Tag Archives: Lincoln

Drinking Local in the Third Quarter of 2019

Here is how things shook out for my goal of drinking local in the third quarter of 2019:

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Pretty good, I think.

Really light on the packaged beer for home because I did not drink much out of cans and I had “forward bought” some beer in the second quarter that sat in my refrigerator into the third quarter.  This might change in the fourth quarter.

About the only beer that was not “local” was the Firetrucker Brewery Cloud City, but that came from a brewery just two hours away in Ankeny, Iowa.  Over the Labor Day weekend I was drinking local in Nebraska with Lincoln area breweries including stops at both White Elm Brewing and Code Beer Company.  I am hoping to make a return trip to try out a wider selection of beers and breweries.

As a note, I did not record the beers that I drank during a trip to the so-called ABC islands.  Throughout the week I drank quite a few Balashi, Carib, and Polar lagers.  The joke in my house is that the beer does not matter since it all tastes the same.  Just order a Chango.   Now, drinking Polar lagers was interesting since the company is from Venezuela so it felt a little bit like I was breaking with protocol given the state of relations with the United States.

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Labor Day in Lincoln, Nebraska Leads to…

Bikes and beers of course.  Were you thinking I was going to say University of Nebraska Cornhusker football?  Hah!

As a loyal University of Iowa alumnus going to spend a long weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska I was not going to participate in any game day festivities.  Instead I was going to attack the Homestead Trail south of town.

Last year over the Memorial Day weekend I went on a ride that covered a portion of the Homestead and Jamaica North trails.  At the time the temperature was hovering around 90 some degrees with an equal percentage of humidity which forced me to cut my ride short.  Heading back to my truck I vowed to return.

The route from just south of Lincoln at the trailhead off Saltillo Road southward to Beatrice is a little over 30 miles.  Round trip I expected this ride to take about 4 hours assuming I could keep a consistent cadence on the gravel.

The morning started out cool and humid.  How humid?  Like fog dripping from the sky humid.  Like trailside grasses sagging under the weight of morning dew humid.  At least the trail dust was kept down by all the moisture in the air.  One can really tell that it has been a wet spring and summer in Nebraska just by the density of the greenery along the trail.  It is damn near jungle-esque.

Traffic on the trail was light.  A few ultra-runners early on, but almost completely depopulated by mile ten.  I passed a few people on bikes the rest of the way.  If you want to be alone with your thoughts on a bike I highly recommend the Homestead Trail.

The trail surface was in good condition for most of its length.  Somewhere around mile 20 the trail was scarred by what appeared to be quad bike tracks that whipsawed across the width of the gravel surface.  It was as if someone deliberately came out after a rainstorm and dug deep tire tracks in an effort to frustrate cyclists.  If so, that is just sad and belongs in the hall of shame next to the guys who “roll coal” next to cyclists at traffic stops.

I have got to be honest, the trail is a lot of this:

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If it looks really flat that is because the trail is really flat.  Over 60.34 miles—out and back to Beatrice—I gained a total of 479 feet.  That is right, just an average of less than 8 feet of elevation gain per mile.

I made it to Beatrice:

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Barn wood…it’s not just for people from Waco, Texas:

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Caution: Animal Holes…my new favorite sign:

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The reward for achieving my goal of riding to Beatrice and back was a trip around Lincoln to try out a few, new to me breweries.  My legs were rubber after sixty miles of riding, but I was game for quick pit stop by White Elm Brewing and Code Beer Company in Lincoln.  Both breweries put out a well-made IPA.  I really only had the energy to sample a few beers before heading to dinner and bed.

Like before, I will be back.

Homestead and Jamaica North Trails Ride Report

This past weekend in Lincoln was a blast…okay, spending two days in a garage driving nearly 500 2” pan head screws for a slat wall in near 100 degree heat was not a blast but I did get to ride.  Specifically, I spent a morning on large chunks of the Homestead Trail and Jamaica North Trail southwest of the city.

For a lot of people this is the Homestead Trail:

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Look it up “Homestead Trail” on Google and this is likely to be in almost all of the images.  Yes, bridges and century old ironworks are cool but this bridge is about a mile south of the trailhead.  It is not like people are really getting deep into the trail to get their shots for Instagram.

The trail runs thirty miles almost due south from the trailhead on Saltillo Road in Lincoln to Beatrice.  I rode about halfway to Beatrice before a headwind really picked up and I started to get concerned about the rising temperature.  It was already in the low 80s by mid-morning.

The ride reminded me a lot of what the Cedar Valley Nature Trail used to be like before it was paved all the way into Center Point.  It’s not good or bad that the trail is paved.  It is just different.  The surface is a thin layer of crushed limestone—yay, limestone dust in every crevice—over packed dirt.  There were very few ruts and it did not seem like anyone had been out when the trail was wet to cause any trouble, which is more than I can say for some of the unpaved sections of the CVNT north of Center Point.  Whoever rode their fat bike on the trail and put a wandering two inch wide rut in the trail for about three miles can suck a fat one.  I digress…

At about the mid-point of my ride the Homestead Trail ran parallel to Highway 77 which is a four lane divided highway from Lincoln to Beatrice.  You will find yourself exposed to some serious wind in this section.  Be advised.

The Homestead Trail is connected to the rest of Lincoln’s trail via the Jamaica North Trail.  The Jamaica North Trail runs a little more than 6 miles north and south on the west side of Lincoln.  The southern portion is crushed limestone like the Homestead Trail and the northern section is paved.  I did not ride on any pavement for the portion I rode.

On a hot day this was a nice ride because it was shaded by thick vegetation.  The gnats were not even that bad on the day that I rode.  It was even too hot to eat a Runza.

Right now the biggest issue with this great trail pair is that most of the southern portion of Lincoln is isolated from the trail via active railroad tracks.  There is a fundraising effort underway to build a link connecting these trails to the existing Rock Island Trail near Densmore Park.  One can never have enough trails.

If you find yourself heading to Lincoln grab your adventure bike and get out on the trails.  The Great Plains Trails Network has some excellent maps to guide you on your way.

Remember, where the pavement ends is where unlimited possibility begins.

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What a Difference a Week Makes

What a difference a week of rain makes.  This was the drought picture for the state of Iowa last week per the U.S. Drought Monitor:

IA_dm_130409After a very wet week, this is what things look like this week:

IA_dm_130416The real dramatic change is how much of the state is out of “extreme” drought.  Keep in mind that this picture does not include the rain that we got all through Tuesday night and Wednesday.  Things are really wet right now.

How wet?  Roads are being closed because water is rushing over them.  Streams and creeks have broken their banks and flooded low lying areas.  Heck, Coralville Reservoir’s levels are rising to such a level that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to assuage everyone’s fears about the flood of 2008 happening again.

If the rains keep coming we are going to swing from extreme drought last year to springtime flooding this year.  Climate change anyone?

 

 

We’re Outta’ Here!

It’s official.  Linn County, where I live in eastern Iowa, is no longer in a state of drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor:

IA_dm_130409The areas in white are considered to be “free” of drought.  How free is another question considering how persistent drought can be.

This picture will probably get better as Tuesday was the cutoff for data samples and it has rained across much of the state for the entire week.

The turnaround has been quite nice over the past few weeks as actual rain has fallen with a steady drumbeat.  Granted, the rain has also been accompanied by low temperatures so it is making for some miserable days.  Take the good with the bad and all.

Actually, I think the cooler temperatures are at play in helping us get out of drought because the soil does not dry out as fast when it is forty degrees versus seventy degrees.  Last spring it was ridiculously warm and sunny in March and April.  I am talking about seventy degrees and full sun almost every day it seemed like.

That weather trend continued into the summer where it was hot and sunny for many days on end.  It ended up that we just baked all summer because the rains did not come.

The Ground is Squishy

This may seem like an odd observation, but the ground around my house is squishy.  What’s the big deal you ask?  Well, considering the state of drought that we were in for most of 2012 it’s damn near a miracle that the ground feels like anything other than concrete.  I am just hoping that this precipitation gets locked into the ground and we can have a good warm weather season.  If it is another drought year I am going to have a hard time keeping to my planting schedule.  Damn you climate change!

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor the trend for my part of the country has been improving and we are only considered “dry” right now.  This will improve when the steady rains of the past few days are taken into account for next week’s figures.  Check out the 12-week animation:

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You can see that the drought conditions in eastern Iowa are relatively persistent, so there are macro conditions to be concerned about.  However, when I make the trek out to the compost bin the ground squishes under my boots.  It has been a long time since I could say that.

A cool feature of the U.S. Drought Monitor is the ability to view a regional or state level 52 week animation of drought conditions.  Check it out.  The summer months were just brutal here in Iowa as everything went to deep tan, orange, and red.  Ugh!

Update on the Midwest Drought

Drought is an insidious thing.  Even though it seems like it might be a single season event, the depletion of subsurface moisture can take years to be replenished.  Apparently, a big part of the annual replenishment of subsurface soil moisture are fall rains and winter snows.  However, if the soil is particularly dry it cannot absorb moisture.

This seems counter intuitive, but think about a sponge.  A bone dry, hard sponge does not instantly grab and hold moisture as well as a slightly moist sponge.

Here in eastern Iowa the drought picture has improved markedly.  The area considered to be in “exceptional” drought, which is the worst category, has declined to virtually zero from a high of over 5% during the summer.  The next worst category of “extreme” drought has declined from a high of over 55% to slightly more than 11%.  Here are the numbers for all drought categories for the Midwest:

Watch the red splotch decrease substantially in this graphic from the U.S. Drought Monitor:

What this means is that the ground has started to recapture some subsurface moisture prior to the freeze of winter.  During the winter months, snowmelt will just run off but when spring comes the ground needs some moisture present to really absorb the spring snowmelt.  Otherwise the ground is just like a hard sponge and a lot of subsurface recharging will be lost.  Going into the summer with a deficit is a bad place to be.