Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Little Taste of Owensboro, Kentucky

Along our travels today, we made a quick stop in Owensboro, Kentucky. Our first stop was the famous Moonlight Barbeque. We got some barbeque to go and ate it at a pleasant city park.
moonlight Bar BQ
Then we headed a short distance to the world's largest sassafras tree.
Owensboro Sassafras
Sassafras Sign
It was a short visit, but I think we covered the most interesting aspects of the town in our short visit.   

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

This is another site that I had been to before, but it was a first time visit for Noelle and Sierra. We started at the visitor center which also serves as a memorial to Abraham Lincoln. The memorial court features five panels that were sculpted to feature significant periods in Lincoln's life.
Indiana sculpture
Washington sculpture
belongs to the ages
Illinois sculpture

From the visitor center we headed through the Allee and into the woods for a short hike to the Pioneer Cemetery where Lincoln's mother Nancy Hanks is buried.
Nancy Hanks Memorial
 Then we moved on to the Lincoln Living Historical Farm. There were animals there which Sierra enjoyed.
sheep
chicken
calf
There were also demonstrations. Sierra liked watching some interpreters bake cookies and wanted to sit and listen to a talk on pioneer life.
lady in shop
We made a short side trip to the Lincoln Spring
Lincoln Spring
and then headed back to the visitor center on the Trail of the Twelve Stones.
Spencer County Memorial
mary Todd bricks
Back at the car we ate a snack and then hit the road again, headed further south into Kentucky.            

Lincoln State Park

We camped at Lincoln State Park last night and it turned out to be the least buggy camping experience of our trip. It would also be our last night camping on the trip as we arrived home after a long day of driving. The park was pleasant, if not too impressive. This morning we packed up camp and went on for a short hike on the Mr Lincoln's Neighborhood Walk. The description made it sound more interesting than it turned out to be, but we still enjoyed our walk through the woods
boardwalk trail
and saw the grave of Lincoln's sister Sarah.


After our hike we checked out the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Plaza
Lincoln memorial
which was a memorial to Lincoln's time in Indiana.
back of Lincoln Memorial
From the plaza we got back in the car and headed across the street to the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.    

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

George Rogers Clark National Historical Park

From Normal, where we spent last night, we drove through the seemingly endless cornfields of Illinois south and east. We crossed the Wabash River and entered Indiana at Vincennes. Along the last leg of our drive we saw modified school bus after school bus carrying watermelons into Indiana.

Vincennes is the site of George Rogers Clark National Historical Park.
Clark Memorial
Noelle and Sierra on stairs
This would be my second visit to the site, but the first for Noelle and Sierra. We spent some time walking around the site which honors the contributions of George Rogers Clark,
Clark Statue
a Revolutionary War hero who captured the British Fort Sackville
Fort Sackville Monument
at Vincennes in February 1779. Interestingly, there is also an Abraham Lincoln connection at the site. There is a memorial bridge that now spans the Wabash River at the site where Lincoln is said to have crossed from Indiana into Illinois for the first time.
Lincoln Memorial Bridge
The bridge offers great views of the Wabash River and the George Rogers Clark Memorial.
monument from bridge


Sierra was not as interested in the history of the site as she was in picking clover flowers off the lawns.
picking clover
After about an hour and a half walking around we hit the road headed further southeast to Lincoln State Park where we are camped for the night.        

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park is a place that Noelle and I have been talking about visiting for years. We pass it nearly every time we visit Noelle's parent's house as it is just off of two major interstate highways. Today we finally got our opportunity to explore the park a bit, though due to recent weather we would not be able to explore as much as we would have liked.

We pulled into the large parking area at the visitor center only to discover that the VC was closed for the day. Still we were able to find the information that we needed, the most important being that all the park's trails except for two were closed due to downed trees blocking the trails.
Trail closed
This information made choosing a hike easy: we would be headed to Starved Rock and nearby French Canyon.

We started our hike passing several buildings (and monuments)
NHL plaque
in the visitor center area. Then we headed up Starved Rock on wooden stairs. At the top we had wonderful views of the Illinois River
Illinois River
and a whole lot of pelicans. We walked the short loop on top of the rock and then descended the way we had come. We then made the hike to French Canyon.
Noelle on French Canyon Trail
I have to say that I was quite impressed by what we found in the canyon.
Trail to French Canyon
It was a box canyon with sheer sides. Because it was so shady in the canyon, moss covered the walls, giving them a green hue. We took some photos there
Eric and Sierra at French Canyon
and then retraced our steps back towards the parking area. Seeing French Canyon has certainly whet my appetite for wanting to see more of Starved Rock State Park! While Noelle used the restroom near the visitor center, Sierra and I looked at the birds feeding at the bird feeders.
nuthatch on feeder

Because our hike was short and there were no other areas for us to explore that are currently open, we decided against camping in the state park tonight. We decided to make some more miles and so we drove on to Normal, Illinois where we are spending the night.       

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Frontenac State Park

After my hike of Barn Bluff, I went to a grocery store in Red Wing to get some lunch. The Cuban ham sandwich I ended up getting was very good. Then it was a drive south to Frontenac State Park to get me some Hiking Club miles. Today would be my first Hiking Club hike in nearly 3 years.

The hike started at the picnic area with a nice view of Lake Pepin.
river view 2
Then the trail headed into some woods and followed an old trail through an old quarry area. The trail left the wooded area and followed ski trails through mostly grassy areas.
grassy trail
There were some wildflowers in bloom along the trail,
single flower
but I was most pleased to see aspen trees!
aspen
The trail led to a few overlooks, including one where I found my Hiking Club password.
overlook
I then followed the trail signs to near my starting point.

When I approached the picnic area, I still felt the urge to explore a bit and so I set off on a trail that led towards the campground. I then descended steeply to the wooded shore of Lake Pepin where I caught glimpses of power boats speeding by.
boat on river
I followed a trail close to the water and then ascended to In-Yan-Teopa, an impressive limestone arch.
arch
From the arch I made my way back to the picnic area for the drive back to Galesville, stopping at a historic site located within the state park.   
Fort Beauharnois

Barn Bluff in Red Wing, Minnesota

historic sign
Today, I was given permission to go on a solo adventure, my first in quite some time. I decided to head up to the Red Wing, Minnesota area to get a few Hiking Club miles and to check out the well known Barn Bluff. First, however, I had to find out how to get to Barn Bluff. While it's obvious where the bluff is from just about anywhere in the city, the access to it is not so obvious. I stopped in at the town's visitor center and got directions to the trailhead and then made my way there.
Trailhead

The hike started with a little side trip to a lime kiln used to create the lime used in cement and plaster.
furnace
Then I retraced my steps to the trailhead for an ascent up some stairs and a trip through the woods on the South Trail.
trail
The trail led to yet another set of stairs dubbed the Kiwanis New Stairway.
Kiwanis Stairway
After a climb up the stairs I was up in the prairie on top of the bluff.
trail and city
I first made my way past a huge flagpole
Big flag
and up to the West Overlook with its interesting views of the Mississippi River and the city of Red Wing.
Red Wing and river
I then followed an unmarked trail to an old flag pedestal
old flag pedestal
and the benchmark for the bluff.
benchmark

From this area I made my way along the Prairie Trail through some beautiful scenery
trail on bluff
and wildflowers
yellow flower
purple flowers
milkweed
flower
over to the East Lookout. I admired the view from the lookout and then retraced my steps to the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs I followed the South Trail for a short distance , but then for some variety followed the Midland Trail back to the trailhead. I was quite impressed by the scenery on this hike and would certainly return to hike on the bluff again. Perhaps next time the North Trail will be open. It was closed during my visit, but is reputed to be the most difficult route on the bluff.