Fox River Wildlife Up Close

If you want to see plenty of exciting wild life creatures up close……………plan a kayak trip on the Fox River in the Summer months.  On a recent 3 hour kayak expedition during the month of August, one can plan to see and photograph large mouth bass jumping out of the water after flies and smaller flying creatures.  Turtles swimming around the lily pads close to the river banks.  Carp spawning in the creamy mud banks alongside the river.
In addition to the many underwater animals you’ll see many large flying birds such as Blue Herons, swallows and cranes hunting alongside the river banks for small insects and fish.  As you round each bend and turn on the river you never know what to expect or what you will see.  A true adventure awaits you on the Fox River in McHenry County, Illinois. 

Kite Ballet? Yup

High-flying professionals demonstrate awesome feats of beauty and great skill at the Chicago Botanical Gardens in Illinois.  The coordination of these light flying crafts was spectacular.

The Chicago Fire Kite Team has been competing and demonstrating team sport kite ballet and precision since 1986. Invited to kite festivals around the world, they have flown in front of friendly crowds in England, France, Japan, Canada, and the United States.

Canyons and Waterfalls

Plan to be surprised and awed at the spectacular natural features found here at Starved Rock in Illinois.

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Surrounded by the flat, seemingly endless fields of Illinois farm country, a totally different topography is found within the park. Starved Rock was formed thousands of years ago by the melting of glaciers releasing torrents of water. As the water rushed downstream it eroded and stripped away everything in its path except the resistant St. Peter sandstone. It is that sandstone that formed the steep rock walls and the cool dark valleys of the eighteen canyons. When conditions are right cascades of falling water spill down into these gorges, creating the waterfalls so many come here to enjoy.

WATERFALLS
Although you can technically see waterfalls in 14 of the 18 canyons, some of the most scenic waterfalls are found in St. Louis, French, Wildcat, Tonty, Ottawa and Kaskaskia canyons. The best times to see waterfalls are in the spring when the snow and ice melt or after a heavy rainfall.

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ICEFALLS
Winter brings a whole new life to the canyons. The freezing and melting that happens during this time of year creates amazing ice sculptures in the canyons. Make sure you come back in the winter to see an icefall – they are spectacular!

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“Badlands” or “Land Bad”

Rapid City, South DakotaDSC_4544

Well I didn’t see anything “bad” upon my visit….actually quite to the contrary. But let’s rewind to the 1800’s when native americans… particularly the Lakota people referred to the area as “land bad” due to the rugged conditions.

Within this 242,756 acres of “land bad” lies Bison (they specified American Bison….as if it would be Bison from some other country?), black tailed prairie dogs, badgers, mute deer (no…I don’t think they are deaf), big horn sheep, coyotes, pronghorn (similar to a deer), black footed ferrets….and the deadly rattle snake.

And it is the rattle snake that gets the attention…at least that’s what I took away from all the warning signs.  Did this stop folks?  No at numberous stops we saw many climbing…some making their way to the top of extremely steep slopes.  Go for them.

At other times it seems we drove up and then down and around for miles without single a car or person.  With no cell phone service we wondered at times when will we get out….are we going the right way.   Unlike other parks and major attractions, there is nothing “tourist trappy” here (actually now see a “homemade fudge stand” seemed attractive just so we knew we were not lost if this vast “bad land”.

Well “bad land”….absolutely not.  It is breathtaking.   Questions….just ask.

Beautiful Badlands of South Dakota

Here’s what 47 million years of deposition…tossed with a steady rate of erosion…looks like.

The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today. (https://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm)