Down the Road

Roads and life and how roads are like life

Just a random turtle


I had just pulled out of my driveway the other morning when I saw what I thought was a small bag of trash lying in the street ahead. But then I wasn’t sure what it was. And then as I passed it I could see: it was a large turtle!


I got out of the car to look it over. Its shell was at least a foot and a half long. I’ve lived here seven years and have never seen one in the neighborhood, so I was very curious where this one had come from. Perhaps she lived in the golf community behind my subdivision, as there are man-made ponds there. But where could she be going? My neighborhood is dry. Crooked Creek is about a mile away in the direction she was pointed, but a heavily traveled road lay between here and there, and she would find that to be a tricky crossing at best.


She didn’t look very happy to meet me, so I snapped a couple quick shots with my iPhone and moved on. I’m always glad I have my iPhone in my pocket – it’s a good-enough camera, always ready.

I don’t know one turtle from another, so I turned to Google, which leads me to believe this is a snapping turtle. Their reputation for ill temperament helps me not take her standoffishness personally.

In the same week, two people I follow on Facebook shared photos of similar turtles the found out and about. So it must have been a time for turtles to be on the move, perhaps for the females to lay their eggs.

Then there was the time I found a Luna moth. See it here.

The covered bridge over the Embarras River


Covered bridge west of Greenup

The Embarras (AM-braw) River doesn’t seem to want National Road travelers to cross. Its waters have damaged or destroyed three bridges. A wooden covered bridge was built here in 1832, but it washed out in 1865. A ferry carried travelers across the river until 1875, when this truss bridge opened. But it washed out in 1912.


Ferry service resumed until 1920, when this unattractive concrete bridge was built. Flooding damaged one of the piers in 1996. The bridge was judged unsafe, and it closed.


The Illinois Department of Transportation argued that a bridge was no longer needed, and proposed simply removing it. They had a point, because US 40 had long ago been rerouted to skirt nearby Greenup, and I-70 passed nearby too. Most traffic entering Greenup did so from these roads, not the old National Road.


Imagery and map data © 2014 Google.

By this time the Illinois National Road Association was working to have the road named a National Scenic Byway, and leaders in Greenup were trying to revive the town’s business district. Not having a bridge here would make the road discontinuous and thus harm both efforts. But the groups saw an opportunity to do something that would bring people to Greenup and this section of the National Road: build a wooden covered bridge. To make a long story short, this bridge was completed in 2000.

Covered bridge west of Greenup

Some say that this is a replica of the 1832 bridge, but I have my doubts. Research did uncover the truss design used in the 1832 bridge, and it was used in this bridge, too. But my guess is that detailed plans and drawings for the original bridge are long lost. This bridge is almost certainly a new design around that old truss.

Covered bridge west of Greenup

But who cares, really? This wonderful attraction evokes an earlier age. Every time I drive the National Road across Illinois, I look forward to lingering here for a while. The builders of this bridge were smart to place wide walkways on either side of its single vehicle lane. Every time I’m here, I find other people inside, studying the trusses or looking out over the Embarras. Nearby, a large interpretive panel (from which I took photos of the 1875 and 1912 bridges above) tells the story of this crossing.

Covered bridge west of Greenup

My travel companion, Margaret, asked some passersby to take a photo of us together on the bridge. I imagine this is a common occurrence here, because the scene is picturesque, time spent here is enjoyable, and it’s great to have a photographic memory of it.

Travel companion

See also the bridge near Clark Center with its wooden cover here.

The long-awaited end to the sewer saga


I’m celebrating this Independence Day by flushing the toilet.

This is no commentary on the state of our country. It’s elation that my house is, at long last, connected to the city’s sewer.

Longtime readers of this blog might remember that about four years ago the city sent me a letter that said they would lay sewer lines in my neighborhood and that I’d be required to connect at my cost.

When my house was built, it was outside the Indianapolis city limits. So every home in my subdivision got a well and a septic system. But then in 1970 the city annexed the whole county. Time passed. The septic systems in the annexed subdivisions grew old. Some of them failed. Many of them leached into the ground water. So the city decided to extend sewer everywhere. It’s been an enormous project that has had streets torn up all over my part of town for years now.

After I got over the initial cost shock, I realized that this would be dramatically less expensive than replacing my more-than-40-year-old septic system when it inevitably failed, which I figured would be sooner rather than later. I set aside the cash – and then it took two years for the city to lay the pipes in my neighborhood’s streets (photos here and here), and (unbelievably) another two years for the contractor I hired to get around to connecting me. They finished just the other day.

This was the scene in my front yard as the work commenced.


I was not prepared for the shock of seeing my lawn destroyed, but obviously you can’t lay sewer lines without doing a lot of digging. I was also not prepared for just how angry I would become when I discovered that their backhoe severed my well line. I was white-hot angry! Fortunately, they were able to repair the damage.


Although the sewer line connected to my plumbing through the front of my house, the septic tank was out back, and part of the job included pumping the tank dry and filling it with dirt. The Bobcat they used to move the dirt tore up my grass pretty bad.


After the line was laid and the city inspection had passed, they filled in the trench. And now I have a lot of landscaping to do. Yay.


I’m relieved, not only that the job is done but especially that I’ve written the final check to pay for all of this.


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