Day Two Hundred Seventy

It’s been a busy day. After a big dinner and a brew, I really didn’t think I’d get a walk in at all today. When I mentioned that I’d made it well over a week without missing a walk, my daughter talked me into an evening walk and volunteered to accompany me.

We didn’t walk far but had a nice evening constitutional.

The walking streak continues.

Day Two Hundred Sixty-nine

Sand Ridge Nature Center

After completing my to-do list early today, I made the last minute decision to head to one of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County’s six nature centers, the Sand Ridge Nature Center, in South Holland, Illinois.

It was a good decision.

Glaciers formed a lake here at one time, and the sandy soil remains, giving the preserve its name. The area is mixed forest, prairie, and wetlands. Redwing Pond sits in the middle of the property.

Sandridge VistasBut for a group that was visiting and getting ready to leave, I almost had the place to myself, only seeing three other people the entire time I was there. The Forest Preserve employee in charge of the facility warmly greeted me upon my arrival inside the nature center and highlighted the new boardwalk, wildlife, exhibits, and historical area. My ears pricked up when he said that they’ve had several black crowned night herons at the pond, but unfortunately, I didn’t see any. I did see plenty of red-bellied woodpeckers in the woods though!

Sandridge WalkwayI walked along the boardwalk towards Long Beach Trail. They have fenced off the area surrounding much of the nature center to prevent the white tail deer from eating the valuable plant life. Thankfully, the fence is not locked to humans, and I was able to explore at my leisure.

I was pleasantly surprised to see so many wildflowers this late in the year!Sand Ridge FlowersI spent more time here than I had planned and would still like to come back with the family. It’s a great spot.

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns

Lines:  Over, Under, Along, and Through

I added a requirement of my own to this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns  The pictures had to be taken on one of my daily walks from this year.  While going through my photos from the year, I noticed my proclivity for taking perspective pictures–lines going over, under, along, or through the walkway.


IMG_20130413_153227As a bonus, I’ve added a pattern shot, also taken on a walk.

Day Two Hundred Sixty-seven

Dewey Helmick Nature Preserve

I headed back to a regular spot again today, the Old Plank Road Trail, where it runs under I-57 and into a Illinois Nature Preserve. My eldest son, off from work for the day, joined me.

I’ve been walking here regularly and plan to continue to do so, because I want to keep checking out the herons, egrets, and cormorants before they leave for the season.

Old Plank Road Trail-Dewey Helmick Nature PreserveI saw a family of wood ducks here today for the first time, so I’ll have to keep checking on them too!

This is still a great place to walk. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

Day Two Hundred Sixty-six

Don’t Feed the Ducks, Folks

The lawn mower refuses to start, despite the best attempts of the Lawn Whisperer.

When my husband (a.k.a. the Lawn Whisperer) asked me to get it fixed, I knew where to take it. The question was: could I find a nearby interesting place to walk? Using Google Maps bicycle overlay for the area, I found that the Village of Oak Lawn has a nature preserve, The Wolfe State Wildlife Refuge, that includes a pond with a path around it and a creek with an adjacent path continuing into the nearby neighborhoods.

After dropping off the mower and driving the short distance to the preserve, I was surprised how crowded it was, but many of the people were at the playground that is also on the property. I grabbed my camera and headed off on the path.

Despite the fact that the water was rather icky and debris littered the woods, the path itself was nice. It even had lighting. On the bridge over the creek, I could see fish and turtles. From a path that led right to the water’s edge I could see a large group of mallards.

Wolfe State Wildlife Refuge


As I wandered around the other side of the pond, I could hear the ducks making a lot of noise. When I took a closer look, I noticed that a man was feeding them from one spot, and a mom and toddler were feeding them from another.

I could have sworn that I passed a sign that said not to feed the ducks and wandered back around to verify.

Why do people think that rules don’t apply to them?

It drives me nuts, but I still had a nice walk.

Day Two Hundred Sixty-five

If Only I Had a Kayak

After seeing some beautiful pictures taken at the Skokie Lagoons, one of the Cook County Forest Preserves, I thought I’d head to the North Branch Trail System for a walk.

What a beautiful area! Before walking, I wandered up to the edge of the water. I had no idea it was so large! I then headed back through a wooded area to get back to the trail.

I initially walked along the paved Red North Branch Bike Trail and was surprised by how many bicyclists were out. I took the trail up to the Tower Road Boat Launch and was even more surprised by the number of kayaks. Obviously, a great way to explore the Skokie Lagoons was from the water!
Skokie LagoonsAfter looking around and jealously watching the people rowing about on the kayaks and small boats, I headed back on the more peaceful gravel Yellow Trail. I would love to come back and explore more of this beautiful preserve.

But first, I must procure a kayak . . .

(On a counting note: one hundred days left in the year!)