Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Moment Of Refuge

November Scene at Ankeny Wildlife Refuge

Our son G is already home for Thanksgiving, taking a much-needed break from his very challenging teaching position in Mississippi. We’re glad his school has the whole week off so that he could relax a bit prior to the holiday festivities. Soon T-Bone will be here too, and for two days we will have all three kids together. Two days...that’s it. Our empty-nester friends have described this scenario to us so we sort of saw it coming. They have told us to take advantage of every minute you have with your kids while they’re in town, and then take heart in knowing that they love you and need you to still be their parents wherever they happen to be.  And, yes, they actually can still help with the dishes when we get up from the table.
Mrs C and G at Ankeny

G and me
So today after the dishes were done, G, Mrs. C and I decided to throw on our warm clothes and head outside. Nat was happy to let us go on without her. We decided to ride out to the Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. Because there’s a hefty hill between here and there, Mrs. C opted to load her bike in the car, drive and meet up with us at the Refuge. This proved to be helpful for our return trip home, and gave G and me a chance to ride hard on the way out.
G’s bike had a little gear trouble going up the climbs on Liberty Road, but once we reached the top, it was all about the descent into Ankeny. Our speed increased into the mid-thirties when he made the first move to pass me. Using my top gear I pushed out ahead of him, just enough to regain my lead. His gearing was stuck, so he had only one strategy, which actually worked.  He tucked down into a tight aero position, pulled behind me and drafted right off my back wheel. At the final curve he took an inside cut and slingshotted past me while staying in his tuck. A fleeting moment of fun, made more special because of its rarity. 
Eagles are frequently seen at Ankeny
The serenity of the Ankeny Refuge greets you immediately at the bottom of the hill. It quiets you and forces you to pay attention to a different pace, a different set of scenes and sounds. Nature takes over and there’s so much going on.  During the winter months, visitor access to the Ankeny Wildlife Refuge is more limited in order to allow birds to conserve their energy and enjoy a little, well, refuge. Still, we had no problem seeing and hearing the Canada Geese out on the meadows and in the open air. These large birds were miniaturized by a great egret flying across the plain, huge and stately with its long neck and dazzling white wings against the gray sky. We got back on our bikes and rode south; along the way a bald eagle watched us from its perch overhead, remaining just long enough for me to snap a few shots as it flew away.  From the viewing kiosk we could see ducks and snow geese dotting the marsh. We spotted a fox sitting out in the meadow, quietly waiting and watching.
View from Eagle Marsh Kiosk
We might have gone farther but we were suddenly being pelted by a cold, sideways rain.  We made a B-line back for the car, flipped down the back seat and threw all three bikes in with no problem. Thank you, Honda.
On our way back home, Mrs. C commented on how nice it is to have a place like this so close to where we live. Yes, and how nice it is when we have our kids so close, too.


MLove said...

A parallel---we ride our bikes in the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. Have you had a chance to do that on your visits here?

Wonderful place. We go there all seasons of the year, not always biking but always enjoying every minute.

Kelly C said...

Hi Marianne! No, I've not visited there, but now it's definitely on the Sandpoint Bucket List. We have taken our bikes to Idaho a few times, and I'm always glad when I get the chance to enjoy the lake and the mountains from my bicycle.
I've been thinking about riding that Route of the Hiawatha Trail next time I'm there. What have you heard about that ride?

MLove said...

Hi, Kelly,

We've taken the Hiawatha ride twice and have kept talking about doing it again the past couple of years.

One time we chaperoned my sister Laurie's fifth graders on their spring outing.

For a seasoned biker like you, the shuttle probably wouldn't be an issue. It's 13 miles both ways---most folks take the downhill ride and ride the shuttle back.

Some breath-taking views and wonderful history displays all along the way.

The trips through the tunnels add enough of the "edge" to the trip, but I'll never forget coming to the end of one tunnel and seeing a couple of deer in the daylight near the entrance.

And, of course, the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene offers miles of beauty; haven't done that one yet.

The Hiawatha is definitely a family-oriented experience.