The official user's manual for sunshine

Nature calls: Close camping

Living Arrangements, Parks & the Great Outdoors, Swimming & Beaches, User's Guide to Summer No Comments »

The only real cure for the city is to get out of the city. Luckily for Chicagoans, there are literally thousands of camping opportunities, many of them 100 miles or less from that little patch of green in your front yard you call nature. Within the tri-state area (Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan)a number of parks and preserves offer everything from hang gliding to hiking that will take you far enough to forget the office, but close enough to still be in cellular range. The following is a mere sampling of what is available to the weekend camper. Read the rest of this entry »

Walk on the Wild Side: Out in the country

Parks & the Great Outdoors, Road Trips, User's Guide to Summer No Comments »

There’s a picture on my dresser of a nondescript dirt path, leading to an unidentifiable footbridge, which crosses a thin, nameless stream, then continues on toward a rising set of foothills and beyond. I don’t remember where the picture was taken, but that hasn’t mattered for a very long time. The snapshot’s there simply to remind me of a search that can only occur outdoors. The goal, when there is something that finite, is often as simple as physical exertion or discovering where certain paths lead. I also know people who believe that things such as sandstone outcroppings, tall prairie cordgrass and stands of eastern red cedar trees represent our most intense connection to a spiritual life, and that nature gives off a rejuvenating energy; so they hike back into the wilderness or tramp through the dunes to recharge and become whole. Read the rest of this entry »