Saturday, July 18, 2009

I suppose it's never too late.

This is the entrance to the lodge at Starved Rock State Park south of Utica, Illinois. The lodge was build in the 1930's as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps which was, itself, a part of the grand Works Progress Administration designed to put people to work in the Great Depression. The Great Lakes Chapter of the International Society of Explosives Engineers had their July meeting here on the 16th.

Many, many people I know have come to Starved Rock for a vacation. I can see why. It's beautiful location and there's a lot to do. All I did was attend a meeting and then sit on the back patio overlooking a valley along the Illinois River. Bald eagles make frequent appearances in the skies. The sunset was quite beautiful; reds, oranges and purples against a darkening blue sky with bands of clouds. I had driven through a heavy rain storm traveling from Fort Madison to Utica and wondered if it would, eventually, make it to the lodge and we'd get sort of wet if we were outside. But it dissipated or went north or south of Utica. The Great Lakes ISEE will have their July meeting here next year, too.

It's only a 2 hour drive southwest from my home. We never went there when Carole was young. She's been there on her own, but this was my first visit. The room was comfortable and I overlooked a huge indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi complex. There are facilities for horseback riding, hiking, camping, canoeing and organized tours are conducted daily. There are cabins for rent as well as places for weddings. It's a touch pricey. My room for just me was $172 and change for one night. Weekend nights require a full weekend stay and that could get into the cha-ching range.

Yet what a remarkable place to vacation. Where have I been? Walt Disney World; England; Charlotte, North Carolina; San Antonio, Texas; Seattle is now a once a year, if I can swing it, twice a year trip; Portland, Oregon. One year, we took 10 days and traveled all over Northeast Iowa seeing the minor tourist attractions my ex and I grew up with. It never, ever occurred to me to check out Starved Rock. My room windows actually opened and, although I awoke to an alarm, I heard only the birds outside; no traffic, no lawn mowers.

But I couldn't linger. I met Jon in the parking lot and we left around 8:30. I stopped for gas and Dunkin' Donuts, arriving at the office for another day at 10:00.

Yet, I am thinking a recharge of my general internal batteries is only a 2 hour drive away. Utica has the history museums and artist's stores I enjoy. And after a day of poking around, to retreat to a comfortable room with little responsibilities, now that's a way to recharge.

Beverage: English TeaTime


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