Favorite commute of the year!

Yesterday I taught a scientific-presentations workshop up at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve for the summer interns.  Many of the interns do an independent research project, usually in small groups, and this is the second year in a row I’ve gone up there to help them with preparing their presentations for the end-of-summer symposium.  (and a brief shameless plug:  I’m starting to put some of the resource sheets and such up here, too, in the Science Communication pages)

It’s also the second year I’ve biked up to Cedar Creek (40-some miles each way).  I don’t go up there very often, and usually when I do I’m hauling samples,  equipment, or undergrads, or whatever I’m going up there for starts bright and early.  So this is my one opportunity when I need only to slip my thumb drive and my remote into my pocket and go on two wheels!  That makes it my favorite commute of the whole year.

Last week I biked the Red Ribbon Ride, a 300mi/4day ride to raise funds and awareness for eight Minnesota HIV/AIDS service and advocacy organizations — and I’ve been a bit in biking withdrawl since.  It felt rather odd to bike all day without a couple hundred other amazing cyclists (I saw only a handful of other cyclists all day), but good to just go and go and go!  The part of the route up through Blaine is nothing special, but north of there it’s on really pretty rural roads.  I took a slightly longer route on the way home for a change of scenery, and if you add in my short hop to campus in the morning, it was an 89mi day.  The weather forecast had called for 7-10mph winds from the west….and instead I got what I’d estimate as 20+mph winds from the NW, which made for a stiff headwind the Whole Way there.  The winds died down in the evening as I was heading home, but even a bit of a breeze at my back was a verrrry welcome change.

A couple of odd signs seen along the way:

“Hope Free Lutheran Church”  I don’t think I parsed the adverbial noun quite the way the church’s namers intended….

“For Sale: COW”  Seriously!

My favorite moment, however, was when I flushed four sandhill cranes from the roadside swale.  Two of them took off parallel to the road in the same direction I was heading, and for a couple of seconds we paced each other as they ran, spread their wings, and took to the air.  I was ten meters away, at most, and it was quite the sight to behold.  They’re beautiful birds, and it was special to see them this close.

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