Japanese Gardens

Ah, what to do when you’re stuck in a place not of your choosing.  If it weren’t for family, I would not visit Rockford, Illinois.  So as the saying goes, when life hands ya lemons, make lemonade.  Thus goes the quest for worthwhile reasons to visit Rockford.

Although Rock Cut State Park is enjoyable, Rockford’s hidden gem is the Anderson Japanese Gardens.  For the past several years, the Japanese Garden has been a regular stop for Al and me during these family visits.  Unfortunately, time did not allow us the luxury of a visit during this particular trip.  However, last fall we did make the time.  We started with breakfast in their restaurant followed by a self-guided tour of the gardens.  And no trip would be complete without time spent in the gift shop.

The Anderson Japanese Gardens is an authentic and award-winning Japanese Garden maintained by the highest of standards.  It is a place of peace and tranquility….an environment of healing, renewal, and inspiration.  It evokes calm.  This is a place for a slow stroll through the beautiful gardens, not to be rushed.  So if I have to be in Rockford, Illinois, I’ll be sure to make time for this hidden gem.

Rock Cut State Park

one of many hiking trails – Rock Cut State Park

Somehow I manage to carve out a little time during this hectic visit to explore Rock Cut State Park.  The Park is located in northern Illinois just off Tollway I-90 and Route 173.  It’s an area of rolling plains, heavily wooded forest, and offers a variety of recreation.

Rock Cut State Park has two lakes among its 3092 acres.  Pierce Lake is perfect for anglers and paddlers while Olson Lake is geared for swimmers.  Recreational options include camping, biking, hiking, canoeing, fishing, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding trails.

The trail system at Rock Cut is designated for specific use.  The trail system is clearly marked and color coded.  Blue trails are for hiking and mountain biking, yellow trails are for equestrian and hiking, and red trails are restricted to hiking only.

Pierce Lake

Picnicking at Rock Cut is probably the most popular activity among visitors.  Picnic areas are scattered throughout the park.  Each park area is complete with tables, grilles, and bathrooms.  At the Pierce Lake boat launch is a concession stand offering drinks, snacks, and a scenic deck overlooking the lake.

If you’re stuck in this part of Illinois, I would recommend spending an afternoon at this park.  I wish I would have had more time to explore the trails.  I thoroughly enjoyed the lushness of the park.

Rock Cut State Park                     815-885-3311         www.dnr.illinois.gov

Ah, Colorado

Home alas.  After a very overwhelming and daunting two weeks in Northern Illinois, we have returned to colorful Colorado.  Loosing a loved one is never pleasant and the need to settle the estate was somber to say the least.  Al and his sisters are doing amazingly well….all things considered.

dad in his garden – hibiscus

On a lighter note, I was able to take the time to visit with my dad, who lives about an hour from Al’s family.  My first visit was spent in dad’s amazing garden followed by lunch at his favorite Chinese buffet.  On my second visit, I brought lunch and then we went to a couple of RV dealers to look at motorhomes.  My mom and dad preferred motorhomes and loved their RVing days.  Although Al and I enjoy the 5th wheel, we occasionally think about changing over to a motorhome.  Dad and I had a great time looking at rigs at the dealership and dad was amazed with all the changes in the RVing industry over the past years.  Oh, and I did find my ‘dream’ RV…….. first purchase when I win the lottory…lol.

I left Illinois and headed west over twenty years ago and haven’t looked back since. Although I love to go back and visit family in the Chicago burbs, with the occasional trip into downtown Chicago, I relish my returns west.  I have become rather accustomed to days and days of sunshine with the occasional overcast.  In Illinois, its days and days of overcast with the occasional day of sunshine.  We also encountered the day and a half of persistent rain and downpour.  My how we’ve forgotten midwestern weather.  Yes, memories flood back.  Yes, we’re ready to return to Colorado.

Colorado is our home, that is when we’re not out traveling in our Rig.  Then it’s “home is where you park it”.