Day Eighty-eight

Walking Near Water-Part I

For our son’s spring break, we decided to take an overnight trip at the end of his week off.  Since my son and I had already been along the Illinois & Michigan Canal twice this past week, we decided to head west along the I &M Canal and the Illinois River, then follow the Illinois River to Peoria where we planned to spend the night.  We made several impromptu stops and did some walking along the way.

Our first stop was is Marseilles, Illinois, along the Illinois River.

Marseilles

Our second stop was in Ottawa, Illinois, along the Illinois & Michigan Canal.

Ottawa I & M

Our next stop was at Starved Rock State Park.  This park is known for the Bald Eagles that winter along the Illinois River.  We plan to come back in the winter to see the eagles.

Starved Rock

Our last stop before Peoria was in LaSalle, Illinois.  The I & M Canal is more like a river here and has a lock and a working canal boat.  The trail/towpath is quite nice along here as well; we enjoyed a long walk along the canal.

LaSalle CanalOn our way into Peoria, we noticed a really full parking lot at “The Burger Barge” and pulled in.  We lucked out, big time.  This local establishment is right on the Illinois River and has docks for both boats and jet skis.  The food was ready quickly, and although not the healthiest fare, we had some large tasty burgers.

Once we settled in at our hotel, we walked along the Illinois River.  With people milling about and the city lights reflecting on the water, we decided that Peoria (perhaps with help from Caterpillar Tractor) is really making the most of this riverfront, and we looked forward to exploring more in the daylight.

Good day, good walking, good travelling!  To be continued…

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Day Eighty-seven

More Transportation History

For today’s spring break walk, my son and I headed to Rockdale, Illinois, and back to the Illinois and Michigan Canal.  This time we were in the I & M Canal National Heritage Corridor and walked the I & M Canal Trail.

The trail, the old canal towpath, is crushed gravel.  We had to give a pair of hissing, nesting Canada geese a wide berth, but otherwise had the trail to ourselves.  We really enjoyed the warmer sunny weather and walking next to the reed-filled water.

I & M 3Good day, good walk!

Day Eighty-six

Urban Walk

My youngest son, still on spring break, and I drove into Chicago today and walked across the Loop. My husband took a break from the office and joined us.

East-West Loop

We parked in the Millennium Garage and walked through Millennium Park to catch sight of “Cloud Gate,” a sculpture commonly referred to here as “The Bean.”  I should have known better than to take my son here.  Every time we’ve tried, there is always an unhappy small child or toddler crying in this part of the park, and today was no exception.  We snapped a quick picture and bid a hasty retreat to the urban jungle of honking taxis and business-clad adults–much more tolerable to my son and his autism-caused sensitivities to the sounds of young children.

We met up with my husband on Michigan Avenue and walked west down Jackson Boulevard, walked around the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), crossed the Chicago River, and then headed back east on Adams to my husband’s office and our car.

Chicago

Although I think my son prefers the quiet of a forest preserve or converted railroad trail, I do think he enjoyed seeing some different sites like the elevated CTA trains, the giant globe in front of the Willis Tower, and the Chicago River.  I certainly did!

Good day, good walk!

Day Eighty-five

Today, my son and I walked the paved path of the Sauk Trail Reservoir of the Will County Forest Preserve.  The .93 mile paved path runs above a storm water basin and flood control structure.  We parked in a nearby large multi-use city sports park, walked to the preserve, and walked the path in both directions.  We kept moving, and I feel like we got a good workout today.

Sauk Trail ReservoirGood day, good walk!

Day Eighty-four

A Pleasant Surprise

Today, being the first official day of my son’s spring break, I was hoping our walk would be fun and different.  It was.  Despite weather more worthy of January or February (cloudy, windy, icy snow flurries, and temperatures in the mid-30s), we really had a great time.

We headed to the town of Lockport to walk along the Illinois and Michigan Canal.  We also walked along the I & M Canal back on Day Forty, which is northeast of the section we visited today.  I happened to pick Lockport because I knew it was on the canal, and I knew how to get there after years of high school cross-conference swim meets and water polo games.  I figured I would just look for a place to park, and we’d walk along the canal.  What I didn’t know was that I would see signs for “Lincoln Landing” and would stop to check it out.  What a fortunate find.

IMG_20130325_122417

Lincoln Landing is a museum and park along the canal.  A sculpture of Abraham Lincoln as a young Illinois Legislator stands along the entrance to the park area.  I learned later that Lincoln was one of the Illinois legislators that worked for the construction of the canal to connect Lake Michigan to the Illinois River (which would complete a waterway to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico).  The area that would become the town of Lockport was named the headquarters of the construction project.

I also learned that railroads were later built along the canal, and a train carried Lincoln’s body through Lockport after his assassination.

Lincoln Landing opened in February of 2009 as a joint project of The Will County Historical Society and the Give Something Back Foundation.  The park displays several interactive signs about the history of Lockport, the canal, and Abraham Lincoln.  There are also interesting displays about canal shipping and how locks work.

We briefly walked across the canal on two pedestrian bridges.  I’m always a sucker for a pedestrian bridge.  There’s a sturdy beauty in bridges, and standing on a bridge gives a new and different perspective of the cars or water below.  I also have such respect for the civil engineers that build them; I wouldn’t be able to build a bridge to span anything.

I&M bridges

Good day, good walk!

Day Eighty-three

Guilty Pleasure

I have to admit something.

Today, we drove through the Palos Trail System of the Cook County Forest Preserve looking for a new place to walk.  Instead of actually walking on any of the unpaved trails in the cold wintry wind, we went to a nearby ice cream parlour, The Plush Horse.  The ice cream was absolutely delicious.  I’ll walk tomorrow, and we’ll come back and walk these trails another day.

Good day, good ice cream.

Day Eighty-two

Last Day!

It was my last full day in The Woodlands/Shenandoah, Texas.  It’s Saturday, the last day of the NCAA Division III Swimming Championships.  Even though it hasn’t been a great four days of walking and blogging,  it’s been a great four days.

Special thanks to the Simpsons for the picture.

Special thanks to the Simpsons for the picture.

I’ve so enjoyed watching races and hanging out with both my son’s and daughter’s teams.  What a wonderful group of young adults and parents!

NCAA Division III athletics is the best.  Congratulations to all of the swimmers, and a special shout-out to the graduating seniors, a dedicated group of student-athletes!