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Sunday, July 26, 2015

July 26th Thornton Reservoir Tour

Not really a hike, but an adventure... and learning experience.

Today was the day I finally got to go into the quarry on Interstate 80.  I have driven over it many times and marveled at its size.  A friend from work (Joe), mentioned he was going to take the tour before they flooded it.  I have always wanted to take the tour.  Now was the time.  They have been working on this reservoir project since 1975.  This quarry has been operational since the 1830's. The capacity for this reservoir is 7.9 billion gallons.

Once we arrived and got checked in, they had posters showing us various  projects. 

The poster on the left is the "drill bit"  that bore out the hole to the tunnel

This is an Aeriel view of the Thornton Reservoir and Quarry

Once checked in, we could take whatever pamphlets we wanted.  They also had bottled water, bananas and cookies. 

Picked up a few postcards for Kayla

All of us getting a staged photo

We boarded the mini bus and we were off

The road we went down on was twice as long as the length of the reservoir.  Once we went the length we turned a corner and went the rest of the way down.

Can you see Rt. 80 on the other side?  The concrete wall is a dam between the reservoir and the quarry. The capacity is about 1/2 way up the dam wall.

Making the turn

30 foot tunnel opening

There is a concrete splash pad deflector.  When the water comes through the tunnel, it will come with force.  They want it to be deflected as to not damage the floor of the reservoir.  Every thing that goes into the storm drain will come in here.

300 feet deep

Can you see the road we came down?

Going back

I can't remember the name of these items, but they are the things that will operate the doors for the tunnel.  They were made in Austria and tested in Pennsylvania.

When they open the tunnel, the water drainage will help the following communities: Blue Island,, Burnham, Calumet City, Calumet Park, Chicago, Dixmoor, Dolton, Harvey, Lansing, Markham, Phoenix, Posen, Riverdale, South Holland.  The water will come in and then be pumped in to the water reclamation plant in Calumet and then clean water will be released into the river system.

I tried to pay attention to the details that the guide gave us.  Hope all my information is correct.  It was a very informative day.  

I will leave you with this: Try to learn something new every day!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

07-23-2015 Aurora, St. Louis Canyon

Theme photo of the day!

Today for Walker's Club, we were scheduled to go into St. Louis Canyon and Aurora Canyon, passing Sac and Kickapoo Canyons. We generally go to St. Louis first and drop down into Aurora Canyon on they way back.  I thought we would switch it up this time.  Jack from the club says "Going to Aurora Canyon is like having dessert first"  Well said!!  My favorite Canyon is Aurora!
On my way to work yesterday I stopped to take this photo by the Illinois Community College.  The cloud was just hanging there over the field.  Couldn't resist

New carving near the pool patio "Illinois Symbols"

An early "touch me not"

Going into Aurora Canyon

Only so many people fit in Aurora Canyon

The rest of the Walker's Club.  No water in Aurora Canyon

Top of Sac Canyon

Blue Cohosh - the berries are almost blue

Turkey Vulture sunning himself.  We saw him on the West Bluff trail on the way to St. Louis Canyon

Indian Pipe - or the Corpse Plant.  This wildflower does not make any chlorophyll

Coming down the steps heading to St. Louis Canyon

St. Louis Canyon

Everyone loves the Waterfall in St. Louis Canyon

Wild Hydrangea - We have many of these in the park

Ten Petal Sunflower

On the way back to the Lodge, we spotted this pretty big Snapping Turtle. This turtle was about 9 inches wide by 14 inches long.  The top portion of the shell is called the Carapace.  The Scutes are the big squares on the shell.  Most turtles have 13 of these.

When we came upon this turtle, he was on top of this log.  We thought he was stuck or dead.  Turns out he was just hanging out.  When we came upon him, he went off the log and rolled onto his back.  He eventually turned over and was on his way.

He wanted us to leave....
We had 30 hikers today for the walk.  The weather was great for a hike, about 83.  

I will leave you with this: I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

Monday, July 20, 2015

July 16th, 18th, Illinois, LaSalle and Wildcat Canyons

Thursday July 16th was with the Walker's Club.  It hasn't rained for a while, so I thought we would be alright to hike at the East end of the park into Kaskaskia, Ottawa and Illinois Canyons.  We carpooled and parked in Ottawa / Kaskaskia Canyon Parking area.  I was badly mistaken.  It was a mud pit with heavy mosquitoes.  One of our walkers fell going into Kaskaskia so I walked her back to her car.  
Theme photo of the hike

Beginning of the mud.  The planks laying there should have been my first clue of what was to come.

Pick a log, any log, all are slippery

Looks like the spring time shooting star.  But it is too far into the summer.  Any thoughts?

Illinois Canyon

Little frog in Illinois Canyon

Illinois Canyon - Yes that is a mosquito net on Kevin's head.  They were very plentiful

Chicory, along the road from Illinois Canyon back to Ottawa Canyon parking lot
 On my way home for the day, I stopped along the prairie entrance and took a few photos.
Purple Prairie Clover

Wild Bergamot
 On Saturday July 18th, I was the one scheduled for a guided hike.  Yes, it was hot.  Don't know the temperature but it was HOT with high HUMIDITY.  When I arrived back at the Lodge around 2:30p.m. all my clothes were drenched.  The group was from Northern Illinois University.  It was a group of students from all over the world.  In my group they were from Brazil, Taiwan, Pakistan, Ecuador, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.  Very interesting to talk with.
My group on Eagle's Cliff

View of the Dam from Eagle's Cliff

Bufferfly along the trail to Wildcat Canyon

Jessica (from Brazil).  I went to Brazil about 20 years ago with the Rotary Group Study Exchange.  Jessica and I talked quite a bit about what she misses most about Brazil and what I liked while I was visiting there.  She is studying Engineering.  Good Luck Jessica, thanks for a great hike!

The other guide for the group was Kevin.  We split the group in half.  Kevin kept his group cool with his misting fan.  We met in LaSalle Canyon at lunch time.

Many people were already in LaSalle Canyon when we arrived. 

Wildcat Canyon from the Eastern Upper overlook

Upper waterfall in Wildcat Canyon
 We also have had Bud Hainzinger here carving our latest chainsaw carving.  It is called Illinois Officials.  Come take a look.  It is near our pool patio on the West side of the Lodge.

Illinois Officials

I like it when all of the carvers sign them and put the date.  Thanks Bud! Nice Job!
It's been hot and buggy.  If you plan on hiking this summer, bring lots of water and bug spray and you will be fine.

I will leave you with this: Remember... Dreams are the seedlings of Realities.  And it is often from the fertile soil of failure that they grow.