CFFC: Walks around the USA

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge theme this week is Walks – Indoor or Outdoor.  I  love to take walks when the weather is good. I don’t mind walking on a track during inclement weather, but it’s more fun to walk outside, smell the air, see the flowers, the trees, people, dogs, etc. Last fall, WP Automattic, invited photography buffs to take pictures on a 5K walk. We had a beautiful, colorful fall in 2015, and my photo essay of that walk can be accessed here.

The following is a travelogue of some of the paths and sidewalks I have walked, organized by state.

WISCONSIN, the state in which I was born and grew up, and where I spent many summer vacations at our former cottage, has many state-supported trails as well as city walks.

Scott Trestle - cell phone camera.
Scott Trestle on the Bearskin Trail (18 mile trail between Hwy K and Minocqua). The Bearskin Trail is a scenic trail for hiking or biking, built on a former railroad route. There are several of these trestles over creeks and meadows, and the remains of towns that depended on the railroad to thrive. Depending on when you go, there are opportunities to observe wildlife such as various bird species, deer, beaver, fox, and even black bears.
Cattails line the shore in the water fowl section of the park.
This and the following three images were taken at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary in Green Bay. This park has many short forested trails and of course a lot of wildlife to observe. In this picture, cattails line the shore in the water fowl section of the park.

Urban walks have become increasingly popular as people in cities have demanded more green spaces. The next several pictures were taken in Beloit, in southern Wisconsin. An example of an urban walk is this nice river walk there which runs alongside the Rock River, and with different things to see and do along the way.

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Drawbridge – possibly an old railroad bridge (there’s a rail car on top of the farthest section).
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This bridge leads over to Turtle Island, where there is a big playground for kids, and a connecting path back to the main path.

ILLINOIS, the state in which I’ve lived for the last quarter century, also has followed the trend of creating hiking and biking trails, and there are also unique opportunities to hike into the past.

I live in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines, which has its own river walk along the Des Plaines River. I’ve seen hikers, bicyclists, and roller bladers on this trail! You can pick it up either by parking south of a viaduct off of Schwab Road, or via stairway on the northeast corner of Miner St. and River Rd. This trail connects with longer hiking/biking trails through forest preserves on the north and south ends. To the north is Big Bend Lake, about 2-3 miles from the beginning of the River Walk, where small boats (no motors) are allowed for fishing and leisure.

Me on the DP River trail
I’ve stopped to watch a flock of ducks on the river. There are also a lot of terns that fly overhead.
Des Plaines River, from the River Walk.
Section of the Des Plaines River along River Road (where there is a line of cars waiting for the traffic light). We do have problems with flooding during rainy seasons, but the problem has been greatly ameliorated with deep tunnels installed in recent years to handle the run off.

Another walking and biking (and rollerblading) trail nearby is an 8-mile loop through Busse Woods, which traverses part of Elk Grove Village, Rolling Meadows and Arlington Heights. I’ve walked, biked and cross country skiied on this trail.

Geese or ducks at the lakeshore
One of small lakes within Busse Woods. People can fish in this lake, either from shore or in small boats.
Dale on the trail ahead of me
Dale (my huband) pauses on his bike to wait for me.
Elk at Busse Woods
There really are elk in Elk Grove Village! They have a large fenced in range on one side of Busse Woods.

One of the most interesting places to visit in Illinois is just outside of St. Louis, near Collinsville, Illinois. Cahokia Mounds has a museum and hiking path to explore the mounds and learn about the ancient people, one of the tribes of the Mississippians, who lived there. In 1250 AD it was a city larger than London! There is even an archaeological dig, where volunteers can sign up to spend a week in the summer painstakingly searching for artifacts. I’m tempted to do this!

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This is near the archaeological dig site. Dale is looking at a section of ancient wall.
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Monks Mound is the biggest of the mounds at Cahokia. A long stairway leads to the top.

To build the mounds, the inhabitants of Cahokia transported the soil in baskets over long distances. Monks Mound is a platform mound, thought to have been used for political or religious ceremonies and may have had large buildings at the top. Two other types of mounds, which were smaller, were conical and ridge top mounds. These were used as burial sites or for marking important locations. (Reference)

 

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This to me was the most fascinating thing at Cahokia – it’s a wood henge! These wooden poles placed in a large circle marked different positions of the sun. (In this picture, the telephone poles connected by wires are NOT part of the henge!

INDIANA – We have recently returned from a three-day trip to Indianapolis, a city I had never visited before. Indianapolis actually has two walks developed by the city. One is called The Cultural Trail, which covers 12 miles and 6 districts of the city.

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The Cultural Trail is marked by this special brick sidewalk, brown with designs. This picture was taken downtown, near where we parked our car. To the left (not in picture) is the Capitol.
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Blue Indy electric car. You rent them and then return them to a charging station like this – no fossil fuels are used!
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I kept seeing these old-fashioned parking meters and didn’t know why they were still there. When I looked closely, I realized that the meters now accept coins which are used to help the homeless.
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Chakaia Booker, renowned American artist, created this sculpture on display on the Cultural Trail. The base is stainless steel, the rest is made from rubber tires. (That’s Dale framed behind it!)

The other is the Canal Walk, which starts at White River State Park, but can be accessed at other spots along the way. River or canal walks are very popular today, since San Antonio (see below) created a beautiful one which is a major tourist attraction. The Indianapolis Canal Walk is not as elaborate, and in fact, is flanked in many sections by large condo buildings. But there are monuments, a couple of restaurants, opportunities for water sports, and concerts performed on certain nights of the week. And it is a nice walk to cool off at the end of a hot day!

Central Canal Walk with view of downtown
Central Canal Walk with view of downtown
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This multicolored sculpture marks the entrance to the Canal Walk in White River State Park.

Two monuments: Left – 9/11 monument with two pillars from the Twin Towers; Right – USS Indianapolis, last cruiser to be destroyed in World War II. The story of this ship is engraved at the bottom – only 318 people survived out of 1,196 on board.

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We ate at this little restaurant, called Fresco. You can rent a gondola there too, accompanied by a ‘real’ gondolier!
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On the terrace behind the Indiana History Center, there are concerts every Thursday night. This was a New Orleans rhythm and blues band. The tables are reserved in advance, but many more people sit on the steps, the balcony, and the grassy banks on both sides of the canal.

Leaving the Midwest and going to the Southwest, first to:

TEXAS, specifically San Antonio with its famous River Walk:

San Antonio River view
San Antonio River view

The River Walk in San Antonio is quite extensive with many entry points.

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Informational signs such as this one orient the visitor about to River Walk highlights and historical information.

There is lots of lush vegetation and shady trees.

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There were boats for rent and group tours on the river.

The River Walk is highly developed, with many (rather high priced) restaurants and shops. There are also historical landmarks that are accessible from the walkway.

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Colorful umbrellas shade sidewalk cafe tables, their reflection shimmering on the surface of the water.

ARIZONA  – Last December, we were in Tucson, hoping to get away from the cold weather of the Midwest (it turned out to be just as cold there!) and to visit my cousin that lives there. There is a walk you can take to orient yourself which takes you through downtown Tucson and some historical places to visit. All you have to do is follow the turquoise line painted on the sidewalk.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
Pima County Courthouse

The line took us through downtown and into courtyards. It led to the San Agustin Presidio, an old fort in Tucson. We toured the Presidio with a guide recounting the history of the presidio, telling us about many of the plants on display, and drawing our attention to small details.

Outside the presidio, following the turquoise line was a Time Line of southern Arizona’s history.

KODAK Digital Still Camera
We saw murals and mosaics on the facades of buildings and on walls.
KODAK Digital Still Camera

We saw quirky houses in different neighborhoods and a large flower arc in a churchyard, to honor Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico.

We didn’t walk the entire path of the turquoise line – we were too tired!

I could add many more walks, but I have decided to end here this travelogue of walks in places I’ve been.

 

 

3 thoughts on “CFFC: Walks around the USA

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