To take full advantage of our trip, we spent our first two days in Chicago. This city's colorful fall months deliver nothing short of magical experiences. We shopped the Magnificent Mile, breathed the fresh crisp air during our stroll through Millennium Park, and enjoyed cool temps as we toured the incredible sights and architectural treasures.
There's something about this city that inspires me. Maybe it's the buzzing energy you feel throughout the vibrant downtown and colorful neighborhoods. Maybe it's the standout culture and abundance of flavorful food! Whatever it may be, there's definitely no shortage of things to do in this city! Miles of shopping, a play date with the animals at the free Lincoln Park Zoo, or just enjoying a sunset stroll with a stellar skyline were top of my list! And let's not forget the night life! It's always a plus when your boyfriend knows a guy who owns a night club! Who can say no to free drink tokens??
Park after park beautifully landscape the enormous Lake Michigan with acres of green space and hiking trails. Chicago's front yard offers nature lovers like myself plenty of room to play and relax with endless tranquillity. Who would think a city as big as Chicago would be outlined by beaches and boating along a scenic skyline?!? You can truly get lost in this town!
A 2 hour train ride, takes us out of the hustle and bustle of Chicago and into the peaceful and serene countryside of Plainwell, Michigan.
I let all expectations go out the window. I have no idea what to anticipate, but what I'm faced with is better than anything I could imagine. The colors lining the roadways are so vivid it almost hurts my eyes. Nothing compares to the shades of autumn leaves at the peak of their splendor. The sounds and sights of nature are so serene, I just want to lie down and spread every lim of my body through the forest trees and listen to the wind rattle the trees and the occasional footsteps of nearby deer. It's a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Everything is so bright and brilliant.
Greg shoots his bow and arrow while I play with the puppy, chasing her through piles of dew covered leaves. Every now and then she'll stop, then continues chases leaves whirling around in a circle. The mystifying colors of the sun try to shine through the cloud cover as a chill runs over my body giving me that tingling sensation everyone gets at the beginning of fall. Everyday we're here, the trees turn a different shade and one by one they shed their leaves creating a distinct crispness in the air that sparks interest in lighting a fire. As each leaf sways back and forth cascading into another, I run around like a kid trying to catch one in my hands. It's as if they travel wherever the wind blows. I keep a close eye on one and watch as it floats further away in the distance, then falls quietly and gets lost among the millions of other red, orange and yellow leaves. The sky is grey, but bright in color and feels as if it will rain any moment, and eventually it does.
For Greg, it was a trip down memory lane, for me, it was a learning experience. As we walked through his old neighborhood, past the house he grew up in, I could see the emotion in his eyes. I could feel his passion for nature and the outdoors, something I've never really known, growing up in the city my whole life. But now I understand, sometimes you just need to be one with nature. It was the perfect break from our demanding tourist town. We got to spend time with family, barbecuing and watching football. We even got to enjoy a night out in Kalamazoo watching the music sensation Big Gigantic with some old friends at the beautiful gothic State Theater!
And what better way to end a trip on a train with the first snow of the season!