Thomas and I did our best to spend as much time as we could in the great outdoors, even if it just meant hanging out in the backyard. We're pretty familiar with the forest preserves and natural areas surrounding us, but this summer we checked out a place that was new to us--Illinois Beach State Park. It's about a 45 minute drive north of our house, almost all the way to the state line.
The first time we went was on one of those rare weekend days I get off of work every once in a while, and we decided to make the most of it. It was crowded and hot and we decided to just explore, walking up and down the beach. I thought it was beautiful and unreal that something so lovely could be so close to home, and we resolved to come back sooner rather than later.
Luckily for me, we didn't have to wait too long. I had a Tuesday off of work and we took advantage of it by packing up all of our beach gear and heading back up to Zion. I suggested we pick up sandwiches along the way, and it wasn't too long before we were unpacking our stuff and setting up a spot up on the small ridge, right next to the shore. It was a windy and wavy day, and we only did a little bit of actual swimming.
After lunch, the husband suggested that we move from the swimming part of the beach to the nature reserve. We weren't really doing any swimming, anyway, and it would likely be a little less crowded. I was so glad that he suggested it, because just a little further south, there were hardly any people at all... a few solitary figures walking up and down the shoreline; wind surfers taking advantage of the wicked air and waves. We found the most perfect grove that was set back from the shore just slightly, under the protection of a few tall trees. It was here where we enjoyed the rest of our afternoon, feeling like we were the only two people on Earth.
It was such a wonderful and relaxing day. Afterwards, he and I hopped in the car and went up to Kenosha to pick up some beer. I've been thinking about Illinois Beach State Park ever since and really hope that I'll be able to do some exploring soon, maybe even into the fall or winter. If not, we'll definitely have to come back next year, because it's a place too beautiful to miss out on.