Day Three Hundred Thirty-six

Planes, Trains, and a Bike Path

I had to pick up my son from O’Hare International Airport this afternoon. I decided to leave a little early and go for a walk just west of the airport on the Salt Creek Greenway Trail. The Salt Creek Greenway is a 25 mile trail that runs through eight suburbs (that I counted), connects to many other trails, and spans across Cook and DuPage Counties. I only walked on a short portion in Wood Dale, Illinois.

I didn’t plan my parking very well and ended up parking at a Target and walking mostly through an industrial park and under large power lines. With the air planes descending and Metra tracks crossing the trail, it definitely gave the walk an industrial and transportation theme.

Salt Creek Greenway

I did walk into a portion of the Salt Creek Marsh Preserve. It was really nice, but I ran out of time and had to head back to the car and on to the airport.

On my way back, I spotted an adult great blue heron. He looked like he was hunkering down trying to stay warm while watching the ducks swim calmly by him.

Salt Creek Greenway 21

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I was struck by this heron’s dark feathers and head plumage. I think he must be more mature than most of the herons I saw over the summer and early fall. I wished that I could have gotten closer to him or caught him in flight, but I had to keep moving in order to get to the airport.

I think with a better parking spot and more time, I would enjoy walking here again in the future–even if it’s after 2013 and the end of my official walking resolution.

Day Three Hundred Thirty

Elk in Elk Grove Village and a Bonus Bridge

I was up at O’Hare International Airport today dropping off my oldest son for a flight. I had some time afterwards and decided to head to the Busse Woods Forest Preserve for a walk. My youngest son, off for parent-teacher conferences joined me. We walked a different portion of this preserve back in August on Day 220 and saw butterflies galore. Today, we came to see the elk.

Elk Grove WoodsThe forest preserve district started the herd at this location in 1925. The adjacent town of Elk Grove Village was named for the native herd of elk that roamed here in the 1800s. Today’s elk watched us very carefully from behind the fenced-in area as we walked by on the snow-covered paved trail.

What I didn’t realize until we arrived was that we’d get to cross busy Higgins Road on a nice pedestrian/bike bridge.
Elk Grove Woods BridgeMy son and I always love a good bridge.

Good walk!

Day Three Hundred Seven

A Definite FavoriteIMG_1783

While still in St. Louis today, we took the opportunity to walk across the Mississippi River on the McKinley Bridge Bikeway. What a view!

We drove to Venice, Illinois, to park at the McKinley Bridge Roadside Park and headed back on foot over the Mississippi towards Missouri. The bridge, built in 1910, was originally a railroad bridge with automobile lanes on the outer edges on cantilevers. The bridge was closed  in 2001 due to unsafe conditions. After six years, the new, improved bridge was reopened.

McKinley Bridge is no longer a rail bridge, now having automobile lanes in the middle and a bike lane on the southern outside edge of the bridge. It is this outside lane that offers such great views of the Mississippi and downtown St. Louis.

McKinley Bridge

On the Missouri side, the ramp between the street and bridge levels has iron arches for architectural interest. At the bottom of the bridge, the trail connects to the St. Louis Riverfront Trail, but we turned around and went back over the bridge. (The McKinley Bridge Bikeway also connects to Confluence Bikeway in Madison County, Illinois, thus making a giant loop with the Chain of Rocks Bridge farther north up the river.)McKinley Bridge 2

As we descended down the ramp on the Illinois side, we had great views of the Roadside Park. The folks in Venice, Illinois, wanted to celebrate their side of the bridge and commissioned a sculpture, built completely through fundraising monies.

Great walk!

On a personal note: I’ve listed today’s walk as one of my favorites, not only for the scenery or the great bridge, but because it is the first walk in 2013 that all six members of our family did a walk together. And it only took three hundred seven days!

Day Two Hundred Fifty-one

The Loop is Mine for the (Picture) Taking

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After last Sunday’s successful walk at Graceland Cemetery, I went into the city to do another Chicago walk that I had read about recently in Crain’s Chicago Business, the Chicago River Walk. It didn’t go exactly as planned, but I had fun anyhow.

I found free parking along Upper West Wacker Drive, and headed toward the Frankin Street Bridge, one of the walk’s ending points. Wacker Drive is one of my favorite streets in Chicago, because it has so much character. Wacker Drive bends along next to the Chicago River, so it runs east/west north of downtown, then bends south and runs north/south west of downtown. The most interesting part of Wacker though is that it has two levels, Upper and Lower.

When I worked in downtown Chicago (over twenty years ago already!) I worked just north of the river and in the depths of winter would walk along Lower Wacker to get between my office and my train station.  Walking under ground allowed me to avoid heavy snowfalls and those cold Lake Michigan breezes. Unfortunately, many of Chicago’s homeless hung out underground as well.

They still do.

Today, when I looked along the lower walkway next to the river, I saw a few homeless camps and, since I was alone and there weren’t many folks around, I decided to stay on the upper level. I still really enjoyed walking around and taking some pictures (still trying to find a unique point of view for WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge).

Chicago RiverWhile aimlessly walking and snapping pictures,

  • I followed the river for awhile and enjoyed watching the tour boats come along every few minutes
  • I got to see the Wells Street Bridge replacement, a huge transportation project and engineering feat because it affects CTA trains, above, and cars, below.
  • I wandered into the deserted Loop and took pictures along closed and empty roads while tourists were elsewhere and weekday workers were at home (or across town at Soldier Field) watching the Bears’ game

I have separately entered WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge here.

I had some failed challenge attempts too, including a chopped-off Merchandise Mart, a corner Chipotle that was so crowded that no one would be able to focus on anything, and a regular ol’ picture of Willis (Sears) Tower.

Chicago POV AttemptsSo much fun.

Day Two Hundred Thirty-four

An  Umbrella, An Egret, and Lucky Timing

I really needed to get a walk in today.  So even though the rain hadn’t exactly stopped, my son and I drove to the Village Hall in Matteson, Illinois, hoisted the umbrella, walked around their lovely grounds (complete with barn swallows and swamp rose mallows), and continued up over I-57 on a dedicated bike and pedestrian lane.

Matteson Bridge

We have walked here before, but today I was on the lookout for herons and egrets in the marshy areas next to the pathway.

We were in luck. A white egret was walking and flying around the entire time we were walking by.  By the neck posture and size, I’m guessing it was a Great Egret.

Matteson Egret

I’m just glad the rain stopped by this time so that I could take down the umbrella and snap some pictures!

Good day, good walk!

Day One Hundred Three

Nashville, Day Two

The trip with my mom and three sisters continued today with our visit to downtown Nashville.  We started the sightseeing by walking along the west bank of the Cumberland River.  We then walked down Broadway past great classic stores like Hatch Show Print, Diana’s Sweet Shop, and Gruhn Guitars, and past bars with open doors and the sounds of music pouring out onto the streets already at 11:00 A.M..  We also walked by the beautiful Ryman Auditorium on 5th Avenue/Opry Place, but did not take a tour.

Spring, 20131

Next, we headed up over the Cumberland River on the historic Shelby Street Bridge.  This National Historic Place truss bridge was almost torn down, but instead was nicely refurbished and reopened as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge in 2003.  There is a wide bike lane down the middle of the bridge with raised sidewalks on each side for pedestrian traffic.  A new public park sits along the Cumberland at the east base of the bridge.  Both bridge bases are easily accessible by an elevator or stairway if you want to cut off some of the ramp up to the bridge.

After seeing the Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge yesterday, the Shelby Street Bridge today, and their lovely surroundings, we all gave Nashville high marks for making the most of their public spaces.  And there was even more to come!

Next, we drove over near the capitol building and went to the Nashville Farmers’ Market.  I had read about the award-winning farmer’s market which includes restaurants and an eating area.  We enjoyed seeing it and getting some lunch. This is easily the largest farmer’s market I have ever seen!

After lunch, we stepped out onto the adjacent Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, yet another wonderful public space, north of the state capitol building.  These lowlands were not conducive to building large multi-story buildings like those constructed on the east, west, and south sides of the capitol building.  Instead an open mall, patterned after Washington D.C., was constructed here to honor Tennessee’s history, with the added benefit of keeping one side of the capitol building visible and not blocked from sight by large buildings.

Nashville DowntownThe Bicentennial Mall contains a “Pathway of History” (a walk-along timeline of important events in Tennessee history), a Centennial Memorial, a World War II Memorial, a bell carillon, fountains celebrating the “Rivers of Tennessee”, and (my personal favorite) a 200 foot granite map of the state.  (I really regret not taking a picture of this from atop the hill near the Capitol building.)

After walking around for awhile, we decided the time had come to make the trek up to the Capitol.  So. Many. Steps.  After I recovered from the climb, we walked along the east side of the capital building which honors Tennessee’s three presidents, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson.  In fact, President Polk and his wife Sarah are entombed here.

Tennessee Capitol1

By this time, I, at least, was pooped!  What a great day of walking around Nashville, seeing the sites, telling stories of home and family, and laughing!

Good day, good walking!

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.

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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!