Thursday, October 28, 2010

October 9 His Spirit Lives On....

Happy Birthday to John Lennon...a dreamer who is not the only one...he continues to inspire people to believe the world can be a better place...all you need is love.

September 8 Lincoln Park

I have fallen way behind with updating this blog. So I am writing this almost two months after it happened but I want to illustrate how something so simple can have incredible meaning over time. This was a rare day that Chrissy & I got to spend together. There are several reasons why days like this are so important to me. First, we rarely have the same days off from work. Technically, I was off due to quitting my job. The main reason for quitting...too much time at work, not enough time living my life. Second, I thoroughly enjoying going to the city, so does Chrissy. We might seem strange to some people, who goes to the city to relax?  I love the energy of the city. It is contagious and it revitalizes me. Lastly, to be honest I had forgotten about this day. I was reminded of it when I recently found these pictures in my camera. Between September 8th and today, I suffered an injury that I am now recuperating from...more about that in another I won't be having another day like this one for quite a long time. And that is the important thing to take from today's blog...enjoy the little things in life that make you smile...they add up to a lifetime of happiness.
We started out by walking along the new boardwalk around the lagoon in Lincoln Park.

Then we stopped at the Green City Farmer's Market to pick up some fresh fruit, handmade pasta and artisan cheese.

We spent the afternoon at the Lincoln Park Zoo. We took our time, had lunch at the zoo and enjoyed seeing all the animals without the crowds since it was a late summer Wednesday after school had begun. It was a wonderful, well spent day. That I capped off with a great pretzel on the way home. A simple, yet easily overlooked day that everyone needs more get away from your computer and have one.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

August 30 The Reason I Ride

 The perfect day. How often can you really say that? It seems that most of us rarely get to enjoy spending time doing something that we truly love. That is why today is a perfect day, the weather is great and I have all day to ride the single track trails at Sweet Woods and Brownell. I decided to start at Brownell Woods. As soon as I get out of my car, a deer is right in front of me.

She just freezes as I unload my bike. Then I see why she is so concerned. A very young fawn walks out of the brush toward me. I have seen seen polar bears in the Arctic, grizzly bears in Alaska and Yellowstone, had a black bear walk up on my brother & me in Wrangell St. Elias and  I  have stood about 20 feet from a herd of walrus in Spitsbergen. But I still love seeing the local wildlife in the forest preserves. The mother deer jumped out and chased her young baby down the bike trail I was about to ride down. It felt good to be riding again. I love the feeling of escaping while riding through the woods. On the best of rides, the rest of the world disappears and it is only me surrounded by nature. Today was one of those days when it felt like something special could happen at any moment. Then I came across what appeared to be a campsite where the single track trail runs along the railroad tracks.
I discovered the site was set up by a man named Leo. Unfortunately, Leo was not home during my visit. He left a sign in book on the bench, his artwork in the trees and his mission or life statement nailed to a tree.
I thoroughly enjoyed his view of how he chose to live his life. Basically Leo decided to forgo working at a job he hates to spend his remaining years doing what he enjoys, trains, artwork and beer.
I really enjoyed what Leo had done with his place in the woods.
It was a very clean campsite with all kinds of recycled artwork and some unique creations.

Eventually I continued down the path. I kept hoping I would see Leo on my way back to the car but I never did see him. I did sign his book so he knows I stopped by. I took the Brownell trail to the train tracks, rode down the train tracks across the creek and started down the Sweet Woods trails. I startled a young deer sleeping in the tall cattails along the tracks which in turn startled me when it jumped up and ran. Then I discovered a new bridge across the ravine near the tracks.
This is easily the most impressive bridge built here in my ten years of riding these trails. Whoever built this bridge should be very proud. It looks like a tree fell across the ravine. Then someone split the bigger branches to use as the bridge deck and nailed them along the downed tree trunk. At the far end of the bridge are several thick slices of the trunk laid flat across the wooden supports to complete the bridge. There are several large branches used to keep the tree trunk from shifting left or right. Damn impressive and looks as natural as anything growing in the woods. It is very cool to ride across it. Further down the trail I discovered something else I hadn't seen on my last ride about a month ago...a grave site
Somebody buried Jeffrey Pope's ashes in the shade of a huge tree in the Sweet Woods Forest Preserve. I stopped to pay my respect and began wondering about Jeffrey. He died back in 2002 so I figured someone kept his ashes all these years then decided to bury them in the woods. In my mind I came up with this story...he probably loved spending time in these woods and whoever had Jeff's ashes wanted to keep them around for awhile because they loved Jeffrey. As the years went by, the pain of his passing lessened and that person decided to Jeff's final resting place should be a place he loved. I wished Jeff well and continued riding the trails.
On my way back to Brownell, the sound of me rustling past a downed tree caused three baby raccoons to walk out of a hollow tree stump. Maybe they thought I was mom coming back. I stopped to take pictures and one ran up a small tree, the other two ran up a big tree. Mama must have taught them right. They seemed nervous so I took a couple of quick shots and went on my way. Back at the car I realized, this was an exceptional day in the woods. Life is good.