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PHOTO BEE LI

SPEAKING OF SIMPLE PLEASURES, summer in Chicago is oh-so-fleeting and we try to make the most out of the warm temps and sunshine. While there are countless outdoor activities in the city to choose from, it’s good to leave the hustle and bustle once in a while and refresh and recharge by getting back in touch with nature. If you’re fortunate enough to have vacation time saved up, then by all means use it. For those that can’t get away for an extended trip, however, you’re still in luck. Whether it’s a short day trip or a long weekend, there are many places within a few hours drive from the city that make a perfect getaway to enjoy the best of nature – fresh air, beautiful scenery, wide open spaces and plenty of outdoor recreation. One of the most popular spots is Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Ill. Located only 90 miles from the city (about a two hour drive), Starved Rock is situated on the banks of the Illinois River and covers 2,630 acres. Of course, the adventurous spirits at the ME: IN FOCUS staff had to explore further, so we made a fun day trip out of it on a beautiful sunny day. Starved Rock’s name is derived from a legend about a band of Illiniwek that was trapped on the rock by rival Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes avenging the death of Ottawa Chief Pontiac. Without food, the

Illiniwek gradually starved to death during the siege. The park is known for its unique sandstone rock formations, formed over millions of years. Much of the park’s present landscape is a result of erosion over time, characterized by 18 canyons formed by glacial meltwater. During early spring, waterfalls can be found at the head of all the canyons as the snow thaws. The park offers activities for all ages and all interests. When you arrive, visit the friendly Visitor’s Center first for a trail map and introductory materials. There are 13 miles of clearly marked hiking trails, as well as other activities such as horseback riding, canoeing, fishing, picnicking and camping. In addition, the park has a monthly calendar of events, including Art in the Park, various lessons and river cruises. If you’re hiking, be sure to wear proper footwear, carry mosquito repellent, sunblock and drink plenty of water. While there’s not much wildlife to encounter, the trails are the best way to explore the landscape, especially the canyons. If you’re staying overnight, there is a large campground with over 100 campsites. For those who prefer to sleep indoors, the Starved Rock Lodge offers cozy, rustic rooms and cabins atop a bluff that is a short walk from the trails. The lodge and park can also accommodate weddings, cor-

porate retreats and other large gatherings. Within the vicinity of Starved Rock in LaSalle County, there are some other gems to check out as well, including Matthiessen State Park, Buffalo Rock State Park and Illini State Park. These less-trafficked parks are a more quiet alternative to Starved Rock, and still offer gorgeous scenery, geological points of interest and recreational activities. Starved Rock State Park GPS Address: 2668 875th Rd., Oglesby starvedrockstatepark.org Matthiessen State Park Route 178, Utica, Ill. Buffalo Rock State Park 1300 N. 27th Rd. Ottawa, Ill. Illini State Park 2660 E. 2350th Rd. Marseilles, Ill. For more information and a complete list of state parks, visit the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources at dnr.state.il.us

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Profile for The LB Group

ME: IN FOCUS Magazine 'S' Issue (July/August) 2010  

Dear Readers, Welcome to the long awaited S issue - the double issue that celebrates everything S, everything summer. My favorite season, su...

ME: IN FOCUS Magazine 'S' Issue (July/August) 2010  

Dear Readers, Welcome to the long awaited S issue - the double issue that celebrates everything S, everything summer. My favorite season, su...