We are a family of four: Carlos, Amber, Diego (9) and Lula (7) Klimek. We are a soccer, travel and nature-loving family.
My husband, Carlos, originally from Mexico, brought the love and passion for soccer into our home. He has worked in healthcare for many years and is also a soccer referee and coach. I grew up in the area and have worked in soccer for many years. Both kids play soccer and love nature and outdoor adventures.
Discovering DuPage Forest Preserves
We have been going to Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve in Oak Brook for four generations on my side of the family. My grandmother took my mother in the late 50s when they could ice skate and rent rowboats and canoes. Both my mom and I rode horses at Keith Line (now Oak Brook Stables) and would take trail rides through Fullersburg Woods.
Every time I am in the woods I remember my trail rides when I was young. Lula loves hearing about the rides as we walk those same trails. We have also been attending the Halloween Night Walks at Fullersburg Woods since I was young and now I take my husband and our kids. We love to bring along friends each tiem as well, sharing our happy place with them. Our kids have fallen in love with the woods through our adventures of fishing, looking for frogs, climbing trees, kayaking, biking, summer camps, tracking footprints and going for walks.
Diego and Lula Klimek sit atop logs at a DuPage forest preserve. Photo provided by Amber Klimek
What Brings Her Back Time and Time Again
Fresh air, open space and contact with nature is what brings us back. We see and experience something different each time. We love witnessing how nature transforms from season to season.
There isn't a bad time of year to be in the forest preserves. While my husband still works outside of the home during the pandemic and shelter-in-place order, the kids and I have a goal of walking at least 2 miles each day in one of the forest preserves. We have walked in the snow, rain, sun, etc. Our favorite is obviously Fullersburg Woods, but we have been to them all.
We often get distracted on walks as my son finds a tree to climb, my daughter spots a frog, or they stop to discuss something they remember from summer camp. For the kids, the DuPage forest preserves are truly their nature's playground. We are never bored and easily lose track of time while exploring.
The Klimek family loves exploring DuPage forest preserves year-round in all weather. Photo provided by Amber Klimek
Catching the Nature Bug
We didn't need to catch it; it has been a part of us for as long as we can remember. Though born in different countries, my husband and I were always outside as children. We exposed our children to nature as infants, so it’s second nature to them. We are so fortunate to be able to experience something different each time we venture out to one of the forest preserves. There is an energy that brings us back.
Favorite Things to Do in the Preserves
We have many favorite things to do in the preserves like hiking, fishing, catching frogs, kayaking, biking, camping, etc. We are within biking distance of Fullersburg Woods, so we take family rides as often as we can. We really do it all and we do it year-round. We especially love walks while it is snowing. There is a peace and quiet unlike anything else.
We also know all of the Fullersburg Woods naturalists by name and they know us, so that’s a valuable human connection and knowledge base that we greatly appreciate.
There are also so many forest preserves at our fingertips in DuPage County, and each one offers something very different. We have also been camping at Blackwell, fishing and hiking in almost every forest preserve, and love visiting the horses at Danada Equestrian Center, to name a few.
How Nature Inspires
Nature forces us to live in the moment and be present, which comes naturally for Carlos. Nature also disconnects us from the fast pace of our everyday lives. Walking into a forest preserve immediately takes away all of the stress we feel at times.
Diego and Lula Klimek explore a DuPage forest preserve. Photo provided by Amber Klimek
Advice to Others
Start with a walk in one of the many DuPage forest preserves. Leave your phone in the car. Pack a lunch and eat outside. Be still and listen to and see the beauty all around you. More time out in the fresh air is obviously better, but even just five minutes in nature works wonders to help ground you.