Shepherd In The City

The truth is, most people that may know me, know me by my dog – Rudy. “Whoa, that’s big dog…” is usually the first thing I hear. Not, “Hey Erik, how are you? Good to see you again…” I know he is the better looking one in this relationship, and a little smarter, so I thought I’d use him to illustrate some points around the city.

LOLcats have swept the Internets by storm. If you haven’t heard of them, then press your computers’ “ON” button and get Googling [LINK]. You’ll thank me later. My experiment is to see if a German Shepherd could be the next in online urban/economic development meme’s? Why not, right?

Rudy TruckWhen you are blessed with a 51 degree day in January, in Illinois, you get out of the house and do some bizarre things. So I suited up, and hit the streets with my partner in crime.

Our destination: East Peoria’s River Front Park.

Now what Rudy discovered may come as a shock to some, but in order to get to our destination we had to take the car.

Located along, you guessed it – a river, River Front Park is a swath of parkland along the Illinois River meant to serve? Well, we’re not sure…

EP Riverfront Map

The park itself has the river to the north, one bridge to the east, Walmart due south, and has an Embassy Suites hotel and another bridge to the west. As you can see from Google Maps [MAP], it has a fair amount of traffic around it, but never really any pedestrians – or dogs to be specific.

Rudy and I eagerly hopped out of car on this beautiful Saturday to find ourselves as the only ones at the park. Sure, it was around 12:30pm, but people have other things to do…right?

I mean what kid wouldn’t enjoy a cool playground with stacks of wood pallets to play with on a warm winter weekend?

Walmart Park

Sadly, there were no children to be found. Rudy, whose curiosity was peaked, had a walk around. There were a couple plantings he sniffed, a long empty patch of grass filled with goose shit to trot through, but nothing very entertaining except some cars flying by to the Bass Pro Shop. A lot of people apparently like the great outdoors , just not this outdoor spot.

EP Riverfront

Rudy Park

After all of those fun and games, we decided to cross the street to head to the other grass refuge. That’s where we came across this intriguing piece of architecture. If you are a history nut, preservation buff, or design freak and haven’t seen the back of a Walmart, it is a bucket-list must! Drenched in sarcasm.

Back Of Walmart

Back of Walmart EP

Generally, in most major cities that I’ve been, prime riverfront property isn’t dished out to something so inhumane. But that’s just my experience. Regardless, this wildly successful economic titan is cherished, beloved, and celebrated by many.

We’re still not quite sure why there is a park here. There are no homes nearby and no neighborhoods. Maybe it is an environmental win? I don’t know. It seems more like a case of, “Hmm, maybe we need a park here, yep, people love green space.” Confused, we headed back to the car.

Before we left, and at the request of Rudy, I got a few pictures of him with the Peoria skyline in the back. It seems that this park may just be for that use only, to enjoy the scenery of some place else.

Rudy Peoria Skyline


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