Exploring locally


As we are settling in to our new life this first year with what feels like a lot of “free time”, or at least much more than we are both used to. We are remembering how to have hobbies and leisure time. One of my favorite hobbies is just exploring the local area. I’ve lived and worked in Jo Daviess County for 15 years now off and on; and so much of it is still a mystery to me. It is also a constantly changing area, If you don’t know the area, it is in the part of Illinois that the glaciers missed (the NW corner) and therefore feels nothing like the rest of Illinois. It is hilly and green and just gorgeous. I feel truly blessed to live here every day..



These early spring days make me want to jump for joy & get out all the warm toys, clothes and play ideas. My first “chore” is always asking hubby to get the bikes in working order; winter here takes all the air out of those tires. Bike riding in the suburbs was my favorite way to travel, the kids, hubby and I would take the bikes all over, farmers market, grocery store, library etc… Here in the hills I am finding it much more daunting. I’m still not sure I can make it up my street let alone the winding hilly “backroads”.  One day this spring my neighbor and I decided to bike the Galena trail. As we began on the trail I quickly realized this was 1.) much flatter (more manageable) than I expected and 2.) they have done a wonderful job of maintaining and developing it.

Galena bike trail

The Galena bike trail right now is about 3 miles out making it 6 miles in total it is cut right into the woods and hills. The limestone cliffs and woods are just stunning and breathtaking, making me feel small and powerful all at the same time.  We saw so much on this early spring ride, blue bells on the forest floor, an eagle flying over head and then the Galena river came into view. Such a great reminder of the flow of life and the renewal of spring. You could almost smell the morels growing in the woods.

When we neared the end of the trail my neighbor educated me a little bit about geocaching and that there was one here on top of an old structure that may have been a mining tunnel or smoke house you never know when you’ll learn something new.


At the end of the trail, a freight train came by at breakneck speed it was really fun. We pulled up a seat to watch it go by, it was a west-east train so carrying lots of corn and other Midwestern products. At the end of the trail is a gate with stickers and other mementos left behind by explorers before us. Pretty cool to see where people had come from, travelled to and get some ideas of places I need to check out. The Smugglers hotel in Vermont may have to be added to my list. As you can see they are in the process of expanding the trail and I can’t to just keep on riding. Galena Trail I’ll be back.



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