower Lyman Lake, beautifully cross-hatched by the November morning breeze. I could’t capture the reflection of the moon flickering in the ripples, but it was gorgeous – a silvery circle being pulled apart and reassembled as the water moved.
The waning gibbous moon hanging in the sky above Carleton’s Boliou Hall. Somehow the moon is smaller in this shot than it was in real life.
Today was pretty much the perfect fall day: sunny, crisp, and fragrant, with just enough of a wind to remind a person that it won’t be long before the snow will start to fly. Here’s what campus looks like these days:
I’ve never gone on a pleasure (okay, “training”) ride this late in the year, but today’s gorgeous weather (and the possibility of a bike race next weekend!) pulled me out onto the roads today. In between some intervals, I enjoyed fantastic scenery. Click here for a small set of photos, including these two.
I hit one of my favorite gravel roads for a short ride this afternoon between lunch and our annual visit to the pumpkin patch. For the first half of the ride, I suffered by heading into a 15mph wind. For the second half, I suffered by trying to get some energy out of legs that had been trashed from standing at the concert last night. Even so, it was a gorgeous ride. I hope I can do it a few more times this fall, and maybe even give it a shot this winter.
The view south down Ibson Road, which was about 90% of this ride:
A tattered windmill on a farm along Ibson Road. Anybody see Don Quixote nearby?
The view over my bars – though this shot doesn’t capture any of the zillions of caterpillars wandering west to east over the road. Why so many? Why were they all going west to east, and always so perfectly perpendicular to the road? Strange…