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Once again, during our suburban travels, we have discovered a place that we hardly knew existed. Hoffman Estates is just a hop, skip and jump from where we live but I have rarely looked past the shopping malls or driven along anything other than Golf or Higgins, the main roads in the area.

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Our first stop was at the Paul Douglas Forest Preserve which covers more than 1,800 acres of open grassland and wetlands and would appear to be a great place for birdwatching. We caught a glimpse of some nesting platforms at the heron rookery, but decided for our first visit to follow one of the tracks that lead from the parking lot, along the marsh area by the lake and then away into the fields.

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Lots of little frogs hopping around underfoot and dragonflies hovering among the wild flowers. Being only 5ft 3ins tall, I was dwarfed by some of the teazle that was growing in abundance by the path.

There is a 7.2 mile paved trail that circles the preserve, popular with cyclists and people who take their walking very seriously. We weren’t feeling that adventurous but will probably give it a look-see next time we visit.

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One place that we used to go to in Hoffman Estates was Poplar Creek, an outdoor concert venue which eventually closed in 1994. I remember seeing Luciano Pavarotti performing there in 1984 but it also played host to many other top-liners such as Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffet, and Jefferson Starship to name but a few.

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Although I’m sure the people who lived within earshot were not sorry that it closed, I rather miss the old place. Poplar Creek was replaced in 2006 by the Sears Center Arena which is located in Prairie Stone Business Park, just a mile further up the road. On the day that we went to take a look at the Arena there was a Jehovah’s Witness Convention in progress and, looking at a list of upcoming events on the Arena’s website when we returned home, I can see no reason for returning anytime soon. It’s no Poplar Creek!!

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The Sunderlage Farmhouse and its historic smokehouse are all that remains of the original Sunderlage property. In 1954 the 108 acre farm was sold to developers but the farmhouse is still owned and maintained by the Village of Hoffman Estates and is available for private rental. The smokehouse is believed to have been built some time in the 1840’s and is the only one of its kind in northern Illinois. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

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Like many photographers I’m drawn to the color red and I couldn’t resist stopping off at Vogelei Park to take a shot of the children’s play area. Also the beautiful wildflower area in the park.

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