Monday, July 04, 2005

Making Connections

I've been checking out a few more area trails, and I have to say that it's a good thing I specialize in seat-of-the-pants navigation. Recently I was extremely irritated after I drove out to Lake MacBride, asked around for the bike path, had to circle the whole park because all the roads were one way, parked near the path, and biked the little 5-mile multiuse trail, only to find that the trail terminates in a town that's very convenient to me. My bike trails book makes it look like the trail ends out in a cornfield somewhere, but no, it ends at a baseball field in Solon, which is on my route home from work.

The towns of Iowa City and Coralville have a number of multiuse trails, but the amusing thing is that they are not connected to one another. I carry a brochure with a large map of bike paths in the Iowa City area, and it doesn't really give excessive street names or any such extraneous logistical details. My bike trails book never says how to find smaller trails, basically gives the name of the town and a phone number, and you're on your own. I only found Olin's Grant Wood Recreational Trail because I knew where the railroad used to be; there's a sign for the trail if you arrive from the south, but not if you come from the north. We used to stop and wait for interminably long trains on our way to visit Great-Grandma Mary, but now there's no trace indicating that there ever was a train track. To get to the Grant Wood trail, I turn at the splendidly restored Victorian home where Grandma Ruth grew up and Grandpa Roy courted her, and then I take a right and pull into the parking lot on the left.

However, back in Iowa City there's the challenge of finding the next trail when the trail you're riding on suddenly ends. This weekend some friends and I met at Coral Ridge Mall for a ride to North Liberty on the North Ridge Trail, to be followed by a ride south to Highway 1 on the Coralville Clear Creek Trail and the Willow Creek Trail (not connected). The first navigational challenge was that I knew where the southbound trail was, but not the northbound. This problem was easily solved as they turned out to be connected. But what I didn't know was that I wasn't officially on the North Ridge Trail yet, although my map said I was!

We biked around North Ridge Park, picked the most likely-looking path north, and biked all the way to the town of North Liberty (only 5-6 miles), taking a few wrong turns but finding our way. The path was not at all well marked until we got two miles out from North Liberty, when we realized we had not been on the North Ridge Trail at all. We returned via the North Ridge Trail, a well-marked 5-mile path which terminated at an apparently random street about half a mile from North Ridge Park.

We did not take the two paths south to Highway 1 due to a thunderstorm, but I do know the way, thanks to Thursday Night Leisure Rides with Bicyclists of Iowa City, people who know the connecting routes between the bike trails!

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Ricotta Frittata

I did quite a good job of getting in plenty of both work and relaxation this week. One evening, for example, after work I purchased groceries for entertaining this weekend (also entertained last weekend: shark escabeche, tossed salad, Italian bread, cherry-ricotta mousse). At home I tidied a few things, did laundry, and fixed dinner from leftover odds and ends:

Ricotta Frittata Acuna Matata, serves 3

olive oil
2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into small strips
small onion, chopped
1/4 green bell pepper and 1/4 red bell pepper, cut into small strips
4 or 5 eggs
leftover ricotta (approximately a scant cup)
1/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. dried French basil
sprinkling of crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Fry the potatoes in olive oil until lightly browned. Add onion. When the onion starts to soften, add peppers. When all veggies are reasonably softened, arrange them in an oiled shallow pie pan. Beat together remaining ingredients, and pour them over the vegetables. Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes.

It was delicious.

I spent the rest of my evening reading a newspaper and Bridget Jones's Diary, while polishing off the leftover bottle of chardonnay that I had opened to make marinade for my tasty shark.