Day One Hundred Two

On the Road:  Southern Illinois and Nashville, Tennessee

I hit the road today at 6:00 A.M. and headed for Nashville, Tennessee, to meet my three sisters and my mom for our bi-annual trip.  We started meeting up from around the country for these trips shortly after my dad passed away, so this is our fifth spring trip since 2005.

I’ve driven through Nashville at least ten times over the past several years, but have spent little or no time there.  I had several suggestions of things I wanted to see once we got there, but I also planned a little side trip for myself along the way.

I had decided to take a slightly longer route through Illinois (instead of taking I-65 through Indiana like we usually do), mostly just to try a different route, but I also wanted to stop and see the Tunnel Hill State Trail near Vienna, Illinois.  I have read about this trail on traillink.com, and it is also featured in the current Rails-Trails Conservancy newsletter:  I just wanted to check it out for myself, even if I only had time for a quick look.

I found the trail and the tunnel pretty easily and it was only a few miles off of I-24.  I parked in the small lot, headed south on the crushed limestone trail, and followed a sign to the tunnel.  It was really cool.

As I made my way toward the tunnel, I could hear water dripping down between the hanging plants along the side stone walls, cut back in the 1870s, to make way for the Vincennes and Cairo Railroad .  There was enough water dripping down the walls that the “mini-ditches” on both sides of the trail had water running in them.

Tunnel Hill

Tunnel Hill 2
I only went a few steps into the tunnel before turning around and heading back to my car.  I decided that I would just have to come back sometime and share the experience of this trail and tunnel with my family.

I look forward to exploring more of the trail’s 45 miles, 23 trestle bridges, and many intersecting trails, but at the time I needed to get to Nashville!

Once we had all arrived in Nashville and had done some catching up, we were ready to leave our, unfortunately, shabby rental townhouse and do something.  I suggested we head to the Stones River Greenway, one of Nashville’s many trails (Greenways) linking parks, public spaces, and neighborhoods.  Everyone agreed to the plan, and off we went.

(Here’s the thing:  I had done some research before the trip, knowing that my active sisters and mom would be game to do some extra walking and sightseeing on foot.  I think, however, that they were surprised to learn of my new obsession with bridges.  Oh, and that I’ve been blogging…)

We parked at Two Rivers Park and after a quick GPS search, headed towards the Cumberland River and the new Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge. The bridge and the scenery were beautiful; catching up and laughing with family, priceless.

Stones River

Good day, good walking!

 

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…