Posted by: David Carlson | September 3, 2009

A North Shore Bike Ride

My wife and I took a bike ride yesterday along another North Shore,  from Evanston, IL., northward through some of the wealthiest suburban Chicago neighborhoods to the Botanical Gardens.  Our North Shore home is on Lake Superior in Minnesota.  It’s amusing to me and our Chicago Area friends that even our county names are the same.  We live in Lake County, MN, and Cook County is to the immediate northeast, the reverse position of Lake and Cook counties in Illinois.

The bike trail along Lake Michigan is relatively flat.  There is a slight rise on Sheridan Road as it passes the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette.  My wife and I have been Baha’is for 36 years, but have never had a photo taken while wearing bike helmets in front of the HOW.  Friend Tom Brennan of Evanston provided the bikes and the photos, which are not ready for publication.  Here are two photos of the House of Worship I took earlier this week, showing some of the major masonry renovation, and replacement of reflecting pools that has been ongoing for several years.  The Temple is constructed of a specialty concrete that gleams like marble.  The talent of the craftsmen who built it during the 1930’s Depression is outstanding, and so is the current work of those who are doing the restoration.

The trip to the Botanic Gardens was 12 miles.  It seemed farther.  I’m not in great shape, but have ridden more rugged trails near our home this summer, usually an eight mile round trip.  I was exhausted by the time we left the Green Bay Trail and rejoined the heavy traffic on a major thoroughfare past the gardens.  My hands were muscle-bound and cramping.  I had lost my balance along the trail where we stopped for a break, and I fell into my wife’s bike.

As we sat beside a duck pond at the gardens, I was wishing for a ride back to Evanston.  At that moment, Tom’s cellphone rang, and it was his wife Sharon wanting to meet us at the gardens.  She had room for me and my bike in the suv she was driving.  How’s that for a meaningful, timely coincidence!

Sharon is a nanny caring for two small girls, and she often takes them to the Botanic Gardens.  Tom and my wife rode their bikes back to Evanston.  Sharon and I took the girls to a model railroad exhibit, a permanent display in the gardens.  It’s a wonderland for little kids.  There were lots of them.  The walking paths are like a maze enclosed by tall, green hedges.  All kinds of railroads are represented; the Baltimore and Ohio, Sante Fe, Union Pacific, the Chicago Metra, a San Francisco cable car.  The model terrain includes mountains, rivers, tunnels, bridges, and trestles, small town buildings and national landmarks.  One little boy exclaimed. “I want to build models like these”.  That’s the kind of inspiration that leads a young man to excellence.

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