Friday, September 24, 2010

Catching up after Chattanooga Road trip

I've been remiss in posting, in part because I've been out of town on a road trip/business trip. I'm going to write a few short posts to comment on the trip, but here's the outline of what I did:

September 8 - left Madison in the afternoon and tried to get as far south as possible before dark. I made it to Salem, IL.

The problem with visiting Tennessee, Kentucky, and Southern IL is that you have to drive through northern and central IL. Those areas are extremely boring, and this is from someone that drove across North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and eastern Montana! At least when you are diving across the Plains, you can sort of zone out and enjoy the rustic desolation. Driving through IL, the roads are busy, especially with truck traffic, so it is both boring and stressful at the same time.

September 9 - Spent most of the day in the Shawnee National Forest, which covers much of the southern tip of IL. Quite beautiful and lots of different areas to explore. The rain held off until 4 PM, so I got quite a bit of walking and hiking in.

When I left there, I took a free ferry across the Ohio River to Kentucky and drove on to just north of Land Between the Lakes. Spent the night at Grand Rivers, KY.

September 10 - I was going to drive down The Trace through Land Between the Lakes, but it was pouring rain, and I figured that I wasn't going to see much or get out of the car to walk. I stopped at the Visitors Center and checked out the exhibits. Then I jumped onto I-24 and booked down to Chattanooga.

September 10-13 - The retreat for the Alliance for Biking and Walking started on Friday night and ran through Monday morning. We stayed on the Delta Queen and held most of our meeting at Outdoor Chattanooga. It was great.

September 13-17 - Pro-Walk/Pro-Bike 2010, the biennial meeting put on by the National Center for Bicycling and Walking was at the Chattanooga Convention Center. I stayed at the Days Inn, only a block away. Of course, I'm too cheap to pay for the conference hotel, but the Days Inn was so close it was no sweat.

More on the lessons from both the Alliance retreat and the conference in subsequent posts.

September 17 - I left Chattanooga and took the back roads once I got near Nashville, since the traffic around that city was a mess. Stayed in Dover, TN, just south of Land Between the Lakes. Also visited the Cross Creeks National Wildlife Refuge.

September 18 - Spent most of the day at Land Between the Lakes, just checking out the area. Left the area in the afternoon and drive to Marion, IL for the night. Checked out the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge for sunset. The rest of the way home was interstate, and was much faster than the drive down.

September 19 - After driving straight through on the interstates: 57 => 74 => 39, I got home at about 5:30 PM and remembered once again how nice we have it here in Madison. Even with the weather chilly and cloudy, people are out walking, biking, jogging, enjoying the downtown, and interacting as a community. Our urban planning and attention to the environment pays off in one of the best places to live in the US.

And Wisconsin is a much nicer drive - even on the interstate - than Illinois. We are very lucky to have so many beautiful places to visit almost right in our backyards.

More on the places I visited and some of the lessons from the trip in future posts.

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