Starved Rock

October 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

This was much cooler and larger in real life.

This was much cooler and larger in real life.

Scott and I had another camping excursion last weekend, this time to Starved Rock State Park.  I’d never been before but Scott used to go about a decade ago and was under the impression we could hike the awesome trails of the park right from our campsite.  In reality, the campsite was a few miles drive from the park but we were still able to do some hiking.  Here are the pros and cons of this site compared to the one we went to at the Illinois State Beach Park a few weeks ago:


  • We got to do a lot of great hiking and I saw places in nature I’d never seen before


  • It was about an hour further of a drive (each way)
  • The campsite wasn’t as nice/secluded
  • The bathrooms DEFINITELY weren’t as nice
  • Alcohol was technically prohibited but just about everyone was drinking anyway

All in all, I think I liked the campsite at the Beach Park better but the hiking at Starved Rock made up for any difference.  We spent about 3 hours hiking around, going through canyons and up and down various overlooks and peaks.  It was gorgeous.  My photos didn’t really do the view justice at all and I didn’t take too many since I was so involved with the scenery.  Obviously I took the one of breakfast because I just love food so much and that photo did do the meal some justice.  The hike was the highlight of the camping experience though and I’m looking forward to the next time we make that trek.  There was a Visitor’s Center that had a small museum and some info that I enjoyed reading and there were plenty of trails to choose from.  Kids, families, groups of friends and couples were everywhere but the crowds tapered off the further you got from the Center.  It was definitely worth the trip.  There’s a lot of history to that area and the name of the place comes from a Native American tribe who was fighting with another tribe and basically chose to starve at the top of the plateau rather than surrender.  Kind of depressing but absolutely interesting.

Breakfast of Champions!

Breakfast of Champions!

We almost didn’t stay though because the weather called for strong storms all night.  The winds were really strong when we were setting up camp and we had to chase down our tent more than once – until we stuck the cooler in there to weigh that sucker down.  We decided to tough it out though, come hell or high water, and the only thing we dealt with was the water.  The rain managed to hold off until about 10pm so we had enough time for veggie dogs and s’mores before it hit.  When it started, though, there was no avoiding it.  We basically called it a night then and slept through the worst of it.  The tent held up fairly well and only got soggy in one spot, so that was nice.  In the morning the weather cleared up and became beautiful again so we were able to dry all of our equipment off while making the delicious breakfast seen here.

The whole experience was a great way to welcome the fall and I hope timing and weather cooperates so we can go once more before winter really hits.  Who knew camping could be so much fun?!

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March 5, 2012 at 1:58 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

This is the scene in Henryville, Indiana, which is roughly four miles from where I grew up:


For those of you living in a cave (in which case, how are you even reading this?), portions of Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee were ravaged by tornadoes last Friday.  Luckily all of my friends and family are safe and the worst damage my mom experienced was the falling of a tree in our front yard.  That is absolutely nothing compared to what the other towns are dealing with.  Marysville is just about entirely gone and Henryville doesn’t have much left.  It’s incredibly surreal to see the footage on the national news in see areas that I think I recognize but can’t be sure about because of the damage all over the place.  There are tragic stories left and right but I’m also astounded at how much the surrounding communities have rallied around each other to provide whatever support and aid they can.  I wish I was there to do something, anything, but I’ll donate what I can and send all of the strong and positive thoughts and vibes that are possible.  Please keep these communities in your thoughts as well.  They need all the help they can get.

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Long Weekend, Long Post

June 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

My trip last weekend went pretty well, though as always it was a little too short.  Because I’m in yet another list-making mood, here’s a little recap of the highlights:

  • Having an elderly man on the train ride to the airport thank me profusely for my “pretty, pretty smile”.  I wasn’t sure whether I should be flattered or creeped out so I settled on a little bit of both.  At least he didn’t follow me to my plane.
  • Airport beer.  ‘Nuff said.
  • I had a stopover in my hometown so I waved a little, then had some girl who freaks out on plane rides sit next to me.  In

    The special I spent half my life watching

    related news, I realized how thankful I am that planes don’t really bother me too much.

  • The woman at the Hertz rental counter in the New Orleans airport took one look at my last name and launched into a long discussion about how one of her daughters married into our family a while ago, and did I know so-and-so, whose father was the brother of some guy named Mark.  It made me laugh, since up north no one can pronounce my last name but down south it’s common enough where everyone can make a connection.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know Mark.
  • I took a ride to the Morganza Spillway, which is the huge spillway making recent news as they had to open it for the first time since 1973 because the Mississippi had flooded so badly.  I’ve been out here before because my family used to own some of the land before the government turned it into the spillway but I’d never seen it look like that.  Water was everywhere.  The Mississippi is one helluva thing to mess with.
  • I had a pedicure.  With my father.  And it was his idea.  Apparently he’s still way too sore to reach down to trim his own nails (and while I’ll do anything for daughterly love, I won’t do that) so when my grandma came back from her weekly toe appointment, he suggested we go next.  Daddy/daughter pedicures ensued and I have photo evidence should I ever have the need to blackmail him.
  • During the pedicure, a huge storm came out of nowhere.  Now the “salon” we were in, Nail Biz, was actually a small concrete room and we were the only clients so it was a little weird when the power kept going out.  We were glad to be out of there, especially after lightning struck a transformer next door.  The ride back was a little scary since I’m not exactly used to driving in bad weather (and dad’s not up do sitting behind the wheel quite yet) and at one point we had to turn around because a tree was in the road.
  • Due to this storm, I spent the majority of Sunday picking up massive branches and sticks in the yard, righting a few chairs and swings and cleaning all kinds of debris from the pool.  In 90+ degree weather.
  • I didn’t mind the hot weather because I’ve been cold for roughly the last 8 months in Chicago.
  • I got bit by some ungodly looking creature with wings, pinchers, horns, fangs and an evil force field.  Or something like that.  Whatever it was, it left a nasty whelp featuring three weird punctures before it was through with my apparently delicious flesh.
  • I had a mimosa with my grandma, which was the first time we’ve ordered drinks together.  Yay milestones.
  • I watched a 5 hour Lawrence Welk marathon Saturday evening.
  • I read two books, watched 4 movies, caught up on my favorite TV show on Hulu and played a lot on my laptop.  It’s amazing how much time there is to fill when everyone in the house takes 4 naps a day and goes to bed by 9pm.
  • I dealt with another storm on my drive back to New Orleans to catch my flight.  I almost peed myself.  There was hail and lightning and more rain that I’ve seen in years – I actually pulled over in some truck stop to try to wait it out.  Then I became worried about missing my flight so I braved it anyway.  After dealing with a faulty pump at the gas station and an endless line at security, I made it to the gate as they were boarding.  The beer I somehow got for free on the flight calmed me down a bit and the whole ordeal made me even more thankful I’m car-less in the city.
  • Most importantly, I spent some good quality time with both my dad and my grandparents.  I’m not going to lie and say everything was easy – my dad is almost a foot taller than me and currently weights less than I do,  so that alone was difficult to see.  He’s doing well considering everything he’s been through but he’s not taking care of himself the way I would like and some difficult conversations were had.  However, I’m still extremely thankful I was able to go down and I already wish I was back.

Looking over this post, it seems I accomplished quite a lot on what was supposed to be a quiet and laid-back trip.  Though if I don’t see any Lawrence Welk between now and when I come back at Thanksgiving, it won’t break my heart – and hail can stay the hell away too.

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April 28, 2011 at 11:57 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

I’ve had/have a lot going on this week, what with a long weekend at home and late return Monday, field trip for class on Tuesday, a volunteer appreciation party at the Field Museum last night (to be blogged about at a later date), picking up my keys to my new place tonight and my big move tomorrow.  Oh and of course my extensive coverage of the Royal Wedding (not).  I’ve been so busy that I, like many, have been completely wrapped up in my own little world.  Which was why the news of the devastation that tornadoes just caused down south really gave me pause.  As I type this, almost 200 people are confirmed dead from a twister that spanned over a mile and was on the ground for over an hour.  Listening to NPR this morning, I heard a local weatherman in Tuscaloosa incredulously talking about just how big a storm this was and I actually got goosebumps.  One of my all-time favorite people ever lives in Tuscaloosa and while she’s safe and sound, all of these stories really put everything I’ve got going on in perspective.

And I’ve got it pretty good.

My thoughts will be with those who are sifting through the ruins of their homes and neighborhoods and I am reminded now more than ever how lucky I am to be moving into a new, safe place.  Remember to be thankful for what you’ve got, because it could all be gone in the blink of an eye.  Just ask the people of Alabama.

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