Tag Archive | Illinois

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.

 

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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)

A Photo A Week – Moving Waters

Nancy Merrill has suggested Moving Waters as the theme for her Photo A Week Challenge this week and, looking through the archives, I realized I had quite a few images that might fit the bill.

Pictured above, Copper Falls State Park near Mellen in northern Wisconsin.

A fish ladder on the Grand River in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park near Paradise, Michigan.

The fountains at Brookfield Zoo, Illinois.  A refreshing sight on a hot day.

For more on Nancy’s A Photo A Week Challenge go to A Photo a Week: Moving Waters

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Gardens

The topic for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is Gardens and do I have the garden pictures!!  Wherever we go on our travels we always look out for a pleasant public garden in which to spend some time and over the years we have found a multitude of gorgeous places.  Rather than overload the post with too many images, I’ve narrowed it down to just a few of the more memorable gardens that we’ve visited.

Closest to home is the Chicago Botanic Garden and probably my most favorite spot to sit and look at the flowers is the Circle Garden.

The Frederik Meijer Sculpture Garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan, provides a delightful blend of art and nature.

Although the reason we went to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis was chiefly to see the Chinese Lantern Festival, we went back again to take in everything else that the garden had to offer and it was spectacular!

Another place that really impressed us was the garden at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The perfume in the rose garden was heavenly!

Green Bay Botanical Garden in Wisconsin is another one of my favorites.  We have spent many hours wandering around here looking at all the beautiful flowers and plants.

Back to Illinois and the gardens at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.  Immaculately kept, these gardens are a must-see for anyone visiting the area.

Also in Illinois, Anderson Japanese Garden in Rockford is a little different in that it doesn’t have a huge display of flowers but makes up for it with tranquil settings amid lush greenery.  Make sure you visit the waterfall and perhaps feed the koi fish swimming in the pool.

For more on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge visit https://ceenphotography.com/2017/05/23/cees-fun-foto-challenge-gardens/

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Letters I or J

I really had to go out on a limb for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week.  Keeping to my chosen theme, animals, bugs and birds, I struggled to find anything in the photo files that started with the letters I or J especially the letter I, so I hope you will pardon me if I have jumped to any conclusions in identifying the following. Hopefully, anyone more knowledgeable about bird and animal species can correct me.

Could this be a glossy ibis?  I captured the image many years ago in an avian sanctuary at Cypress Gardens in Florida.  Unfortunately the b/w treatment has taken away all distinguishing colors but the original picture shows that the bird was grey with an iridescent sheen to the feathers.  There was also a red strip on the upper part of the bill.   If you have followed my blog for any amount of time you will be wondering why I was in a cage full of birds.  Despite my life-long fear of our feathered friends, the opportunity to get some close-up shots of so many beautiful creatures prompted me, in a moment of insanity, to plunge in, so to speak.  My husband accompanied me (someone had to be there to carry me out if I fainted!) and we crept around trying not to disturb the inhabitants.  I was terrified!!!  I only managed to take a few shots before my courage completely deserted me and had to be led out with my eyes shut.

The animals pictured above are, I’m fairly sure, Siberian ibex.  This was a shot that I took on slide film many, many years ago at Brookfield Zoo when they had a high, rocky enclosure know as Ibex Island. It was demolished in 2008 to make room for the new bear exhibit. I don’t know what happened to the ibex.

Jellyfish, pictured at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

junco and blue jay in our garden. These shots were taken with a long lens from the safety of our living-room window.

For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to https://ceenphotography.com/2017/03/30/cees-black-white-photo-challenge-letters-i-or-j/

 

 

Nature of the Dance – Jingle Dress

During the American Indian Center’s 63rd Annual Chicago Powwow held earlier this year at Busse Woods in Elk Grove, Illinois, I was able to capture some images of the dances performed in competition there.  The costumes were stunning and the dancing energetic and graceful. One of the more musical categories was the Jingle Dress dance.

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The Jingle Dress dance originated with the Ojibwa Nation in the early 1900’s and is thought to have healing powers.  The dresses are decorated with rolled snuff can lids which create the delightful bell-like sound as the dancer twists and turns. She also carries a feather fan and sometimes a beaded purse and wears beaded leggings and moccasins.

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The story behind the Jingle Dress Dance goes something like this: A father, whose young daughter was very ill, had a dream in which he was shown how to make a jingle dress and also instructed about a dance that was part of the healing ritual.  When he awoke he made the dress for his daughter and showed her how to do the dance. Despite the fact that she was so ill, she performed the dance wearing the jingle dress and the more she danced, the better she became until she was completely recovered.

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To see more pictures from the Powwow go to Weekly Photo Challenge – Quest