Summer Explorations

Summer Explorations

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It’s summer! And I’m having a wonderful time! Let’s be completely honest, there are a few things as a student that I cannot stand about summer. Okay, pretty much just the one big one: finances. During the school year, I can’t really keep a job (other than this one, which I love by the way) due to having to balance my time with class work, studio practice, and family. This makes finding a summer job super difficult.

But, I’m totally not letting that spoil my fun! Nope. My allergies can do that, haha. But in all seriousness, I have been having a wonderful time with my family since the semester ended. Last week we went to Brookfield Zoo, a definite favorite of ours. We were lucky enough to get family passes from Santa this year, but had we not, they are absolutely worth the price tag as they pay for themselves in one visit. Free parking, my friends. Free parking!

My wife and I love the outdoors, even with my horrible seasonal allergies. It’s something we would like our kids to love as well. So on another day this week we decided to go on a long hike through Thatcher Woods in Forest Park. We’re finally able to explore the area now and have wanted to check the woods out for a while now. Last winter we saw deer pretty frequently coming out of them. We didn’t see any on this hike through the woods, but since the trails were pretty muddy we saw a ton of deer tracks everywhere.

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Today I took the kids out for an outing with my son’s class to the Oak Park Conservatory. Not nearly as massive as the the more known Garfield Park conservatory, this was a cool, little gem. It’s in an unassuming part of town near the Oak Park Blue Line Station. Three habitats are set up inside; fern garden, rainforest, and desert. It was definitely more than I had imagined it would be. Oh and there are HUGE koi fish in a pond in one of the rooms, and a bunch of parrots to talk to. Very neat place.

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Right across the street is a huge playground and pool. This was by far the coolest playground I have ever seen. It has an arm powered train for the kids to ride on through the center. Part of me feels slightly ripped off from my childhood, but I am in love with the idea that my kids get to experience such a cool place.

So yeah, so far only a couple of weeks in and this is shaping up to be an amazing summer. Now that we all have a little bit of free time, go out and explore your neighborhood. We’ve been here for two years now and we’re still finding new treasures all of the time. The Chicago area is full of surprises that need finding. Just don’t forget the sun block.