This article was originally published on August 20, 2020, and with fall, it’s the perfect time to revisit the roads with incredible fall foliage.
I grew up in thise Midwest – the north shore of Chicago to be more precise. I became aware at a time when people were still taking long car journeys on Sundays. I didn’t enjoy it as much when I sat in the back seat of the red 1975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic convertible with my little sister on long country drives.
We stopped at places like Long Grove, a rustic shopping district; visiting my great aunt and uncle at Sylvan Lake; look at real estate in Barrington and Kildeer. An open-air experience, top down in good weather, that rubs off on me: I still drive convertibles and Spyders to this day. I now look back on that time with a warm feeling.
But the best trips were always the winding roads of Lake County, Illinois in the fall. The tree lined roads were so beautiful. The trees would turn from summer greens to oranges, reds, yellows…like an explosion of fireworks.
The burning leaves, released from the lawns of large estates, would inflame the senses with pleasant incense. The scenery captured my attention and the boredom of the seemingly pointless driving suddenly became a pleasurable sensory event.
As I grew older and had my own cars, trips to Elkhart Lake and Door County, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan would once again ignite the senses of the beautiful scenery on my windshield. I never got tired of driving up north in Wisconsin or visiting my longtime friend in Michigan. Once at my destinations there were the waters of Green Bay, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior with its bluffs and bluffs, shimmering with the colors I had grown to love so much as a child.
I also had a motorcycle. Day trips to Wisconsin and Carpentersville, Illinois as the grain fields were harvested were a magnificent sight as I went from town to town, exploring long closed race tracks, including Wilmot, Meadowdale and Lyndale Farms. While the Midwest was not a mountainous region as I would discover living in California and Arizona, there were still hills and valleys.
The most scenic area in southern Wisconsin is the Kettle Moraine. Road America at Elkhart Lake takes full advantage of the hilly terrain with incredible elevation changes. Roads around Sheboygan County are similar. Roll, dive and dive, up and down. Many small watering holes and restaurants dot the map offering Central European dishes and good beer.
On the Upper Peninsula, long winding roads wind through endless forest. It’s much more rugged in this area – just like people. Civilization is almost hidden in the trees as far as Marquette or Sault Ste. Marie with the gigantic locks allowing the passage from lake to lake for large ore and coal ships.
These are roads I fell in love with, especially in the fall. The whole world seemed so much better and carefree as you cruised those highways and side roads. It reminded you to slow down for a moment and take a look at the beauty of life.