Starved Rock State Park

the wednesday night b4 thanksgiving…

by grace on November 27, 2019

and i’m tired. but my house is clean, one of those rare times when it looks pretty good and i wish it looked that way more often.

the thing about cleaning is that you get it all done and then it just gets dirty/messy again.


as i wrote last time, we went up to sterling just six days after getting back from Glacier. Then, we went back there for kevin’s family’s “canadian thanksgiving” get-together on Columbus Day. So we went back to Starved Rock on Friday Oct. 11th, just ten days after going up there.

It had been so hot then, but by nearly mid-October it was chilly. When we arrived Friday night it was also very windy, and we sat in the restaurant having dinner looking out at a wedding party straggling along outside, the womens’ fancy dresses getting swept around by the blustery day.

It didn’t seem like a great time for an outside wedding but our waitress, who’d been there a while, said there were something like ten wedding there a weekend? crazy.

It’d have been nice to stay in a cabin, but they were booked up, but we enjoyed our modern room.

the next day we hiked to St. Louis Canyon and saw many nice dogs as we hiked.

when we were checking out I asked about booking a cabin for next year – i’d read the brochure and realized that some of the cabins were stand-alone. the one we’d just stayed in had been a 4-plex and we could hear the conversations from the people in one of the adjoining cabins.

But guess what – they had no availability for next year. So i asked about the year after that, and still, no cabins. I think there are only maybe four or five of these special cabins and since Starved Rock is like the most popular outdoor destination in Illinois or something, it figures.

however, they did have a big two-bedroom cabin available in two years time. we booked it, thinking that maybe kevin’s brother and his wife might want to join us.

we then drove up to Sterling, actually Rock Falls, to the Country Inn & Suites where we always stay. we all got together that night, and then on Sunday morning we drove up to Galena.

I’d never been to Galena, and i like it a lot. We took the very brief tour of Grant’s home, and this is my favorite photo – that thing with the handle on top second from the right is a curling iron! Hmm, i feel that you’d singe your hair right off if you used it.

The tour was only about a half hour and i’d have like to have spent a little more time in the home, but they hustled us right out.

There was some big craft fair thing going on that weekend and some of Kevin’s siblings went to explore the stuff. we started to follow them but decided it was too cold and windy to look at a bunch of junk we didn’t need or want.

Instead, we walked around in town and looked for a lunch place. We found a fantastic one, called Fried Green Tomatoes. Mmm, delicious. I had a crab cake salad and some kind of delicious wrap, i can’t remember what kevin had, but it was good. plus a lovely place.

Galena is very hilly and it was fun to walk around and check out the many b&bs. This one looked really nice.

some of the many stairs we went up and then down.

This swanky place is called the Felt House.

It wasn’t the fanciest one i read about, though – when we got back to the hotel i looked up some of b&bs and the one that stuck in my mind is one that had a “candlelit three course breakfast.”

I guess i could see three courses for breakfast…but candlelit? why? do you have to eat before the sun comes up? Is it served in the basement?

After Galena we drove back to Dixon where i was really looking forward to dinner. We’d gone to this little italian place quite a few years ago for lunch and i remembered it being so delicious. I got pasta arrabiata i think, with anchovies and capers and olives. this time i got it with homemade gnocchi.

and unfortunately, it wasn’t anything special this time. plus the service was horribly slow, and then kevin got some delicious-sounding chicken but instead it was rubbery.

oh well, now i won’t need to long to go back…

we asked his brother and wife if they’d be interested in staying at Starved Rock with us in two years. they didn’t say anything at all, so i quickly said “you can think about it.”

we can always have the cabin to ourselves!

as long as somehow i remember the reservation that’s in two years from now…

i hope your thanksgiving is hassle-free.

ok then,

mrs. h.


here at home!!!

by grace on November 26, 2019

whew, plenty has been going on around here since we got back to spfld at the end of September…like, for example, it’s almost thanksgiving! two more days. must get on it.

but backtracking, highlights of this fall:

on Monday Sept. 20th we drove up to Sterling because kevin’s sister retired and had a party. we spent the night at Starved Rock. We’d stayed at the party longer than we’d anticipated so it was kind of late when we finally made it to Starved Rock. We had a nice dinner at eight o’clock in their lovely dining room and Kevin had a cup of what i believe he feels is the best coffee ever.

Hmm, could that be right? i know he loves it, but is it better than the stuff he found in Glacier? Or Hawaii? He’ll have to let me know. maybe part of the appeal is that somebody makes it for him? or maybe he does think it’s the best ever. Unfortunately they don’t offer it for sale in their gift shop, but maybe also a little bit fortunately because then we’d have even more bags of coffee in our pantry.

He had yummy pot roast and i can’t remember why i decided to have this huge and healthy salad. good for me. i suppose…

It had been a very warm day but when we finally got into our cabin the air conditioner was cranked so that it was teeth-chatteringly cold in the room. So naturally, kevin built a beautiful fire.

This was fantastic…until the middle of the night when the fire was barely smoldering but the room was stiflingly hot, so kevin cranked the AC back down.

This is the same cabin we’d stayed in when we were at Starved Rock in 2016; back then, mosquitoes had swarmed under the door and down the chimney and were attacking us in the middle of the night so we had to light citronella candles and stuff grocery bags under the door. It’s always an adventure at Starved Rock!

The next morning we hiked for a few hours, but like i said, hot. and the trails aren’t super-well maintained plus it had rained a lot so i kept slipping in the wet sand and felt hot and annoyed. Kevin kept asking, “do you want to stop?” and i kept grumpily saying NO!

Because it had rained so much this waterfall was flowing nicely.

we’d been to this one before, but it was flowing more prolifically now. very cool. kevin stood under the waterfall…

…and then i did, too.

It was kind of weird, though, to take that overnight trip right after getting back from Glacier – we’d returned home on Sept. 24th (a day late) and went up to Sterling six days later.

Here’s the second-to-last boat ride of the season on October 8th. It was a beautiful evening and mom, always stylish, had a great time…

…as did Toun…

…and so did Kevin and I! We had a picnic dinner that night and the water was so still and there were no other boats out. good times.

ok then,

mrs. it’s going to be extraordinarily windy today hughes.


way back at the beginning of october…

by grace on November 4, 2018

kevin saw these two cute wooly worms.  a mother and a baby?!  I’ve never seen that before.

these were taken the day after our exciting Friday morning of towing our neighbor’s boat out of the water.  we got to starved rock too late on Friday for hiking, but we set out at the crack of 10 in the morning on Saturday October 6th.  i’m pretty sure we went to Hennepin Canyon.

I took this when kevin had just taken a bi bit of a fig bar, and I said CHEW FASTER!  it was a little bit drizzly that morning.

we were at a canyon far from the lodge but there were quite a few people despite the farness plus the rain.

at this point I was only a little soggy.  i’d stuck an umbrella into my backpack, but then I instantly forgot it was there.

a couple approached from the other side with their two cute little dogs.  I think they’d brought some kind of folding chairs and just sat there enjoying the view.

after we passed quite a few people who were wearing plenty of rain gear I finally remembered my umbrella.  it was ridiculous that I didn’t even have a baseball cap, because I almost always have one in the car.  but it was a nice hike anyway.

we drove to rock falls and as we went the temperature started dropping.  I guess we hadn’t brought jackets because of all the boat shenanigans on Friday?  I usually overpack, and i’m never lacking layers.  but we stopped at the wal mart across from our hotel and all I had was my long sweater.  quite the fashion statement.

I bought a sweatshirt and kevin got a flannel shirt and we were all set for a nice weekend with kevin’s siblings.  a good time was had by all!

meanwhile, bev sent me this darling photo of riley.

he’d never curled up in this little carrier before, and hasn’t since.

on our way back to springfield, we stopped at not the best rest area in the world.  I had to take a photo of this sign duct-taped to the inside ofd the stall door, because I’ve never come across one with such a very thorough list of things NOT TO FLUSH.  plus, naturally, somebody had picked off many of the letters.  because that’s what one does at a rest area.

whew, so much more to post!  I had hoped for a lot more sitting-down time today, but maybe tomorrow?  or Tuesday?

I hope your Monday is a good one,

mrs. November with a slight chance of snow on Thursday hughes.





one more day of hiking

by grace on May 2, 2016

as i said, we didn’t intend to hike much on thursday because we were a little beat from wednesday.

we drove over to the parking lot for st. louis canyon, so we didn’t have to hike over there. it looked like the canyon was right off the parking lot.  but when we got to the road to the parking lot, it was closed, so we had to walk to get to the parking lot.  we found out why as we walked – the road was filled with crazy giant potholes.

it wasn’t a bad walk, though, and it was a beautiful morning.

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this must not be such a popular place, because we saw almost no litter.  plus there was only one other couple with a nice dog.


we didn’t have to climb over too many streams, either.


so it was almost a mile and a half round trip, a nice little hike.  we stopped at the visitors’ center on the way back to the lodge, and kevin bought me a great book about day hikes in illinois.  hopefully we’ll take one of them very soon, maybe even this week.

we went back to the lodge to check out, and here are the tiny housefinches in a big cage in the lobby.  they’re the only birds that only live domestically, never in the wild, says kevin.  he also said they might originate from china.  i literally just got up this morning, so i don’t even have the energy to look it up.  so let’s just go with his story.




i hadn’t looked up and noticed these big sleds until we were about to leave.


we were going back to the salt cave in ottowa, and i suggested that we stop and look at another canyon which was right on the way.

we met a couple with this bernese mountain dog as we walked toward Ottowa Canyon, one of the furthest from the lodge.  this dog was so small compared to jill’s giant puppies – she said that females don’t get so giant.

this was a rescue bernese!  a very good dog, but the couple said she had some anxiety being out in the wild.


this was called Council Overhang, and kevin surmised that indians must have gathered here under the shelter.  as we walked by, an old guy dressed in old timey attire was sitting on a rock.  he carried some kind of old gun – a musket?  a carbine?  a smootbore? and the gentleman said they were shooting a movie.  a young guy with lots of camera equipment was scurrying around nearby.


we finally made it to the waterfall after lots of scrambling around.


there were two waterfalls near each other, but somehow we missed the path for the adjoining one, and by the time we realized it, we didn’t want to go back and find it.  we walked on a very very muddy path to reach illinois canyon, which somebody at the visitor’s center was filled with bluebells.

she was right.


we kept debating about continuing on the path, because we’d been hiking more than we thought we would, but we just kept walking.  it was very remote and pretty here.




but there were more little streams to cross than there had been in all our other hiking.  at one point, kevin even lost his balance a little and his foot went right down into the water.  that’s very tricky walking.


we saw these pretty little flowers and didn’t know what they were, and then, when i went mushroom-hunting this past friday with jill, we saw more of them.  on saturday, amy and i went to an awesome illinois native plant sale at the fairgrounds, and a woman had one that was yellow.  it’s called a trillium!  i was happy to find out the name, and i hope to get some sometime.


after about an hour and a half of hiking, we finally made our muddy back to the car.

we headed over to the fantastic Salt Tree Yoga, because we wanted to go in the Salt Cave.  we were so happy to settle into anti-gravity chairs in the cave, and had a very enjoyable, peaceful 45 minutes of listening to soothing music, enjoying the total relaxation.

this is a very long description here, but the place was just so cool…

Remove yourself from environmental pollution, technology, and the constant commotion of everyday life. Walk through our Tree door into a Himalayan salt-filled oasis. Relax in the centuries-old European tradition of dry salt therapy. Absorb the healing benefits of the 84 minerals contained in the 5 tons of pink Himalayan salt on the floor and walls of our salt cave, which help purify and balance your body. Breathe in the cleansing and anti-inflammatory effects of pure, dry therapeutic-grade salt produced from our salt generator. Halotherapy, or dry salt therapy, is a natural way to cleanse and detoxify your skin and lungs. It works well as a complimentary treatment with traditional medicine or as an alternative treatment under the guidance of your physician. Always consult with your physician(s) before discontinuing any medications or prescribed treatments. We are not medical doctors; we are simply making it possible for you to experience another option that has proven to help people in Europe for many years.

Our salt cave features a Halomed halo (salt) generator which infuses microfine particles of pharmaceutical grade salt into the air, which is breathed deep into the lung cavities to absorb pollen and allergens and enhances the respiratory system’s natural cleansing process. It breaks down mucus in the nasal passages and airways and decreases bacteria and inflammation. 

Dry salt therapy can benefit people with respiratory issues such as allergies, asthma, sinusitis, smoker’s cough, stress & fatigue.  It can expand the airways for increased oxygen flow and capacity to enhance athletic performance and endurance, and enable better recovery time from physical activity and stress.  The salt from the generator settles on the skin and is good for skin conditions such as: psoriasis, eczema, swelling & inflammation, dry & flaky skin, acne, rashes, poison ivy, and rosacea. As is true in many alternative therapies to boost and regain health, everyone responds differently. Dry salt therapy works best if experienced on a regular basis, just like a fitness regimen only helps if we keep it up. In most cases, several weeks of 2-4 sessions a week can alleviate the worst of symptoms, followed by maintenance visits of once every week or two, depending on your symptoms. Allergies are different for everyone, and seasons change for each individual. Most of all, a session in our salt cave helps the body relax, return to the parasympathetic (resting) state, re-balancing the nervous system and increasing overall sense of wellbeing.

I know, it sounds too good to be true, but i must say that if we leaved nearby, i’d go there regularly.  when we walked int the salt cave we were tired and sore, but when we emerged, we realized that we were both totally mellow and happy and didn’t ache anymore at all.  fantastic.  go there. plus it’s only 25 bucks for a session!  a steal.

we bought a bunch of great stuff in the shop, including  a salt lamp and other nice things, and then went back to didoughs pretzels for another great sandwich.

a lovely trip altogether.

so, kevin has finally started WRITING ON HIS BLOG AGAIN, and in the post he just wrote, he included these posts of mine about our trip, and said that we’re planning another trip to the park, but i reminded him that we’re not planning it, it is already planned!  there’s another workshop in september, i booked us a room at the lodge, and i look forward to the whole thing again.  i noticed that he’s already changed his posting to reflect the fact that we’re going to be on our way before we know it.

of course, there’s still a great summer ahead of us, filled with much excitement and spreading of mulch.  plus i bought a ridiculous amount of native illinois plants which we’ll have to figure out where to plant.  plus new and undiscovered hiking spots.  plus camping!  not to mention the illinois state fair, which i missed last year since we were gone for the month of august.

and oh yeah, i have have have to continue posting my photos from out trip to wales, before another year has passed.

right now i have to get ready for work.

too much to do, too little time.

ok then,

mrs. monday morning hughes.



lots more hiking at starved rock…

April 30, 2016

last wednesday, we headed out at the crack of 9:00 to start hiking.  luckily, the weather had cooled off quite a bit; it had been in the 80s on monday, but by wednesday it was much cooler. even more luckily, we started by walking down these steps in back of the lodge instead of up. […]

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happy friday!

April 29, 2016

i hope you have fun weekend plans, and if you’re here in spfld, i hope they don’t involve any outdoor activities because it’s supposed to rain a lot.  but of course you never really know about the weather until you’re actually right there in it… last week i went to a one-day massage workshop in […]

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