We have a rule that blogging is completely optional except for during the summer road trips where it becomes a daily requirement. However, Ellie decided to write about each day of our mini Thanksgiving trip this year and I decided that I couldn’t let her be the only one. I guess it’s just the nostalgia for the road getting to me. This time of year is about as far removed from summer as we can possible be. We got home from RTXIX nearly 5 months ago and we won’t leave for RTXX for 6 more.
We’ve actually done a pretty good job continuing to hike here this fall. It’s been our goal to hike every trail of the nearby forest preserve. I’m not sure how many miles of trail there are there, but after nearly 100 we’re getting pretty close to finishing. While we’ve also made it a bit of a habit of stopping for a beer at a local brewery afterward it’s still not the same as piling into a hotel room to dry off gear and do a load of laundry at the end of the day.
With that in mind we decided to book a night on the road and devote Friday and Saturday to hiking. I don’t have a lot to say about the actual hikes, but I’ll mention a few highlights here for completeness. I think the main thesis of this post is just “I miss Colorado”.
Our first stop Friday morning was Starved Rock State Park near Ottawa, IL. We know that one of our biggest pet peeves while hiking is other people hiking so we’ve learned that the best way to approach this park, especially on a busy holiday weekend is from the furthest East possible parking lot. The visitor center is at the Western extreme of the park and most people who start there don’t make it more than a mile or two down the trail.
The first canyon we visited, Illinois Canyon, presented us with 6 stream crossings. We discovered that my boots have excellent water resistance and that Zoe and Ellie’s don’t. It’s a little tough to make a call about Molly’s since at the first stream she stepped on a pile of leaves expecting there to be solid ground under them. Instead she stepped in the water well above the flood height causing a giant splash and for Zoe and I to come running to save her. I had visions of her lying in the stream, fully soaked, and our hiking being finished less than 15 minutes in. Molly was a complete trooper though. She finished crossing with a smile on her face, setting a precedent for dealing with adversity that prevented anyone from complaining about being cold or wet for the rest of the day.
The rest of the hike was wonderful and routine. There wouldn’t have been any better way to spend the day. After finishing we popped into a bar downtown for a drink and picked a table next to a group of women who clearly thought of themselves as the Real Housewives of Ottawa. They seemed to know every person who walked past their table. At one point one of them came over to our table, leaned against it, and then seemed shocked to realize she didn’t know us. Molly wanted to take bets on how many people in the bar they’d slept with.
After showing and getting into dry and clean clothes we had dinner at Lone Buffalo. I’d discovered this gem on my solo road trip a month ago and was happy to be back again so soon. We were even regaled with stories from the college freshman at the next tale over. He seemed to be home from college for the first to, and oblivious to his family’s complete horror, recounted each of his drunken night’s from the past semester.
On my solo road trip I also discovered Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. I couldn’t wait to bring the girls here for a hike. Unfortunately, the weather was less than cooperative. It rained the entire time we where there. My gloves were soaked through to my fingers. My pants were soaked through to my legs. My boots were soaked through with water dripping in from above. It was beautiful though. The rain also filled the canyons with (mildly) raging currents that made hiking through them even more exciting. We’re all anxious to return to explore the park again in drier weather.
Finally, when we got home, Molly shared an NPS photo contest with me. I’ve reposted my entry below for posterity.