The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

Illinois

The Art of Exploration archive is where you'll find my past writings and thoughts. You are currently viewing a list of articles about Illinois.

About Time
About Time
For several years, I’ve been contemplating selling my little 1950’s ranch house in the northern Chicago suburbs and moving somewhere more comfortable, nurturing, and livable.
Ice Hiking in Ryerson Woods
Ice Hiking in Ryerson Woods
A few weeks ago, Nemo dumped about six inches of snow on the Chicago area before it ganged up with a Nor’easter to sucker-punch the East Coast.
Woodcut at the Garden
Woodcut at the Garden
The weather today can only be described as wall-to-wall ICK with an occasional outbreak of YUCK and BLECH. The temperature climbed into the forties but it felt more like the twenties.
Prelude to Nemo
Prelude to Nemo
This year, The Weather Channel started naming winter storms in an attempt to grant blizzards a degree of meteorological grit previously reserved for tropical cyclones.
Raven Glen Forest Preserve
Raven Glen Forest Preserve
This past weekend, I was driving south on Route 45 near the Wisconsin border when I noticed a sign for Raven Glen Forest Preserve.
Reviving the Dispatches
Reviving the Dispatches
It’s been a while. I suppose you could call my lack of blogging an intermission. A dry spell. A quite interlude. Writer’s block. Whatever label you give it, there’s no denying that the words around here have evaporated faster than dew drops in the Mohave.
Northerly Island
Northerly Island
When my brother invited me to join him and his family for a trip to Northerly Island this weekend for some sledding and snowshoeing, I told him I’d be delighted to do so.
Lyons Woods
Lyons Woods
In Lake County, the socio-economic status of a town is written all over its roads. The wealthy areas are blessed with roads as smooth as silk. The poorer areas are riddled with roads of rubble.
Classic Images
Classic Images
Planning has its time and its place, but sometimes it’s all about serendipity. Today I spent my lunch break at Lakewood Forest Preserve where I enjoyed a short hike along the shoreline of Taylor Lake.
Heat Wave
Heat Wave
My best attempts to stay acclimated to the cold are being ambushed by a heat wave. Today it got up to 47° in the Chicago area and tomorrow temperatures are expected to inch even closer to 50 degrees Farenheit.
Staying Cool
Staying Cool
The Windy City sure lived up to its name today. All day long the wind howled and puffed hefty gusts of cold air from the northwest. Cottonball clouds sped across a cobalt sky—they collided and blended together and by late afternoon the sky was leaden.
Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve
Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve
Each New Year’s Eve, I try to make a point of going for a long walk. It’s become a wonderful annual meditation ritual for me—a great way to wind down and reflect before the bustle of the New Year sets in and sweeps me away.
Swim Swam Swum
Swim Swam Swum
My hairstylist swam the English Channel today. I’m tremendously impressed. She took up swimming just a couple of years ago and now she’s bagged a world-class marathon swim with efficiency and finesse.
Running from Mosquitoes
Running from Mosquitoes
I try to walk several miles every day, rain or shine. It’s not meant to be my workout, it’s just supposed to be a little walk. It gets the circulation going and gives me a chance to mentally process the day’s activities.
River Walk
River Walk
Most of April has been etched by bone chilling winds and window-pelting rain. But today the sun broke through the clouds and the temperature climbed to seventy degrees, interrupting an otherwise icy, slate grey spring.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
I am quite ashamed to admit that I’ve lived most of my life in Illinois but I have never visited the Lincoln Home. That is, until now. I am on my way to St. Louis and thought it is a perfect time to stop by to see this lovely historic home.
Two Storms
Two Storms
I’ve heard that in the moments before a tsunami crashes ashore, the sea rushes away from the beach. I’ve also heard that what you don’t want to do at such a time is follow the sea as it rushes out, because it’s coming back with it a bloody big wave.
Monsoons
Monsoons
The rains are here. For five days straight, I’ve lived under leaden skies and breathed in damp air. The garden is lush, which saves me the chore of watering flowerbeds twice daily.
Acclimation
Acclimation
This caliber of cold takes some getting used to. I thought I would ease myself into it by going for a short ten-minute walk to get acclimated to the arctic air.
Clear Blue Sky
Clear Blue Sky
I awoke this morning to sunlight streaming in the bedroom windows. The whole room glowed with warm light. It was the first sunshine to show its face in over a week and despite the icy air outside, I was determined to enjoy it.
Old School Forest Preserve
Old School Forest Preserve
It’s been a real treat to be able to bike outside for so long this fall. I mean, it’s December for crying out loud and I can still ride the 12-mile loop to Old School Forest Preserve and back without risking frostbite or snowblindness.
November Trails
November Trails
I didn’t write much in November. In fact, I didn’t write anything until now but I did take some photographs. Although I didn’t have much to say for nearly thirty days, I now look back and realize there was plenty of beauty to speak of.
Fall Foliage
Fall Foliage
October had its chance to be the best biking month of the year. Instead, it decided to rain. It then proceeded to drizzle, pour, mist and pee down.
Independence Grove
Independence Grove
The days are getting indisputably shorter. It’s a race to finish work and get outside before the sun starts to set and the trails go dim. Today, I missed my window of opportunity for getting in a decent bike ride before sunset.
Middlefork Savanna
Middlefork Savanna
There are suddenly hints of fall everywhere. The morning air is dewy and condenses in the early hours of the day, forming tiny droplets on windshields and rear view mirrors.
Lakewood Forest Preserve
Lakewood Forest Preserve
After three months of biking eastward along the North Shore Bike Path, it was time to venture in the opposite direction. The only westbound bike path within reasonable distance of my house was the Millenium Path.
The Art of Jogging
The Art of Jogging
I’ve been running a lot recently. I am not a good runner, I am not fast, and I do not derive easy pleasure from the sport. I find it to be painful on my joints, producing kinks in hips and ankles alike.
Real Easy Italian
Real Easy Italian
Each spring, when the flowers bloom and break the long color-silence of winter, I start to look closely at nature and I see a tiny world, one filled with pollen grains and petal edges and stamens and anthers.
Pacing Myself
Pacing Myself
Yesterday I spent long hours hammering out words for a book I have to produce for work. It’s mostly a matter of cutting and pasting and cringing at the screen as I go back and forth between windows and click here and there and drag and drop.
Knee Deep
Knee Deep
A few days ago I started going for walks again. Let me be precise: outdoor walks, in the cold. This is an accomplishment considering I usually let January’s subfreezing temperatures and meager daylight confine me to the couch.
January Then
January Then
Just ten short days ago I thought autumn would last until March and that (further deluding myself) a mild-tempered March would give way to a sudden burst of vernal warmth.
Ryerson Woods
Ryerson Woods
Ryerson Woods is among my favorite places to go for a walk—even in January. And considering how horrible January can be in Chicagoland, that says a lot.
Viceroy
Viceroy
Fresh Start
Fresh Start
I’ve adopted a new tradition for New Year’s Eve. It requires no reservations, no fancy dress, no cash advance. I don’t have to wrangle taxis or drink cheap champagne or go home smelling like an ash tray.
Resolution Distillation
Resolution Distillation
I’ve never been enthusiastic about writing New Year’s resolutions so we’ll see how this goes. Let me say at the start that I’m not going to be all militant about writing them.
First Snow
First Snow
First last night: it snowed. Thick heavy snow, the kind that muffles sounds and makes you feel cozy and warm inside despite dropping temperatures and frosty crystals floating outside in downward spirals and mad swarms.
Instead of Pulling the Plug
Instead of Pulling the Plug
Over the past month, there has been little that I want to share here in my blog. I just haven’t been in the mood to post. I seemed to have fallen into another creative void.
Tax Time
Tax Time
It’s that time of year again when, for several days straight, I rumage through checking account statements, reorganize files, and rack my brain trying to recall where I last saw that receipt for donations made last February.
Weary of the Wind Chill
Weary of the Wind Chill
It’s four degrees outside. You can count them on one hand and have a thumb to spare: one, two, three, four. There is a severe lack of temperature happening outside the thin wall of my office.
Settling In
I am in my new home and trying to settle in as quickly as possible after what turned out to be a tremenduosly stressful move involving a cranky buyer, creepy lawyer, and slippery real estate agent.
Seven Twenty Eight and a Half
Seven Twenty Eight and a Half
I look through the pictures I’ve collected of my condo and wonder why I’d want to move from this place. To avoid second-guessing my decision to put my home up for sale, I compose a list of reasons I want to move.
The Art of Moving On
The Art of Moving On
Change can be at once unsettling and rejuvenating, and moving often brings with it a landslide of changes and emotions. That’s why knowing when it’s time to move on is the key to weathering the ups and downs that a move unleashes.
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