As the cooler weather begins to settle in (in some places), I find more and more time to spend reading. One of my favorite authors…Henry David Thoreau. On my list of reads for this fall and winter, The Maine Woods and a second reading of Walden. Over the next few days I am posting some of my favorite fall pictures that I captured while hiking in Tennessee, along with some of my favorite Thoreau quotes.
If you head west on Ingersoll or Grand Ave., out of downtown Des Moines, you will pass by some of my favorite streets, shops and restaurants. If you are on Grand Avenue you will pass the Governors mansion, assorted offices and wonderful old brick apartment buildings and a church or two. Ingersoll will take you by a variety of businesses, coffee shops and must-try eateries, as well as banks and a grocery store. Both streets share one of my favorite features that make it feel less ‘downtown’. The trees.
Grand Avenue will eventually wind you all the way out to West Des Moines but Ingersoll ends in what may be my favorite neighborhood, Waterbury. Just on the Waterbury boundary is my all time favorite tree-lined street, Polk Boulevard. It begins on Grand Avenue directly in front of the Art Center and is a little over a mile (maybe), over Interstate 235, past Roosevelt High School and ends at University Avenue. With the exception of the bridge over the interstate, the entire street is lined with these amazing, gorgeous trees that look almost prehistoric. Their trunks are typical, bark covered beings. It’s as you get up higher into the branches that the bark peels away revealing almost stark white wood. What I love most, however, are the leaves. I came across this neighborhood many years ago when my kids were little. I love walking and this quickly became one of my favorite places to frequent. On one such occasion, I had brought my son along. He was still little and in a stroller. As we began walking I notices that the leaves had begun to drop and we both took notice of their size. Larger than a hand, my son was fascinated and began collecting them and soon had his stroller full. He even managed to throw in a few “awesome” twigs.
We didn’t take the whole stroller-full home but we did save a few favs and took them home. We put them under a sheet of paper and used crayons to bring out the textured outline (an easy and fun craft that I’m sure we’ve all experienced). Normally you can do several different leaves under a sheet of typing paper but these leaves were so large they filled up and sometimes hung out from under the paper. The sad thing is, I still do not know the name of the trees.
This is a rather new one for me but something I truly am learning to enjoy when the cooler weather comes round, is making my own soups. Chili of course is a go to favorite but it is quickly being replaced by this easy and delicious chicken tortilla recipe that I found.
With kidney beans, black beans, corn, onion, diced tomatoes, a few seasonings and of course, chicken breast, it is a an amazing comfort food to come home to. The smell alone makes it worth the 6 hour wait.
One last photo from Maquoketa. If you have not ever had the pleasure of walking through the caves and trails of this state treasure, you should definitely make plans to check it out. I promise, it is definitely worth your time.
I absolutely adore hiking. Not, the 20 mile, up hill all the way kind. I prefer something a little more…moderate. Winding trails through beautiful trees with a meandering stream close by…the kind that offers breathtaking views and the peace that comes when you find yourself simply surrounded by nature.
When we lived in Kansas City, I found an amazing place that I could get lost in for hours and have hoped to find something like it here. Not surprisingly, I have found a few wonderful parks that offer perfect trails and serene silence but recently, I found a one that has stolen my heart. Maquoketa Caves State Park, located about 38 miles north of Davenport, Iowa is a remarkable exhibit of the precious landscape found here in Iowa. Caves of varying sizes, along with trails, creeks, and native trees and foliage make it almost impossible to not let go of the stress of daily life and allow your mind to just absorb your surroundings. Add the bonus of fall color and the glow of a late afternoon sun and it’s almost overwhelming.
The only downfall for me is the 3 1/2 hour drive but that might be for the best. If it were close to home, I might never it.