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Virtual Vacationing ala Alchemy of Glass #1: The Ravines

We’re all stuck at home. Virtual vacations are the best we can do these days. So I thought…why not take folks on a tour of the settings in Alchemy of Glass, my latest novel from Pyr & (in digital) Simon and Schuster.

Part of this novel (as was Apothecary’s Curse)

is set in the North Shore of the Chicago metroplex–specifically, the Ravines area. Simon Bell’s home

Alchemy of Glass: Barbara Barnett: 9781645060130: Amazon.com: Books

is here, on a high bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. In Alchemy of Glass, it is now Anne’s home, left to her by her Uncle–many generations removed. It’s a beautiful place, an object of my fascination since I was a child. THE place I take visitors from other cities to show them that Chicago isn’t really all that flat.

Somewhere north of Northwestern University, which, in Evanston is at lake level, the terrain begins to morph. Suddenly, while you are tooling along Sheridan Road, hugging the road just off the coastline, the houses to the west are high above the road on towering hilltops. It’s a bit weird, coming out of the semi-urbanity of Evanston and Wilmette, you’re in the middle of a forest-like two-lane road–as if you’ve been transported to Mendocino California. Cool.

Huge Waves on Lake Michigan - EPOD - a service of USRA

Then, a little further north the road twists and turns (rather wickedly in places (which is good because at least you’re at ground level at this point), and you quite quickly find yourself high up above the lake. To your left and right on the still slightly narrow and very curvy road are deep ravines, plummeting a hundred or so feet below you. Yikes. You’re up high on a bluff, eyes glued to the spectacular and stately lakefront mansions that fringe Sheridan, but at the same time trying hard to keep your eyes on the road (especially when it’s icy). No guard rails here among the s-curves and zigzags of the roadway.

You have to stop a moment because Sheridan takes a sharp left and as it does, on the northern edge of Highland Park, the vista opens up before you. The lake is churning with waves that more resemble what you’d expect below Santa Monica pier than the in the Chicago suburbs. Stepping out of the car, the wind whipping, the pounding of the waves is nearly deafening below you, echoing up from the bluff.

How Chicago Beaches Get and Keep That Nice Fine Sand | WBEZ Chicago

Barbara Barnett

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