I have grown to love any Day of New that gets me outside. Especially on a beautiful Friday afternoon like today. Originally I used to dread having to take time to do this. But now I love having somewhere to go immediately after work that isn’t my room and my computer at home. I know that the sense of calm and peace I obtain by starting Friday afternoon in nature will stay with me for the entirety of the weekend.
So today I chose to visit Cantigny Park. It is about a mile north of my work, extremely close! I knew surprisingly little about it though, considering how close it is. I have heard of people speak of it on the rare occasion. I even have a friend who works there. But all I really knew about it is that it is outdoors, and I thought there might be a museum there too.
But a 75 degree Friday afternoon is a perfect day to go explore. I was driving up toward it, almost a minute away from the entrance, when I heard the announcer on the radio station say “And tomorrow morning there will be a run at Cantigny Park!” I was a bit stunned, I had never heard it mentioned on the radio, so the fact that it happened seconds before I arrived there made my head spin for a moment. The only thing I knew was that I was going to the right place, and I was meant to be at Cantigny this afternoon. Sometimes when strange coincidences like that happen, I can’t help but feel like I am supposed to be exactly where I am. I often expect something big or interesting will happen there. It never does of course, and this time was no different, but I still had a great trip.
As soon as I pulled in I realized this was no ordinary forest preserve. The gates and beautiful brick pillars lined the entrance, and I had an immediate view of the immaculate landscaping and gardens surrounding this entrance. There was a 5 dollar parking entrance fee, and as I drove in I continued to notice how well maintained the grass was. I walked to the main building which was lined with beautiful flowers. I was quickly overtaken by a wonderful floral fragrance, a perfume that would remain in the air my entire time exploring the grounds.
I walked in and told the lady at the front desk that I had never been here before. Her eyes lit up as she handed me a map, and began explaining the grounds to me. She recommended I go see a museum, so I said that I would. As I walked out of the rear of the building and into the main park, I gasped at the beautifully landscaped trees and gardens ahead of me. Further ahead, children were laughing and running through fountains that would sporadically spray up from the ground. As I began to walk various paths the wonderful floral fragrance grew even stronger and more wonderful.
As I continued I reached what the map called a “Tank Park.” I was stunned to see maybe ten old military tanks which were scattered on the grass in front of a big building. Lots of people, mostly children, were climbing the tanks and taking pictures. Apparently these were old tanks from wars. That made the building ahead of me The War Museum. I was feeling a bit hesitant about The War Museum, it was too wonderful of a day to be hanging out in a museum. I was presnetly surprised however. They did an amazing job creating this museum. Parts of it were so well decorated it reminded me of Disneyworld or some type of theme park. At one point, even though i was indoors, I felt like I was walking through an actual Vietnam jungle.
I continued along outside after the museum, exploring more of the park and the trails. One trail led me to an “Idea Garden” which was full of many different flowers and plants. It was too early in the season though, so a lot of the plants weren’t blooming or ready. Contrary to the name, I didn’t get any brilliant ideas.
Further beyond the Idea Garden I came upon an enormous house. Clearly there was a wedding happening nearby today, as evidenced by the swarms of people dressed up. I mostly avoided and went around them towards the giant mansion. A sign said that there was a tour every hour, and I looked to see that I was just in time for one. However, on this beautiful day, I couldn’t imagine spending a full hour inside looking at a giant house. So I decided against the tour and moved onward. As I kept strolling, I heard a strange gobbling to see a giant turkey strolling along the front lawn of the house. The turkey was huge, walked funny, and kept gobbling at me.
First, old tanks. Now, a giant turkey. This day had it all. I explored as much of the park as I could handle, through trees, along ponds and little creeks, and through many of the wonderfully maintained gardens. I took a lot of pictures too. There was no magnificent life changing event that happened here. The coincidence of the radio host mentioning Cantigny moments before I entered was been just that, a coincidence. But that didn’t stop me from having a wonderful Friday afternoon here!