Sunday, September 30, 2018

Starved Rock vs Matthiessen State Park

   

Last month, my husband and I had our tenth anniversary. We were finally able to celebrate it on Friday and Saturday and it was well worth the wait.

     To celebrate, my husband booked us a hotel in Oglesby, Illinois where we would be close to two different hiking trails: One that has been widely known and one that we had only heard of from one of our family member's work friend. Since they were so close together, we decided to try them both out as well as take advantage of the leaves that were beginning to change.

      On Friday we went to Starved Rock State Park.

Starved Rock State Park


      The drive in was spectacular! Even though the leaves weren't in bright reds and yellows, the scenery was still very beautiful.


      If I had to give Starved Rock a theme, it would be Stairs and Canyons.


Everywhere we looked, names were carved into the rocks. It was really cool to see.




     We did get to see an eagle, but it was soaring high above us, so we couldn't make out it's features. Two older women confirmed our suspicions when we climbed up to Eagle's lookout when they said there was one soaring above them.



I didn't see the point to beautify myself since we would be hiking, but now I wish I had.


The colors were not at all what you would expect. Streams ran orange, pools were black instead of brown or clear. My husband said it was probably because of all the minerals and clay.



This is one of the smaller canyons. It formed a bowl and when there is enough rain, there is a waterfall. I was very frustrated because my phone camera didn't do the pictures justice as far as relaying the colors and size of everything. 



The trees and plants were able to learn to adapt and grow from the sides of the rocks. 

My husband thought this was sandstone... my Geology teacher would be very disappointed in me. After this picture, he squeezed his fingers together and this rock disintegrated into sand. 


I felt like I was walking on a bowling alley or the deck of an old ship.


Anyone have an idea on what these are? They look like odd shaped kiwis or very large walnuts. 


    They are always updating and fixing their stairs. These stairs freaked me out in a way because I felt like I'd fall through and be sliced like bread. My husband told me that my super hero name is Ms. Morbid. 






Really big creepy crawly.


Looking down into the biggest canyon. 

     Overall, the scenery was beautiful and intimidating. Illinois may be flat, but that's because it goes deeper than the other states with it's ravines and canyons. Be careful where you drive!

Starved Rock Lodge

     After all of our hiking, we were ready for a late lunch around 2:30. Since we were already there, we decided to try out the lodge and their cooking. We weren't disappointed.

The walk way up to the lodge was really cute. It had lights lining the way. 

The lodge kept it's outdoor theme with the log house look.

We just thought this was cool.



      I had the smothered chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes. It was very delicious. I love potatoes, but the rest of my family doesn't, so it was a real treat to have.


       My husband had the chicken Alfredo pasta. My husband, who I normally have to fish for his opinion, said that this was really good pasta, right away. He even complimented the texture and the creaminess of it. My jaw about hit the table to see the new found connoisseur in my husband.

  The inside of the lodge was very beautiful. The same wood theme continued through the whole lodge. 



For those who like to drink and listen to music, they had a nice bar in the back. They stay open late, which was awesome because everything closes around 5, in the area.


     Not only does Starved Rock Lodge offer hotel rooms, they also rent out cabins for the family who wants a more rustic experience. We would have actually stayed in a cabin, but unfortunately, they were all rented out, same as the hotel rooms because they had two weddings that day. Our waitress said that they can do four different weddings in a day.


One of the wedding locations. There are several places to have a wedding. You can even get married in one of the canyons!

Matthiessen State Park
       It was probably better that we went to Starved Rock, first, otherwise it would have dulled in comparison. I really don't know why Matthiessen isn't better known because even though the experiences were similar, Matthiessen offered us a kid-friendly, exploratory environment with extras that Starved Rock lacked.


      Here I am, all dolled up. I forgot to put on lip gloss and my face is puffy. We had walked 20,000 steps the night before. With that and the fresh air and sleeping in a hotel room, it's no wonder that my husband looks so tired!

I was super excited to begin. I had never been to Starved Rock or Matthiessen, so I was ready to explore!
 Before you start the trails, you see this cabin and French outpost.


I thought that this might have been an original French outpost, but my husband said it was a replica. 








      More stairs. We both woke up with stiff limbs that morning, so it was annoying to see more stairs to climb.


The trails were much wider to walk on. However, we still needed to be careful because not all of the trails had fencing to keep us from falling into the ravine if we weren't paying attention.


My husband said, "That's a real nice boulder"- Shrek. So we laughed and had to take a picture.


     It was really neat that the builders had designed the bridges in stone. I thought it was beautiful and blended in with nature. 







There were drawings and writings all over the rocks. The rocks were soft, so even though it might have taken a while to carve this, it was probably still pretty easy.


A cave! We couldn't walk through this one.

But we could walk through this! If Starved Rock had caves like this, we didn't see them.












      We had just walked back up all of those stairs. I was pretty disappointed because we didn't get to see a waterfall we were promised to see. I decided to wear something with long sleeves because the temperature wasn't going to reach 60* and we thought it would be cold. It was not! I was super hot and uncomfortable. But, since my arms started stinging the day before because they weren't covered, even though I felt warmed, I thought that it would have been necessary to cover them up.

These were vines. I've never seen them so thick before.

We found a lost sole in the woods.

We thought that we had hiked all that we could at this time, but then we discovered that there was a trail we missed! So we started on that trail and more was to come!



Not my kids....



I was reminded of the tree in Sleepy Hallow.... This must have been what it looked like as a small tree, just beginning to collect heads. 

It was a waterfall! A tiny one, but one, none the less. Where there is running water, there must be a place it runs from, right?



We found it! It wasn't pouring like it would right after a rainfall, but it was still going. I was so excited!


I didn't get a picture of it, but in order to get closer to the waterfall, you had to skirt the outside of some complicated to cross rocks. A group had formed and we were all encouraging each other to cross. Many didn't do it because they didn't want to fall into the pool of water at the bottom. I risked getting my feet wet and walked over to get closer. Every time someone made it over, everyone cheered. I joked that there should have been a ceremony with some shirts that said, "We made it to the waterfall!"
The bridge above the waterfall.

The body of water that feeds it.

Not only was there this burl on the tree, but there was some fungi growing from that. I thought it was pretty cool!
       It was a pretty great hike. We got to crawl and walk through smooth caves (no bats!) and got to walk alongside creeks and rocks and see waterfalls. Starved Rock has waterfalls too, but they weren't running when we were there the day before.

       So, it's nearing the time for us to go home, but before we did, we wanted to do some of the touristy things in the area. Since we had already walked 13,000 steps before noon, we were famished and tried out a local bar and grill called Skoog's, found in Utica. I forgot to take a picture of the outside, but it's pretty hard to miss it on one of the two main streets.

Since it was about two in the afternoon, we decided to make this a big lunch and skip having dinner. We ordered the fried combo platter. It was delicious!

Onion rings, fried cauliflower, fried mushrooms, and new to me, fried broccoli and cheese bites. 

It was delicious!

My husband ordered a buffalo chicken sandwich. It was huge!

I got the chicken strips. I was a little disapointed because I thought they would have been fried like the combo platter, but they were still good. They french fries were amazing and the coleslaw was really good. I tried out the kamikaze sauce which is mix of smoked bbq and some sort of garlic sauce.

There were little shops lined up in a little plaza. We stopped at this popcorn place and it was really cute. 

 Some of their product. Lol


 I thought it was ironic that they sold Amish Country popcorn that is microwavable... Because generally, the Amish traditionally don't use electricity.


 The cute inside. 

 When I asked where to go, this was one of the firsts on the lists to go to. I loved that Sasquatch was painted pink. 

      Can you say, yum? I couldn't decide what cupcake to get, so we got six of them to share when we got home. Typical white girl stereotype- the pumpkin was amazing!

This is the second street over. I love how they have the lights hanging across the street way. Skoog's is one of the bars on the left. 

   
      We had a wonderful, adventurous time filled with beautiful scenery and some good people. The towns may be small, but they were fun and had much to offer. I'm not going to tell you that you should visit the area, but it you like to hike and explore, you should consider visiting. If you make it an overnight trip, you can easily hike both destinations for each morning and then explore the towns the rest of the day.

    Do you like to hike and explore? Is this something that you would be interested in doing?

Here, watch some turkeys before you leave and don't forget to comment and share if you liked what you read! Also, please subscribe to see new posts each week! Love you guys!


 

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