If there was some cosmic reason that we were supposed to get a cracked rim and have to backtrack and stay put for a while, visiting the Garden of the Gods would be it. If we wouldn't have had the wheel problems we wouldn't have had the opportunity to stay longer with Bruce. Bruce in turn loaned us his car so we could drive to Marion, IL to the UPS store to ship out our hubs and then drive over to the Garden of the Gods and go exploring these fascinating rock formations and cliffs. Garden of the Gods is "one of the most visited sites in the Shawnee National Forest…The site is adjacent to a 3,000-acre wilderness area which is relatively undisturbed." (Scenic Hardin County Visitor's Guide ~ www.hardincountyil.org )
We spent over 3 hours exploring the trails at Garden of the Gods and climbing up and over the curious rock formations. The fall colors are starting to shine and we trekked about under a canopy of color as the leaves fluttered down and the sunlight filtered down upon us. It was a comfortable 60 degrees and I joyously peeled off my layers until I was hiking in my sleeveless cami. It was a spectacular afternoon and we didn't want it to end. We discovered rock formations in the shape of a lizard, monkey, whale and a duck and then saw the formations that were already named Camel Rock, Anvil Rock and Table Rock to name a few. This has definitely been one of the highlights of the trip for me and just think, if we wouldn't have cracked a rim we wouldn't have seen it. If you are ever in this part of the country this is a must see!
On the drive I read several chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I'm really enjoying it despite the difficulty of reading something that is written in 4 different dialects. (I also find it hard to read the word "nigger" out loud but it has opened up some educational conversations with Gregory about the history in this country.) I think Mike is enjoying it as much as Gregory and they always want me to continue reading when a chapter is complete. If it has been a while since you've read it or if you've never read it before you should put it on the list.
Bruce loaned us an ice chest so we stocked up on groceries and essentials at Wal-mart before we went on our hike. Mike got to a point in Wal-mart where he was like, "I've had enough of Wal-mart. It is time to go." I know I felt like that sometimes back in our "old life" but the feeling is even stronger now. It comes from being outside most of the day. It is almost a feeling of claustrophobia when you are couped up in a store for a while. We did have fun looking at Halloween costumes and picked up a couple of t-shirts to put over our outerwear on Halloween day. (We love Halloween.) Earlier in the day we also stopped at Goodwill next to the UPS store and in addition to getting some more books for Gregory, we got part of a costume for him and myself.
We had a relaxing evening in our little cottage. The boys watched Monday night football and sat in the spa during half-time while I got some alone time. Bruce didn't have any guests in the main house so I sat in the upstairs sitting room and watched a chick flick. When we are together 24-7 it is nice to have some alone time once in a while.
I'm currently reading "Biking Across The Devil's Backbone" written by Allen Johnson. I found the book here at the B & B. Allen has stayed here at the River Rose Inn several times and this book is an account of his 1992 bicycle ride through this area. He rode 600 miles on a Worksman tandem with his 9-year old granddaughter Tracy and his 12-year old grandson Paul joined them on a five-speed bike. They rode from Tracy and Paul's home in Perryville, Missouri (60 miles south of St. Louis) across southern Illinois, southern Indiana, and southern Ohio to Allen's house in Dayton, Ohio. It is really an interesting read especially since I am a fellow cyclist, riding with a 9-year old, through the same areas. This is what Allen had to say about the Garden of the Gods:
"We pedaled west about five miles to the entrance of the park, just outside Karbers Ridge. This 33-hundred-acre wilderness park contains some of the most spectacular rock formations in the Midwest. The rocks in this area were formed 300 million years ago as sediment on the bottom of an inland sea. Uplifting of the sea floor and erosion finally exposed the rocks. Exposed at the end of the Ice Age, the formations were further eroded by windblown sand and the runoff of a thousand-foot-deep glacier lake. The resulting formations assumed odd shapes that became known as Camel Rock, the Devil's Smokestack and Anvil Rock. Individual rocks have streaks and circular bands of raised reddish-brown rock caused by the irregular diffusion of iron oxide. These bands have resisted weathering more than the adjacent areas and stood out in bold relief on the eroded surfaces." (Page 67 ~ Biking Across The Devil's Backbone)