After a good visit with Ed and Nancy, it was time to start heading east again. Which meant getting through Chicago. The traffic started getting heavier north of the Illinois border, then was heavy and slow through most of Chicago. Eventually the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago rose up out of the hot, humid summer air.
The traffic got even worse south of Chicago, where Interstate 80, 90, and 94 merge together. This stretch of road always has heavy traffic. Maybe half the vehicles on the road were tractor-trailer rigs. It didn’t matter that we were driving in the middle of the day on a summer weekday, the traffic was still bad.
Eventually we got free of Chicagoland, and got off the interstate to take a walk in Indiana Dunes National Park. It was about a mile and a half walk to the lakeshore. We crossed a wetland area on a boardwalk and continued through some oak savannah. Carol pointed out a Red-headed Woodpecker in an oak tree. We crossed the narrow part of a pond on a foot bridge. I saw some Bluegills swimming in the water below us.
We continued to follow the path over some dunes, and there was Lake Michigan. The clouds had burned away by this time, and it was a bright sunny day. We both began to feel the heat, so we headed back to the car. I noticed some prickly-pear cactus growing on the sand dunes. I was beginning to get a bit of a head ache from the heat. Carol walked quickly ahead, under the theory that the quicker she got back to the car the better. I walked more slowly on the theory that there was no need to overheat myself. I plucked a sassafras twig and chewed on the sweet-tasting slightly narcotic inner bark. I found two or three huckleberries that were ripe, and ate them. I stopped to photograph the small delicate pink flowers of a hedgenettle (Stachys sp.).
When I got back to the trail head, Carol was sitting in the car drinking water. The car thermometer said it was 95 degrees. My shirt was soaked through with sweat. But even with the high temperature and humidity, walking through a bio-diverse landscape was better than driving through Chicagoland traffic.