Sunny and Milder
The morning dawned a bit sunnier and milder than the day before. Cats have a way of letting you know these things because they take any excuse to sun themselves and languish near a window. Gabbie (Gabriella Terra) was looking out the window this morning and she allowed a picture of herself before losing interest in the whole enterprise. Cassie (Cassiopeia) our tuxedo cat was not so cooperative. She runs and hides under furniture preferring to stay hidden for as long as possible and out of the sight of humans altogether. No two cats could have more opposite temperaments. At least on the surface. Get Cassie alone and she is as cuddly as Gabbie could ever be. Go figure!
Breakfast and a Decision
First it was off to find some Einstein Bagels with peanut butter and fruit cups all washed down with OJ. After picking up these provisions it was off to the local Starbucks for coffee with soy milk for later. We discussed whether the rains predicted for the morning would actually arrive and decided that rather than be disappointed we would pick a direction in which to travel and just sightsee.
So we headed out to the Fox River Valley and began moving south along Route 25. The plan was to cross the river at Oswego and head north along Route 31 which is west of the river. In downtown Aurora we made our way past homes that were once no doubt the pride of the Fox River area. There is an old fire house just south of the Casino that always intrigues me. I wanted to get a picture of it but decided to wait until another time.
Below the Virgil Gilman Trail
The trip along the river at this point changes once you cross the point where the Virgil Gilman Trail intersects with Route 25. Today the water was almost moving as fast as a rapids. We spotted a flock of geese swimming in the upstream direction as fast as their webbed feet would allow and making no headway at all. They finally gave up and began to launch themselves into the air to just keep from being swept under the overpass near the River View Cafe.
There is a park just south of the cafe and we stopped there to see if the porta-pottie was open. It was. I grabbed a couple of shots here and then we continued down towards Oswego. There is a small bridge that crosses the river and it seemed to beckon us to find out where it led. So we headed into Oswego and stopped next door to the Oswego Public Library where a war memorial has been erected.
I guess it was the eternal flame that caught our attention and Connie hopped out and captured all the images you see below. This is a very nicely done war memorial. It has two parts. At the street level you can see flags and steles devoted to the various branches of our Armed Forces. Some of the groups I did not even realize were in existence. The one that comes to mind is the Navy Armed Guard.
There is a web site devoted to explaining who they are or were. It reads:
U.S. Navy Armed Guard and U.S. Merchant Marine in World War II
The U.S. Navy Armed Guard was a service branch of the United States Navy that was responsible for defending U.S. and Allied merchant ships from attack by enemy aircraft, submarines and surface ships during World War II. The men of the Armed Guard served primarily as gunners, signal men and radio operators on cargo ships, tankers, troop ships and other merchant vessels. Disbanded following the end of the war, the Armed Guard is today little known or remembered by the general public, or even within the Navy. But without the courage and sacrifice of the men of the Armed Guard, victory in World War II would have been much more difficult and taken much longer.
The merchant marine is collectively those non-naval ships that carry cargo or passengers or provide maritime services, and the civilian crewmen and officers who sail those ships. During World War II the ships and men of the United States merchant marine transported across the oceans of the world the vast quantities of war materiel, supplies, equipment, and troops needed to fight and win that war. The men of the U.S. merchant marine were civilian volunteers who nonetheless died proportionally in numbers that rivaled or exceeded any branch of the uniformed military. Like the Armed Guard with whom they sailed, the men of the merchant marine made possible the Allied victory in World War II.
The Armed Guard and the merchant marine were uniquely dependent upon one another; they were literally in the same boat. One cannot tell the story of one without telling the story of the other.
Off to the left of the memorial is a ramp that leads to a second level (close to the river) where each of the wars the United States has fought (ending with the Gulf War) is outlined on a plaque. You really get a sense of things as you read the death toll following each of these and realize the carnage that always ensues.
I have a nephew who is waging battle in Afghanistan just now (as I write). When I get angry over the loss of life that seems to prevail all over this planet I remember him and pray for his safety. I realize that conflict is both universal and timeless, but I still can’t get used to the idea that it is inevitable. It almost makes the goofy battles of Politics seem silly by comparison.
We turn around in Oswego by crossing the river and heading off to find the small bridge we saw earlier. The ground around the west entrance is muddy so we decide to delay getting pictures. But we now know that it empties into a small community along the river not far from a food mart and bathrooms. This would be useful knowledge on a bike trek.
The west side of the River is also quite interesting. Lots of homes on both side and plenty of things to see as you journey through Aurora, Geneva and St. Charles. We spot the marsupial bridge the crosses the river near the St. Charles Police Station. Some day this summer we will ride it for the first time.
We continue northwards in Elgin and then take a route westward just beyond the Elgin Public Library to see where it leads. We got lost as we approach Sleepy Hollow and enjoy the wild beauty of the area. This is how we like to ride bikes, getting lost on purpose and discovering things we have never seen before.
Before long we turn around and head south again along Route 25 on the east side of the river. It is time to find a place to grab luncheon so we do this. Its a Chipotle in St. Charles along North Avenue. The food tastes great when you are hungry and nothing seems to satisfy like a bean, rice and vegetable burrito. We wash this all down with carbonated pomegranate juice drinks and work the Sudoku puzzle and read the Sunday paper.
Folks are chatting at other tables and it seems like a wonderful way to spend a day. It makes you all the more appreciative of the sacrifices of our men in uniform who have little more to look at on a Sunday morning than snow covered mountains and a raw barren landscape.
Our cats have had enough solitude for the day. They greet us with mews and purring. We welcome their attentions.