One of the highlights of my return home is that I get to see Aaron and Alison in Chicago. I was able to take my first shower since the swimming hole at Yellowstone. Aaron and Alison really are two wonderful people. I met them at the Electric Forest festival in Michigan and we have been good friends for about 5 years now. Alison even sent a bunch of us homemade jam the last Fall. She even picked the berries herself. I mean who makes homemade jam anymore?!?! How cool!
Alison had taken the day off work to take me shopping, pick up fresh corn, visit one of the coolest parks I have seen here in the Midwest and eventually make it back to Aaron’s by the time he returned from work.
The park she took me to was called “Starved Rock State Park”. I read later that this is one of the best place to see Fall colors. We went in summer so there were a lot of people but the further you went into the park the less congested it got. The river has cut away at the sandstone along the edge of the river and you are left with cliffs to enjoy and hike around.
I think that the park received its name because settlers chased Indians up on top of a sandstone cliff that was basically an island in the sky (water eroded around it) and they refused to come down. They eventually starved up there. Kind of grim but it is good to know the history of the area. We also saw “Lovers Leap” and I remember Alison and I joking about telling each couple that walked by to “not jump!” Or “Well, they’re goners”.
We also saw some guy almost fall off a cliff and I totally saved him. Well it wasn’t exactly a cliff and I didn’t do much to save him but someone else saved him from falling to what probably would have been a broken ankle. Later in the night though I made sure to give EVERYONE and grand story about how I saved a life and was a super hero. =)
I slept the whole way back home to Aaron’s house. Well… except for the ice cream stop. Once back home Alison disappeared into the kitchen while I caught up with Aaron and eventually met his dad and friends. They were over at his house for their bluegrass band to practice. I knew Aaron played the banjo but had no idea how talented he was until that night. They were awesome and I really enjoyed the evening with friends, amazing food and a few drinks. I was really tired though and it was a struggle to stay up as late as I did.
I have always enjoyed Aaron and Alison’s company. It is like we have always been friends and the moment we see each other it is like no time has passed. At the time I visited they were planning on buying a house and promised one of the rooms to me for whenever I visited.
The next morning, I left Chicago and headed towards my mom’s house to pick up my dog. I had missed him and was looking forward to seeing him run to me and lick my face to death. I had intended to stay there for the night and rest up but figured since I still had energy decided to make the 3 hour drive back home. I really wanted a full day at home to sleep and recover before showing my face at work again.
I can’t say enough about my Mom and sister who watched my dog while I was gone. Without them I couldn’t have taken this trip and hopefully, someday, I can travel with them a bit to show them all of the wonderful places I have discovered. As of right now I am already planning a trip with my mom to the UP for May/June of 2016 so keep an eye out for a report of our travels.
This trip was more than I could ever imagine. I saw so many awesome places, met and reconnected with a lot of great people and learned that I really, really enjoy traveling alone.