If you live around Chicago, you’ve probably seen that one TV commercial showcasing the best spots in Chicago. You wanna know something funny? Most of the places shown in the commercial are not in the city of Chicago itself, but they are “somewhere in Illinois” far from the city. I kinda find that a little misleading…but one of the places shown in the Chicago TV commercial was a park that I used to go to often while I was juggling nursing school and working part-time. The commercial gave me a throwback feeling. Nostalgic and sentimental in a way.
So how did I come across this mini Grand Canyon in Illinois? Well, once upon a time…..wait no that doesn’t sound right. It was a few years ago, I was kinda struggling with nursing school and working part-time. I wasn’t failing any classes or anything, perhaps strugglin
g is not the right word to describe it, maybe I was just extremely stressed out at that time. Yes, stressed out. I normally don’t show that I am or say that I am, but honestly I was internally struggling to balance work and school. I forgot social life in that list didn’t I? Nope, social life was
out of my league at that time. I wanted to have a social life but….how can I have a social life while in nursing school full-time and working part-time 3 days a week? I was stressed out too much that it got to the point where I needed to take care of myself first before things get out of control. So…I started looking online for state parks to do some hiking and to get some fresh air. The thought of a mini outdoor excursion sounded relaxing for me already. Google searches showed me Starved Rock State Park. I thought let’s give it a go. It wasn’t too far from my school to begin with, about 50 minutes drive. It loo
ked nice from the pictures I saw online. I went to the park by myself since I had no time to socialize and make friends while in nursing school. I am such a loner haha. To make things concise. I ended up driving to the state park and did some hiking. It was a really cool hiking place. It was pr
etty big. I didn’t go around the whole way. Only did half of the trail because on my way to Starved Rock State Park, there was another state park sign not too far off from Starved Rock that I saw. Since I was around the area already, I said to myself that I’ll go and check the place out. It was only about 5 minutes drive. So I drove to that park after Starved Rock and I saw th
e entrance…. I thought, why is a state park located between two cornfields? Literally, the entrance was between two cornfields. I thought, I was going to waste my time. I went in anyways. I drove into the entrance and my surroundings drastically changed once I passed the cornfields. It looked good so far. The parking lot itself wasn’t that big, maybe 50 or so cars could fit in the parking lot, but the parking lot sat mostly empty. There were three other cars parked in the parking lot. The parking lots at Starved Rock we
re full, compared to this park. I got off my car and walked to the entryway of the park. I thought this place seemed less crowded than Starved Rock. Maybe, it’s not as good as Starved Rock. There were long stairs surrounded by dense tress leading down towards the park. The obscurity of this place made it exciting to see what lies beyond the steps. I was blissfully naive and unaware to have discovered probably one of the best state park in Illinois in my perspective. I am not referring to the magnitude of Christopher Columbus finding America kind of thing, but it undoubtedly made my jaw drop to find this mini Grand Canyon in the middle of nowhere. Remember the time when they said that the world was flat? I believed Illinois was the same and then things went upside down the moment I found this park. It was like a revelation in a way, Illinois wasn’t flat? Mind blown ha.
From there on out, when I needed a break from work and school, this park was my go to spot. It was a place where I can relax and not think about anything. It’s a place where you’re literally surrounded by nature. Once you stop walking and you close your eyes, and you take some deep breaths; all you can hear are the trees blowing in the wind, birds humming, the river flowing, and waterfalls falling and pounding it’s way through the mini gorges. I’ve been to this park in all seasons: Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring season. Each one has its own beauty and I find myself coming back for more. It’s a little addicting spending time in this quiet place. Even after graduating school, even though I don’t visit the park as often as I did before. When given the chance. I do take the time to go back and reminisce those days. The pictures and the video were taken recently. Went with my friends from work.
P.S. ( Well if I can upload the video haha)