October 1, 2019

What Friends Are For...and Your Sewage District Fall Activity Offerings!

What Friends Are For

Lois and me.jpgMy best friend, Lois, now lives in Durham, North Carolina. We’ve known each other all our lives—literally, since we were about two years old. We grew up in Dallas, Texas (though I was born in Chicago), were in the same Brownie Troop and Temple youth group. We’ve lived in different cities since high school but have made it a point to see each other and stay in touch. It was from Lois’ family that I gained an appreciation for camping, hiking, and the great American West.

One year I joined Lois and her family on a Christmas trip to Big Bend National Park in remote West Texas where we rafted the Rio Grande through Boquillas Canyon and rode horses in the Chisos Mountains. Over the years Lois and I have climbed more than 40 of the peaks in Colorado over 14,000’ high. (Trust me, more than any particular skill or athletic prowess, this effort reveals a lack of imagination about how to spend one’s summer vacation…we just kept going back to camp and climb for year after year!)

So I jumped at the chance to spend five days on a hut-to-hut hiking trip called the Sneffels Traverse in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains with Lois, two of her sisters, her daughter, and boyfriend in late August. To prepare, I endeavored to get my legs in shape by riding my bike on hilly country roads in Indiana, but there was no way to get acclimated to the altitude except to arrive a few days early and go on a day hike or two.

On Saturday, August 31, a van dropped us off at the Last Dollar Pass trailhead in the Uncompahgre National Forest, elevation 9,960 ft. Our packs were at their heaviest with food for five days and six people, but the weather was sunny and fine, and we set off for an 8.4-mile hike to our first night’s destination, North Pole Hut. Each hut sleeps eight in bunk beds, has propane and wood stoves, an outhouse, and sleeping bags (we each brought a sleeping bag liner). We had to collect water from a nearby stream and filter it, but the trip was so much easier because we didn’t have to carry tents, cookware, or sleeping bags.

Did I mention the night sky? Call them “rare and endangered experiences” now, to be in a place with no city lights, to see the dark sky brimming with stars. It’s so refreshing to be off the grid—no cell service, no tweets, marveling instead at expansive views, reveling in the satisfaction of boots off after an arduous hike and a meal among friends. In all, we hiked close to 30 miles, descending the last day to Ouray, CO, and a shower followed by a soak in hot springs. This is what friends are for. I love you, Lois!

That's Mt. Sneffels behind us, one of the 14ers Lois and I climbed years ago.

That's Mt. Sneffels behind us, one of the 14ers Lois and I climbed years ago.

Your Fall Activity Calendar for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

Saturday, October 5
MWRD Road Show
Science & Arts Academy
1825 Miner Street, Des Plaines
9 a.m.—noon

Free parking!

  • Meet members of the Board of Commissioners and MWRD Staff.
  • Bring your most pressing questions about stormwater, lake levels, and how to prevent basement backups.
  • Learn about applying for jobs or doing business with the District.
  • Bring electronics and paper for safe & proper disposal.

Questions? Call (312) 751-6633

Saturday, October 19
O’Brien Wastewater Treatment Plant
3500 Howard Street, Skokie
10 a.m.—4 p.m.

MWRD will be participating in the Chicago Architecture Center’s annual Open House program providing tours of the O’Brien plant.

No prior registration is necessary for these tours, and all ages are welcome. Participants should wear sturdy shoes and long pants (no skirts, shorts, or loose clothing). Details are available here and here.

Note: Although Open House Chicago is a 2-day event, O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant will only be participating on Saturday, October 19.