Saturday, October 1, 2011

Embarassment of Riches

My heart may be in the desert, as anyone who knows me personally or has read this knows...
But one thing that I always loved about Illinois was fall out here.

The weather gets to that wonderful equillibrium where it's chilly but not too cold.  Time to break out the sweaters and cuddle under blankets, but still perfect for outdoor activities.   The mornings feel different.  Fall makes me nostalgic and cozy and warm.  I even enjoyed the recent rainy spell.  There's something about the chill in the air wafting in through the window with the rain falling softly on the roof that makes you want to just stay in bed and let the world pass by around you.

This morning,  I did a little of that, but then I went out to explore.  Fall is just beginning, and from the looks of's going to be fantastic.
I've been driving this way to work lately and it happens to run along the Des Plaines River trail which I was taking south for the first time today.  This tree literally makes me happy.  It's so insanely bright that it looks like it's on fire. It makes me excited for fall to kick in in full swing.

The south end of the trail doesn't follow the river as closely as the north, save for the beginning

But it does put you right in the heart of the woods and take you through some amazing prairies.

It's honestly hard to believe there's still places like this in the suburbs, and I'm so glad to be finding them.

Fall colors may not be in full splendor yet, but what I saw today was better than any stained glass window in any great cathedral. And honestly? That's what this kind of place is for own little sanctuary. Away from the cubicle, away from, the bike, the trail...fresh air and amazing sights. I left the music off this trip and listened to the wind moving through the woods, and the call of the birds, or rustle of the leaves when the squirrels would run past.   The smells were amazing too...riding through the prairie brought back all kinds of memories of when I'd go running through the fields in our backyard growing up, pants accumulating burrs, picking all sorts of plants to take back to my forts and "cook" with.

Getting out there alone on the trails feels like a vacation from everything. I am so, so glad I decided to go exploring today instead of staying in.  The bike ride today wasn't easy...there were some strong headwinds that you really had to push against, and the trail was pretty wet from the recent rains, so in places where the trail was particularly sandy, the wheels would either slip or kind of sink in, again making pedalling harder.  But it was worth it.

I can't wait to take this ride again in a week or two when the whole forest is bursting with color. I have a feeling that will be a longer ride with more frequent stops to take it all in.
Despite the riding challenges, I made it a full 12.19 miles. It would have been a bit longer a ride, too, as I wanted to make it to a favorite spot of mine in Mettawa, Daniel Wright Woods. 
I was somewhere in MacArthur woods when I saw a sign saying the underpass was closed, but I wasn't sure how long the sign had been up, so I decided to keep going.
When I got there, though, I immediately saw why...
Seems the Des Plaines River Trail is now just the Des Plaines River.
Initially I thought there was an easy way to get me and the bike around it, but there was heavy fencing for about a half a mile, and the workaround would put me about a mile out of my way in the end, so I turned back. I'm hoping this opens back up in a week or so, so I can see the rest of the trail.

It was an absolutely amazing trip, and even as my legs ache some from the long ride, I can honestly say I want to do it all again. The best part? This is all in my own backyard. Literally.

1 comment:

Mrs. A said...

beautiful pictures. Yes, I do love the fall season up here most of all. My husband is from Michigan and we lived there after we got married. We often took road trips around the countryside. the colors were spectacular. Enjoyed reading your story. Only read the first one so far as I have some chores to get to. But thanks for sharing