Starved Rock

Silly Sweet Fun

One day Becky and Kevin said they wanted to try “Blowing Sugar.” Like glass blowing, but with molten sugar. Kevin fixed up a blowing pipe, and we melted some sugar down. The book said the melting phase needed to get to 320 degrees, and not get there too quickly. If that took under twenty minutes, the sugar would crystalize. We didn’t have that problem… it took over an hour! Then you cool it a bit, knead it, and have fun. Once you have a big sugar bubble, then you have to cool it or it keeps moving and stretching. I made one very large bubble, then stretched out the end till it looked like some weird oriole nest. Becky was pulling sugar while I used the pipe, and it turned shimmering gold and opaque. She twisted it into a little conical sculpture. Beautiful. So I tried pulling, and made a little snake of sorts. I thought it was cool enough to stand on its own, and it did… for a while. Then tipped over, broke my first thing, and jumped to the floor and shattered. Becky made some other cool things, but mostly we just had fun trying something new!

When it was time to leave Lincoln, we headed towards Nappanee, Indiana, where we will do the last of this year’s maintenance.

A quick stop in a place in Newton, Iowa, that claimed “Iowa’s Best Burgers.” We didn’t try the burgers, but did enjoy the sunsets.

Hickory Grove campground is very highly rated, and right about a day’s drive from the Best Burger joint. (We try to travel 3 or 3 1/2 hours on driving days. We’re retired!) When we called, the lady who answered quoted a fairly high daily rate, and almost sounded like she didn’t want us to come. But I said we’d like to, because it was in the right place and so highly rated. When we got there, we found it very large – 53 acres – and we heard there were only 4 occupied rigs in the park! The other 3 were guys working in the area, and otherwise the park was closed. I’m not sure why they let us in, but we spent a few days in a very peaceful park!

The Hedge tree, or Osage Orange tree, grows fairly fast and has wicked thorns when young. They were apparently planted in rows to form fences or hedges, which worked pretty well thanks to the thorns. We were told some of these trees were Hedge trees, but didn’t notice any thorns. We did see the huge “Hedge Apples,” which are really many tiny fruits coalesced into a large ball. One report said that while they are not really poisonous, the are nearly lethal if one falls on you!

Starved Rock

Legend has it that in the 1760s, Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe, was attending a tribal council meeting. At the meeting, an Illinois brave stabbed Chief Pontiac. Pontiac’s tribe swore vengeance on the Illinois. The Illinois took refuge on this huge rock on the shore of the Illinois River, and were surrounded and sieged by Pontiac’s men, till they ultimately starved.

French explorers came through this area in 1673. They built a fort on top of Starved Rock in the winter of 1682-83. It was abandoned by the early 1700’s, and no traces of it can now be found.

Today the Starved Rock State Park had lots of trails along the river and through the woods (No grandmother’s house.) There are also boardwalks with THOUSANDS OF STAIRS! Eighteen canyons have been carved into the sandstone, each with its own waterfall in the right season. (Not winter.) A beautiful place to hike around!

We watched a large tugboat push three long barges into a lock on the Illinois River, then back up and let the barges go through by themselves! The whole “train” was too long for the lock. We were too cold to watch the whole transit, but it looked like they would be roped through, then the tug would follow.

We also were blessed by a beautiful Bald Eagle who had the courtesy to fly right by us!

The Starved Rock Lodge doesn’t look too impressive from the outside, but is very beautiful inside, and has nice patio dining overlooking the river.

All was gorgeous, including the awesome skies!


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