Shore Path Wars

Shore Path Wars

The symptoms I’m experiencing are quite troubling. They don’t yet interfere with my day to day activities, but they are increasingly interrupting my productivity and disturbing what would otherwise be restful nights. I found myself last night out in my small fishing boat, casting a line towards Conference Point, the boat still in the wave-less water. The sun on my arms was warm, and the dream so vivid that I could actually feel the slap of a developing sunburn. I was, to quote Carl Weathers, in my happy place. The infatuation I have with Lake Geneva summers is spiraling out of control, as is evident by my dreams, and even more pronounced when considering the theme of this post today.

I was just shaking off the dreamt up sunburn when thoughts of the shore path flooded my mind. Of the many things I’ve learned this winter, the most important seems to be that I sincerely find myself increasingly wanting to follow my own advice. My writings are supposed to make you, my beloved Illinoisan, realize how badly you need and/or deserve a Lake Geneva vacation home, but instead they make me long for the summer that I know is only a few short months away. I’ve decided that I’ll do many things differently this summer, and among them is an intense commitment to find a way to walk the shore path at least 4 times per week. The shore path that circles Geneva Lake is a path that I’ve always taken for granted. It’s a path that I think most people take for granted, even those who think they understand how valuable it is. Vacation home buyers seem to take it for granted, at least at first, as mention of the shore path carries very little impact, as buyers seem to think shore paths of this sort are about as exciting as a boat ride in a pontoon boat around the Chain O’ Lakes. (Sorry pontoon and Chain lovers, it’s true)

I thought about the shore path this morning, and thought about how lucky I am to have the ability to walk that path whenever I feel like it. I then thought about how so many people flock to the Chicago lakefront path, and thought about all the press and accolades that are directed at that concrete path. I thought about those things, which is why I must officially declare war on the Chicago lake path, and label it as forever inferior to the shore path of my choice. Oh, don’t worry, I’m only using my words to fire the first shot, and I’ll be using words of a person far smarter (not really) than I to wage the battle.

First, a quick comparison of the two paths. The Chicago bike path runs a total of 18 miles. The Lake Geneva shore path spans 21 miles, even though many argue that the path is actually 26 miles long. Either way, my six year old son knows that both 21 and 26 are larger than 18. Distance advantage? Lake Geneva. The Chicago path is an industrial runway of concrete and asphalt, which is not only difficult on the feet and knees of those walking or running the path, it’s downright ugly. The Lake Geneva path? A glorious mix of flagstone, brick, grass, and an eclectic yet classic array of other materials. Advantage for those who prefer their concrete runways to be at O’hare? Lake Geneva. For those seeking a true workout, consider the boring, flat, moderately hilly Chicago path, then compare it with the winding, topographically blessed, undulating and inspiring Lake Geneva shore path. Advantage, Lake Geneva.

Scenery? Don’t even ask. The Chicago path might have a view of the lake and the skyline, but for many miles you’re also walking or jogging 15′ from an onslaught of traffic speeding by on Lakeshore Drive. The views from the Lake Geneva shore path? Water to one side, and residential properties to the other. Walking through the front lawn of William Wrigley Jr’s Lake Forest estate might land you in court, but walking through his Lake Geneva front lawn is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. Chicago vendors hawking Churros and brats might satisfy an exercise induced appetite, but the carnival eats certainly don’t inspire feelings of relaxation and peace. And for all those naysayers who complain that Geneva is too “busy”, consider the lazy shore path as viewed in these pictures I took on a lazy afternoon last fall. Compare them to the picture of the Chicago path (the picture with all the people gasping for breath), and you take a guess which one is more prone to reducing your blood pressure. Still not buying it? Fine. How about an excerpt about the Chicago path from Chicago’s own Blair Kamin (from his Chicago Tribune blog)…

On a typical summer day, hordes of cyclists, walkers, joggers and rollerbladers jockey for space on strip of asphalt that is only eight feet wide in some places. The national standard for the width of bike paths is 12 feet. Most of the time, the conflicts that erupt amount to nothing more than heated words or obscene gestures. Occasionally the results are tragic, as when a 34-year-old Far North Side man, Wlodzimirerz Kowalski, died after colliding with an in-line skater at North Avenue Beach…

Nasty, I know. Rollerblading and biking are not permitted on the Lake Geneva shore path, instead leaving the bucolic path to foot traffic of varying speeds. If the congestion isn’t dangerous enough for you, consider the air you’re breathing while huffing and puffing down that Chicago path. According to my friends at, the Chicago air index is 1. That’s on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being best, 1 being similar to wrapping your mouth around the exhaust pipe of a CTA bus. What’s the point of even exercising when you’re breathing in that sort of toxic air? Lake Geneva scores an impressive 56 on the same list, far out pacing the national average, while leaving poor Berrien County struggling to catch its breath with a 40 rating.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Chicago. I love the shopping and the restaurants and the sporting venues. I love it, I just think if I lived it for 5 days a week, I’d want to mix it up a little with a Lake Geneva vacation home. With this shore path battle mercifully over, I hope you’ll opt for the lung cleansing, soul pleasing Lake Geneva shore path this summer. Better yet, every association home, lakefront home, and lakefront condominium offers direct access to this magnificent path. On your Lake Geneva vacation home list of pros and cons, be sure to write “shore path” on the pros side. If I can ever think of even a single con, I’ll be sure to let you know.

The idyllic Lake Geneva shore path, reason number 4,234,299 that Lake Geneva is the place for you.

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