Tag Archive | Illinois

A Photo A Week Challenge – Water

Nancy Merrill is looking for water for her Photo A Week Challenge and luckily my trip to Elgin on Saturday morning resulted in some pictures of the Fox River. Who would think that this……….

could so quickly turn into this.  The river by the Veterans Memorial Park and flowing over the dam by the Kimball street bridge.


For more on Nancy’s A Photo A Week Challenge go to Water.

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Weekly Photo Challenge – Twisted in the Wood

There is something incredibly beautiful and dramatic about trees unadorned by their leaves, especially when they are gnarled and twisted with age.  Twisted in Arches National Park, Utah.

Twisted driftwood on the sands at Whitefish Point in Michigan.

Twisted in springtime at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois.


Twisted in autumn at Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg, Illinois.  The clouds seem to mirror the contortions of the branches.


For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Twisted

Weekly Photo Challenge – Rise/Set

Sunrise and Sunset. To be quite honest I haven’t seen too many of either, especially the sunrise, or at least, not photogenic ones. And it seems like we’ve been given this topic as a challenge so many times that I’ve exhausted my supply of images on that subject. Luckily, the few that I have seen have been well documented and although I have used these scenes before, each of the following views is slightly different from the pictures I have shown previously.

Included in this selection; sunset from our garden – sunset in Oglesby, Illinois – sunrise on the road in Nebraska – sunset over a smoky Salt Lake City after the wildfires in California – sunrise in Lowell, Indiana – sunrise from Mackinaw City, Michigan – sunset from Mackinaw City, Michigan and sunrise (or sometime a little after) in Ashland, Wisconsin.

For more on The Weekly Photo Challenge at The Daily Post go to Rise/Set

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Leaves or Trees

This week, Cee is looking for leaves or trees for her Fun Foto Challenge so here is my take on the subject.  Like many people, my favorite time of year for viewing trees is in the Autumn when the colors are at their brightest.  Although the Chicago Botanic Garden is not chiefly known for its variety of trees, there is still plenty of fall color to be seen.

One of my favorite times to visit Morton Arboretum in Lisle is in the Spring when the blossom is on the trees.

Another good place to see Autumn color is at local Forest Preserves such as Busse Woods in Schaumburg.

Looking at trees from a slightly different angle at River Trails Nature Center in Northbrook.

Trees are remarkably resilient, finding a foothold even in the most inhospitable of places such as this rock in The Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois.

Even in death, trees hold a certain fascination for me, telling their history through rings and roots.

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Leaves or Trees

Cave in Rock

During our visit to Marion last month, we were feeling rather adventurous and decided to make a small side-trip to Cave in Rock State Park.  The cave, for which this park in southern Illinois is named, overlooks the Ohio River.

We had done a lot of walking along woodland trails during the previous couple of days and I must admit that I viewed the river and its rocky bluffs as a welcome change of scenery.

The bluffs towered above us as we made our way along the path towards the cave and I was once again reminded of how unpredictable nature can be, when I remembered the news that morning concerning a fatal rock fall in Yosemite National Park.  I felt extremely vulnerable walking under those great overhanging limestone rocks.

As far as caves go, this one, measuring 55ft across, is not that large, but it has an interesting history.   American Indians had already used the cave for thousands of years but the first European to discover it in 1729 was a Frenchman who mapped and named it “caverne dans Le Roc”.  During the late 1790’s the cave was a hideout for a gang of bandits, headed by Samuel Mason, that preyed on commercial boats using the river. Local lore even tells of Frank and Jesse James using the cave as a hiding place. Later, settlers founded the nearby town of Cave in Rock and it became the site of the ferry that crosses the Ohio River.

I’m not a huge fan of caves. My imagination works overtime in these places and I find them claustrophobic, rather like walking into an extremely large MRI machine. The last time I was in one was many years ago when I went with the Girl Scouts to Eagle Cave in Wisconsin. So it was with some trepidation that took the first few steps into this one and as our only source of light got smaller I felt more and more apprehensive.  What if there were bats!!  Eek!

 

But, I told myself, you can’t take pictures if you don’t get in there!  So on I went. There were no bats. In fact there wasn’t much of anything except a lot of graffiti scrawled across the rock.  It wasn’t easy to get a picture that didn’t include some childish desecration and, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there’s no way I will memorialize these idiotic scratchings by photographing them.

It was good to emerge into the sunlight again and I felt like I could breath a little easier, standing on the banks of the river.

I thought I’d check out the path in the opposite direction, which took me past another smaller cave that had been blocked by some huge tree trunks, whether by nature or the hand of man I wasn’t sure. No matter.  One cave per day was enough for me and this one didn’t look very safe so I was happy to finish the expedition and return to the car.

For those of you interested in visiting, Cave in Rock State Park has a restaurant and lodge as well as playground and picnic areas and plenty of hiking trails.

 

A Hidden Gem in Marion

During our visit to Marion, Illinois, a couple of weeks ago we decided to take a chance and visit a place called Mandala Gardens.  I had read a brief review of the Gardens on TripAdvisor which sounded promising but the Mandala Gardens website itself mentioned something about calling ahead, and like many of the side-trips that we make, this one was rather spontaneous.  When we got to the privately owned Gardens early in the morning the gates were closed and I gazed longingly through the bars at what looked like an intriguing vista. I was just about to get back in the car when a lady came out of the adjoining house and walked down to greet us.  I explained that our visit was rather a last-minute idea and were sorry to turn up unannounced but she told us that it wasn’t a problem and ushered us in.

You immediately feel the peace and serenity that emanates from this tranquil setting.  Diana Tigerlily (pictured below) and her husband Greg Reid have lived at the property on North State Street for 20 years and during that time have put a lot of effort into making it the lovely place that it is today. Diana kindly allowed us to wander around and enjoy the Gardens and of course I made the most of this great photo opportunity.  For more on Diana and Greg’s story go to ABOUT

There are several interesting structures to explore at the Gardens one of which is The Infinity Arch created by Thea Alvin.

Another feature, also created by Thea Alvin, is Moongate which stands at the end of the pond. Here at the Gardens Diana holds Yoga practice sessions which are named Blue Heron Yoga and just as I was about to walk around the pond the blue heron, for which these sessions are named, flapped lazily away. Unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to get a shot with the camera but luckily the pond and Moongate were still there.

Looking through Moongate you catch a glimpse of the sandstone labyrinth, a quiet place to meditate, or take a walk through the trees just beyond and return to the garden via the bridge. Both the labyrinth and the bridge are the result of Greg and Diana’s hard work.

 

Back among the flowers, there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the various pieces of artwork than can be found at Mandala Gardens, including Talisman, a metal sculpture by Carey Netherton and some delightful little stained-glass windows which are part of the potting shed.

If you are ever in the Marion area of Illinois, I can highly recommend a visit to Manadala Gardens.  Diana was most welcoming and made us feel right at home.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Garden of the Gods

This week, Cee’s ‘alphabet with a twist’ is looking for g words, which is lucky for me since I recently spent some time at a place in southern Illinois called Garden of the Gods, part of Shawnee National Forest.

Most people who have driven through Illinois will tell you that much of the State is rather flat and uninteresting but southern Illinois is anything but that, as we discovered last week.

I was told that Garden of the Gods is one of the most scenic and visited areas in Shawnee National Forest and I could see why.  The views were spectacular!

320 million years ago, a shallow sea covered the land shown in the image below. Rivers deposited sand and mud along the shoreline which gradually hardened to stone.

The textures and colors in the layers of rock were stunning! The red-brown swirls and rings are called liesegang bands and are comprised of sandstone and iron.

The paved Observation Trail that winds through the Garden of the Gods takes you through and past some very interesting rock formations including one named Devil’s Smokestack.

 

I wouldn’t recommend bringing young children on this particular trail as there are some steep bluffs that drop 100ft down.  I was very cautious while finding a good spot from which to take pictures and I got quite nervous when I saw my husband, who is in charge of the video camera and is just recovering from knee replacement surgery, swiveling about rather close to the edge in order to get some panoramic views.  Good grief!!!

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge go to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter G – Needs to have the letter G (log, goggle, geometry, lodge)