Dec 7, 2017 - Family, Friends, Travel    No Comments

Merry Christmas 2017

We wish all of our friends and acquaintances a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2018.  Or at least a year that doesn’t have as much dismal national news as 2017.

Georgia and I have spent the year doing the usual things that retired people do; if you follow us on Facebook, you know probably more than we remember!  You can scroll down the posts here to see what some of our activities have included.   I’ve been riding my bike a lot (achieving a goal of 2000 miles this year) and working with my amateur radio (my call is KØGUZ). Terry also has a ham radio license (KEØHNW) and he has had a lot of fun packing it in to mountaintops and contacting other hams, using battery power.  I’m not into climbing a 14,000 foot peak, but if you can drive most of the way there, I’m game.  This is me, my radio and antenna and computer, on an unnamed peak in Utah:

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Georgia, with the help of  friends, has learned how to quilt, use her sewing machine and play the addictive and very complex game of Mah Jong.  She hosts regular games with three neighbors. 

And of course we’ve spent as much time as possible with our grandchildren – three live nearby in Grand Junction, and the youngest lives near Durban, South Africa.  Our oldest just started high school.

We took a couple of weeks to visit friends in North Carolina, and a week with Sue and Charlie Fienning and their friends in Pawley’s Island,

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and we went to Wyoming to view the solar eclipse.  Paula (Georgia’s sister) saw 90% of it from Cheyenne, but Paula’s husband Michael and I drove north about 75 miles to see the 100% eclipse.  It was awesome.

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Above:  Michael and me just before we we were abducted by space aliens during the total eclipse.

The population of Wyoming more than doubled as hundreds of thousands of Colorado residents streamed northward to view the event.  It was really worth it.

Our year is ending with a visit from our South African granddaughter and her mommy.   After a couple of days here, they flew to San Diego to be with Jackie.

Arrival from South AfricaEnjoying the beach

We hope that this is a sign that 2018 will be a good year.

Steve & Georgia

Dec 9, 2016 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Merry Christmas 2016 & Happy New Year 2017

This is our annual Christmas themed blog entry; this year, we’ve taken several trips and most of them are outlined in entries.  Just scroll down and read whatever interests you.  One trip that isn’t mentioned (yet) is one we took to Brooklyn, Iowa to visit a family reunion for members of the family of Georgia’s grandmother Georgiana Kreiss/Mitchell.  It was one of those surprisingly warm and wonderful meetings with people you never knew before with whom you have more in common than you thought.  We combined this with a trip to visit her family in Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.

Steve has been riding his bicycle a lot – and we even took a trip to Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois specifically so he could ride on rail trails there.  He’s also been working on the family history – click here to see if you recognize anyone.  If you’re related to us, request a user account and you can find out things about yourself and your family and correct any misinformation.

Like many, well be glad to see 2016 in the rear view mirror.   We hope that you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Steve & Georgia Carter

Oct 17, 2016 - Family, Relatives    No Comments

Happy Anniversary

One fine spring day several young people helped celebrate Ruth Grinstead’s sixteenth birthday. Among the guests were Zeiner Ploughe and Hester Phillips a/k/a Esther Ellis.

1916 Sheridan Indiana NewsOne hundred years ago this Wednesday, October 19, the young couple weremarried by a JP in Clark County, Indiana.1916 Indiana Marriage License

Their children were Robert Ploughe, and Harold and Ralph Carter. We are all related to them. So now you have a good reason to party on Wednesday!
Sep 23, 2016 - Bicycling    No Comments

Illinois Prairie Path Sampler

Total distance: 4.16 mi
Max elevation: 686 ft
Min elevation: 292 ft
Total climbing: 499 ft
Total descent: -128 ft
Average speed: 8.03 mi/h

The Illinois Prairie Path trail is probably the second rail-trail in the country, and was created on the right of way of the abandoned Chicago, Aurora and Elgin electric railroad.  The CA&E has a long history; it was built in 1902 and the railroad was abandoned in 1958. In 1963, the entire length was converted to a bike/pedestrian trail running from Chicago to the Fox River cities of Aurora and Elgin.

The CA&E ran from the Chicago loop, and my mother often took us to downtown Chicago on the train, not the car.  Riding the big third rail electric cars from Elmhurst to the city along the private right of way and on the L (elevated) tracks made a lasting impression on me.

In an unparalleled display of municipal short-sightedness, the railroad went bankrupt in 1957, and no government entity took it over.  A judge signed an order authorizing abandonment just before lunch, and all of the trains were recalled to Wheaton by noon, leaving many stranded – and angry and frustrated – commuters with no way to get home.  It made the front page of the Chicago papers.  I remember it.

The abandoned right of way was converted to a trail in 1963, so it’s actually been a trail almost as long as it was a railroad.  We had hoped to ride from Wheaton east at least to beyond Elmhurst, and perhaps beyond, but the 80% chance of precipitation proved too accurate.  Being obsessed with this ride, I forced my cousin Mike to ride in the rain a few miles from the Villa Park station to York Road, where we’d caught the train years ago. The station is located near the old Ovaltine factory:

CA&E Villa Park Station

The gray and gloomy day when we got there:
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Only a few miles east we crossed York Road.  I recall that my dentist’s office was on the second floor of the building on the corner, above a drug store, and I could watch the trains roll by while getting my cavities filled.

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It’s now an art gallery

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It’s ironic that the adjoining property owners bitterly resisted the conversion of the right of way to a trail (they wanted the property to enlarge their back yards); the path has apparently substantially improved their property values, and the tiny WWII crackerbox houses along the way have been converted to Illinois McMansions.

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So the Prairie Path remains on my list of must-ride trails. It is even possible to ride from Elmhurst to my cousin Bob’s house in Plainfield in less than 4 hours, almost entirely on bike trails. Next time ….

Sep 20, 2016 - Bicycling    No Comments

Kankakee River State Park

Total distance: 12.71 mi
Max elevation: 623 ft
Min elevation: 548 ft
Total climbing: 732 ft
Total descent: -728 ft
Average speed: 9.23 mi/h

Short and beautiful.  This is one case in which words aren’t needed:

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Sep 20, 2016 - Bicycling    1 Comment

Elroy – Sparta Trail

Total distance: 34.36 mi
Max elevation: 1207 ft
Min elevation: 774 ft
Total climbing: 1211 ft
Total descent: -1332 ft
Average speed: 10.94 mi/h

The Chicago and North Western railroad built a line from Elroy to Sparta, Wisconsin, in the 1870’s.  In order to accommodate the steam engines of the time, the grades were modest, and three tunnels were bored through the hills.

C&NW in 1908

At one time (this is in 1907), three passenger trains per day thundered each direction.

1907 Official Railway Guide

Passenger service ended, and the line was torn up, and in 1967 this became the country’s first rail-trail conversion.

P1030289It’s now recognized as one of the premiere bike paths in the country, and Sparta advertises itself as the Bicycle Capital of America.  The size of the parking lots along the 33 mile route are a good clue that it’s heavily used on summer weekends.

It was a perfect day to explore this trail; the weather was warm but not hot, and puffy white clouds and a canopy of green trees kept the sun away.  The trail itself is not paved; it’s covered with fine gravel which probably could be ridden on a skinny tire road bike, but I was glad to have the 40mm wide tires on my bike.

Leaving Elroy the old railroad grade proceeds up a slight (1-2%) grade through lovely farmland (the Wisconsin license plates used to boast that the state was America’s Dairyland).

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The yellow tag on my bike is a bike pass; as a state park, you need to pay $5 per day (or $25/year) to use these trails.

The roadbed continued north and west, and the hills (I refuse to call them mountains) on each side narrowed.  Suddenly: the first of three tunnels.

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It’s dark and cold inside; you must walk your bike because riders have become disoriented and crashed. It’s not very big, and is hard to imagine  that there was much clearance for a full sized locomotive and railroad car.  The pinhole on the far side got bigger and the opening to the rear got smaller, and about 1600′ later, I emerged into the sunlight.  A nice downgrade, and I arrived at Kendall’s, a little town with a depot, restaurants, and Georgia, who had driven ahead and waited for me.  She discovered an Amish street vendor from whom she bought some nice presents to take home.

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Tunnel #2 was pretty much the same; on the downhill to the next town and upgrade to #3 I passed an old man who had set up an ice cream cart accessible only to riders.  I imagine he sells out in the summer; and wish I’d stopped.

Tunnel #3 is almost 3/4 of a mile long, and the porous limestone leaks water which gives bikers a cold, refreshing shower through the eastern half.  A school group of middle school boys was walking their bikes the other way, and watching their flashlights bob up and down, and listening to the Halloween noises they were making made the trip very … interesting.

 

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