On Monday, I decided to forgo the Forest Preserve for a week and try my luck somewhere else. What I ended up deciding to do was to just ride up to Wilmette and see the Baha'i Temple and then maybe visit a big park that I saw just above there on the map.
The ride up is just shy of 8 miles, according to googlemaps, and much of it is along the lakefront in Evanston. It's a ride I've done before, at least in part, but that didn't stop me from losing my bike path through Roger's Park through sheer inattention. But it worked out fine, and I ended up at the temple unscathed. The temple itself is awesome; there are only seven full Baha'i temples in the world, and this is the only one in North America. It's this giant nine-sided ornately carved stone dome rising out of utter suburbia, seeming totally out of place when you glimpse it rising out of the houses that surround it. I didn't go in this time, because I feel awkward and voyeuristic being a tourist in other people's houses of worship, but I walked around the outside and ate a snack in one of the peaceful meditation gardens that surround it.
The park was okay, just semi-disappointing. Not too many people but enough, and I got sand in my shoes.
I am not sure what I'm looking for in these trips. I'm happy to be riding my bike longer distances, and it's exciting to be seeing new places in the city, but I always end up feeling vaguely disappointed. I think I am looking for someplace outside and quiet, and that's just so close to being a near-impossibility here. Even the Baha'i temple, that most serene of places, was surrounded by road construction. (The quietest place I've been is my own apartment, honestly. It's like a tomb in here, I rarely hear other tenants and I never hear any noise from the apartments around me. The only exception came several weeks ago when, as I was unlocking my front door, I heard someone behind the door across the hall scream-sing "Don't turn AROUND!" Ace of Base is my only sign of real life so far.) But I am having fun planning these trips, and it feels good to know the city well enough to get where I'm going even when I inevitably get myself lost from my directions. I really feel on top of my Chicago map-in-my-head, which is a good feeling.
So I'll keep taking trips, pushing how far I can ride my bike, and maybe I'll find a relatively quiet place. In the very least, I'll find a spot that I feel like I can claim as a new favorite. It'll happen.