Sunday, October 30, 2005

Prairie Home Companions

Sunday started out like many recent Sundays have. The Monkey and I woke early to prepare for a hike at one of Central Standard's many state parks. Today we would visit Prairie Home Conservation Area.

We got our gear together and had a cup of coffee, but soon the day became auspiciously strange. I went outside and saw a pileated woodpecker in a tree in the front yard. This was really wierd. We live between a park and a golf course, so there are plenty of trees in the area, but rarely do pileated woodpeckers venture out of thick forest cover. It was amazing. They're big black birds with white wing patches and a red cockade.

I called Monkey out to see it. We watched it for a moment and went back inside to get our stuff together. When I went out to the car with some gear, a white tail was running up the middle of our street. This was also new. The deer around here usually use the hill behind our house to get from one stand of trees to the next. I have never seen them in the middle of our street. I thought that both of these sightings were good signs.

We proceeded to Prairie Home, which is much closer than some of the recent places we've visited. We arrived at about nine and hit the trail.

Our jaunt was planned for about five miles. We figured we'd be back home in time for lunch. Our first mile or two was great. The trail was wide and well-marked. We flushed two covey of bobwhite from the brush beside a clearing. We saw small toads, beautiful butterflies, crayfish in the creeks. There was a bit of rain here and there, but hardly enough to turn things sour.

As we proceeded from our first checkpoint, and walked a gravel road through some farm land, we came across a gray cat out mousing the weathered sheds and hay barns. He (or she) was kind enough to take a break and pose for a photo op. The cat meowed the whole time. Maybe it wanted us to take it with us, but I didn't think that was such a good idea.

We passed through the farm, past an abandoned home, the porch fallen in and the roof collapsing. The lightning rod, however, stood proudly atop the roof's peak. Up a hill, past a small pond, Monkey and I came to our second checkpoint. There, things started to get a little hairy...but we didn't even know it.

We turned off the road and followed a horse trail that rose to the south, passed a pond and turned north back toward the road. At the bottom of a swale, we came upon a bizarre-looking rock standing at least twenty feet high. Monkey thought for sure she could see a face in the rock. After looking at it long enough, I had to agree with her. Clearly, you can see a high forehead and a nose.

Just past this rock, the trail became overgrown and hard to follow. It was clear that few feet, hooves, or paws had trod this neck of the woods recently. We did the best we could with compass and Department of Conservation map (not great) to find our way.

We found the road again and doubled back to a clearly marked path and a known spot on the map, and off we went to the north. We followed a horse trail through a field of soybeans planted for game, and a mile or so on plunged back into the woods. Here, the trail went vamoose again.

That's what we took to be the trail passing to the right of the large tree in the middle ground and the tree some yards behind it. It went on like that for a good piece. A couple of miles at least.

We made our way, slowly reading trail or finding blaze marks in the trees. We came across some really excellent natural areas, including a creek that trickled through the rocks and fell a few feet here and there.

On we went, thinking we would soon come to our next checkpoint. We crossed a few meadows, the grasses up to our chests, eventually coming upon trail markers, and feeling confident that we were on the right track. We startled a few wild turkeys from their territories. That is one of the oddest sights in the world: a wild turkey on the wing. It's like what I imagine a flying bus might look like.

We crossed a road and headed down into another swale. Ahead, Monkey spied another strange looking rock formation.

"Is that the face rock?"

"No way," I said, "that's a different rock."

After all, this one was flat, almost monlithic.

But, as we approached and passed the monolith, the face was revealed on the other side. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, our intrepid adventurers had managed a complete cirle!

We decided to backtrack, and eventually found ourselves passing through the farm again. We passed cordialities with the farmer, who now (12:30) was out working his land.

We treked back to the car, arriving at about 2 pm. Only two hours later than we had planned.

At home, we greedily consumed a sandwich and kicked back on the couch (you know the couch, now, right?) to finish the first season of "Lost."

Now, we have six episodes from this season to catch up on. After today's bizarre experience, I can really connect to some of the things those fictional castaways have to deal with.

Until next time!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What began as two ethnics in search of ultimately became two non-ethnics lost then not-lost and subsequently at home lost in Lost! Or maybe you found your selves in Lost. Meaning found *via* Lost. Or, found your selves lost in Lost. All who are lost need not be found, but it seems paramount that youse find your Lost - and, if need be, your selves!

Always finding my self to be clever even when at the loss of everyone else,