Okay Montana, I know you technically "own" this phrase, but hear me out...
We're back in Illinois after leaving the southern region for a north-west swing through Missouri, and eastern Iowa. Now we're hunkered down in the Peru area.
For those of you who haven't explored Illinois and think of it as corn fields and flat lands (no shame, this was me before our life on the road) I'm here to tell you, yes that is definitely true... BUT there's more. We visited one of our favorite places again Starved Rock State Park and were also fortunate enough to explore nearby Matthiessen State Park.
Y'all... THERE ARE FORESTED CANYONS IN ILLINOIS!
I'm talking waterfalls, caves, canyon after canyon, and rolling hillsides of beautiful forest. And the best part? You can drive 3 miles away and enjoy a "Big Sky Country" sunset!!!
Growing up in North Carolina I was happy to catch a sunset through the trees or from a mountain top if I was lucky. But these sunsets... well they "hit different" as the kids say these days.
Now of course there are downsides and we've already experienced one of the scarier ones first hand just a few days ago. We were hiking back to the St. Louis Canyon (any true crime junkies out there? check this out) when we were notified that there was a tornado warning in the area. We turned our peaceful stroll to a brisk walk, peeking between trees to catch glimpses of the changing sky. After power-walking 2 miles we made it to the truck . On our ride back to the campground we were finally among the prairies again, able to take in the full sky. It was mean and changing quickly. We made it to the campground and took shelter in the bathhouse and monitored the radar until it was safe to head back to the trailer.
The next day we learned one of the *multiple* small tornadoes hit Ben's aunt and uncle's house, just miles away, tearing limbs from the giant sycamore trees in their yard and ripping off sections of their roof. Illinois natives are very familiar with tornadoes, most houses having basements or storm shelters. It was very unnerving to be living in a trailer amidst a powerful storm, but we made it and the sunset afterwards was...
All this to say I think Illinois as a whole deserves a great deal of credit considering its got the best of both worlds regarding landscape and skies. Well done Illinois, well done.