A Morning in Montrose and Woodbourne

Dad and Zhanna hanging out at the Ben Stone Observation Tower, Woodbourne Forest Preserve
Dad and Zhanna hanging out at the Ben Stone Observation Tower, Woodbourne Forest Preserve

As usual, the first weekend in August finds us at the Montrose Blueberry Festival. This year we decided to go on Friday. Friday’s weather forecast looked better, and we assumed that the festival would be less busy on a weekday. We were wrong about that! We arrived just before 9:00am to find people lined up straight across the green for the pancake breakfast. As we waited, we checked out the nearby vendors. The craft goods stand was there, but for the second year in a row there were no cactus pups for sale. Bummer.

We eventually made our way to the head of the line. Balancing trays full of juice, pancakes, sausage and our own butter and real maple syrup that we had brought, we made our way to one of many wobbly plastic tables on the green. The food was good … what was not so appetizing, however, was the LOUD screeching/singing (something about Jesus) while we ate our breakfast. I guess it’s all a part of the typical charm of the festival. (The guy we heard later on singing Joni Mitchell songs was good, though.)

After we’d had our fill of pancakes and Mr.-High-on-Jesus, we set out on the town with our printouts of the brochure from the 1st Architectural Treasure Hunt. The element of competition was gone, but as always, our main motivation was just the challenge of the hunt. The first year’s hunt covered Maple Street, Public Avenue, Lake Avenue and Monument Street—basically all of the main roads in town except Church Street, which was the focus of the 2016 hunt.

The sidewalks were busy all morning, with people out and about, probably on their way to the festival. While we were searching on Maple Street, a family passed us by. Then a second later the woman turned around and asked what we were doing. She had spotted a photo of an architectural element from her porch on our brochures! We explained how the hunt works, and that there was another contest currently underway. Not sure if they gave it a try.

All three of us made some excellent finds, and we were eventually able to cross off everything but three items: a circle, a fancy door lock, and wooden doors on a shed/garage. We’ll try again to find them next year! (Note: I later learned that the circle was an element on the historic Bertsch House, which burned in 2015.)

After the festival we usually hike at Salt Springs State Park. This year, we headed south along Route 29 instead, and hiked at Woodbourne Forest Preserve. Rich and I have only been here once before, to search for a geocache, all the way back in 2002. We both liked the atmosphere of a dark old-growth hardwood forest bordering a small swamp, and we were looking forward to coming back. Today’s adventure didn’t disappoint! We hiked through the meadow directly downhill toward the pond and then followed the short yellow-blazed “Swamp Loop” trail along the water’s edge.

Rich’s photos show the variety of plant life we encountered in the swamp. This is also a great spot for birding, but we didn’t see many birds today. We did spot a bunny nibbling on his breakfast near the observation tower. The pond is partially covered with lilypads, today featuring many bright pink flowers and even a few yellow bonnet lilies. Rich and I are fascinated by carnivorous plants, so we searched the edges of the swamp for pitcher plants. There might be some hiding here and there, but we couldn’t find them. We would probably be more successful in the western section of Woodbourne, across the highway, where bog plants are known to grow.

The hike was short, but we still worked up enough of an appetite for hot dogs on the grill back at the Moose Lodge!

Leave a reply