Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon

The Horizon, Vastness, and Memories

The Daily Post, in this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon, asks the question, “Is there a particular horizon that speaks to you?” I would have to answer that question, “not really”, but as someone who grew up spending many a summer day in western Michigan along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, I first thought of that horizon. The lake seems more like an ocean than a lake, especially to a child, and the sharp line where water meets sky has always intrigued me.

Back then, the water always seemed so infinite, until the day a brisk east wind took my new beach ball “to Milwaukee” (as my Dad said), and I realized that the lake, although great, was finite. Later, when my dad gave me an old camera of his, it was the lake and the horizon that were my favorite subjects, and I took plenty of overly dark and blurry sunset pictures. My dad took better pictures of us too with that horizon as a backdrop, and those pictures bring back great memories. As an adult, I realize that it’s the people and the memories that I cherish, not just the scenery behind us.

When I thought about taking this challenge, I set some parameters for myself. My gallery of pictures includes only pictures from my walks in 2013. As an ode to the horizon of my childhood, the first group includes pictures taken along the shores of Lake Michigan, from three of the four states that border it: Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.

It’s the “things” in these pictures that makes them interesting: the things in front of the horizon, the things that break up the horizon, and the natural wonders like clouds and waves. I’ve enjoyed looking again at these pictures with a new eye and remember those walks well. It brought to mind other, different walks that I also remembered and enjoyed.

One of the things that surprised me most through these past ten months of walking is just how beautiful the flat grasslands of Illinois are. The interaction between prairie and sky is different than the sharp horizon line between water and sky, but has an infinite beauty of its own.

As I look back at the pictures from these walks, I remember the beauty of creation: the colorful fields of flowers, the waves of the grasses, and the vastness of the sky. But, I also remember who was with me on each walk and that we had a nice time, and that’s what speaks to me.

Those memories are as important as the scenery.

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My son, enjoying the vast quietness of a closed road, at the Midewin National Prairie.

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Day Eighty-nine

Walking Near Water-Part II

We brought the book, Rail-trails Midwest Great Lakes: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, along with us on our overnight trip.  This book and the companion TrailLink website, by the Rails to Trails Conservancy, came in handy on the second day of our overnight trip.

We set out from our hotel for the River Trail of Illinois in East Peoria.  One the way we stopped at a new riverfront park and enjoyed looking around.

East Peoria

We eventually found the parking lot for the trail and headed out walking along with other walkers and several runners.  It is a really nice trail; no wonder the TrailLink website gives it five stars.

River Trail of Illnois

On the trip home, with our Rail-Trails guidebook in hand, we stopped in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, at the Constitution Trail.  We walked the portion of the trail that runs north of I-55 and ends in farmland.  Constitution Trail is actually 20 miles of trails that criss-cross Bloomington-Normal and make it an active town.  We’ve been in town before and always notice folks on these trails.

Normal

Good day, good walks!

Day Eighty-eight

Walking Near Water-Part I

For our son’s spring break, we decided to take an overnight trip at the end of his week off.  Since my son and I had already been along the Illinois & Michigan Canal twice this past week, we decided to head west along the I &M Canal and the Illinois River, then follow the Illinois River to Peoria where we planned to spend the night.  We made several impromptu stops and did some walking along the way.

Our first stop was is Marseilles, Illinois, along the Illinois River.

Marseilles

Our second stop was in Ottawa, Illinois, along the Illinois & Michigan Canal.

Ottawa I & M

Our next stop was at Starved Rock State Park.  This park is known for the Bald Eagles that winter along the Illinois River.  We plan to come back in the winter to see the eagles.

Starved Rock

Our last stop before Peoria was in LaSalle, Illinois.  The I & M Canal is more like a river here and has a lock and a working canal boat.  The trail/towpath is quite nice along here as well; we enjoyed a long walk along the canal.

LaSalle CanalOn our way into Peoria, we noticed a really full parking lot at “The Burger Barge” and pulled in.  We lucked out, big time.  This local establishment is right on the Illinois River and has docks for both boats and jet skis.  The food was ready quickly, and although not the healthiest fare, we had some large tasty burgers.

Once we settled in at our hotel, we walked along the Illinois River.  With people milling about and the city lights reflecting on the water, we decided that Peoria (perhaps with help from Caterpillar Tractor) is really making the most of this riverfront, and we looked forward to exploring more in the daylight.

Good day, good walking, good travelling!  To be continued…

Day Twenty-six

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Time of Walk:  1:30 PM

Temperature:  29° F (felt like 35°)

Weather:  Sunny

My husband’s first words to me this morning were, “Where are we walking today?”  This is one thing that has exceeded my expectations about this resolution–that my family wants to join me on my walks.  My eldest, before he headed back to school, wanted to join me many times as well.  I always enjoy the company.

Today we headed back to the Old Plank Road Trail, a bike and walking path that was converted from an unused railway line.  We started in historic downtown Frankfort, Illinois.  My son and I also started our walk here on Day Eighteen, except that day we headed west and over a cool pedestrian bridge.  Today, we walked from approximately Mile Marker 9.4 east to Mile Marker 8.3 (and back).

OPT Day 26Just east of downtown Frankfort there’s a play area with swings that my son certainly enjoyed having to himself.  The play area opens on to a prairie and wetlands preserve with a separate walk around a small lake.  This area of the trail is lovely.  With it being so close to town and residential areas, it is heavily used by walkers, dog-lovers, runners, and bikers.  The powers that be did this section well!

After a week with bone-chilling temperatures, today’s sunshine and warmer temperatures were a welcome change.  It was a great day for fresh air and a walk! Without this walk-a-day resolution, we never would have thought to do something like this in the winter.

Good day, good walk!!