Friday, July 3, 2015

Inspired & Invigorated at Starved Rock

After my hectic first week back in Illinois in early May (which culminated in a insurance fiasco that postponed my cancer surgery until June), I now had 3 extra weeks on my hands.  While I still had plenty of “Pre-Op” errands to-do and lots of local friends to visit, I decided that I first and foremost needed a few days of alone time to be still, fully process my new reality of living with cancer, and to get my internal batteries fully charged and ready for the battles ahead.

Every time I return to the Midwest from a winter spent in the desert southwest, I desperately crave what the desert lacks—water, and the color green!  A few years ago, the Springtime Ozarks of southern Missouri recharged and refreshed me.  But with time so short this year, I had to look for a nearby retreat.  Starved Rock State Park, just 100 miles southwest of Chicago on the Illinois river, would do the trick!

I go to nature

Canyon hikes, waterfalls, lush green forests, and this quote by noted naturalist John Burroughs were sure to inspire:

I go to nature to be soothed and healed,

and to have my senses put in order.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

MO Refuges & a Secret Highway

I was born in Missouri, and went to college there too.  Growing up, we had countless family trips to the “Show Me” state to visit my grandparents.  So, I’ve always felt like I’ve had a pretty good familiarity with the state.  But there was still a large swath of northern Missouri I’d never explored, so I took the opportunity with my end of April trip to quickly do so.

St. Joseph and Missouri River P1030437

Passing through St. Joseph, MO with the highway towering over the Missouri river to the left and historic downtown to the right, I really wished I had allocated more time to explore this storied city, once the last bastion of civilization before pioneer wagon trains and Pony Express riders headed out into the great Wild West. 

But the focus of today’s trip was to check out 2 of Missouri’s National Wildlife Refuges – Squaw Creek and Swan Lake.  So, St. Joe had to settle for a few quick “windshield shots” and a promise that I’ll explore it more next time.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Off the Beaten Path in Kansas

After a great late-April morning at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in the dead center of Kansas, I found my way back to pavement and headed east.  Many folks have the perception of Kansas being totally flat and boring – miles of endless cornfields.  Large swaths of central and western Kansas  (particularly along I-70) are indeed just that.  But, getting off the Interstate, and exploring eastern Kansas reveals many beautiful vistas and hidden treasures…

Drive to Hutchinson P1030118

Sunday, June 14, 2015

From One Refuge To Another

I had just over a week between my last work day at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (at the end of April), and the start of my medical appointments in Chicago.  After carefully checking to ensure no Springtime tornados would be ripping through Kansas for a few days, I decided to take a direct but leisurely drive back to Illinois from New Mexico, and stop in Kansas and Missouri to visit a few National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) along the way.

The clouds started gathering as I stopped for one last photo at the Bosque entrance sign--

Leaving Bosque P1020430

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bosque in April

With medical issues now settling into boring old recovery mode (yeah!), it’s now time to catch the blog up on my final month at Bosque del Apache NWR this past April.

As I looked out my RV window one evening at the beginning of April, a brilliant rainbow filled the big New Mexico sky.

Rainbow IMG_7736

The month was off to a great start!

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