Other than thunderstorms and collegiate wrestling, what I miss most about the Midwest is the prairie.
Tall grasses, pretty flowers and outrageous plants cover the prairie. Little of the original remains, but I love walking through restored prairie areas. There is an inner peace the thick lush vegetation brings to me.
My current favorite prairie area is McFarland Park located just northeast of my hometown Ames, Iowa. The restoration is flourishing, and I was lucky to hike it recently on three humid August afternoons. You can hear nearby Interstate 35, but background noise does not deter from the wonderful scenery.
The park features a lake, which is really a stagnant pond, and some nice wooded trails. I forgot how ferocious Midwestern mosquitos are until I got into the woods. They force a quick pace.
My first two hikes were with good friends Kathy Gschneidner and her partner, Jen Powers. Kathy grew up with me in Ames, and they live in Colorado. The final hike was with two Stockholm, Sweden residents, my brother David, and his daughter Vendela.