Sunday, April 14, 2013

At the beach with the pups!

Well, over the weekend we decided to head back to the dunes... Our original plan was to go to Shenandoah National Park, but because of the prescribed burn we had to delay our trip :(

No biggie, disappointing though it was.
Anyway, here's some fun pictures of the pups playing at the beach.

Back story -  Matzah (Golden Retriever) has been afraid of water since my aunt and uncle got her... she's 7 years old now and I think she's finally gotten over it - you'll see in the pictures.

Lake Michigan as seen from Trail 9
The PERFECT shot! lol

Matzah (Golden) and Rella (Mastiff & Pit Bull mix)
OK... fun times start now-

Rella: "C'mon Matzah... let's just go NEAR the water... "
Matzah: "Oh... okay, but just near it though"
Matzah: "Nooooo!!!! you lying bitch!!!"
Rella: "Well, I didn't say what I'd do when we got there! Now come on!"

Rella: "I don't know what the big deal is... what are you? A scaredy CAT!?"
Rella: "Look! Chris even threw in a stick to play with!"
Matzah: "Oh boy a stick!"
Rella: "See... just walk in and grab it"
Matzah: "I dooon't knooowww"
Rella: "Here... I'll bring it to you"

Rella: "What's wrong with this guy Matzah? He keeps taking pictures... anyway, I got the stick"
Matzah: "???"

Rella: "See... this ain't so bad"
Matzah: "Nope, it's pretty OK actually"

Rella: "Now Gooo! farther!"
Matzah: "Son of a!!!! Hell no!"
Rella: "Well... you're already out there, might as well get the stick."
Matzah: ":/ fine..."

Matzah: "Got me a stick!!! Let's try again!"

Matzah: "I need to bring this back n dry off"

We had such a good time at the beach on Sunday, spent a good two or three hours playing fetch with those two. Then headed back onto the trail back to the Nature Center. Here's a few more pictures from the end of the day.
Matzah is actually going out further this time. So glad she's finally over her fear of water :)
I don't know if Rella is actually swimming or if those massive ears are acting like sails! LOL

Rella's thinking "WTF are THOSE!?"

Just a tree... not sure what, but it's coniferous.

Too freakin' cute!

They never wander too far ahead and always wait till they see me again before they start going.

Pretty much the end of the day, only about another mile before we get to the car.
We really love going to the dunes... miles and miles of trails and it's always an amazing trip. I did get a season parking pass too, it's already paid for itself twice over.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hiking at Starved Rock State Park

First off: I'm sorry I haven't shared anything in a while, had some things going on. Stupid girl broke my heart... but you don't want to hear about that do you?

A couple weeks ago me and the pups went to Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL. It's such a beautiful place and has a deep history behind it. Read about Starved Rock's History

On to the Pictures:
The entrance to the park.
I've heard many things about Starved Rock and it has been on my "To Hike" list for some time. 
The only reason I've put it off for so long is because it's over 90 miles away from my house. 

Finally though, I did decide to go and make the trip. It was WELL worth it. 18 Canyons and Waterfalls, beautiful cliffs and an amazing layout that beckons hikers of ALL skill levels.

A plaque commemorating the Union Soldiers of the Civil War 

Rella is looking towards the trees... probably a bird or squirrel up there.
Ya... I see you there... takin' my picture.

This is one of the first canyons and waterfalls we came across. Winters cause the water to freeze into beautiful ice falls that are an amazing sight to behold. 

I was only planning on staying for a few hours, then seeing the small town nearby and heading home. That all changed when I realized that Starved Rock is an all day ADVENTURE. We didn't end up leaving until 8:45 at night (park closes at 9:00 PM

This is too cool... I loved it!

This picture was taken at Wildcat Canyon. The height of this fall is staggering. Being in the Midwest, we don't see a lot of canyons or waterfalls because it's so very flat here.
The reason the Midwest is mostly flat is from Glaciers, as they swept across the region thousands of years ago. 
1- The Great Lakes - Glaciers, up to 6,500 feet thick, scoured the surface of the earth, leveled hills, and altered the topography. Valleys created by the river systems of the previous era were deepened and enlarged to form the basins for the Great Lakes. Thousands of years later, the climate began to warm, melting and slowly shrinking the glaciers. As the glaciers melted, they began to fill the Great Lakes. 2- Minnesota - all of the small lakes were carved by glacial movement. As the glaciers receded and melted, the small lakes began to fill.

Here's a WikiPedia Link

Bald Eagles in flight over the Illinois River
Between December and March, there are many Bald Eagles at Starved Rock. This is the first time I've seen them in real life, in their environment. I must say, they are majestic birds... so graceful and swift.  
Luckiest Photo I've Ever taken! Thank you Nikon for being awesome!
The historic - Starved Rock
This is the historic Starved Rock there is a trail that goes to the top with scenic overlooks of the park and the Illinois River. It is also one of the BEST places to watch for eagles. 
It's a heck of a climb with lots of stairs but absolutely worth every effort.
Matzah and Rella, just hanging out in La Salle Canyon. We took a little break here just to kinda relax and get some snacks in. 
Even in winter when it's cold and you're not sweating it is important to stay hydrated. Summertime is not the only time one has to worry about dehydration, please keep that in mind as you hike.
Just hangin' out... Rella is sneaking a kiss lol.

Poor Matzah... she's getting old (7 yrs) but she is still able to keep up most of the time.
Like a string of pearls. (Click picture for Larger Image)
I saw this and just HAD to take a close up picture.

Tree roots growing through the rocks and over the edges of cliffs. The slow drip of water over them froze into small orbs making it look like a string of pearls... quite beautiful I think.
Another beautiful ice fall.

We're getting quite wet from the melting ice...
Canyoneering like champs!
Another little break before the ascent to the trail leading further in.

End of the trip, we stopped by the visitor center. This is the cross section of the Great American Elm. Such history!