Exploring the GE (Glen Ellyn, IL) – Blackwell Forest Preserve

This post should probably have been about the actual city of Chicago. And although the city is one of the first places I ventured out to when I got to Glen Ellyn (which is a suburb of Chicago), it’s not the first place I researched before moving. Before coming, I looked at the map of the area around my town. Being someone who LOVES being outside and enjoying beautiful weather, I looked up parks and hiking spots (for those rare winter days when the sun comes out). Much to my surprise, this area is pretty flat and doesn’t really have many hiking spots. (If I am wrong and someone out there knows of some, please let me know.)

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As I began researching I noticed that there were a lot of forest preserves around here and a lot of which featured lakes. The closest one I found was Hidden Lakes. As soon as the weather got a little better, I started running here. But that didn’t last long because when summer arrived, so did the mosquitoes! And according to my Pakistani culture, apparently I have “sweet blood” (whatever that means) so I get bit a lot!

Recently, two friends from California visited and as soon as they had booked their tickets, I knew I had to plan some amazing things for them! One of those included a visit to the Blackwell Forest Preserve. This one offered boat rentals! I was excited about that because I had canoed two times before in my life (a long time ago when I lived in Maryland) and remembered loving it. One of my friends was not into it but I forced her anyway, in the nicest possible way of course.

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We got there an hour and a half before closing and managed to get a 5 seat row boat ($10 for an hour) which I thought was like a canoe. It turns out it was not the same. In the canoes I have been in, the oars were not attached to the boat and two or more people could row. But in this row boat, the oars were attached and only one person rows with both oars.

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Anyway, all five of us got in (I convinced my niece and another friend to come along with us) and some how I ended up being the sole rower (no big deal). I was wrong. Rowing is NOT easy! On top of that, have I told you how crazy the winds can be here? The winds were nuts that day which made it extra hard to row. I managed to get us out in the middle of the lake and thought, oh this isn’t so bad let’s just chill here for a while and enjoy the scenery. Well, before I knew it, the waves carried us near land and we ended up getting stuck.

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The life jacket is quite flattering isn’t it?

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I rowed as hard and as fast as I could but every time I thought we were getting unstuck, the current kept pushing us back. My arms gave up after 25 to 30 minutes and even though we weren’t allowed to switch rowers, we did, twice. We somehow managed to do it without the boat tipping over. And bless my friends, they rowed for the next 30 to 40 minutes during which we all tried to yell for help.


Yup, we waved and yelled for help while people on the pier watched. And maybe 30 minutes later, a park ranger (AKA our knight in shining armor) came on a motor boat, tied our boat to his and pretty much rescued us!

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You are probably thinking I should have listened to the friend who wasn’t too keen on going in the first place. But honestly, I am glad we went because we just ended up laughing about our situation the whole time and also about the fact that none of us were in shape. And most of all, we all tried something we hadn’t before and have a story to tell along with it.

Am I going to try this again? Yes, bring it on! My friends? Probably not. They hate me.


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