Family and the Friendly Confines

My first experience at Wrigley Field involved, my family, a couple of hot dogs, and nosebleed seats.  It was wonderful.  Walking up Addison Street,  I stopped right in front of the blaring marquise that welcomed me to the “Friendly Confines” friendly for Cub’s fans that is.

My family and I made five clicks as we went through the turnstiles.  I lead the pack and stared at my ticket stub to find our seats.  Finally, I found our ramp and emerged from the concourse to be met with the beautiful Wrigley Field.

Camera 360

The wind whipped my hair into my eyes as I stood facing the outfield—a good day for home run hitters I thought as I noticed the flags on the blowing straight out towards Lake Michigan.   My eyes settled on the jewel of the outfield the scoreboard—the Bible of baseball for the day.  The clock counted down the minutes until I would witness my first pitch. All twenty-eight teams were paired up to play each other divided by league.  Some of the pairs listed scores others said “nite game.”  But down at the bottom of that giant green monster listed the only thing I cared about—Mets versus Cubs.

My eyes traveled down first to the bleachers, where all the “bums” were.  In my mind, I could envision the beer and insults flying towards the right fielder for the Mets.  Farther down my eyes wandered to the ivy-covered wall where patches of brick were beginning to show through because it was September.  I saw the place where the grass meets the infield, the lip, the cause of so many bad hops and errors.  Then my eyes followed around each of the bases, lingering on first for a moment, wishing I could be down on that field.  The aroma of hot dogs met my nose as vendors floated by.  I was twelve and I was in love.

I had begged my dad to arrive two hours before the game started—to get autographs.  We had left early but traffic was bad and arrived only before the game started.  I was crushed.  Some kids wish to go to Disney World to meet Mickey Mouse, especially kids from the Midwest.  Baseball kids though wish to meet their favorite players.  I was the baseball kid.  

20160705_145948

Here I was 20 some odd years later.  Zach and I adamant that we get to the park two hours before game time, this time to try to get Anthony Rizzo bobbleheads.  Our five clicks have turned into eight, each of us with now bringing our respective other halves (mine was missing this day).  Even though the Cubs still haven’t won a World Series, although this year may actually be THE year, I haven’t lost that excitement I feel when I walk through those turnstiles.  Every single time I enter the Friendly Confines, I become that little girl who loved to talk about the Cubs with her dad, and teach her toddler brother to says the names of her favorite players.  I don’t think will matter if another 60 years pass, every time I walk into Wrigley Field, I will always be transported back to my childhood.     

IMG_3064

Camera 360

20160705_122052

   

 

Advertisements

Conquering Sand Mountains at Warren Dunes State Park

Last summer on my Indiana trip I  had fun challenging myself on the three dunes challenge at Indiana Dunes State Park, so when I was invited by some high school friends to go to Michigan for a beach day at Warren Dunes State Park, I had an idea that more dune climbing would be in my future.

20160701_142651

I had checked out the park on a Friday as a sort of mini reunion with two high school friends and their kids, and I had so much fun that I enticed my family to make the trek back to Michigan on Sunday.

As I pulled into the parking lot on a Friday, it was clear that this was not going to be an ordinary beach day.  The sky was overcast, the lake had waves so big it looked liked the ocean, and there was a no swimming flag posted.  Oh yeah, and I was wearing a jacket in July.

After a round of hellos and how long has it beens, we redirected our efforts to find a place to hike. A short drive had us at a trail head.  We set off on the packed dirt trail not sure where we would be heading.     

Before long, we reached a turn off that was covered with sand.  As we approached, it rose before us  like a small mountain.  Standing at the base, I watched as people bear crawled up to the top then disappeared over the crest.  This daunting dune looked like it was at an angle of at least 60 degrees.

20160701_114203

My friend’s daughter wanted to climb so we followed.  I kicked off my flip flops and started the grueling trip up.  After about fifteen steps I knew that this was going to be a lot harder than it looked.  For every step forward, I slid back two in the loose sand.  The further I climbed, the more my heart was pounding.  Slowly we ascended the dune taking lots of breaks along the way.  

20160701_115544

Camera 360

Finally we rose above the treetops and  crested the top of the dune to be rewarded with spectacular views of cascading dunes leading the way to Lake Michigan. We all plopped down into the sand to rest before snapping victory photos.

Camera 360

20160701_120622

The return trip was so much easier and a whole lot more fun.  It felt like I was running down the dune as gravity pull me closer to the base.  As I leaned back and let my feet slide through the sand, I was reminded of hiking down the snow covered face of the Skyline Trail on Mt. Rainier.  

I had so much fun hiking this dune that I convinced my family to return on Sunday for another climb.  

Unlike my Friday adventure which was overcast and cool, Sunday was a perfectly sunny day.  

After the nominal entrance fee, we headed straight to the trail head.  I had warned my family that this dune was really steep, and the pictures I had taken really did it no justice.  

We ascended the giant dune again.  This time I chose to wear my running shoes which kept my ankles and feet from hurting, but it did nothing to help my pace.  Like a turtle, I made my way up the dune for the second time in three days, slow and steady.  Even my brother acknowledged that it was a difficult climb.  Finally I crested the top where everyone else was waiting.  

IMG95659320160703_135640

Instead of turning around and descending back towards the car, we opted to go all the way to the lake.  The hike towards the lake was a nice mixture up gentle ups and downs culminating in that skiing experience I had felt on Friday.  

As we approached the beach, the picture before me had me wondering if I was in the same place.  The empty parking lot was now full of cars, RVs, tents, and people.  Beach umbrellas dotted the sand and hundreds of people splashed, kayaked, and swam in Lake Michigan.  

20160703_140550

We rested near the water for awhile before deciding that it was lunch time.  There were no concessions where we were, and we neglected to bring anything but water with us, so we headed back to the car.  The hike back was mostly flat with only one gentle ascent.  We followed what looked like a path into the trees which ended up being the return loop to where our car was parked.  The trail blazes are few and far between, but it did not make it that difficult to return to where we started since we knew the general direction of where the car was parked.

Camera 360

Warren Dunes State Park has so much to offer from hiking to the dunes to kayaking Lake Michigan, to soaking up the Michigan sun.  For the nominal entrance fee, we had a blast.  Next time, we will come prepared with a cooler and set up at the beach after the dunes hike.  Watch out Indiana Dunes State Park, I think I have a new favorite for my beaching needs while visiting home.