Monday, August 22, 2011

51, 39, 80, 178: Hike!

Yesterday we traveled to Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. The last time I was there, it was 1981. The park has changed a little since then: paddleboats, boardwalks, gift shops,and a whole lot of people! The scenery was still beautiful, but I didn't enjoy all the noise - loud people and lots of Harleys. We were really lucky, we got there relatively early and scored a great parking spot in the shade and close to the visitor's center. We checked out the visitor's center and gift shop, hiked up to Starved Rock, then came back to the car for lunch. Then, we formed our plan of attack.

Then, we wanted to go to Wildcat Canyon, but since there are no bathrooms on the trail, and Katrina's bladder is the smallest, we had to turn back. We did stop at the Beehive Overlook (no bees though)
Hey, I'm looking at myself!

 After a bathroom and souvenir stop, we wanted to escape the crowds, so we drove to another area, and hoofed it to St. Louis Canyon. I think that was my favorite.

There was a "cave" (and people walking through my picture)
Because they are sandstone rocks, there was a lot of sand!
The people started filling in, so we drove to the opposite end of the park, for 2 more canyons:

Ottawa Canyon
Kaskaskia Canyon - 360° view!
We stopped for dinner at a nearby restaurant, which came highly recommended. It's not much from the outside, but we were greeted by Cajun Ron and his friendly staff, and fantastic food. It was our first time eating Cajun food, and WOW! I am hooked! We tried gumbo, crayfish etouffee, 'gator, jambalaya. Katrina stuck to the kids menu, but was still adventurous with the deep fried mac & cheese. My most favorite moment of the whole day was when Karl uttered the words "Cajun Ron is my hero."

I think we'll go back to the park later this fall when there are fewer people, with of course, another visit to Cajun Connection!

Holy cow! I forgot about the spider! We stopped at a rest area and saw the BIGGEST spider I have ever seen outside a zoo! It was at least the length of my thumb.

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