The Des Plaines River trail in the Lake County Forest Preserves was bustling on a stellar Sunday afternoon as we biked along the trail. I believe that people are doing “staycations” (what a horrid word, linguistically!); I have never seen the trail so crowded. It was wonderful to see so many shapes, sizes and contingents of groups along the way-babies in bike seats, the tag-along toddler seat, families, serious bikers-in-training, individuals, friends, hikers, dogs and their owners.
We were a group of 9, not one complaint during the 10 mile ride, the 8 and 9 year-old boys keeping up with the adults with no problem. I enjoy the combination of riding along the shaded river bank, clack-clack up-and-over on the bridges, then swooping under the busy roads, finally a long, lovely stretch bordered with river on one side and acres of wildflowers on the other.
We reached our destination of Independence Grove, curving around the path to view the two man-made lakes from above. I think it is the gem of the forest preserve, inviting and encouraging young and old to try something new. While too busy on a weekend for the serious trainer, it is a beautifully laid out space where people can bike-walk-skate-skateboard around the lakes, rent boats, play on the newly constructed playground, swim, fish, take photos, play volleyball-baseball-soccer, fly a kite, have a picnic, take a nap, watch the bubbly clouds float across the sky.
As my friend Kerry said, “Maybe there is hope for world peace. Look at all the different people smiling and having fun.” I think it would take many hours there before the kids give their “I’m bored” lament, and if you cannot find something you like to do here….there must be something wrong with your psyche.
Our kids ran on the playground after we ate our lunch, while we relaxed and chatted. They then fed the seemingly 50-lb carp before we rode around the lakes to start our ride home. The girls decided we HAD to stop at Dairy Queen on our ride home, a remnant memory for the many times we did that when they were younger. It was a welcome treat, after a gorgeous day spent outside, bickering and electronics absent.
What a relaxing way to spend one of the final summer Sundays before school and soccer games kick into gear. I am already planning where we bike next weekend, should this amazing weather prevail. Slowing down and letting the trail lead us where it may, a welcome respite for all. C