´¯`•. June 22, 2017

Illinois: Into the Woods

Metropolis was a small visit – it didn’t really take more than two hours, three tops.  And we went in the morning, which meant we had the rest of the day.  A day that I scheduled for us to visit a whole bunch of places in the Shawnee National Forest.

After lunch, we headed out to hike more.  I was about done, though.
Burden Falls.  (Link to see them with water)  Guess what?  No falls… dry.

Rocky Bluff Falls were also dry.  So I’m not including a picture.

So next we headed over to Bell Smith Springs.
I wanted to see Devil’s Backbone, Natural Bridge, and the Rung Ladder.

Devil’s backbone is a long river
with HUGE ‘spine’ rocks evenly spaced along it.

Isn’t it beautiful?  And the water was oddly teal in the pools.
(And all of the rock in Illinois seems to be vibrant orange.  Iron-laced, maybe?)

I’d read about people loving this as a swimming hole, with cliffs to jump off.
People were ALL OVER back along the Devil’s Backbone.
And then, there they were!  Jumpers!!

My boys said, “Can we?”  Brian said, “NO…!!
I said, “Take off your shirt and shoes!”  🙂

There goes Ethan!
(I made them stay at the lower level.  There were three tiers.)

And Isaac!

Aaron wanted to, but he can’t swim well, so I wasn’t going to let him…
But I said if I go first, he could do it, too.  There he is!

YES, I did it…!  Photographic evidence!!

You know I had to.  (I was the oldest jumper by almost 20 years, btw!)  It’s a good thing that I did, too – Aaron wouldn’t have made it to shore.  I got my lifeguard certification back in college, so he was safe with me.  Mostly he would stop, and not be able to get going, again – so I just had to give him a push after he paused to tread.  He’s determined to learn to swim, now, though!

It doesn’t look like much in the pictures, but trust me – when you’re up there?  That water is a LONG ways down!  I jumped and held my breath, but then I was still falling, and it seemed to take forever… and just as I was thinking, “Why did I hold my breath when there’s air…?”… I hit the water.  It was COLD.  It was shocking.  But it was SO fun!!  (Also slightly traumatizing for an old girl.  I JUMPED OFF A CLIFF!!!!!)  But there were twenty-somethings flipping off a rock three levels up, so I knew it was deep enough, and we’d be fine.  It was just a memory that we *had* to make, you know?  Brian took a video of it – I might put it on FB, later this afternoon.  We’ll see.

But we cliff jumped in the Illinois Ozarks.  Where’s that bucket list…!!?

Okay, let’s get serious, and go on to the hiking part…

More ‘backbones.  Aren’t they gorgeous?!

Come hike!  It’s a narrow and crazy adventure!

Did I mention RUNGS?!?!?  I saw them on the internet (a picture of three, with no people on them), and I thought – homigoodnes, how FUN!!!  But the reality?  It’s over a hundred feet straight up a cliff.  Holy wha… this skeered the crap out of me!!!  It’s one thing to jump off a cliff.  Another to climb a cliff straight up on rungs!  With children ranging down to seven years old?!  Yeah, I was a little freaked.

But at the same time, I wasn’t going to miss out on this.  Not for the world.  (There is an alternate route to the top, for people who don’t want to take the rungs.)  We just had Brian go first, so he could help the kids, and I went last, so that if there was a problem, I could handle it from the other end.  Ah, the joys of parenthood…!

The Natural Bridge.  Don’t look down – it’s a LONG drop!

Stone Superman.  He’s so stoic, don’t you think?

Owen said if you take these little steps, you go thru a portal.  At this point, my penpal – who was travelling via e-mail to distant planets, having gone from Camelot to Tattoine to a ship with an alien coming out of someone’s chest to a beautiful planet that seemed to be doing a lot of shaking (and was that a small pod that just left…?!)… Krypton.  He claimed to be having trouble getting home, so I told him about these steps – Owen’s portal.  In the end The Doctor rescued him, took him to these in the future, and they actually *did* bring him home – which made Owen’s day.

This was his other portal suggestion.  I’d be leery of copperheads in there…

I wish you could see it in person.  It’s breathtaking…!

You need a vacation.  You know this, right?

Wrapping it up, and heading back to the car.

Clouds blew in as we were loading up, and five miles later, the sky darkened.
Brian was a little concerned: isn’t southern Illinois in tornado country…?

And the wind blew sheets of water across the road, the trees whipping all around us!  Thunder, lightning, torrents… It was crazy out there!  It waited until we were done with all of our fun, so we were happy with that!  And this storm was why we had a waterfall at Ferne Clyffe before we left – so it was a total blessing!

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