Monday, May 26, 2008

mini park memorial day

The CU Sightings crew is finally back from sabbatical! The time away from the CU area really made us homesick and we were eager to get out and enjoy all that the metropolis has to offer this Memorial Day. So we packed up Zoe and headed for Champaign's mini parks, the subject of what will be a multi-part expose on this particularly quaint feature of the Twin Cities.

Our first stop was McCollum Park (originally named Mini Park VII) at 1060 S. Neil Street. This charming park, obtained by the Champaign Park District in 1990, stretches nearly two-tenths of a mile along the east side of south Neil Street between Honorary Tim Nugent Way and the attractive vacant lot to its north.
Given its proximity to the railway, the train, which makes frequent visits, makes this park a favorite with children who love to count the cars. Today's drizzle must have kept the other families away, but we enjoyed watching the Canadian National Railway cars bustling down the tracks. The capacious .9 acres allow plenty of space for football or picnics and with the other features the park has to offer, such as the billowing factory smokestacks, the entertaining playground rides for kids (like this adorable chicken),

or the medium-voltage electrical substation,

there's no end to the fun at McCollum Park. Convenient parking is located south of the park at the corner of Neil St. and Honorary Tim Nugent Way, just north of the Verizon Wireless warehouse. Admission is free.

Our tour of Mini Parks took us next to Mini Park II. Located at 3 E. Greet Street, this .2055 acre park, acquired by the Champaign Park District in 1972, stands at the gateway to Campus Town. Verdant, well-manicured lawn makes Mini Park II the perfect spot for spreading out a blanket and reading the novel you keep meaning to read or enjoying a candlelight dinner with that special someone. 

Zoe and Bunna really enjoyed the playground.

When we asked today's only other park visitor (well, he was more under the MTD shelter than a park visitor per se) what he enjoyed about the park he said, "People don't come to this park for the recreation, they come for the art." And so it is. Mini Park II is home to Champaign's only large-scale building mural. Painted in 2002 to commemorate the park's 30 year anniversary, this beautiful depiction of CU's diversity and commitment to the three BIG A's (academics, agriculture, and animal rights), "really puts the 'you' in CU," says our bus-riding park goer. "You can really see yourself in that painting!" Can you see us?

Convenient parking is located just north of the park at Hollywood Video or east of the park at CVS Pharmacy. Admission is free.

Stayed tuned to Bunna and Biff for the rest of the Mini Park expose and for your chance to vote on your favorite Champaign Mini Park.                               

catching up

Bunna and Biff have been busy and haven't had much time to keep up the blog. Last weekend they took advantage of the spring weather and visited Garth and Ane and their family in Chicago. They took in a little league baseball game, played a little wii, visited one of their favorite places in the Windy City: the Chicago Botanic Garden. May is the best month to visit the garden. Although the rose garden is not in bloom, many of the the other gardens are at their best. Zoe loved everything, but the Sensory Garden was her favorite because she got to touch and smell everything. Bunna and Biff managed to capture some of her funniest faces on camera; they also got some of their own funniest faces, but since they control content on this blog, no one else will ever see them! 

The most interesting thing about the garden is the gigantic statue of Joseph Smith. Bunna and Biff had no idea he was a gardener. They all had a great time.

Friday, May 2, 2008

zoe's night time antics

We'd hoped to report on some crawling around here. It's about time, isn't it? Unfortunately (or, perhaps fortunately for us since we don't have to chase her around) someone is a little slow on the uptake. Maybe it's the chubby, but very cute, middle that hinders her locomotion. Zoe's new tricks are ... well ... idiosyncratic. They don't actually qualify as a skills, but being the supportive parents we are, we celebrate them as such. 

Bunna now calls her the "super suffocation kid." Biff says we should work on more constructive nicknames.