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Story by Audrey Raymond, Associate Creative Director

Background Art by Dennis Swiec, Design Director

After a stressful 2020, I started 2021 feeling run down and cooped up.


I took some time off to hang out with my free-spirited mom in Florida, where time doesn’t revolve around work. Instead, there’s a choice: how do you want to spend your time?


Day after day I found myself wanting to go outside– kayaking, walking along the beach, exploring state parks and swamp land. I came back (or often, arrived at happy hour) with proof of my adventures: dirt, sweat, humidity-frizzed hair, sunscreen residue, and sore muscles. It was visceral. And it was what I’d been missing.


I had to return to Chicago and email notifications eventually, but I promised myself to keep finding fresh air, new views, and that feeling.



But where to start? In a city, it can feel like you need a big plan or a flight to find outdoor adventure. But the best first steps are literally out your front door. On walks around where I live, I’ve stumbled on great outdoor spaces like: the North Shore Channel Trail, Forest Glen Woods, North Park Village Nature Center and… 



I’m only writing about my love for Winnemac Park with the understanding that you, reader, won’t tell too many people to keep it one of the hidden gems of Chicago. Winnemac Park has wildflower areas with sunflowers taller than your head, butterflies floating through the air, weeping willows, ladies reading on sunny afternoons (surprise, it’s me!), and, no joke, on summer nights fireflies flicker over the wildflowers like a goddamn constellation. But let’s just keep that between you and me.



I’m now a woman who owns hiking boots and a bike and has the All Trails app on her phone: I’m unstoppable! I went on a trip to Arizona with my sisters and went on desert hikes, spent the night in a geodesic dome, and saw the Grand Canyon for the first time. I challenged myself to a longer solo hike through Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, beside a bison preserve. I didn’t spot any bison, but I know I’ll be back on the trail next year! 

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