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Champaign, IL

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Me & Leah
Me an’ Leah in Champaign

Tuesday morning, after a bagel sandwich breakfast, I hugged Maggie goodbye and traversed two or three of the bridges that are the apple of Pittsburgh’s dreary steel eye. I left at 10:30 am and drove for about eight hours due west.

I couldn’t seem to shake the overcast drizzle of Pittsburgh, however, it held onto me long after I’d left Pennsylvania, gone through the sliver of West Virginia into Ohio. I expereienced some sunshine, however, in that state, for a moment, coupled with some unexplained backups on highway 70, where I sat trapped in traffic. At least the weather was nice.

I arrived in Champaign, or Champaign-Urbana, as some refer to it as, around 6:30 that evening, after gaining an hour as I crossed into the Central time zone. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of Champaign, but I was pleasantly surprised. By that point in my trip, most of the colonial New England architecture had been replaced by more modern 20th century type buildings, and the lush green lawns and quiet charm of the midwestern neighborhoods were lovely and quaint.

I drove to Leah’s house. I hadn’t seen Leah in over a year, maybe as long as a year and a half, so it was wonderful to see her again. She introduced me to her roommate, and then the three of us left to eat at a Mexican restaurant down the street. The restaurant was pink with purple shutters, but I can’t remember the name of it. But the food was great! It tasted more authentic than anything I’d had in Boston,and I cheerd and declared it as a hallmark of me traveling in the right direction.

After dinner, Leah and I walked across the downtown part of Champaign to a bar called the Blind Pig. Champaign is really an adorable little town; it’s small but the restaurants and bars it does have are fun and beautiful. I really enjoyed walking around that little trendy district, which was now in the process of welcoming back it’s students for the new semester. We had a few fancy beers, and chatted with some f the locals.

Leah has a special talent of befriending local people and always has a good system of friends wherever she goes; a talent of which I’m just the teeniest bit envious. But talking to Leah was wonderful; she seems to be really enjoying life.

She’s in her second year of grad school, studing to be an urban planner, and spends time in East Saint Louis helping the people that live in those neighborhoods. She even has a plaque she received from the city in honor of a trash cleanup she helped coordinate earlier this year.

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Written by pocheco

August 29, 2006 at 7:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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