My Backyard



It was drizzling as I left my house early Saturday morning. The wind was coming from the south and it was strong. I headed that way first.

Less than a mile from my house I was stopped at a red light. I had no plan for that morning other than to ride and clear my head. The light turned green, and as if it had a mind of its own, my bike turned into the entrance of Humboldt Park.

I can’t remember the last time I rode through this magnificent park. It covers 207 acres on the northwest side of Chicago. Built in the early 1900s, it’s now on the National Register of Historic Places. Incredible: more than 200 acres of natural habitat right smack in the middle of the city. And it’s basically in my backyard.

I navigated the twisty paths, sometimes circling back to ride a particularly fun part again. There are many different experiences here. You can ride under the street and over wooden bridges. There is gravel, pavement, and every so often, a tiny stretch of “single track” that connects one winding path to the next.

There are huge trees that provide sanctuary to birds and butterflies. It has playgrounds, horse stables, and a beautiful boathouse pavilion that is a Chicago Landmark.

There are statues of famous guys that most of us wouldn’t recognize without the nameplates, monuments to novelists and political martyrs, and a pair of bronze American bison by the same sculptor who created the famous Art Institute of Chicago lions.

On this morning, dogs were running free in what must be a sniffer’s paradise, young parents wheeled toddlers while pointing to the ducks in the water, and runners nodded hello as they passed.

I forget how awesome this park is, and I don’t spend enough time there. This must change. It was quiet and peaceful – at least it was on a rainy, fall morning. And it’s perfect for a head-clearing ride.

Sometimes, you really never have to look further than your own backyard to find something amazing.

What’s in yours?




– Suzanne

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8 Responses to “ My Backyard ”

  1. Pedalpilot on January 1, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Beautiful in all respects: words, composition, photos…even responses. Make me want to go out into my back yard….oh wait…I do, all the time. Its a problem though….my back yard, is everywhere. I’m like a kid in a box where ever I go, particularly on my bike or feet, give me a bit or land, and I will make a back yard in which I can play endlessly. People need to learn to play. We learn as children, and for the larger part, forget as adults. Thankfully, not only are more people riding bikes, and walking, but they are learning it is fun. Never had a great urge to go to Chicago before, but suddenly, and increasingly the more I learn about it, the more I want to visit it, and the rest of the world (a/k/a…my back yard).

  2. Michael Valenti on November 23, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    What’s in my back yard?–You! I ride the Des Plains River Trail in the winter, just north of Chicago. You’re underpasses look a lot like mine. Happy trails.

    • suzanne deveney on November 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      haha. cool! I love the DRT

  3. Daniel Christianson on November 22, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I would love to comment here but this diqus thing seems to hate me……

  4. Guest on November 22, 2013 at 6:41 pm


    I’ve seen so many very cool
    public spaces in my travels. In Anchorage we were blessed many years ago with
    public leaders who set up zoning codes that required the building of
    neighborhood parks along with everything else throughout the municipality. Some
    are very small, some quite large but they are never very far apart. With the
    growing popularity of cycling and just more people wanting to recreate within
    city limits over the last couple decades the city has been connecting all these
    parks via either a bike lane or actual bike trail. This has created a network
    of trails and safety corridors that has truly enhanced life in the city.

    • suzanne deveney on November 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      That’s awesome. Thanks for posting.

  5. gswbike on November 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Nicely written and photographed. Nicely done !

    • suzanne deveney on November 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      thank you


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