Goose Island

Where most cities decide to use their islands for special purposes, say an historic prison or superb park, Chicago decided to go a different route and make an island of industry.  This is no natural island though.  It came into being by the city dredging a canal in the beautiful Chicago river to break off the east side.

On the south side sits a college that once housed the headquarters of Sara Lee.  Across the muddy river from it runs a large concrete plant where gravel is still brought in by barge.

Covering the east of the island are a Greyhound bus maintenance terminal, large mini-storage building, and solid waste transfer station.

The west side has a very sad boat dock and a Lexus car maintenance building(with the dealer being just the other side of the river), and a hazardous waste recycling building.

The center of the island houses an assortmant of industry and many small startup companies.  Automotive mechanic shops abound as well as grocery store distributors, a huge CTA materials warehouse, and a Fedex distribution center.  To top it off there is a dog hotel on the island.

The north side is the only section pleasing to the eye as the Mars(Wrigley) company has a few modern and attractive buildings with well mainicured, and well fenced, landscaping.

There is no reason for a tourist or even a local that is not employed on the island to visit it, unless you are one of the poor souls that must commute across Division Street.  That lone street being the only way to cross the island, where walking is usually faster than driving.

It is a shame this island has not been turned into a city park.  It is made for it.  A short walk from the beautiful neighborhoods of Wicker Park(Noble Square) to the west, Lincoln Park(Old Town or Cabrini-Green) to the east, River west to the south, and just across a bridge to the north for Lincoln Park(Ranch Triangle).

Come on Chicago and turn this dump of brick buildings and concrete into a fantastic park worthy of this great city where geese actually roam and grass and trees grow.

 

Kobarid, Slovenia

Tucked in the mountains on the extreme western edge of Slovenia is the tiny town of Kobarid.  You may be familiar with the town without knowing it as it featured in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.  During World War I it was the front line between Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces. You should read up on it as the history is interesting.  After many battles the Italians retreated but were given the area after the war(Spoils to the victor). In the hills surronding the town you can still find trenches and embattlements, but those days of fighting are long past.  Now this beautiful area is a nature lovers and adverturers paradise.

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The town proper has a small main street with a hotel and restaurants.  There is the Kobarid museum, a school, quite a few guide shops(one selling my favorite outdoor wear, Prana), and of course, houses.  Surrounding the town are a few campgrounds and mountains full of well marked trails, both hiking and biking.  But the main attraction is the Soca River.  This colorful river hosts kayakers, swimmers, and rafters.  There are a few bridges offering fantastic views.  By following little crystal clear streams that enter into the Soca you will come to some impressive slap(Slovenian for waterfall, perhaps named after the sound they make).

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Make Kobarid a stop on your trip through Slovenia.  The campgrounds are fantastic(Detailed in another post), the pizza at the restaurants delicious, the river and waterwalls beautiful.  There is nothing not to like.  Kayak or raft down the river, hike or bike up the mountains, travel back to World World I by standing in the embattlements and visiting the museum.  Then spend a day relaxing , just staring at the mountains and breathing in the fresh air.

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