Tuesday, April 29, 2008
A Grande Lady
A view of the lodge and part of the park from the water tower.
We had another Saturday fit for hiking, and this time we chose a familiar, yet never-the-same haunt, Giant City State Park near Carbondale, Illinois. The students at nearby Southern Illinois University still frequent this park but seem to have more respect for its beauty and tranquillity than formerly. I speak from experience with the past trend, having attended SIU in the late 70s and then again in the mid 90s. My husband majored in geology and graduated in 1980. He still remembers (with fondness?) the wild parties hosted by the Geology Club, when pigs were roasted and beer-on-tap flowed freely. Fortunately, the rules governing alcohol consumption in the park have changed somewhat to protect innocent nature and not-so-innocent students, some of them having lost--in deep wells of beer--a healthy respect for high places.
You can't be too careful when hiking atop these moss-covered sandstone bluffs. One misstep and you'd better hope your companion has a cell phone handy to call 9-1-1.
We never tire of visiting the lodge (pictured at top) to enjoy its still-famous AYCE fried chicken dinner or of trudging our way up the water tower--better to do this before rather than after dinner--to take in a view of the park all at once. Once the food settled a bit (we never learn), we chose the Trillium trail for a hike and were glad that we did. Those beauties, Trillium grandiflorum, are beginning to open up in great drifts across the forest floor and take center stage, as far as I'm concerned, among the myriad of other wildflowers present this time of year.