First off, I’d like to mention that the previous post included my first-ever video! I was very proud of myself for finally being able to include more than just static pictures. Don’t worry, I don’t plan on shooting/sharing a lot of videos – it’s just nice to have another option. One cannot live on Jon Stewart clips alone…
Galena turned out to be another quaint, charming, (insert your choice of synonym here) town. At one point Galena’s population was on par with Chicago. But that was a long long long time ago. Now the population is just over 3,000. But amazingly, Galena is the #2 tourist destination in Illinois, behind Chicago. Galena receives 1.2 million visitors every year, according to my source at the Coldwell Banker Real Estate office in town. And no, I’m not going to live in Galena – Juno just happened to wander into the office so I followed him.
Back to the quaintness – even the street signs are cute! People put marriage proposals on brick walls (more romantic than a Jumbotron)! Even Juno found a friend. I bought two big bags of popcorn and a maple pecan danish. Delish.
After a long stroll around the town, it was time to head to Utica and Starved Rock State Park. I had hoped to stay at the park but sadly it was full. But everything happens for a reason and I backtracked to town to take Juno for a walk and to figure out a new plan. That’s when I met Bridget and Jeremy. Jeremy commended me on my MoHo parking skills (I can parallel park this puppy anywhere) and we ended up chatting for awhile. They suggested I do some hiking at Matthiessen State Park as it’s not as busy as Starved Rock and more for the “locals.” Love getting the insider scoop. I ended up at a nice RV park that wasn’t too spendy, away from the freeway, had lots of trees and no ridiculous coin-op showers. Yay!
Sunday turned out to be a perfect day. Any day where I can do the following three things makes me sublimely happy:
- Going for a run
- Going hiking
- Drinking a milkshake after having completed #1 and #2
And the fact that I had a nice long (free!) hot shower after #1 made the day even better!
Juno and I enjoyed Matthiessen State Park together. Despite the muddiness and all the stairs, Juno was a real trooper on our nature stroll.
But once we arrived at Starved Rock, Juno was putting on the brakes just walking to the Visitors Center so I opted to go for a hike on my own. I did a 3 mile loop up through the canyon and back down along the river. The picture in the bottom right hand corner is the view from Starved Rock up the river.
Just as I was heading off, I got a text from my friend Jason asking where I was watching the Raiders game. I told him that I kinda forgot it was Sunday and that I was out for a hike. I thought about my priorities with regard to watching Raiders games on TV vs going hiking and have decided hiking wins 7 out of 10 times. The 3 times where I’d prefer to watch a Raiders game on TV is as follows:
- The Raiders are in the playoffs and/or Super Bowl
- The weather is so bad that I might end up getting pneumonia if I went outside
- The proposed hike is in an area known for leeches and I don’t have long gaiters
Two notes on the above. One, I mention watching Raiders on TV. Watching the Raiders live is a different story and I’ll pretty much always pick that over hiking – or anything else for that matter. Two, I’ve had personal experience with leeches while hiking in Tasmania so I know what I’m talking about. It is the most disgusting thing ever.
After the hike, I stopped at Chillin’ on 6 in North Utica for a delicious milkshake and to replenish my fudge supply. This place had some really unusual fudge options – I opted for peach cobbler and jelly donut. Soooooooooooooo good!!!
The drive to Springfield went by quickly and once I saw that the Raiders had beaten the Saints, I literally sang Lou Reed’s Perfect Day non-stop for about 30 minutes. Juno slept through my serenade. My route took me by one amusing street sign and also took me along Route 66!
That’s all for now. It’s Lincoln time!