I’m 19 years old, camping in DuPage County’s Blackwell Forest Preserve with three guys whom I’ve known since high school. We decide to take a nighttime walk up the big, grassy mound of Mount Hoy.

Illinois is flat. You don’t get a “Mount Hoy” in Illinois until the landfill becomes too full. I think “Hoy” is the sound you make when your nose discovers it’s downwind from the methane vents.

As we emerge from the woods, we’re surprised to see the entire hill garishly lit by a couple of streetlights. The sky is dark, the grass is tall, and the vents stand like dark sentinels, casting long shadows in our direction. I lose track of the conversation, intrigued by the shadowy towers of some complicated structure that stands beyond a metal gate on the other side of the grassy field.

“Look!” I say.


“Get down!” I whisper.

They look at me. No one moves.

“Get DOWN!” I hiss. “I don’t think they’ve seen us yet.”


I jerk my head in the direction of the ominous structure. “The guards.”

They don’t see any guards.

“I’m going in,” I whisper, taking a quick glance at the looming towers. “One of you take the left side. I’ll go right.”

A grin spreads across Ben’s face, then he’s suddenly serious. He looks me in the eye and nods curtly.

“Go,” he whispers, moving off to the left.

“What are you doing?” yells one of the other two.

Ben and I ignore him. If we’re on our own, so be it. Furtively, we thread our way through the tall grass. The guards do not see us. In parallel fits and starts, we move all the way up to the perimeter without being spotted. We’re just that stealthy.

At the wall, I nod to Ben. He nods back. Somehow we know exactly what that means.

Ben covers me. Keeping one eye on the dark towers, I cross over to the gate. It’s locked. Of course. Plus, it’s dark in there and I don’t think it’s very smart to climb over a locked gate. We abandon the mission. We’ll live to fight another day.

The abandoned quarry equipment that was still standing there almost 40 years ago is now long gone, but I remember the hidden base, our daring approach, and the thrill of evading the watchful eyes of the guards.

Four of us went for a walk. Two of us had quite an adventure.


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