Is It a Hike or a Walk:
Chicago Botanic Gardens & Indiana Dunes Area

The beginning of September arrives and, I’ll admit it, I’m a little blue that my youngest kid is away at college. But what better thing to help quell the blues than some physical activity.

On our wedding anniversary day (9/1 – 27 years!), we make the trek to the Chicago Botanic Garden for what I’d describe as more of a walk than a hike. What’s the difference? A walk can be done pretty much anywhere. Hikes, on the other hand, imply (and are defined as) long walks in the country, wilderness, or woods. Therefore, I would categorize most of our trail tracing as hikes.

In any event, if you’ve never been to the Chicago Botanic Garden, it’s a must-see if you’re ever in the Chicago area. It opened more than 40 years ago, and it’s not just a place to look at the pretty flowers (while there are plenty of those to see). It’s really more of a museum dedicated to flora and fauna as well as a conservation science center. It’s amazing. Here are a few pictures. I’m not sure why I was struck by the “eye” on the birch tree.

Chicago Botanic Gardens - Birch Trees
Chicago Botanic Garden - Water Lillies

The next weekend (9/9/2017), we decided to venture further afield and travel to the Indiana Dunes area along Lake Michigan and visit what is called the Bailly HomesteadChellberg FarmLittle Calumet, and Mnoké Prairie Trail System (say that 10 times fast!). The houses, farm, and the trail system are all maintained by the National Park Service (NPS).

It was a lovely day with moderately warm temperatures, and the bugs weren’t too bad. Heading away from the parking lot towards the Loop Trail we turned right and visited the Chellberg house and farm first. The farm dates back to 1863. Unfortunately, the house wasn’t open for viewing, but the chickens were there to greet us (sorry, no pictures of the friendly chickens). The NPS web page for the Chellberg Farm includes a history of the house and farm with pictures (but, again, no pictures of the chickens).

We continued north and reached a fork in the trail. As has become kind of a running joke during our walks and hikes, if there’s a fork, we take it; oftentimes getting turned around and sometimes a little bit lost but that only adds to the fun! By taking the fork going right, we were now on the Bailly Cemetery Trail and were able to visit the Bailly Cemetery. Very impressive but probably not the way I’d like to be memorialized. I’m thinking more along the lines of putting my ashes in a tree pod and being planted in a forest somewhere.

After the cemetery visit, we headed back to the parking lot/picnic area for lunch. I don’t know about you, but there’s something really nice about a picnic lunch.

After lunch and a short rest, we headed towards the Bailly Homestead. Honore Gratien Joseph Bailly de Messein was one of the earliest settlers in northern Indiana; setting up a fur trading post where some Native American trails and the Little Calumet River converged. A fuller history of the Bailly Homestead can be found on the NPS website.

After visiting the Bailly Homestead, we traveled across what I would basically describe as the Bailly backyard (a very nice backyard) to complete the remainder of the Loop Trail which included the trail passing through the Mnoké Prairie. It was great to see the monarch butterfly as it brought back memories of the annual monarch butterfly migration that occurred where I grew up.

Mnoké Prairie Thistle

Which brings us to the end of a lovely day in a lovely place. A great day communing with nature, with a side of history thrown in for good measure but, most importantly, spending time with my trail tracing partner.

find a trail ~ find your path

~ Trail Tracing

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