A Walk in the Park

We have been back in Illinois for a month, and for three weeks the weather has been awful; cold, rainy, overcast. Finally things are looking up and that big yellow ball in the sky decided to show up again. I was oh so happy.

Jim and I took advantage of the sunny day and went to the nearby Starved Rock State Park. I had read in the newspaper a few days prior to our visit that the waterfalls were abundant due to all the recent rains so we decided to take a look.

This is the path to the first waterfall, located in St. Louis Canyon. We had to traverse down stairs, walk across the bridge (crossing a creek), then walk UP stairs.

Then we were on this sandy path.

I like these natural stair steps!

Look at these tree roots hanging tenaciously to the edge!

 We continued on the path and came across these two bridges.

We finally made it to our destination. The waterfall wasn't that big, but pretty just the same.

 Part of the canyon to the right of the waterfall.

Looking back over the creek.

Did I mention that I had to walk on one of those fallen trees to cross the creek? No? Uh, yeah. And believe me, I'm not too coordinated and almost lost it.

But I made it and we headed off to the second waterfall, located in French Canyon.

This is typical - Jim hiking in front of me......then waiting for me to catch up. I'm usually lagging behind because a) the old gray mare - she ain't what she used to be and b) I'm busy snapping photos.

 A sun ray happened to be shining exactly on the waterfall

A look back at the path we had just traversed.

I saw some wildflowers on our walk.
Violets #1

Violets #2
any guesses?

 I saw these large umbrella-like plants under some trees. Anybody know what they are?

Pelicans happened to be migrating along the Illinois river at this time.

I wanted to grab a few photos of these great birds, so Jim wandered back to the truck and I attached the longer lens on my camera and set off. The problem was, the river was very high and had recently overflowed its banks. The surrounding land was very, VERY muddy. I slipped and slid my way to the river in thick mud and almost face-planted a few times, but luckily made it in one piece and clean, well, except for my shoes that had about a pound each of mud stuck to them! I was able to grab this shot.

The large "hump" you see on the beak shows up on males and only during mating season. The hump falls off after the birds mate and lay eggs.

Photo by Jacki Just-Pienta

The above photo shows their black-edged feathers, which are not seen when they are floating in the water.

It was a great day in the park!
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