90,000 Miles to Me

32,478 Miles • Garden of the Gods

Driving through southern Indiana and into southern Illinois, I found:

  • Street name: Hardscrabble Road
  • Town name: Santa Claus, Indiana – children here really do believe in Santa Claus, but he isn’t coming, they live in him.
  • Street name: Salty Dog Road
  • Street name: Street Road
  • Street name: Fee Fee Road 

At the recommendation of my hosts, I headed south from Evansville, IN, to the Garden of the Gods Recreation Area and Shawnee National Forest, Illinois, and spent the next few days boondocking around different parts of Shawnee National Forest, and what follows is mostly eye candy from that region.

At the Garden of the Gods, a quarter mile loop trail showcased interesting sandstone rock formations from when this was an underwater sea.

The dark, reddish-brown swirls and rings on the rocks are called liesegang bands. Long ago, when this sandstone was underground, it was saturated with ground water mixed with iron.

Chemical changes caused the iron to rust and solidify between the rock particles. Held together by iron, these dark bands have resisted weathering more than the softer, light colored rock.

The Shawnee National Forest was dotted with tiny towns and private farms. Outside of Ozark, IL, is this curious, tiny cemetery. Hmm, so that’s how the dead get mail…

There are no buildings of any kind for more than a mile in every direction, only a sign with the name of the cemetery—est. 1891.

In the town of Jonesboro, Illinois, I came across a historical marker where the Lincoln Douglas debate took place in 1858. 

At least two short stretches of road covered the same ground as the original Trail of Tears. The pretty scenery today belies its tragic past.

Good night, Illinois.

Crossing the western state line into Missouri, I spent a night in the Maintz Wildlife Preserve. In the morning I took lots of pictures of a little bird on a branch flitting to and fro, catching insects, and continually coming back to the branch. I tried to get a picture of her wings in motion, and though they all came out blurry, I like the mood and motion of them. Here are the best, from many hundreds that were too blurry to see.

It rained off and on through the night and the next morning, which give me ample time at my favorite spectator sport: I figured out a long time ago that I can sit in the passenger seat of the cab and turn around, with my legs crossed so that my body is toward the back of the seat, and I can lean back against the dash and look almost straight up through the big windows to stargaze.

A few days ago I did that for the first time while it was raining and discovered I could watch individual raindrops falling directly toward my eyes, hitting the glass just a few inches above my face, and it was amazing! I just have to find the right angle to look directly into the path of where they are coming from.

I spent the morning entire morning watching raindrops fall toward my face, and even managed to get it on video.

Look for where the drops appear to originate, and see if you can follow their trails through the air to your eyes.

Have fun!