By Shelly Ridenour
The hunter, weary from hacking through the road-rage safari that is Lake Shore Drive, scans the familiar terrain of the concrete jungle. Towering above and blocking out all traces of sunlight are not trees but the massive monoliths he has come to know as “skyscrapers.” The natives scurry along, careful never to make eye contact lest they are accosted–not for their scalps, but for spare change. It is a sensory overload: the sound of honking cabs, the smell of bus exhaust, the occasional sight of a disarmingly domesticated pigeon. From tiny speakers hanging above the store windows of Marshall Field’s, the call of the wild blares forth; today it’s Toni Braxton, mooning over a broken heart. Donning his bravest gameface, our modern Hemingway takes a deep breath and reinforces his resolve. Today’s holy grail: to bag a restaurant wait time of less than thirty minutes.
Just another day in the Chicago “wilderness.”
The term may seem about as relevant as “jumbo shrimp,” but there actually is such a thing—at least according to the Chicago Wilderness consortium. Recently, the granola league came up with what it calls the Twelve Natural Wonders of the Chicago Wilderness. No, we’re not talking Sears, Hancock, Monadnock, et al; this is a serious collection of classic Midwest landscape–prairies, savannas and woodlands. Since we love dirt and plants as much as the next person, we couldn’t resist the temptation to check out this list. We even came up with some wonders of our own.
So, whether you’re itching to get back to nature or whether the very thought of purple loosestrife makes you itch; whether you’d rather hike a trail or a sidewalk; whether you’re into the song of the dunes or some honest-to-God Chicago blues, we’ve got the perfect summer day escapes—a combination of Chicago’s twelve natural wonders and their dozen man-made, citified parallels. Read the rest of this entry »