Friday, July 15, 2016

July 7


Road trip.  Bound for Des Moines, to attend my brother's coronation.  (About which, more anon.)

When you take I-94 from Detroit to Chicago, it hugs the southeast end of Lake Michigan.  You know I had to go to the beach, even if just for a few minutes.

It was hazy while we were at the beach.  I am pretty sure the beach -- at least the part of the beach where the water meets the land, is public, in Michigan.  I am pretty sure this sign is ... misleading, at best.  I can completely understand why the people who live in the expensive houses inland of the beach don't want to be invaded by the noisy littering hoi polloi.  But.  I am pretty sure that at least the wet part of the beach belongs to all of us...................

The horizon is not very striking, on a hazy day.....

Very pleased that the phone did such a good job capturing the waves!

I waded, I picked up a bunch of little tiny rocks, and then we went on.

Summertime in Michigan -- otherwise known as "orange barrel season"..........  We encountered a LOT of road construction.  Luckily, only part of it was actually under construction, and even then, very little of it slowed us down noticeably.

When we got to Illinois, it was sunny.  And very green.  We have had a dry summer, in Michigan, but Illinois and Iowa (at least along I-80) were very green.  Even the highway median was green, where it was grassy.  I don't know if it's our dry conditions at home, or if it was because the last place we traveled to was Reno (the polar opposite of green), but I was continually struck by how green everything was.

It was darker in the west than in the north (the previous pic was looking north).

It rained really hard for a short time.  No wind, no thunder, but it poured harder than the wipers could manage.

And then it cleared up.  It wasn't clear that it had rained at all, a short distance west of the rain.

Beautiful (flat) GREEN Illinois countryside.  I like the big sky in this part of the world.

We saw a corn growing all along I-80.

Up close and personal with corn growing behind a filling station.

Such an extravagance of reproductive bits!

It's something like 600 miles from Ann Arbor to Des Moines.  My better half looked at a map, and looked for things to do (and places to stay) near the half-way point. 

He found Starved Rock State Park, which is on the Illinois River, and has a lodge with a restaurant, and advertises a number of short hikes, some with waterfalls.  Sounds like a great find!  We reserved a room in the lodge for the night of the 7th.

After arriving at the lodge, and schlepping some stuff up to the room, found the big deck on the back of the lodge.  I am sure that, once upon a time, there was a great view from here.  Now the trees have grown to the point where you can hardly see the river at all.  It's nice to see green trees, but the vista is not what I bet it once was.....

Then we set out on a "short hike."

There is a lot of up-and-down in the landscape around the Illinois river, in the middle (east/west) of Illinois.  I think the state park should offer info as to change in elevation, as well as "crow flies" distance, when they describe hikes.

The hike we took was described as .3 miles.  Pretty sure that's an "as the crow flies."  It began with a daunting staircase that twisted and turned through the trees so you couldn't possibly see how far down it was before you were seriously committed.  I believe it was on the order of 175 steps.........  And once you went down, the only way back to your beginning point was to climb those very stairs...................

We went down the stairs, and then walked north, down toward the river, on relatively flat ground (and only another 30 or 35 stairs) to this view of the Illinois River.  We read later that there are bald eagles nesting on those islands.  We saw no eagles on that day, but when we were coming home, I saw a bald eagle soaring over Illinois.  There's really no missing that white head and white tail, on a bird that size.....  So glad the eagles are recovering from what we did to them in the middle of the last century!

Then we climbed up those 30-35 stairs, and continued to the far end of our ".3 mile" hike.  It was up a long ramp-like path, with dozens of stairs at the top.  I believe I was standing the top of Starved Rock when I took the next image.  (I am pretty sure the only way to actually *see* Starved Rock is to be out in the river or on the other bank......)

Looking west, from what I believe was the top of Starved Rock.  So green..............

Looking back toward the lodge, a little to the left of the previous image.

Can you see the lodge, above?  Here's a closer crop.  The part of the lodge at right has a fence at the edge of that big deck.  I think they should trim the vegetation, so you could see the river....

Part of the top of Starved Rock.

We came down from the top of Starved Rock, and returned to the staircase to get back up to the lodge.  Here is a small part of that staircase..................  Did I mention that it was an extremely humid day?  Warm, and very humid.........................

Back up at lodge level.  Gardens around the lodge. 


Now we are standing on that large deck behind the lodge, looking east at the top of Starved Rock.  There's a dark spot on the bottom of the clouds, about a third of the way in from the right edge of the image.  That's the flag flying over Starved Rock...... You can see the fence at the edge of the trail around the top of the Rock as a pale gray line in the green.

Here's a zoomed-in and cropped image of the top of Starved Rock.

The lodge is very ... lodge-y.  Old and rustic.  And dark.  There were odd sitting areas that were incredibly dark.  Our room was incredibly dark.  The darkest hotel room I've ever stayed in, I think.  We were at the end of the hall, and had windows on two sides, but there were trees outside the windows.  I'm all for trees, but that was one dark room.  (I forgive it for being dark, but it was also noisy enough that I had trouble sleeping, and the pillows were fat and hard.  We turned off our a/c, but there was still a lot of noise coming from that end of the room.  The people upstairs' a/c?  I don't know.........)

The furniture was really cool.  Large, heavy, dark.  Made of dead barns, and dead trees.

This is (part of) our headboard.  Doesn't that background look like bark?  Can it have been bark?  It was textured like bark, but can you take bark and flatten it out like this?  That's what it looked like.  It was deeply textured..............   With that cool carved tree on it.............

This sign was in the room.

I think it's pathetic that you have to ask people not to deface the premises................

But I did not notice any damage, so perhaps it worked.

(On the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" plan, I will refrain from mentioning the food in the lodge restaurant.)


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