Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Sunday, 20 April 2003

Yesterday we drove from Champaign to Chattanooga, kind of a long day's drive. Some pretty countryside, though. At one freeway rest stop the ground was covered with spring beauties.

We got here in time for a late supper.

[Photo of library sculpture]

Even though we were tired, after all that sitting, Jackie and I needed to do some walking, so we strolled a bit. Just two blocks up is the public library in a huge, modern building--Champaign needs a library building like this. Outside is a wonderful sculpture titled "Volumes" by Jim Collins. I think it's the perfect sculpture for a library.

Today is one of our days of doing touristy stuff. We started with the River Aquarium. You by taking a long escalator to the top of the building, where there's a huge vista of the river. Then you gradually descend through the building, looking at all sorts of local river life. There's also one big segment with river life from other rivers all over the world and another with marine life.

The river otters are the hit attraction. They kind of reminded me of Rapunzel. The teeth, in particular, look a lot like Rapunzel's. Otters are clearly predators.

There were a lot of turtles and a lot of salamanders, as well as fish. There was a petting tank with some sturgeon (which don't have scales--they have bony plates covered by leather-like skin). There were some huge snapping turtles (not in a petting tank), some crabs, lots of tree frogs. It was great fun.

We had lunch nearby, at the Big River Grille and Brewing Works, a local micro-brew. Their amber ale had been on draft at the hotel restaurant where we had dinner. At lunch I had their brown ale, Jackie had their stout, and Barbara had their lager (all good).

After that, we walked to the arts district. There's an art museum, and they seem to be trying to promote the area around it for galleries and upscale restaurants and cafes. There's a nice sculpture garden. There are two artists studios (both seemed to be closed today) and only one gallery. The one gallery, though, was large had a lot of pieces that were either interesting or attractive. They had two pieces in felt (that is, using wool felt as the medium). I think Jackie was inspired. There were a lot of bronzes, many of which were nice (but expensive) and some nice clay sculptures.

There's a path along the river that ought to lead from the aquarium to the arts district, but is closed for construction close to the aquarium. We wandered around through alleys, around an upscale condo with serious-looking no-trespassing signs, past a decrepit brick building that might once has been a warehouse or a factory (and will probably soon be gentrified into apartments or something) and then found our way to the trail along the river. It's hilly here, and we climbed up quite a ways, only to have to hike back down to river level to get under a highway, and then back up again to the arts district. So, we got our exercise today.

[Photo of swale]

The hotel has a neat swale near the entrance. It's probably there more to manage drainage than as a decoration, but I liked it. It's a swell swale.

This evening we're having dinner, and then will probably rest from our busy day. I'll try to write a bit.

Tomorrow we head out on the next leg of the trip.


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