April 21, 2021

Warren Park in Chicago’s West Rogers Park Area

If West Rogers Park residents had not persisted, the 88 acres of Warren Park would have been developed into residential buildings and high rises. Instead, the neighborhood benefits from one of the most active parks in the city.

Besides a fieldhouse, there are outdoor facilities for baseball, basketball and soccer, plus the Robert A. Black 8-hole golf course and putting practice area. (Black was the Park District’s chief engineer for over 30 years.)

A jogging, walking and biking path around the park perimeter accommodates people of all ages, with exercise stations for cross-trainers. Dogs are another common sight on the paved trail.

The Blackhawk Skating Rink operates from Thanksgiving to February. The day I visited, people were socially-distanced in line, waiting to be admitted to the popular rink.

Warren Park also boasts one of the best hills in Chicago for sledding. No snow was present as of yet, but I saw daredevil kids on skateboards and bikes descending the steep hill at breakneck speed. I can’t wait to see sleds and toboggans swoosh down the incline.

We have Laurence C. Warren, an attorney and community leader, to thank for keeping this parcel as park land. The State of Illinois, north side community groups and the Chicago Park District also banded together to keep West Rogers Park green. Every season has its charms at Warren Park.

6601 N. Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60645

Riverview Bridge on the Chicago River

I just explored another chunk of the North Branch of the Chicago River from Belmont to Montrose, on Riverview Bridge which is the city’s longest bike/pedestrian span at 1,000 feet long. Debuting in November 2019, the Riverview Bridge is named after the storied amusement park that used to be at Belmont and Western avenues.

The curving modern bridge is 16-feet wide and 18-feet above the river affording great vistas of water and foliage. In temperate weather, canoes, speed boats, pontoons and kayaks can be intermittently seen from the bridge. Serendipity put me there while two female rowing crews were gliding upriver. (A very brief video clip is included.)

You can access the bridge from Clark Park or California Park on either end, but I recently found it easy to park at the McFetridge Sports Center lot and enter the span from California Park.

Clark Park, 3400 N. Rockwell St.

California Park (McFetridge Sports Center),
3843 N. California Ave.

Montrose Beach and the Magic Hedge

An out-of-town friend recently visited Chicago and I decided to introduce him to Montrose Beach (the city’s largest beach) and the Magic Hedge, a bird sanctuary south of the bath house that some birders call the best bird-viewing spot in Chicago. 320 species of birds have been sighted in the lush cordoned area of trees, bushes and grasses.

Dogs tend to frighten birds, so the Magic Hedge is off-limits to canines. I took my dog elsewhere while my friend went into the interior of the nature preserve. He saw guys in safari vests with cameras, big zoom lenses, binoculars and lots of birds.

Signage indicated that a butterfly sanctuary is being created adjacently north of the preserve to provide a stopping ground for Monarchs, in particular.

East of the preserve, more trees and greenery have taken up residence amid the dunes on the beach. This is also a no-dog-zone. A jetty curves out from the end of the beach affording a stupendous view of the lake and the city skyline.

Just south of the Magic Hedge is a stand of ornamental trees that were planted in honor of famed journalist, Mike Royko in 1998. The dozen or so now lush trees have been dubbed Royko’s Grove.

The Montrose Beach area itself has a bath house that looks like an ocean liner with kayak and volleyball equipment rental and an outdoor cafe that features live music. A sanctioned dog beach is to the north of the Montrose bath house.

There is the harbor itself with slips for 711 boats, both sail and powered, along with the Corinthian Yacht Club and a bait shop.

A day at the Montrose Beach area is like a mini-vacation. My dog thinks so, too.

Montrose Beach and Harbor
4400 N. Lake Shore Drive (at Montrose Avenue)


Simone Biles goes gold in the 2016 Olympic Games

Simone Biles has won 5 gold medals in the 2016 Rio Olympic in all-around, vault and artistic floor gymnastics as well as being part of the team called the “final five” which also earned gold.

Biles, 19 years old, was born to a mother who had addictions to drugs and alcohol and could not care for her children. Simone was raised by her grandparents in Spring, Texas and switched to home-schooling for her secondary education so she could train more. She has verbally committed to attending UCLA after the Olympics. Bravo, Simone!

Please enjoy one of her 2016 Olympic artistic gymnastic routines:


Drone-ovic, your tennis buddy

For tennis devotees, check out this high tech invention that is being tested for production.
Using drone technology, the machine drops a tennis ball at an optimal angle so you can practice your serves. The flying gizmo also has a camera so you can record your swing and analyze your form in playback.


Find a Way: the inspiring story of Diana Nyad’s historic swim from Cuba to Florida

While listening to a sports report from Wimbledon, the English world class tennis tournament, I laughed when the voice was identified as none other than Diana Nyad.

Her name is now familiar to me  since I have been immersed in her inspirational book, Find a Way about her historic swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida. Not only can the woman swim like a fish, but she can really write. We learn that she studied comparative literature and can speak several languages so this lady is definitely not just a sports jock.

The book starts with one of her failed attempts at swimming between the U. S. and Cuba and then goes back in time to give the reader a sense of the life she has led. Early in her memoir, we find out that she was sexually molested by her father and her swimming coach when she was a teenager. She also writes about her preference for women as sexual partners. There is nothing titillating in the choice of her words, just simple honesty about the positive and negative events that have shaped her remarkable life.
Her first attempt to swim from Cuba to the U. S. occurred in her 20s and was a failure. We read with euphoria of her completing the 40 year old dream in her 60s.

Supposedly Hillary Clinton tweeted congratulations to the 64-year-old swimmer when she completed swimming through the treacherous waters between Cuba and the U. S.  The former secretary-of-state said that Nyad’s feat outshone her own brushes with “sharks.”

Nyad’s beautifully written memoir profiles someone who is disciplined, focused, courageous and even poetic.

Three cheers for strong women, of any age.