I think I shall talk a little about passion today for my post.
We all have things we really enjoy doing a lot and we all know what they are.
Passions always start small. They all begin as a hobby. Something we pick up just out of curiosity, maybe out of a little interest and likely with the initial intent to just to use it to pass time. Be it learning a musical instrument, learning to dance, learning to sing, writing, composing, fishing or whatever. But as we learn more about this hobby, slowly but surely, it starts to change us for the better. It slowly becomes more than a pastime. And it starts to define us. It develops us. Finally, before we even realize it, it starts to consume us and we start living and breathing it as it becomes an inseparable part of our lives.
I think that much is true as least for me, when it comes to bboying. Bboying made me who I am and nobody can change that anymore.
And then I started learning to love the nature. Making trekking and hiking a hobby is already changing me. And that brings me to my following post.
This post will be about my adventures in a forest preserve called Waterfall Glenn Forest Preserve, a park 1.5 hours train ride south of Chicago in a small county called Dupage. There is a lot of history with regards to this park, which surrounds a scientific laboratory called Argonne National Laboratory, which may be very familiar to some of you. You might have seen the name before, as it was created for the Manhattan Project (slap yourself if you haven’t heard of that) and it was the place where the world created the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. Anyways. The days when the lab is used for nuclear purposes is long over, and it is now used for development of other cutting-edge sciences.
And when I read alot more about the Lab, I got even more interested in the forest preserve, and decided to make a trip down south. It was a bitch planning the hike, so I skipped it entirely. And just took the train.
The only train down south to the station at Dupage called Lemont from Chicago was a Metra line that runs only 3 times daily. One at 4.50pm, the next at 5.15pm, and the last is at 5.50pm.
There are no morning trains. And even the earliest train will reach Lemont at 6-odd pm.
And there are only 3 trains that return from Lemont towards Chicago that operates only in the morning around 5.30am, 6am, and 6.30am.
In other words, I will have no choice but to reach the reserve at 6pm. Hike through the forest past nightfall. Camp out. Wake up at 5am to return to Chicago. To make things worst, the past few days have been raining very heavily. And to top it all. I had no idea.
Anyway, I din’t plan my trip (as usual) and thus, I had no idea about all the transportation issues. So I boarded the train to Dupage County at 4.50pm (I woke up at 2pm, so when the guy said the next train was 4.50pm, it seemed natural to me) assuming that the train back to Chicago will be there when I needed it.
It was funny how things worked out in the end though. I overslept on the long train ride. And rode all the way to the very last stop on that train line. It was a town called Joliet. And usually when you oversleep on a train in Singapore. You just have to take the opposite direction back and it’s all cool. But I can’t do that as the the next train was in the early morning of the following day. And it was there did I realize I had no train ride back to Chicago from Lemont had I chose to hike through the night that day. Which worked out perfectly fine. As I could now spend a night at Joliet, take the morning train to Lemont (5.30am) and hike in the comfort of the sunlight and not the night.
Somehow, things always work out in my life even when I think I fucked it up.
Never mind if all the above timings and stuff confused you. It is pretty confusing. But to sum it up, I made a mistake oversleeping on the train, but the mistake turned out to be not a mistake as it made things alot simpler for me and things worked out the way it should work out had I planned the trip.
Anyway, I was more prepared for the trip. I had cookies. But I forgot my water bottle. I brought a map, mp3 and a cellphone. All with fully-functional and charged battery. I had a camera too. I was really careful to charged it to its maximum capacity. I brought a towel, a pair of shorts and and a set of t-shirt as I wanted to dive in and swim under a waterfall to see what’s it looks like underneath the surface of the water.
I’ll lead you through my journey from Lemont and through the forest preserve. The whole trip was about 30-40km. I’m not sure. Could be alot more. Could be alot less. But things here are all in miles, be it maps and signs. And I gave up counting the distanced traversed. I just couldnt be bothered. Who cares? As long as I’m enjoying myself.
I had to walk from Lemont to the forest preserve. And this is a top-down view from a bridge I crossed over-looking Lemont. As you can see, Lemont is a very quiet and peaceful place, kinda like a small-town. But modern nonetheless.
I crossed the highway-bridge, which was over a few rivers and thus had a few nice shots that kept me snapping away anyways.
And after the bridge, I was to make a right turn at T-junction into a street called Bluff Street. I wonder if people living in Bluff Street prefer to play poker or bluff. Interesting thought ay?
And it took me a fair amount of walking before I found the forest preserve, and I was elated. Totally went nuts. I danced around. Singing to my mp3 songs. And just went crazy anyways. We all gone crazy sometimes. Don’t judge me. Besides. There was nobody else around to stare at me anyways. So why not?! Just some self-shot photos of myself going crazy dancing around.
I was lazy this time to trek deep into the forest preserve though. So I decided to stick to the main trail. But the funny thing was, I somehow got lost even when trekking on the main trail. I was pretty sure I did not stray from the trail. There was a few junctions here and there. But I always sticked to the one I think most well-traversed. But somehow, I went into a wrong road somewhere and soon found myself locked, stuck and stranded.
Anyway. As you can see. The gate is pretty much useless against humans. It was probably built to keep vehicles out of the park I guess. Or maybe to keep intruders away from the scientific laboratory. Either way. I squeezed through the gates (I’m very slim and slender wahaha). And just kept walking. Well, right from the start of the trek. I was already planning to go get a dip in the waterfall. Even though I was not very sure where it was, but I knew that if I walked one big circle around the reserve, I’m sure to eventually find it. And I did. To be fair, it’s pretty easy to locate a waterfall if you know how to do it.
You’ve gotta look out for streams/lakes or water bodies and see the direction of the flow. Or you can just keep a ear out for the sound of waterfalls. It’s unmistakable. It goes like shushhhhhhhhhhhhhhh permanently. It’s a very soothing sound. I’ll love to call it the heartbeat of nature. It is afterall where life thrive (:
And I soon found something interesting to guide me along.
Check this out.
Haha, isn’t this pretty cool? Notice the small stream in the middle of the picture. The grass just to its sides are thriving so well. They’re alot greener. Alot taller. And alot wetter and healthy-looking. While their direct neighbours to both sides are suffering in dryness and dying. Sometimes the seeds just need to be in the right place, and at the right time, and with all the perfect conditions, things can turn out to be very wonderful. Such is life.
Well, I found the rivers and streams soon enough.
And effortlessly, I came to my goal!
I changed out to a set of T-shirts and board shorts so that I’ve got a set of dry shirts to change back into on my way back. And started just wading in the water. I tried diving below water level to see what it’s like underneath a waterfall under surface level but all I could see is bubbles. I’m not really good at seeing under water without goggles.
Anyway I guess it was pretty stupid to be wearing my slippers under water and try to waddle around. Soon I accidentally lost one side of my slippers. It kinda got stuck on the bottom of the river. Guess it has to do with some sort of physics thing, surface tension or something. And the speed of the water soon swept it away.
I remember thinking to myself. “I really loved that pair of slippers”. So before I can no longer see it again, I quickly whipped out my camera and took one last shot of that one slipper.
If you see hard enough, the slipper is kinda in the middle of the photo being washed away really fast.
Anyway. I really LOVED that slipper alot. It’s this Corona slippers. And Corona happens to be my second favourite beer. (After Stella Artois). So I gave chase down the river with only one slipper and the other feet bare-footed. Just to sort of send him away? Okay, I’m not really sure what I was thinking then, but I’m the kinda guy who refuses to give up yknow.
And luck shone on me once more.
Forgive me again on the photo, but you have to notice hard to find this one. The slipper is stuck on the tree roots thingy. Somewhere in the middle of the photo.
Don’t ask me why I had time to take a photo. I was running with the camera in my hand and I sort of instinctively took the photo.
Without wasting another second, I jumped into the water and sort of penguin-style ran towards the slipper. And when I was reaching out to grab it, suddenly I jumped right back out of the water. Reason?
This dude came slittering in the water towards me, and I sort of flew out of the water almost immediately when I saw him coming. God I’ve never moved that fast ever in my entire life. If I had wings, I think I will be soaring amongst the clouds in less than 3 seconds. He was so close to me, barely 30cm away when I was in the water. Of course I know that water snakes are very much venom-free. But I don’t think I will like the sting from its bite anyway. I don’t think anyone wants to be bitten by snakes. And this guy. Is pretty long and sinister looking.
BUT I REALLY WANT MY SLIPPER BACK.
So I squat down. And had a face off with the snake. He was in the water and refused to come out. I was at the shore a fair distance away and I refused to go back in.
He stared at me.
I stared at him.
And the staring competition lasted about 3 minutes.
And I won! He gave up in the end, and went back into the water and down the river. After I was certain he’s a fair distance away (I visually followed him down the river) I dived back into the water to get my slipper and ran back and got changed back into my pair of jeans and jacket for extra protection and went back hiking.
Anyway. I’ve seen many many cool things on this particular hike and I had tons of photos as I had a fully-charged camera. And if you’re interested, you can see all the photos from my facebook album accessible here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/fbx/?set=a.149428145123772.35049.100001697620385
I will stop my illustration here as it has been a really windy story already. And you should be pretty bored by now (:
Thanks for reading anyway!
And I am very much humbled by your support.