Clinton Lake Circle

Since it was such a nice day, I jumped into my car and picked a direction through the backroads of Central Illinois.  My main goal was to find parks south as well to explore the rural areas of Bloomington.

As if finally dried out enough to get into the fields, there was a lot of farm traffic on the one lane roads.

Clinton Lake Circle Route 2

1. Clinton, IL

My first stop was unexpectedly at Clinton, IL.  Always driving around it along US-51, I never really had been in it.  The town itself isn’t much, just a slowly dying farming community with some history dating back into the mid 19th century.

However, the downtown square was lively with May Day Celebrations.  Carney’s serving food, kids rides and a bunch of firefighters battling it out with firehoses, and of course booze flowing at the local bars. Typical Midwest small fun.




2. Weldon Springs State Park

Weldon Springs is a a more improved park which gets its name from two springs flowing into a lake.  These springs aren’t much too look at, just faucets for water bubbling from the ground. 

From the people enjoying the day, it seems like a good place to fish, hang out with the family, and a cheap dating place for teenagers.  There are a dozen or so miles of most wooded trails circling the lake, but the improvements are in much need of repair (thanks state budget problems.)

Overall, it is fairly scenic and has lots of hiding places to give privacy for visitors.


Memorial for veterans



On Dawson Lake



“Walden Springs”



Geese sunning themselves in the marsh


3. Church Bell

While driving along Lake Fork road, I came across a bell statue siting at the Cemetery Road crossroads.  This was odd, since this place is in the middle of a bunch farmland with no house or other structure close by.

The placard reads that their used to be a church here until around 1989 when several churches combined and it was closed/torn down.  It is a nicely kept patch of green among the corn fields.





4. Friends Creek Conservation Area

Friends Creek is a small wooded area with about 5 miles of currently muddy walking trails near the creek it gets its name from.  It is well maintained for a county conservation area and I enjoyed the hike around the river.

On site, there is a restored one room school house circa 1850s called Bethel School. 




Bethel School



Outhouses for both sexes across the school yard


5. Allerton Park

Allerton Park is an impressive estate owned by the UI with many gardens and natural areas.  It must be well known place to get married because the parks was quite busy with at least two wedding parties milling about the grounds.  The gardens were awesome, and I would like to come back in the summer time when more would be in bloom.


I got some flowering tips in the Spring Gardens.







There are lots of odd statues in the gardens.





Lots of hedge rows around the grounds.




6. Lodge Park

Lodge Park in the City of Monticello is pretty impressive for a county park.  It hosts a fair number of attractions and some rough hike.  I enjoyed the drive through it winding one-lane paths as many of the marshy flowers bloomed.


A sea of yellow





7. Mackey Cemetery and Sangamon Park

After some few dead ends looks for cool places to stop, I saw Mackey Cemetery sitting one a improved ridge surrounded by new plow fields.  It is a picturesque location for a graveyard with a nice view of the surrounding countryside.


Walking up to the cemetery in the afternoon light.





Nice spring evening for a walk




Sangamon County Conservation is a small wooded area that gets its name from the creek of the same name.  It is a fairly nondescript forest in the middle of no where.  Because of the location and time of day, I did happen to see more wildlife than the other areas, stumbling across deer, a skunk and other miscellaneous varmints.


Sangamon river is placid today.  Nice place to contemplate.




On the drive home at sunset on the flat plains of Illinois.



Durbin Toes the Line, Kirk Goes Against the Grain

ProPublica has an API that exports Congressional voting patterns so that people can review their representatives voting habits.  In downloading the data for senators, I noticed so marked differences in the voting patterns between the two senators for Illinois.

Note:  The data below was cleaned and compiled by me.  If you want to a better look at the charts or download the data go here:!/vizhome/CongressVotingPatterns/Data


Kirk is sort of a rebel, with the 3rd highest rate of voting against his own party in the Senate.  I’d chalk this up to representing a very Democratic state.  Other notable rebels are two former presidential candidates Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

Durbin on the other hand toes the party line.  He is the 3rd lowest in voting against his party.  This is likely because he is the Minority Whip.  For all that Berne wants to be, he toes the Democratic party line more often than not, voting against the Dems less than others in his party.




As for votes missed Kirk ‘misses’ about 6% of the votes about double Durbin’s number this term.  This chart is stark for former presidential candidates.  Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz miss 1 in 3 votes with Berne missing over 1 in 3.




When looking at the Congress as a whole, the Democrats are more unified in their voting patterns in both houses.  The Senate is especially ruckus for the Republicans with over half of their party voting against itself over 1 in 10 times.




In general, the my house rep, Darin LaHood, is a  pretty solid vote for the Republicans.  I guess he has to be since our previous rep, Aaron Schock resigned because of his decorative and travel escapades.