I dunno about you, but lately I’ve been taking a lot of “sanity walks.” Just aimless strolls to get out of the house and try to not think about the the global pandemic which is altering all of our lives. I’ve been going on sanity bike rides and sanity drives around town as well. Honestly I thought I’d be bored of the streets and sidewalks of Chambana by now, but I keep finding little nooks and crannies of town that I didn’t know about before. Here’s a few discoveries that I made recently that you can check out yourself during your own mental health excursions…or if venturing out doesn’t feel safe, just subsist on my own photos and words below.

The Illini Boat Graveyard

I was biking around south of campus the other week and I thought I saw a boat sitting on the grass between some big storage sheds. Obviously I went to investigate and found not one, but many boats!

Several damaged boats are lined up in front of a gray warehouse building. There is overgrown brush all around them. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

This apparently is the dumping ground for the Illini Sailing Club/Sailing Team.

A portion of a rundown white boat and red stripes has the words Illinois Sailing in orange block letters. Photo by Tom Ackerman. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Here’s a boat that’s (ironically) full of water.

View from above of a tan colored boat with a one person seat. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Here’s a boat that’s (also ironically) full of tires.

A close up of the interior of a boat, it is filled with old tires. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.
A close up of a boat rack. The rails are white with the letters Queen of Darkness upside down. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Do I have any jokes about these boats? Not really, they’re just a cool find.

The Radar Tower at Willard Airport

I don’t write about places in Savoy very often. Probably because there aren’t many cool places in Savoy. However, Willard Airport is a GREAT place in Savoy because it saves me from having to drive to O’Hare. Also there’s an Einstein Bros. Bagels there now. I fly out of Willard every chance I get!

Anyway, I was taking a leisurely drive the other day (definitely VERY LEISURELY, I certainly was not gunning it down country roads while blaring 107.1FM “Champaign’s Alternative”), and I found that if you drive out behind Willard, you can get right up close (but still not too close) to the radar tower.

A radio tower is in a fenced off area. There are a couple of small buildings nearby. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

The tower is pretty cool if you like tall objects that also spin.

I was a tiny bit nervous about being even this close to the active radio emitter, but judging by the size of these warning signs, the radar itself is only slightly more dangerous than the security gate.

A close up of a security fence. There is a warning sign about staying away from the moving gate, and another below it that warns about radio frequency fields. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

I needn’t have worried at all because after just 10 short minutes next to the radar tower I felt totally invigorated! I’m no doctor, but I think I’ll start telling everyone that airport radar cures COVID. After all, my opinion is just as reputable as some other notable people who have been talking about “cures” recently.

Oh, I also love how “protected” the gate key code box is.

A keycode box is surrounded by four gray pillars on a concrete slab. Photo by Tom Ackerman. Photo by Tom Ackerman. 

Preservation Pond Champaign

Chambana has its fair share of parks both big and small, but I just recently discovered this one near Russell Street and Washington in Champaign.

Preservation Pond is a nice little drainage pond surrounded by local plants.
That’s all lovely, but just look at these park amenities!
A water fountain!

A small pond with a small water fountain in the center. Photo by Tom Ackerman. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

The other kind of water fountain!

A black cylindrical water fountain with levels for an adult, child, and pet. It's on a concrete slab and there is a patch of grass and yellow flowers behind it. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman. 

A highly informational placard!

A placard that details information about Preservation pond. Photo by Tom Ackerman. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Bike racks!

Three u-shaped black bike racks on concrete. Photo by Tom Ackerman. Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Gazebo with lights and power outlets!
(...and spider eggs in the power outlets, definitely not an amenity)

A gazebo with a green roof and ivory columns. There is a small round table with attached chairs in the center. Photo by Tom Ackerman. Photo by Tom Ackerman. 
The interior of the roof of the gazebo. There is a small dome in the center, and three lights hanging from the ceiling. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.
A close up of an outlet. There are spider eggs along the bottom of the outlet cover. Photo by Tom Ackerman. Photo by Tom Ackerman. 

Astonishing! I’ve had apartments that are less livable than this rainwater pit. If I wasn’t completely terrified of touching any object outside my own home, I’d be in that gazebo right now writing this column.

Fire Engine For Sale

On Staley road right by Antiques & More, there is a fire engine for sale. Or maybe it’s a fire truck? Turns out the terms are not synonymous. I think this one is a fire engine.

An old fashioned red Ford fire engine with a ladder along this side. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

Yes, for the startlingly low price of $4,999, this massive piece of hardware could be yours. Does it run? I have no idea, but even if it doesn’t, that’s a great quarantine project for you. Just think of the adventures you could have with your own fire engine!

The interior of a fire truck bed. It is lined with old wood planks, some of which are broken. Photo by Tom Ackerman.Photo by Tom Ackerman.

I’m torn about what I would do with this fire engine if it were mine. I could of course leave it looking like a fire engine and be the king of all future parades in Champaign and surrounding counties.

Or, I could paint it all camo and drive around town intimidating the truck bro dipshits in their GMC Sierra Crew Cabs with their pro-gun stickers and custom wheels. Even those bros would be forced to bow in reverence to my mighty Ford 900 V8 engine from the mid 1970s.

Most likely, I’d paint the whole craft violet and fill up the water tanks with thousands of gallons of grape soda. Then on hot days I’d venture forth delivering high-pressure purple refreshment to thirsty citizens.


That’s all I’ve got for you this month dear readers, but I’ll see you again in June!

Top photo by Tom Ackerman.