For the first time in months, on this particular Saturday, we didn’t have any obligations. I was done with school for the semester, My JD didn’t have to work, and it was a gorgeous day. Earlier in the week I had suggested a trip to Blackwell Forest Preserve, part of the DuPage County Forest Preserve system. It is about 15 minutes from where we live. I had also thought that a visit to the Two Brothers Tap House, about 10 minutes beyond that would be just the needed refreshment after a day in nature.
When we got to Blackwell, we decided to drive the whole preserve before landing on a set plan. As we drove through the area, we saw a lake with fishing and a boat launch area with canoes and kayaks for rent. Further on, we pass a campground, trail spurs, Mount Hoy which has sledding in the winter and makes a great workout in the summer. The area also has an off-leash dog area and an archery range. This last reminded me that I have thought for some time it would be interesting to learn archery.
We decided to do a short hike (walk) that wouldn’t be any more than a couple of miles total. My JD had some camera equipment he was excited to experiment with and I just wanted to be outside and feel the breeze on my face and maybe get a bit of a workout somewhere along the way. Parts of the small gravel trail are some of the prettiest I have seem. Little glens and alcoves of trees that are so shady, cool, and quiet.
On the way, My JD took pictures of dandelions, spiders, snakes, and flowers. When we reached the marsh lookout, I was ready to turn around. It was getting warmer, and we were almost out of water. We went on a bit further on a tip that there was a family of geese, including goslings, “just around the bend”. After determining that there were no geese, we turned around.
This is where My JD and I had different experiences. We had been doing what my sister-in-law calls “museum walking” all morning. I was getting restless and it felt like we had been plodding along. Plus, I kept thinking about a pint of refreshing Two Brothers Brew.
So, I kicked into hiking mode and left My JD to stroll and take as many pictures as he wanted. We arrived at the car only about 10 minute apart and he got the benefit of a cool, air conditioned car waiting for him. Talk about service!
Despite the beautiful weather, it was easy to get a table outside. Two Brothers does a lot of experimenting with different types of beers and hops. On that day, we were offered a Two Brothers Mosaic, a beer that isn’t even on the menu yet, but that may be in the future, depending on customer feedback, which according to our waiter had been outstanding. We agreed. I had two, and to sate my hunger after a day in the outdoors, ordered a Mr. Jim’s pizza; BBQ chicken pizza with bacon, caramelized onions, and a hint of goat cheese. Our waiter told us that it is named after a mechanic who is a regular at the Two Brothers Tap House.
Because we weren’t on a schedule, and I was feeling so free, and well, light, I decided to order dessert. We had been to the Tap House several times; I would go so far as to say that it is a “go-to” for us. We have met friends there, watched Blackhawks and Cubs playoff games, but I had never ordered dessert. On a whim, I ordered a piece of lemon cake that is a staple on their menu. Of course, I asked for two forks. The cake was light yet, substantive, layered with lemon cream and with just a slight dusting of powdered sugar on the top layer.
As we headed back home, I marveled that we had only been gone for five hours. It was energizing to get absorbed in somewhere new, do something without a schedule, and make plans for future visits to Blackwell Forest Preserve, someplace so close, that seems so far away from my day-to-day life.