I think Champaign-Urbana is great. The university gives it cultural and scientific amenities far beyond its size. It’s a cheap place to live, which not only enables my lifestyle, it enables the lifestyle of any number of clever creative people who choose to live where they can make enough from their art to support themselves.
Just about the only thing that CU really lacks is relief—that is, a variation in height from one place to another.
What I mean to say is: it’s really, really flat. Take for example, this image:
That’s the hilly direction. I’m looking toward Yankee Ridge, which is about three miles away from where I’m standing. It may not look like much, but that hill in the distance is a big deal when you’re on a bicycle. At least, it is if you’re used to riding in Central Illinois.
Given the terrain, we don’t get enough hiking on hills, unless we make an effort to go to the hills. So, that’s what we did yesterday. We drove to Fox Ridge, a nearby state park which has some hills.
I remember hiking in Fox Ridge last summer, shortly before our big Kal-Haven trail hike, and finding that we were in pretty good shape for dealing with the hills, despite our very limited practice. That was less true this spring. I was a bit tired from my unexpectedly fast run the previous day, and we were both a bit out of shape from a lack of hills over the winter.
Still, we did okay. We saw some spring wildflowers, like these dutchman’s breeches:
And this solomon’s seal:
So, that’s another bonus of Champaign-Urbana: We’ve got Fox Ridge State Park just 50 miles away.