For Memorial Day weekend, we tried a different kind of trip. We booked a B&B in Buscombe, IL, about 30 miles north of the IL border for a weekend of hiking in downstate IL and parts of KY. We wanted to check out Shawnee National Forest. I’ve mentioned before how I grew very fond of hiking at a late age. Hiking wasn’t something I did as a kid, save a trip to Saguaro National Park in Tucson and maybe an occasional school trip. But I learned that despite being a city girl, I do enjoy wandering in the wilderness for short periods of time (I have yet to try camping – that might be trickier for me).
We began our drive in the afternoon. Once we left the city, the highway was lined with farm after farm. We had dinner in Amish Country in the town of Arcola, IL. We drove to the historic Main Street, which looked like what you imagine. Cute painted buildings. They had these murals talking about the history of the city. Apparently, the creator of Raggedy Ann & Andy, John Barton Gruelle, was born there. However, the town was empty. All the stores, save one restaurant, were closed for the day. The restaurant, the Dutch Oven, was open and hopping. We had some nice hearty food there; I had a wonderful brisket with amazing stuffing. My husband got fish and chips. It was a nice pit stop on our drive. The place mats had a map of the area showing all the Amish businesses, which was cool. We still had a long drive ahead of us so we didn’t explore further.
Nearby, we passed this place of business. Best name for a place I never want to go to.
And then we had some unexpected adventure. About 45 minutes from our B&B, we were sideswiped by a semi. We were in the right lane and he tried to merge into our lane. The lug nuts on his tire hit the car, taking out the driver’s side mirror. Thankfully, the driver realized the impact and pulled out. We got into the shoulder to assess ourselves. Neither of us were hurt at all. The windows were fine and the airbags were not deployed.. However, the driver’s door wouldn’t open. The truck driver stopped and ascertained we were okay. Waiting in the car in the shoulder was really terrifying actually. We decided to head to the next exit so we could exchange insurance, etc. But all in all, we were fine. We got the door open. The car was driveable. So we got our police report and drove on to our B&B. That was an experience. But at the end of the day, we were fine. Thank goodness.
By the time we got to the B&B, it was well after dark. The B&B was situated amongst farms so there was little electric light. Once we pulled up to the house, we were greeted by a firework display of lightening bugs. I hadn’t seen so many in years. They were all hanging out in the woods behind the house and lighting up the night. So beautiful. We had all this amazing animal sounds, crickets, a bull frog, and so much more. What incredible beauty.
The following morning, we woke up and greeted our hosts at the B&B. We had a nice hearty breakfast of biscuits and eggs. Our first stop was Ferne Clyffe State Park. It was about a 7 minute drive from where we were staying. In the daylight, the area was so beautiful. The farms of Illinois had given way to forests. At Ferne Clyffe, we took two hikes. The first was an easy hike to the waterfall. It was a flat path with a few little creeks that had overflowed their banks but nothing too bad. The path was in a canyon with a waterfall at the end.
However, we wanted to get closer. Some fellow hikers told us that we could hike up to the waterfall using a side path. That proved a bit more adventurous than anticipated. We had to climb up the side on muddy paths, climb over logs and rocks, and balance on rocks in pools from secondary waterfalls. And I saw some of the largest spiders I’ve ever seen. (All were Daddy Long Legs, so I knew I would be okay). We got to the waterfall area but the rocks looked slick. I stuck back while my husband explored a little bit more. It was a neat view.
We climbed back down and headed back to the parking area to go our second hike. This was a bit more challenging since the path wound its way up. It was a bit steeper. We had some decent views of the area around. It eventually finished at the bottom of the hill near the lake near the entrance of the park. We opted to just walk to the car from the road. On the way we saw these beautiful black, orange, and blue butterflies. It was perfect for hiking.
Next post, I’ll talk about our adventures at Garden of the Gods and Cave in the Rock. That’s all for now!