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Starved Rock National Park

Home > Chicago > Day Trips | Fun Things To Do | Outdoor | Rainy Day | Walks
by Beth McGowan (subscribe)
I am a British traveller with a love for writing, photography, and fun! Hoping to share some of my experiences with the world. :)
Published January 23rd 2015
Adventures in Thunder
As always, I jumped at the chance to go on a mini adventure especially as I haven't been able to go on many on my own due to lack of car and lack of the Midwest having anything within walking distance.

Today we took a car drive to a national park. A fairly standard park full of trees, small canyons and beautiful rock formations.

I looked around and thought about how spoilt I'd been calling this stunning place 'standard' because I'd seen so many other impressive national parks throughout the world.

Selfie
Let me take a selfie


There were a few hiking trails so we past many people in sports gear or large backpacks and 'appropriate' foot wear. For myself, unless it is snowing, flip flops are always appropriate.

After walking about 2 miles in, it started to rain. These droplets were huge. The sky went black and in a panic to protect my large camera I followed my boyfriend up a sandy hill to where a big rock wall stood and formed a shelter for us to stand in.

Trying not to think of the 'caution rock fall' and 'keep on the paths' signs it was pretty cool. By this time the rain was torrential and the thunder was getting very loud.

Being English, I am also not used to these huge storms, especially 20 minutes in to one and it still being directly over our heads. And especially being outside under an ancient rock wall. So to the Americans reading this you will probably think I'm dramatizing everything.

I began to feel a little claustrophobic, not that I ever really get claustrophobic but I imagine this is what it would feel like.
Now, I have a very over active imagination. When I was a child being swept away with tales of Peter Pan I swore I could fly, in fact, I still have that 'memory' of flying straight over my paddling pool at my grandparents house. Not very high mind you, just enough to clear it.


Even though I was enjoying the view and the atmosphere relating to Jurassic park like I usually do when I'm somewhere with high trees, this time it actually felt like we were hiding from something. The thunder was awfully loud but didn't really go away. There was always a constant grumble. I was starting to doubt our safety. We were dry from the rain and my camera was safe but we were probably the only ones left in the park and no one could see us as we trailed off the path.

I visualized the roof caving in, or some giant gross looking bug coming out of the cracks. A loud noise turned my attention as a large pile of mud fell from above us. Mudslide I thought, or rocks tumbling down and squashing us or caving us in. I was still able to snapchat my English friends, half 'haha hey check my Jurassic park situation' and half 'if you don't hear from me in 2 days this is my location'


We had been in there over half an hour now and there was no sign of this storm moving on. After repeatedly asking my boyfriend if it was passing and when we could leave this death trap I had imagined. He replied with ' I hope I'm never in an actual natural disaster with you.'

He stuck his head out to scope the situation as I imagined rocks falling on his head leaving me cold, wet and alone with an unconscious boyfriend whose wounds would probably make me faint from the gore. I quickly pulled him back in saying he was probably right to sit it out just incase I was having a final destination premonition. (Maybe I just watch too many movies).

The wall opposite us had formed a rather violent waterfall which was adding to my nervousness. I didn't want our wall to block us in with a waterfall. I was itching to go and finally he agreed as the rain seemed to ease off a little. As soon as we took a few steps outside and I started to feel more comfortable a crack of lighting followed by a monstrous bang had us running back into the shelter. It couldn't have been scripted better.

It started to rain heavily again. My boyfriend was more concerned that the 2 mile walk back was either all covered by trees or out in the open by a large river and he wasn't too comfortable being in that scenery when lightening was so close. He assured me that we were in the safest place. Somewhere I knew he was right but I was more concerned that I was having premonitions and needed to be attempting an escape like all the other people that I assumed left ages ago.

It had been 45 mins to an hour and the rain had eased off again, I persuaded him that we should take our chances while the rain was light as the storm could stick around for hours and my nerves couldn't take anymore splatters of mud falling from above or loud crashes of thunder. Plus all this waiting had started to make me cold. He put my camera around his neck under his t shirt and held the map on top for extra cover. I was wearing a flimsy Lacey white top which wouldn't protect my camera and was sure to be see through in seconds.

We climbed around the wall and headed down the sandy hill which I had feared would be a soggy mud slide and a mission in flip flops although I was pleasantly surprised that it had hardened and was less difficult to walk down than when walking up.

Our next mission was a flooded path. Gushes of water from the hills were racing down toward the river and had blocked a section of the path. There was part of a tree trunk on its side which my boyfriend encouraged me to jump on, then jump over to the rest of the path. I, visualizing myself slipping on this and landing face first into the muddy water and being carried off, hesitated. He jumped with ease but he is also a good foot taller than me. Before having too much of a girly moment, and before we started having a domestic I quickly became aware of my 'appropriate' footwear. I put all thoughts of gross bugs to the back of my mind and waded through the water with no problem.

I was then able to walk ahead. The stairs that made me pant no longer had that effect on me. I felt like Katniss from The Hunger Games leading Peeta through the forest. (Not because my boyfriend is slow or a wimp, or that I'm in anyway shape or form like Jennifer Lawrence but because he was slightly hunching his back to protect my camera which made him walk a little funny).
Selfie
Soggy selfie

The situation went from a fairly scary uncomfortable one to a fairly scary fun one. All I needed was a cross bow and i would be loving it. A little smirk came across my face now and again but soon disappeared with every crack of thunder to remind me to get back to reality.

It was awfully exciting. Running from the big thunder monster. Within two miles I had started in Jurassic park, ran through the hunger games and ended up on Lost. I felt like we had achieved something today. All in a days worth of imagining.
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Why? For a different day out
When: All year
Phone: 8156674726
Where: Deer park, Township, Illinois
Cost: Free
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