Can you guess where I am?
How about now?
I'll give you a hint: I'm not on an island, or even on a lake Up North.
In fact, these photos were taken just nine miles from my front door.
Yesterday, I saddled up on my bike and headed south on Milwaukee's Oak Leaf trail for a nice, leisurely ride. I'm convinced this is easily the most gorgeous stretch of trail in the area, and I'm always amazed at just how much Lake Michigan looks like an ocean when riding along its shoreline. I'm so at peace when riding on this trail, and it's one of the things that makes me so incredibly proud to call Milwaukee home.
On this 18-mile ride, I went through about three or four different towns, passed two golf courses and plenty of parks and playgrounds. My turnaround point was a gorgeous beach just south of Grant Park. Pristine sands and breathtaking views of Lake Michigan made me feel like I was on the shore of any given town along the Atlantic coast. I took a small breather, let all the gorgeousness sink in, and then turned around to go home.
There's a point on my ride home that is one of my favorite views of the city. There's a stretch of prairie the path winds through just before it meets up with the road again, and there's a large, steep hill at the end of this section. Yesterday, I just had to hop off my bike to take in the sight.
I love riding down this hill and I love running up it even more. It's work, but when you get to the top it's kind of a "Rocky at the top of the stairs" moment. But then you've got such an amazing view at the top, it's an extra-special reward. This may be my favorite section of the trail.
When I go out and take these long bike rides for fun along the Oak Leaf Trail, I can't help but feel so lucky to live in the place that I do. I can hop on my bike and be in total seclusion in nature in just a couple of miles. On the flip side, I can also go just a couple of miles north and be right smack in the heart of Downtown Milwaukee. I've got the best of both worlds, here, and after living in this city for just over three years now, I can honestly say my decision to move here was the best one I've ever made. This city has put me in a state of happiness I hadn't known in a while, and it's the gorgeous sights like these that let me know that happiness is only going to grow stronger.
Let's all give a good ol' "cheers" for a little hometown pride.