Champaign County Roadtrip! (Part 2 of 3)
(Part 2 of 3) It’s part 2 of our Champaign County Road Trip! So far, our explorers found history, museums, outdoor adventures, and grumpy squirrels in Mahoment. But they were eager to explore the ‘big’ cities of Champaign and Urbana on their fun day-trip. In the city, they are searching for a wise woman named Alma, art by Lorado, and the rumored perpetual snowdrift. So they hit the road to go to explore!
One of the first stops was downtown Urbana for a visit to the Champaign County Courthouse. This was part of Lincoln’s old stomping ground where he would practice law on the 8th Judicial Circuit. There’s a nice Lincoln exhibit inside, but they strictly don’t allow cameras or cartoon dogs in the the courthouse! They seem to be laying the groundwork for a camera-toting-cartoon-dog discrimination lawsuit. I hope Fido knows a good lawyer.
Outside the courthouse, Urbana installed a handy-dandy wayside exhibit to tell you all about the history of Urbana's Lincoln. Fido remarked, “Looking for Lincoln is a high-class operation that precipitated the installation of informative and classy exhibits all over Central Illinois to help educate the public on Lincoln’s life and times.” Or, maybe he said he was hungry. Not really sure, as we don’t speak dog.
They jumped in the car to head to Carle Park to find the Lincoln statue by sculptor Lorado Taft - one of Illinois’ best known artists. Fido loves sculpture, architecture, and bacon, so this was going to make him 1/3 happy if they could find this amazing piece of art. If the statue was wrapped in bacon, even better! Plus look at that elaborate urn! Chambana does a great job with their fancy urns!
Guess what!?!? The sculpture was NOT wrapped in bacon. Shocking! But both of them decided it was one of their favorite statues of the 16th president. Good work Lorado! Bonus points that the sculptor was the first guy they’d ever come across named Lorado.
So noble! So thoughtful! So... green?!? Flat Lincoln recalls most photos of Abe being black and white. They both concluded that it was a little-known secret that Lincoln was our first green president, and this fact has been kept under wraps from the general public for 150+ years. Lady Liberty suffered from the same condition. They decided they would continue to not mention it - its just the polite thing to do. Note: The education levels of flat characters seems to be a bit one-dimensional.
Carle Park was good, but it had one un-nerving component to Fido - giant old trees that Fido was CONVINCED were filled with evil squirrels. He looked up, and noticed a suspiciously giant tree - the perfect location for squirrel shenanigans!
Flat Lincoln pointed out that the tree had a plaque at its base - it was the LARGEST English Oak in Illinois, and second largest in the United States. WOW! Fido knew that something so majestic would only allow saintly squirrels in its branches.
They took a quick pic at it’s 12+ foot circumference base, and decided it was time to leave the quaint cuteness of Urbana, and discover the big city sites across town in Champaign. Or were they staying in Urbana? It was a bit hard to tell where the two cities intersect - obviously an evil plot to confuse the masses by those squirrelly squirrels.
Next stop was the Champaign County History Museum, right near downtown Champaign. It’s in the old Cattle Bank, which is the county’s oldest known commercial structure. Fido wondered how cows where able to open accounts, and where they kept their checkbooks.
The museum is small but very mighty! The history of Champaign and it’s people is well documented, with interesting displays and objects. Fido was dismayed there weren’t more stories of notable cows, but Flat Lincoln was thrilled with all the well-preserved history. More info at: https://www.champaigncountyhistory.org/
They headed down Green Street, looking for a place to grab a bite to eat with all the cool college kids. WOW! Its a canyon of tall buildings, fun restaurants for take-out (or dine-in when safe), and quirky shops. It felt like a big city - all within a few blocks of the small-town charm of Urbana. And just like a big city, parking was a bit tricky. Where does a flat president park his tiny red convertible? And where is that woman Alma?
They quickly discovered the ‘official flower' of Champaign - the parking meter! They sprouted all over town like weeds along the roadside and in parking lots. After a bit of confusion trying to find change in their non-existent pockets, they realized parking was free after certain times and plentiful on weekends. Plus, you can easily walk most places near their next destination... ....the University of Illinois. See you in Part 3 of this adventure! Stay tuned!