At 6:00 am, the train station is desolate. The streets to the train station are empty and the air is cool. We were soon to be off on the train to downtown Chicago and from there ride our bicycles up along the lake and paths the 120 miles to Milwaukee.
Dawn rises along the tracks and soon enough the ride begins.
Every ride is full of wonders, like the scent of chocolate baking along the streets of downtown, or the sea of spandex when our path merged with a woman’s 1/2 marathon. It’s a chance to find mom/pop restaurants like the Mexican place in Evanston where you can get corn meal pancakes and the restaurant is so small that you have to walk through the tiny kitchen and ask the dishwasher move to get into the tiny restroom.
Hope you ride your bike to new places and find adventures of your own.
The Old Plank Road Trail in Illinois is 21 very straight miles between Joliet and Chicago Heights. The easy ride will take you past many suburbs and you’ll see everything from Saturday French Farmer’s Markets, McMansions to 1950 style box houses, woods and wetland and malls and Costco. This trail was first a Native American game trail, and then a toll road where immigrants who couldn’t afford the barge fee on the canals paid a penny to walk along the wood-lined planked road instead of the rutted knee deep mud of the paths. It later became a railway and then finally a paved recreation path and a bit of a window into the settling of the Midwest.
It’s an easy cruising now, nicely paved past a variety of sights. There’s a great suspension bridge over the highway that must have won a prize somewhere, and halfway down the trail in Frankfort, where the tail passes right through town, you can stop at Build a Bun and get a custom hotdog and a root-beer. We found this new one from Missouri with the Route-66 brand.
A new path, hot-dogs, sunshine and autumn air and a new root-beer makes for a great riding day.
We went to a local wine tasting. Tried some reds and whites from California and Oregon. They were nice but we didn’t purchase any. On the way home we stopped at Standard Market where they were having a tasting by a local craft brewery of Gin, Vodka and Aquavit. Chicago Gin, I like the sound of it. And I like the idea that they are small enough to label each bottle by hand. It was pretty tasty, made by neighbors ( although Chicagoland has about 9 million neighbors ) it’s fun to purchase locally.
North Shore Distillery – check them out if you can.
I rode my bicycle, it’s fallen to 53 degrees and stopped by a hillside. If you do like back of the envelope calculations you might count a 2 x 2 square and find it had 100 flowers and that in a space that could hold ten thousand squares you could behold a million flowers.
Or you could just saw wow.
And enjoy it before winter comes once again.
when my youngest daughter was a teenager she had a blue hair period, among other colors, but we would be out and people, especially little old ladies would often approach us out of the “blue” so to speak and tell her how attractive her hair was while I thought to myself, “Nooooooo!”
She told me one day, “Dad, they just wish they had done it when they were my age”… how could I disagree?
May you do something extra-ordinary.
When you’re in a mountain valley with no line of sight to cell towers, how does one make a phone call? Head up to the phone-booth.
You can ride up on the mountain bike, or take the car, or go natural. But a one horse powered vehicle is a pretty good way to mix technologies.
Here’s hoping you can sometimes un-plug.
Back down from the mountain, a couple more images linger. It’s hard to describe the mountain vistas, or the beauty of the flowers and I am loathe to let them go just yet.
Many mountain flowers are small and subtle, but pinks are small and brilliant
As the seasons move toward winter the colors move to brown and grey, here Blacktooth Peak sits atop it’s royal robes.
After one last view, it was time to return.