Suggested headline: “Notes from the Future: Looking Backward”
Author’s note: I’ve been feeling a little under the weather lately, so I’m running a reprint instead of writing a column this week.
But since I haven’t actually written many yet, I slipped through my time portal ten years into the future, flew into the Apollo Mart, picked up a Mahomet Citizen off the rack, put my dollar down (still a deal!), found the Notes from the River column and came back.
So here is a reprint of that column, “Looking Backward”, Notes from the River, from the Mahomet Citizen, Wednesday, November 3, 2021:
I ran into my buddy Charley down at the Sangamon River Greenway Canoe Landing a few days ago.
Like most of us these days, Charley seems to be enjoying the outdoors here in the Village more than ever. That day, he had put in at the Lake of the Woods Canoe landing and was getting out of his kayak when I ran into him as I was jogging the Sangamon Riverfront Bike Path that stretches from Lake of the Woods down to Riverbend.
Our conversation helped me recall all the amazing changes we’ve had over the past ten years. This is my recollection of what we said.
Phew, I’m exhausted!
Been out on the Water Trail again there, Charley?
Yeah, I loved it and I made great time! It’s not even midmorning. The USRC’s doing a great job keeping the River clean and safe for paddlers.
Labor of love there, Charley. Labor of love.
Yeah, I remember how it all began, when the Mahomet Area Planning Project started out with that ‘Riverwalk Committee’. Some of those folks started the USRC, right?
Myself included, Charley. We were pretty excited back then when we got the Boat Access Area Development grant from the state to help put in this Greenway Canoe Landing and that other one up at Barber Park. They made it so much easier and safer for people to access the river and more people really started to get out here.
And the new canoe landings at Riverbend and the Wildcat Slough landing up at the Sangamon River Forest Preserve started our Water Trail. I did the whole length last week. Took me all day, but what a trip! And I love this Bike Path, too. Isn’t it great?
Sure is, Charley. I think putting in the Greenway Extension for the Sangamon Riverfront Bike Path and extending it down to Riverbend at the same time they started the Rec Center was truly inspired.
Well, I’m just glad they located the Rec Center so close to the path. Just last Wednesday, the kids and I rode the Riverfront Path from Barber Park all the way down to Riverbend, and on the way back, we stopped in at the Rec Center for a swim in the pool. And the kids love riding over that new Sangamon Suspension Bridge almost as much as the Rec Center.
Well, without that bridge, it really just would not have worked at all, it just pulled all the pieces together. I think that getting the paths done first on opposite sides of the river really helped the effort to build that bridge.
By the way, Scott, have you stopped by the new Outdoor Outfitters’ store on Main Street?
Sure have, that beautiful Dagger Axis 10 and a half foot kayak in the front window looks perfect for the river. I just need 800 bucks! I get all my gear there now. I think they’re great and really helpful. Y’know, Charley, I’ve always thought that connecting with wild, natural places is important for everybody. And now, here in Mahomet, we’ve got outdoor opportunities everywhere.
Hey, Scott, you remember how teenagers around here used to spend all their time on those ‘cell phones’ sending ‘text messages’ and sitting inside on their computers on “Facetext” or something like that?
Barely. And I think they used to call it “Facebook”, Charley, but that was such a long time ago. I’m glad people finally started to realize that real experiences with other people having fun and being outside are what life’s all about.
Y’know Scott, it’s good when people begin to realize that sometimes it’s worth looking at what you’ve got right in your own backyard. I’m sure glad people back ten years ago were so forward thinking.
Yeah Charley, me too. Me too.
Appeared in the column "Notes from the River", by Scott Hays, Mahomet Citizen, Nov 2, 2011