Last summer, after grabbing brunch in downtown Chicago with a friend from high school, I decided it was finally time to cross another item off my Northwestern bucket list: I was going to walk the thirteen miles home to Evanston along the Lakefront Trail. Having traveled down to brunch (at a restaurant called Yolk in Ogilvie train station, which I totally recommend) via the ‘L’ Train, I was well equipped for a long walk with just a water bottle and a book (The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis). After hanging out at Millennium Park, walking under the Bean and playing for a bit on the new playground complex just east of it, I set off Northward, with no real directions other than to keep Lake Michigan to my right.

On my six-hour trek back home, I was reminded over and over again why I love living so close to Chicago. The first time I passed a beach, I walked up to the lake and waded in the water up to my calves. The second time, though, I couldn’t help myself, and I dove in and splashed around amidst a crowd of other Chicagoans escaping the mid-August heat. A few hours later, when I reached the park off Foster Beach I was asked to join a Medieval spar. Unfortunately, I decided I hadn’t brought the right apparel, so I sat on the sidelines and watched, playing with a dog that a family had brought to the park. As I walked northward, I tracked my progress by noting the streets I was passing that corresponded to ‘L’ stops on the Red Line. At this point (I had previously gotten off the train at each of the Red Line ‘L’) as I walked north I was able to situate myself in relation to neighborhoods and coffee shops and restaurants.

After all this, though, my favorite part the my walk to Evanston was the sheer number of people I passed, the families and runners and ice cream vendors. As I walked home from Chicago, I had a sudden overwhelming sense of being a part of something bigger. Bigger than myself and bigger than Northwestern and bigger than Chicago even. I was reminded how much life there is just a couple miles from my home off campus. Chicago is a truly unbelievable city, a vibrant and diverse community, an amazing resource, and a great playground. (The Lakefront Trail offers some great views too).

–Clayton Shuttleworth

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