Sunday, April 5, 2015

return to B-town

Since we live in the paradise that is central IL, we really don't need to travel often.  But sometimes, you really should see the troubles people in another part of the world must face.  Since our jet is in the shop, we decided to visit a location within driving distance, and that turned out to be Bloomington.  The one in Indiana, not to be confused with our neighbor town in IL.

Back in the kid-free era, Jill and I took a few trips out to B-town to ride the hills.  This time, we thought we could convince the girls hike a bit in the state parks.
Saturday morning started a bit badly at Brown County state park.  It was still cold (around freezing), and I had left Janny's boots in the trunk.  Both her second layer of pants and the boots were soooooooo cold.  We got out of the car to visit the west gate fire tower (above).  Then Clara wiped out while trying to balance on log.  In both cases, many tears.

Undeterred, we drove out to the 'rugged' 2 mile trailhead on the east side of the park.  Armed with good humor (as always) and a bag of Swedish fish, we headed down the partially frozen trail.  At the bottom of the canyon, we threw rocks at the confluence of the small streams.
As the day warmed up, the frozen trail became the muddy trail.  But we made it all the way back!  And all were up for climbing the 'real' fire tower.  Clara got a bit frightened about 3 stories up, so she and I walked back down.  That thing shakes!  Janny and Jill climbed to just below the deck (it was locked).  Can you see them?
 For day 2, we visited McCormick state park.  This was a much easier day for the girls, as the canyon/ river/waterfall was a rather short walk from the parking lot.
 There were also a lot more sticks and rocks to throw in the much bigger stream.
The trail continues over there?  Sure, Clara and mommy are game!  I tried to take this route, but balancing is quite hard when trying to not dip one's unnecessarily-long legs into the stream.  I dipped my foot, and decided to hop across on some the stones.
My coworker (IU class of 2012!) suggested a bunch of restaurants and parks to visit.  We ended up at only one of the restaurants on her list, but it was a memorable one:  The Runcible Spoon (extra credit for sophisticated readers that know the reference).  It's a converted house about a block from campus.  You really should be more into goth than we 4 are, but they served us anyway.  For some reason all the servers smelled VERY strongly of incense (aside: while a student way back when at a school in Berkeley there was a correlation between incense use and inhaling the smoke of certain plant.  Since that was so long ago, I can't imagine that there remains such a correlation).  Anyway, the food was really nice, and it was fun to eat at a place that looks different than Chilapplecharlie's.
In conclusion, I quite enjoy Bloomington.  I think our town(s) would have been better off following that pattern of development.  Their civic buildings and campustown area coincide.  Whereas, here we have two 'downtowns' on either side of campus town that created a pull to move things away from campus itself.  There aren't nearly enough people here to support 3 main business/civic centers.

Or maybe the town is nicer because engineering students are banished to Lafayette.