Monday, October 31, 2022

Section 30 County P ~ KVR Trail Challenge


Recall that little blind? It is so tiny, even a little person like myself can barely move in it. 

However it is proving to be pretty fun on some mornings. This little 8 point buck was about 300 yards away at the other end of the meadow.

This little doe came from the neighbor's meadow and walked between the fence wires. 

She kept looking around and the buck at the other end of our meadow saw/smelled her. He walked towards me and she ducked into the woods just west of this shot.

That was all the action I saw on Friday morning.

Charlie and I loaded up and headed out to tackle the trail section I'd been avoiding at Kickapoo Valley Reserve. 

Charlie and I saw some traffic and a lot of pheasant hunters. Charlie got his fill of hearing shotguns go off near the Weister Creek Trail. He became a bit nervous but didn't freak out. 

In my opinion there is no benefit to having the side of the road be designated as a Trail to hike on. 

The Trail Section is #30. It runs from Pott's Corners to KV Ranch which used to have horses years ago and would take folks on trail rides.  A person could stay at the cabin and ride down the road to access the rest of the KVR Trails.
Part of the access was a gate that led to a short section of the West Ridge Trail that still exists but is poorly maintained. We found the marker on our way back from the end near the KV Ranch. 

It was hidden and had not obviously been used, yet is part of the Trail Challenge.

Once we brush busted through the berry briars we did end up on what used to be a nicely groomed steep uphill climb. When I got to the top of the hogback ridge, the trail disappeared off to the right somewhere. There was no evidence of it being used recently at all. 

We spent time searching and found pieces of the trail. There were no markers, however if one studied the leaves and the ground you could sort of figure out where it was supposed to be.

It was however, very pretty.

We followed the trail and ducked under branches and went around deadfalls until we came out on Strait Rd at County P.

The mileage for this one way was 1.87. We may have done more as we wandered here and there to scout out the trail.

We found an area in the West Ridge Trail [woods] that was loaded with Wild Ginger and Hepatica. I noted that it would be neat to see the abundance of wildflowers next spring.

We made it back to where we parked with no issues. The traffic wasn't too bad on the road, but still it kept me wondering why it was marked as a trail. 

I have one other trail just like this to knock off this week and it is a bit longer. It runs from County F near the Wildcat Mountain border, follows State Hwy 131 for a bit and then heads out Hay Valley Rd to Campsite U and the Hay Valley Trail Head. 
At least part of this trail has a beaten down trail in the grass off of the road on County F.

Having a partner for these trails would be really nice. As it is I am doing them solo with Charlie so we walk the 'trail' and turn around and walk back.
With Bill we'd park one vehicle at each end and walk point to point.

I'm still close to our goal though.

With all the backtracking Charlie and I have done, I figured we've done about 70 miles of hiking or more at the KVR. All of it has been an adventure.

Charlie has been a champ. I think it proves that little short/long dogs can do it too. There have been a few times when I've had to carry him in warmer weather, but mostly he is an avid hiker.

Our goal is within reach and I hope to have it finished off before the gun deer season begins.  I have 4 more planned hikes. Three of them will require me to again go over trails I have done to trails I haven't done and then return.

I'm okay with that as it allows me to see the same woods in different seasons.

Here is Charlie in his home made carseat waiting for a treat and a ride home.

I thought I'd regret not getting another terrier, but he has proven to be an excellent partner in hiking as well as cuddling.

And...we are off again hopefully today!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Disturbing phone calls and scams

The Message went like this:

Urgent! Return your absentee ballot today! Did you know that whether you voted is public information?
Your neighbors will know if you voted!
Don't let your neighbors know you didn't vote.

IF you don't vote in the November 2022 General Elections, You're telling your neighbors that:...

[yadda, yadda, yadda, propaganda stuff...]

Your neighbors will know!

The next day we got a flyer with the same message.

Both parties are calling like nimrods and leaving dire messages on our landline.

Another disturbing phone call is the Amazon Scam. Not done by Amazon, but by scammers who repeat the calls every 15 minutes telling us that Amazon has gotten a suspicious charge on your account, in the amount of --- choose your amount --- please call 1-888-XXX-XXX and press one to talk to an account service rep.
I had to unplug our phone to stop the repeated calls. 

Yes, we have a land line because my cell doesn't have any bars in our house. I have to walk outside and away from the house to make or receive a call.

Then I got an email saying that I had a suspicious charge on my PayPal account. Yeah, that was pretty funny. Paypal has an expired card on file. No worries. I only used PayPal 7 years ago...once. Since I never used it I deleted the account and had them remove my data.

I can easily check any charges pending on my charge card and those that have been posted. If the credit card company gets an odd charge they will notify me in a way I won't explain here. However, it works and is very efficient. Charges above my norm or in a place that is not usually used by us are flagged.

There is also a very easy way to dispute charges which has been very successful.

I do wonder how many people fall for the scams that are via phone or email? 

Speaking of that, on another note. 
I had to do some investigating on an insurance claim for hubby.

He is a Veteran with Community Care that is local. His ER visit was billed to the VA and not Community Care. The VA said the claim could not be processed as it was to go to the CCN [Community Care Network]. The Hospital instead billed Medicare -- WRONG! -- I called them on it and explained the process to the billing department.

A month went by and the Hospital Billing Department said 'It just wouldn't go through'.

Which to me translated to: We won't make the effort to rebill the proper Insurance.

Today while waiting for an oil change I called the CCN folks at the Madison VA and found out that payment through the CCN Insurance had been authorized in July the day after the ER visit.

So I used Secure Messaging to pass that on to the Billing Dept and the specific person who told me I was wrong. Note this, Secure Messaging becomes a part of a patient file, no hiding by saying -- I didn't get the message!

I provided the Auth number and suggested they pay Medicare back and bill Optimum UHC. It would be considered fraud to bill the wrong insurance and get paid. Even worse when it is Authorized Care for a Veteran, he/she should NOT be billed.

So I often wonder, how do some of our elderly deal with these issues? The world is scary and invasive. Rotten phone calls that feel like threats. Scam phone calls that are confusing.

Hospital billings that are incorrect.

And I wonder.
How on earth can we stop it?

Last note.

A few years ago the VA system offered me a job as a Patient Advocate. You know what? That would be a great job. However, right now I have my hands full advocating for my own Veteran.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022



I have a standing 'date' so to speak with a young mom who also works full time. We meet on Tuesdays and go for a walk. 

This time we went back to the Mason Land. I'm not sure why it is called that, perhaps because someone named Mason may have owned it. The land was passed down through family ties. Anyway, it is there and we went back to it today.

We just walk and brush bust and look for interesting things. We wander in the woods, collecting burrs on our clothes and ducking branches. 

We were searching for fungi after the rain we had yesterday. And we found some. Mostly it was either dried up stuff or tiny little fungi blooming in the moisture from the rain.

There was an old chair we found tipped upside down at the base of an old towering oak tree. I flipped it over and proclaimed it to be Olive's new Remote Work Office.

She gave me a look and then laughed and sat in the chair and posed like this:

I told her that I loved to find old chairs that hunters have left in the woods for selfies. Why not? 

[Years before those fancy fold up hunting chairs were invented, hunters brought out old metal chairs and set them in the woods. Heck, that may have even been before tree stands were invented! Tree Stands? I have my own opinion on them...but I won't write about it here. I wrote about THAT in 2010 A Hateful Woman or Stupid Man Invented Tree Stands.]

Here I am in my New Office:

Yeah, in case you are wondering, we don't wear our good clothes while rummaging through the wild woods. 

Good conversation and laughter are things we both need. She as a young mom and a hard worker, me? Well,... you know me.

We take this time once a week to goof off for about an hour or so. 

We explore. Laugh. Point out strange and odd things.

We found Yellow Fairy Cup Fungi:

Witch's butter:

Woods Ear or Amber Jelly Roll:

Shaggy Scaly Caps:

The little Lego dude says -- don't eat this!

We found lots of these mainly on Boxelder Trees.

Fungi we found that was neat but I couldn't ID it at all. 
Not Chicken of the Woods:

We did find Hen of the Woods.
I cannot believe I didn't photograph it, but I was distracted by the amazing scene and took photos of the oak that had Hen of the Woods at its base. Maybe because the fungi was old and dried up and...well, looked just nasty!

This rock formation looks like a granite pile of huge rocks. Almost like the earth below thrusted it up in the middle of the woods.
Olive and I want to come back and explore the rocks one day. 

Both of us have to admit that a little bit of outdoor play time or forest time is essential for a good state of mind.
A little shinrin-yoku goes a long way.

Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese saying for Forest Bathing or simply immersing yourself in nature for your health.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Deer Stories

There was Homer, Jethro, and Zelda.

Oh but there were so many more, but those were the three out of about a dozen Sunday morning that caught my eye and the focus of my camera.

While sitting in a tiny blind in the dark and waiting for the deer to may---beee show up and maybe NOT show up can be boring.

However I listened to the birdsong and peeked out as the day went slowly from dark to dim, to sunrise. I heard and saw both Robins and Bluebirds along with the constant cry from the pack of Crows that live nearby. 

A rabbit slowly came out of the brush and nibbled on some plants not far from me. 

Slowly some young deer came out of the woods and entered the meadow. It was a surprise as I'd just looked and they were not there and...then they were.

Pretty quickly there were about 6 deer in the meadow. Some obviously still not yearlings and some does. A couple of young ones played chase and then settled in to nibble in the meadow.

They all turned when a spike buck walked out of the woods. He ignored them and walked over to the neighbor's fence line and jumped it to graze I suppose on the fallen apples.

Soon the another spike buck appeared. I've been seeing them with regularity so I named one Homer and one Jethro.
Homer thinks he is a real stud.

When he started chasing the girls around he did this....

So some gals watched and others just ran off.

Zelda said, NO Way!

Eventually Homer decided to follow.

All in the pursuit of love, right?

Monday morning was a bit of a dud, but I did get to watch a squirrel do some interesting things. We all know they bury nuts right? They do, but this guy did something different.

I know squirrels bury their nuts, but I didn't know that they hid them too!

Here he is burying his nut

and then covering it up with oak leaves.

Isn't nature just amazing?

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Wintergreen Trail

The last time I was on the Wintergreen Trail was January 14th of this year.

I met up with Aurora and we went to explore it in all of its Fall Splendor. We hiked it on the 20th. When I look back on our last fall hike together, I discovered had been on the 19th of October last year! Wow!

Talk about just about making it the same time two years in a row.

Looking back again, I noted that Charlie and I hiked the Wintergreen Trail on October 30th of 2021. In fact, it must be one of my favorite spots to go to since I can look back and see that I hiked this trail on the average of 3 to 4 times a year in the past.

This trail is fantastic in all seasons. The only time I have not hiked it, is when the trillium is blooming in the spring alongside the trail. 

In damp warm weather, the trail area shows off with amazing fungi/mushroom finds along with ravenous skeeters. In the winter, there are ice formations if you know how to look for them.

In the fall? It is just amazing with the leaves coming down on the trail and the dense pines along the bluffs.

The morning light filtering through the trees was magical on the trail. 

I really just love the yellows that the maples drop. They make the forest floor glow for a few days until the leaves dry up.

In places where the leaves where really thick, Charlie had to wade through them. He didn't seem to mind as he was really on the look out for Chipmunks and Squirrels. 

There is one spot to always stop at and take a deep breath. It is an small bluff that overlooks the Kickapoo River. Every single time I take this trail I take a photo of it. Over the years, the trees have changed due to floods, but two seem to preserver on the banks despite the river's attempts to move them.

This is this boxelder seems to shrug off the river's efforts to send it downstream. There is the other one just south of it that holds fast too.

I've climbed out to the lower rock in all seasons just to sit and enjoy the view. I rarely go on the weekend as this is a pretty popular trail. I like to have this spot all to myself. Aren't I selfish?

The last leg of the Wintergreen Trail is on a bluff that is covered in pines and smells absolutely wonderful.

The walk is worth it. 

Shadows! Here Aurora and I stopped to gaze down the dry/wet runs to where ice formations form in the winter time.

Then we headed out to take on the last leg of the trail.

At the end of the bluff, I usually sit on the rocks and pretend the view is part of my own forest kingdom. Of course it isn't, but hey, I like to pretend.

Of course, I couldn't resist taking out some of my friends I'd brought along for their moment in the golden sunlight.

And here is a photo grabbed from a Wikimedia site.

I labeled it.
The photo was taken circa 1979:

The pink arrow points to the end of the bluff where the Wintergreen Trail ends. The dam tower still stands to this day. 

Since 1979, the river has slightly changed its route but the pines and forest around the bluff that was scraped clean of vegetation has grown back. 

I've walked around the tower and I've stood on top of the dam to take photos of the sun coming up and the night sky.

No matter how often I walk this trail and no matter who I walk it with, I am still left with a sense of wonder in any season.

And maybe I'm just a little bit happy that the dam project was never completed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Lego Adult Build brings a Surprise

Something very different happened this weekend.
As some of you all know, I dig Legos. It all started when a neighbor boy gave me an old Lego minifigure.
When the neighbor this summer chucked all of her childhood Legos into the dumpster we shared...well, I did some dumpster diving and it took off from there.

Over the summer I decided to add a skid steer, a 4 wheeler, a motorcycle, and a truck for my Lego folks to get around on. 
I had so much fun with the toys this summer....

Remember Squatch? He and Hobby have searched all summer to find relatives. And Big Foot and Yeti have been too shy to step forward...
Well eventually that story will be told. I've got a lot of catching up to do...

So, I knew fall would bring cold weather and that I'd be spending time indoors. I decided to break down and order a Christmas Lego Build. I ordered Santa's Visit from Lego. It comes with nearly 1,500 pieces and is considered a Lego Adult Expert Build. 
What more fun could that be? 
I'd have a Christmas Lego Set to display!

Here is the view of the box:

When I unpacked the box and showed it to Rich, he was fascinated. Thankfully he didn't ask me how much it cost. [$99.00 😲]
He wanted to know what it was all about. When I pulled out 9 bags of Legos out of the box and set them on the table, he was even more curious.

In fact, so curious, that he started to separate the pieces as I called them out for the first build of the Christmas Tree and the fence for the yard of the house.

 He even started to play with it.

In fact...
He is so engaged in searching for pieces and seeing how it is done [he can spot where the pieces go rather quickly], that I don't do any building unless he is there too.

There are those who consider something like this a waste of money. After all, what are toys? Right?

Something very wonderful happened. For 3 days now, we have been engaged together between the times he has to rest... building a Lego Set.

He actually sort of engages in laughter and play. Like when I wanted a photo of him helping, he set his inhaler on the chimney and his nasal spray on the doorway. Huh. Funny Guy!

To engage in more play. I made him his own personal Lego Person.
Here is Rich and I:

Funny. Rich decided that the Dove should go in the tiny Lego Frying Pan and he'd stir it with an egg beater.

So what can I conclude?

Rich doesn't do puzzles as they don't interest him. But this is a puzzle in 3D. 

Lucky for us I have another build waiting in the wings.
I hope this engaging fun continues. 

We even had some more fun last night when I put some other Lego figures in the set and had one Lego gal chasing another Lego person with a frying pan.

It makes me wonder if Nursing Homes and Senior Centers would ever consider something like Duplo Builds for Seniors as engaging for those who just want to do something with their hands even though they have arthritic hands?

Just a thought.