As much as I love the never-ending energy of Chicago, the density has a way of getting claustrophobic. Especially in the winter. The thing I miss most about living out west, in Las Vegas, are the wide-open spaces, the beautiful mountains, the technicolor sunsets and the endless mini-roadtrip options. I haven’t done nearly enough road trips exploring the Midwest, so this weekend was a much-needed adventure.
We loaded up the car, leashed the dog and headed southwest, to the central Illinois valley. There, we traversed icy rivers, gazed at frozen waterfalls, greeted aggressively friendly Midwestern hikers and even spotted a bald eagle flying through a canyon. We visited August Hill winery and sampled some shockingly delicious sparkling wine from Illinois Sparkling Wine Co. (I’m a cynic when it comes to Illinois wine, but this Champagne was damn good), wandered through a few internationally named tiny Illinois towns ( Peru, Ottawa, Marseilles) and watched bad movies at the dog-friendly Best Western. Even though we were only gone for about 30 hours, the trip felt like a true escape. We came back tired from hiking and refreshed from a getaway that seemed so distant, thanks to towering sandstone formations and thick thickets, yet was only about an hour and a half away.
Here are some photos.