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Eating in Oregon, Illinois

La Vigna

Our table the second night

While we were in Oregon IL on our quest to find buffalo, we obviously had to eat dinner too. The first night we found a Mexican place that was quite good, but the second night (after a recommendation from our B&B hostess) we discovered La Vigna. We liked it so much that we returned there on our final evening. 

Grampie and our granddaughter check photos of the buffalo
Our granddaughter thought the salad was great

This Italian-themed restaurant is a few miles south of Oregon, along the road on the way to Nachusa Grasslands, in a small hamlet called Daysville. We’d seen it in a pamphlet about eating options in the area, plus the first time we drove to Nachusa Grasslands we passed it, so we knew where it was. 

Luckily, the first time we were able to get a table and the second time we made a reservation, as it’s obviously very popular with local people. Tables are well spaced, and all the staff wear masks, so it felt “safe”. The atmosphere is pretty lively, the food was great, and all our wait staff really friendly and helpful. The meal starts when the server brings a basket of warm, newly-baked bread, which is delicious—our granddaughter really liked that! The menu has many different pasta dishes, veal, some steaks, seafood, and a couple of typical Italian desserts, such as tiramisu. There’s a full bar, and quite an extensive wine list—-we enjoyed an Italian sauvignon blanc, which is not typically a common Italain varietal. 

A very nice seafood dish
She was very happy with the pork knuckle

La Vigna has been operating as a restaurant here since 1994, but it turns out that the building and site has quite a history, as we read on the cover of the menu. The menu cover also has some interesting old photos from the early 1930s.

The tiramisu was a huge hit
We had tiramisu both nights!

As the menu cover tells us: “The community of Daysville once boasted at least two hotels, a clothing store, a candy store and a grocery store, which is now La Vigna Restaurant. In 1868 Lyman Reed began running the grocery store, which he later sold to Al and Hazel Lundstrom in the early 1900s. The original store burned down in 1940. Lundstrom, a lifetime Daysville resident, built a new grocery store, which became the meeting place of the community. During the summer, Lundstrom would put up a screened lean-to along the store that served as an ice cream parlor, beer parlor, or just a gathering place to play a game of cards. Daysville was originally planned to be the center of Nachusa Township but when the rail road came to this part of the country, it was passed over in favor of Oregon.

Now we want to know more!

2190 South Daysville Road, Oregon, IL

Tel: 815-732-4413

It’s main website is on FaceBook.

Finding Buffalo

Our first view of a small herd

On our final full day in Oregon, IL, we decided at the end of the day, before we went to early dinner, that we would look again for the buffalo in the Nachusa Grasslands. Many animals in preserves (and in the wild) come out of hiding more after the heat of the day, so we were cautiously optimistic.

Some of the groups had calves too

We went first to the Visitor Center again, this time just parking and walking up the road to the Center, not taking the long trail walk (https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2021/09/08/exploring-illinois-nachusa-grasslands-preserve-where-the-buffalo-roam/ ). Out came the binocs and we all scanned the landscape in all directions and from every possible angle. Not a buffalo to be seen. What disappointment.

So, as a last chance, we drove along the road that divides the two bison units (now connected by an underground tunnel). And bingo! There was a small herd on a slight rise right next to the road. We pulled off the road right onto the verge and parked, with great excitement. 

Out came the cameras, and everyone was happily clicking away. The animals were close enough to see clearly, but still at least 50 yards away, so we needed to zoom in a bit. Our daughter allowed our granddaughter to stand on the roof of the car to get a better view—and to take photos with her iPad! Some of the buffalo moved a bit, and so did we, getting different views.

There were a number of adults, the large shaggy heads and horns very obvious, and a number of young ones—about three, as far as we could see. The area where they were had shorter grass, so we could see them: possibly the bison have eaten much of the grass, helping to manage the prairie. We learned that the buffalo don’t eat the flowers generally.

Prairie grasses

It’s wonderful to see buffalo in Illinois and to know that the herd is increasing naturally. It’s a great example of land management and animal conservation. Apparently, the herd is now between 120-130 animals, and the Nature Conservancy is looking to expand the area of the Nachusa Grasslands. One information board in the Visitor Center tells us that Nachusa Grasslands is an example of a model restoration of a prairie ecosystem. We feel very privileged to have seen these magnificent animals that used to roam freely in herds of many thousands in many parts of the USA.

Part 1: SEARCHING FOR BUFFALO

We read about the Nachusa Grasslands Preserve in a Nature Conservancy magazine recently and were very surprised to learn that Illinois has a place where the buffalo roam in tall-grass prairie and woodlands—and not only buffalo, but lots of other birds and creatures.  It’s an enticing idea, so we decided to visit the area for a few days, basing ourselves in the small town of Oregon, IL, in Ogle Country, a couple of hours west of Chicago.

On our first full day there we set out to explore. The preserve is about a 25-minute drive south of Oregon. Luckily, we’d picked up a pamphlet with a map at our B&B, the Pinehill Inn (https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2021/08/16/staying-in-northern-illinois/ ). 

The Nature Conservancy owns large pockets of prairie, wetlands, and savanna, some of which are connected, some separated by farmland. All are open to the public every day from dawn till dusk, except for the two large bison units. The bison units are enclosed with special fencing, to keep bison in and people out. We learned from our host at Pinehill Inn that quite recently the Nature Conservancy constructed a tunnel under the road, so the two units are now connected and the bison can freely move between the two.

Rod shows how tall some of the grasses are
Rod and I on a rock near the Visitor Center, surrounded by prairie

The American bison is also commonly known as the American buffalo. It’s a species of bison that once commonly roamed North America in vast herds. We wondered where the name buffalo came from: apparently, it’s derived from the French “boeuf” (beef, cow), which is what the French fur trappers in the USA in the early 1600s called the animals they saw. We, too, tend to use the words bison and buffalo inter-changeably so, if I use both words here, we’re not talking about different animals.

The Visitor Center
We begin the winding trail to the Visitor Center

It’s best to go first to the Visitor Center, just off Lowden Road. Park in the parking area and you can see the Center on a small hill nearby. But, to access it the Conservancy suggests that visitors walk a trail that runs along the edge of the buffalo fence and through some lovely prairie, so we did that. The adventure began, with us all hoping to see some buffalo/bison.

On the path, our granddaughter checks for buffalo

The trail winds through the prairie, up and down small undulating hills, with amazing views out over the landscape. Information boards at one point explain about fire management and prescribed fire to stimulate plants and set back exotic invasive brush. Birds sing, swooping and diving, and beautiful butterflies flitter over the colorful prairie flowers, bright yellow and pink or purple mostly. But, no sign of bison. The sun was out, the air clear with a slight breeze, the sky blue; we saw many birds, insects and amazing fossils in the stones are the Visitor Center so it was still a good day.

Apparently, buffalo don’t usually eat the flowers
Approaching the Visitor Center

At the Visitor Center we all got out our binoculars and eagerly scanned the landscape in all directions. Plenty of birds, with melodious names like dickcissels and red-headed woodpeckers, but sadly only a small group of buffalo in the very far distance, visible with the binocs but not really with the naked eye. 

Hopefully looking out

The Visitor Center is an open-style building with large colorful information boards, and buttons to press that give information, and recorded bird and animal sounds, but has no staff on hand to speak to. There’s all kinds of information about the bison, so we know they are around somewhere, obviously hiding in thickets of trees beyond the range of the binocs, or at the bottom of a hill. The resident bison herd is now over 150 animals. 

In the Visitor Center
A metal cut-out buffalo in the Visitor Center
Lots of bison/buffalo information

There are WCs at the Visitor Center, the cleanest long-drop toilets we’ve ever seen, and a water pump with potable water.

Nature Conservancy needs volunteers . The toilets are in the small building to the left

Back in the car, we decided to drive around the perimeter of the Bison Units as much as we could and pull over at any stopping places. But, still we struck out. No bison today for us. All the local people we spoke to told us that seeing the bison is the luck of the draw, that sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. So, we’ll try another day and hope to see these magnificent beasts. (Spoiler: we did!)

We’d always learned that before westerners and farmers arrived in Illinois, it was covered in tall-grass prairie (hence one of its nicknames, the Prairie State), but that farmland soon took over much of it. We were interested to find that Illinois could have such a large swath of grasslands, which is recognized as one of the best examples of habitat restoration in the Midwest, so we tried to find out a little more.

Map and explanation of Nachusa Grasslands

Brief History of Nachusa

More than 30 years ago, the Nature Conservancy in Illinois became interested in this area—small prairies and oak savannas interspersed with corn fields. Since then, they have acquired more land, and protected and restored this critical grassland habitat that makes up Nachusa Grasslands Preserve. It now comprises more than 4,000 acres and its success has an impact across the USA—and probably further afield. Scientists come to Nachusa to study soils, grasses, insects, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians to help understand grassland habitats and how to restore them. So, the knowledge gained in Illinois can be shared with people interested in conservation and restoration in other places. The Nature Conservancy is always looking for volunteers, to harvest seeds, help with weed management, and assist with prescribed fire.

Web site www.nachusagrasslands.org

What to Do in Oregon, Illinois

Part of Oregon Park West. There’s a statue on the hill

Solar Reef

Oregon, IL is an interesting town, with a number of restaurants, bars and cafes. It also has three lovely parks, run by the park district. One hot afternoon we went to Oregon Park West. It’s a large park, with a playground, a splash pad, basketball courts, a small sledding hill circled by a bike/walking path, a patch of restored prairie, and various picnic areas. 

Fun in the splash pad

While our little granddaughter had fun in the splash pad, Rod and I walked the path around the hill, a very pleasant stroll, some shaded. On the top of the hill is an intriguing sculpture and, as we love outdoor art, we took a closer look. And, it really needs a loser look because from afar it’s not possible to see the details.

The plaque says it’s called “Solar Reef”, sculpted by Andrew Langoussis in 2009. 

We found out that Andrew Langoussis is a sculptor and painter from the nearby city of Rockford and that he called it “Soujourner: Solar Reef” when it was unveiled in the park in June 2010. 

It’s a large, shiny bronze circle that was cast from sanded-down particle board, while the landscape details around the perimeter were all molded from clay. Langoussis said during his dedication speech that agricultural cultures have used the circle as a symbol for probably thousands of years. He said this is a stylized sun surrounded by many landscape features, such as fields and hills. He wanted this sculpture to be placed on the hill because, in his opinion, sculptures are often place on higher ground so they can be looked up to.

We thought it was fascinating, but actually we couldn’t see the landscape features clearly—there are multiple details and protrusions around the edge, but nothing very recognizable to us!

Details on the side
More details

Staying in northern Illinois

Pinehill Inn B & B

Front view of this historic building

We recently spent 4 days in and around Oregon IL on the Rock River (yes, Oregon in Illinois!), in northern Illinois, not too far west of Chicago. And it was another adventure discovering more interesting places in Illinois. 

The main reason we went there was because we’d heard about the Nachusa Grasslands and a herd of buffalo there. We were intrigued that Illinois has wild buffalo that live in prairie grasslands and hoped that we would actually see these magnificent creatures.

At the front door
Our granddaughter unlocking the door one evening

But first we had to have a place to stay, so we chose the Pinehill Inn B & B in Oregon. Oregon is just a small town, but there are a number of places to stay and to eat. We are happy that we chose the Pinehill as it is a lovely place. It’s in a historic building that was originally built in 1874, not too long after the end of the American Civil War, and is now a registered Historic Site. There are 6 unique guest rooms of different sizes, all en-suite, with TV and mini fridge. Each has its own character and many are furnished with lovely antique  or period furniture and furnishings.

Lamp and wallpaper in our room

 

The parlor

Stairway upstairs to the bedrooms

On the ground floor is a period parlor, two dining areas, a screened-in porch and a long verandah. Continental breakfast is included in the price, but it’s possible to have a full, cooked breakfast for a little extra. There is a Butler’s Pantry off the dining room, where guests can take complimentary cold drinks and snacks, make tea of coffee, or borrow wine glasses at any time. The hosts always had the fridge well-stocked and we were able to have plenty of fresh water bottles—a good thing, as the weather was very hot.

From this angle you can see the long verandah on the left, and the screened-in porch on the right.
The verandah and part of the extensive gardens

We were out and about every day, but a couple of evenings we sat on the verandah, enjoying the night sounds, and our little granddaughter had fun rambling around the garden with a lantern, looking for owls!

Sitting on the verandah easy evening

The hosts, Chris and Ken, have everything well organized and the whole place is spotless. However, they now want to retire and have put the Pinehill on the market, so who knows what will happen in the months to come.

Taking photos in the garden

The Pinehill is easy to find, very comfortable, and has plenty of parking. It is also available for special events, such as weddings and elopements, bridal and baby showers, receptions and high teas. If we ever return, we will check it out again.

http://www.pinehillbb.com

Imposing entrance gates and vines on the hill

Blue Sky: Another Winery in southern Illinois

A Heavenly Place

Some of the vines at Blue Sky
Blue Sky Winery from the parking lot

During the pandemic we have not been able to travel much except to drive to places in our state. So, we made the most of that situation and decided to explore Illinois as much as we could, going both north and south and finding places that were open during the shutdowns and lockdowns, and finding that Illinois is very versatile and has much to offer.

One of the things we’ve been saying for ages that we should do, is to visit the wineries in southern Illinois. We love wine and always visit vineyards and wine areas in countries that we visit, but had never done any in Illinois. This was, then, our opportunity.

I wrote about a couple of the wineries that we visited in 2020. See here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2020/11/12/wineries-in-southern-illinois-alto-vineyards/ and here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2020/12/01/other-southern-illinois-wineries/

 The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is well organized and obviously popular—maybe more so now with many local people doing the same as us and deciding to explore their own backyard, as it were. 

One of the wine route signs
Emery and I approach the entrance

During spring break in March this year, we spent a week in a cabin just south of Carbondale, which was wonderful—see here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2021/06/18/traveling-and-staying-in-southern-illinois/ . 

During that week, we re-visited Alto Winery and the Peachbarn (in those earlier posts), but also went to two new wineries.

The first was called Blue Sky and we were very impressed. In fact, we liked it so much that we returned another day.

Blue Sky
Vines on the hill
The interior is bright and cheerful

The winery sits on a small hill, planted with vines, with good views out to the Shawnee National Forest. The winery building is done in the Tuscan style and the outside is a warm burnt-orange color. Inside, the tasting area is really impressive—a high-ceiling with hand-hewn beams and antique metal fans. Over the serving/tasting counter is a type of atrium, and we can see the second floor wrapping around it, and we wonder if that’s where the two B&B suites are. Much of the room is decorated with wood paneling, and beautiful tiles, which we discovered are from Portugal, plus various paintings and flags. Lighting is a warm gold, the whole creating a lovely inviting atmosphere. Tables are scattered around the floor space, appropriately separated for social distancing. There is also seating outside on the patio, but it was still rather chilly in March, so we opted for inside.

The counter is along one side of the tasting room
Sonya bought me a new, fun mask!
One of the tile pictures

The tasting counter runs along one side of the room with the wines lined up behind that. There’s a wide range of wines—red, rose, and white, and dry to sweet, and many have very interesting, colorful labels. The girl who served us explained that some of the labels are copies of the art work on the walls here. What a nice concept. 

Bottles of wine
One of the paintings that inspired a label
And another

You can do a tasting flight, but we opted for a bottle of their driest white wine, called Vintner’s Select (and a beer for Sonya), which was actually pretty good. They serve light food too, but we didn’t try as we had already had lunch.

Us inside
Us inside

The winery opened in July 2005, but the idea of a vineyard began in the 1990s when Jim Ewers thought about growing grapes. He discussed it with his father-in-law, Barrett Rochman, but it was only in 1999 that they could begin the project. They consulted with the state viticulturist and did much reading and planning, finally getting the first vines planted in spring 2001.

The winery is open daily, and follows a Covid-19 policy. It is also available for events, such as weddings. And you can stay in one of the two B&B suites. 

3150 S. Rocky Comfort Rd

Dry wine menu
The food menu
Another tile picture
A banner hanging from the ceiling
Whimsical horse statue outside

Allerton Park’s Peony Garden

I’ve written before about Allerton Park, not far from Urbana where we live. It is a local jewel in central Illinois and we visited many times during the coronavirus pandemic and all the shutdowns and lockdowns, as in Illinois we were still allowed to walk outside, if masked and socially distanced. Here’s a general description.

Rod and I in the Peony Garden

Everything in the park is lovely, for different reasons, but probably one of the most stunning features is the Peony Garden when it’s in bloom. The peak is around mid-May and last year, 2020, we caught the peak perfectly. You can see a couple of nice photos here:

Our young granddaughter smelling the peonies

The Peony Garden, which was designed in the 1920s (wow, 100 years ago!), was one of Robert Allerton’s favorites. You approach it along a tree-lined alley that has a statue of Adam roughly in the center. On one side of the alley behind the trees is the peony garden and on the other side is another part of the spring garden that largely features gorgeous irises. As the sign tells us, there are special gardens for each of the seasons and the Peony Garden, with the irises, is the spring garden. 

There are apparently more than 1,600 peony plants in about 70 varieties. This creates a stunning display of shapes; single and double blooms; and colors, ranging from pure white, to pink, to scarlet, to mottled and two-tone blossoms. Most of the varieties have a special sign with its name, size, and information about who donated it. The names are often very cute or fanciful, such as Raspberry Clown, Garden Treasure, or Coral Charm.

Allerton Park has an ongoing fundraising effort, to try and get enough to build a handicapped-accessible path, so anyone can get in and enjoy it. Right now, there is a pea gravel path, which limits accessibility. 

This year, 2021, we only managed to get to Allerton for the Memorial Day weekend at the end of May, and sadly the peony blossoms were mostly past their prime. They were still lovely, but the peak of the show was over.

Our young granddaughter didn’t know, or care. She was hugely excited and skipped around smelling different peony blossoms, declaring each one “the best” or “my favorite”. It was wonderful to watch. We definitely need to make time to stop and smell the peonies! 

In the last post I wrote about Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in east central Illinois. Obviously, we expected to see reindeer, and hayrides were not unexpected. The ranch has expanded over the years to include other activities that are fun for kids, such as pedal race carts ($4 each to rent), a corn maze in the fall, and a small playground with swings shaped like reindeer heads. There is also a Banquet Hall that serves up a chuck wagon meal and often has performers and bands.

Swings

But what was unexpected was to find some old Texaco pumps just in front of the building housing the Pedal Race Carts. They are fun and colorful, but I couldn’t find any obvious link to the ranch, other than the fact that their website says that “Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch was built with the Motor Coach Industry in mind.” The verandah of the pedal race carts building also has a number of car tires, and many signs and ads about cars and driving necessities, so perhaps that is the link.

Rod at the pumps

Texaco started in 1902 in Texas, and was initially called The Texas Company. According to the Texaco website “the first Texaco star arrived in 1903, when a 19-year-old Italian refinery worker suggested we embrace the five-pointed symbol of Texas. He later added a green “T” – a color scheme he probably picked up from the Italian flag.

Over time, the logo changed subtly to what it is today, a red T on a white star.

The logo we see here is either from the 1902-1931 period, or 1932-1959, so it’s quite old. It’s interesting what you can find on your travels!

Reindeer Ranch in east central Illinois

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we were lucky enough to catch a rare warm-weather opening of Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch, not too far from Urbana in east central Illinois. Usually, the ranch is open from fall to Christmas when the weather is cooler and the reindeer are more comfortable outside. During the warm/hot season the reindeer are mostly in a special barn with fans because, after all, they are reindeer that originally came from Alaska, which is much colder than east central Illinois.

some of the reindeer in one field
Mother and baby reindeer

But this particular weekend the ranch was open for a couple of days because there were reindeer babies and the owners wanted to give the public a chance to meet the new reindeer. The ranch is owned by Mark and Julie Hardy and it’s obvious that they love the reindeer and have worked hard to make the ranch a success. In the winter months they also have Christmas trees and pumpkins for sale, hay rides, pedal cars, and a very complicated corn maze with a different theme each year. 

This baby was playing with a stick
The mother is never far away

The Saturday afternoon we went was the final day open and we were lucky to see all four of the new baby reindeer. The babies are dark brown, but one was almost black with white ‘socks’—very cute. The adults looked a little moth-eaten as they were losing clumps of fur, but the guide told us that it’s quite normal for them to molt at this time of year, as a way of trying to keep cool. Apparently their velvety antlers are very sensitive and the guide warned us not to touch them.

The cute one with its white “socks”
This mother had twins. You can see how her fur is beginning to molt

For a fee ($5 per person), you can enter the pens with a guide (reindeer tour about every half hour), who gives each visitor a handful of oats and some Graham crackers to feed the reindeer. The reindeer are very tame and very friendly, so it is easy to pat them and feed them. Comet, a large male, was especially friendly and put his hooves up on the railings and his head over the top of the railings, almost like he was begging for a treat! Our young granddaughter was a little intimidated by the closeness of these quite large animals, so she was hesitant, but the adults in our party were very happy to hold out their hands. We didn’t feed the babies, as they are still being fed by their mothers.

It seems Comet is saying “feed me”!
Rod feeds another large reindeer. You can pat the nose and head but not the antlers
Nath is happy to try

As the website tells us, Mark and Julie started the ranch in 1995 when they bought two reindeer to help sell Christmas trees on the farm. In 1997 they went to Alaska to buy 13 more reindeer, which were specially crated and shipped in Jumbo planes. 

An interesting experience. We had never been to the ranch before and will try to visit in winter when there is snow on the ground—that will make the experience more authentic, I think.

For more information on directions, hours etc. go to their website: https://reindeerranch.com/location.html

Rod feeds a smaller one

Cabin at Mountain Glen

Front entrance to the cabin
Back of cabin. Note hot tub on deck to the left

We wanted to spend a week in southern Illinois with our family from St Louis during the St Louis spring break. So, we looked online and made phone calls and discovered that many other people must have had the same idea, as lots of the possible accommodation was already reserved. But, we happened on the Cabin at Mountain Glen and luckily they were free for that period.

It’s situated just outside of the village of Cobden, which is about 20 miles south of Carbondale, right on the edge of the Shawnee Forest. The cabin is on a side road, fairly isolated, with a large field in front of it and a forest beyond, so it is quiet and you can spot many birds.

The front porch, perfect for coffee in the morning
You can see how spacious the living area is
Covered outdoor shelter, just steps from the front door

What a wonderful find in all ways. The cabin is lovely and very well appointed, and the host has thought of all the details to make it a pleasant stay for her guests. We were 4 adults and a 5-year-old, and we easily fit. You enter the cabin off a covered front porch with rocking chairs and tables, perfect for coffee in the mornings. Then you step into a living area with a high cathedral-like ceiling, with a staircase off to one side that leads up to one bedroom with a half-bathroom. Off the dining-kitchen area is a hallway to a second bedroom that is en-suite, but the bathroom also with access to the living area. 

It’s possible to cook inside in the kitchen, but every evening we opted to cook outside. Just a few yards from the house is a covered outdoor shelter. The shelter has a charcoal grill, plus a fireplace at the back end, and plenty of chopped wood stacked outside. We cooked on the grill and made a fire every evening, as the evenings were still quite chilly. In fact, it became a ritual for our granddaughter and my husband to clean the grate and lay a new fire each evening. She loved it.

My husband and granddaughter making a fire
Contemplating the fire

A couple of days it was rainy, but that didn’t matter—we could still cook and sit outside at the large picnic table in the shelter. Being outside really made us feel like we were in the countryside, listening to the sound of Barred owls, and watching the stars twinkling in a sky with very little urban light. Very restful and therapeutic.

There is also a hot tub on a deck off the downstairs bedroom. Our daughter, her partner, and our granddaughter tried it one morning and were very happy. The cabin is built on a slope, so there is a lower level at the back. The basement has a washer and dryer, plus large trash cans.

Grilling on the edge of the shelter
Enjoying the shelter
One walk in Giant City State Park

The cabin is also well placed for many day excursions. Giant City State Park (named for the huge rocks and cliffs in the forest) is about 25 minutes away and has a number of lovely walks and a really good Visitors’ Center with a small museum. There are also a number of wineries on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, where you can taste wines and/or have lunch. Some of them have live music outdoors over the weekend, which is fun. 

Also, just north of Giant City State Park and a little south of Carbondale is Boo Castle Park, which the cabin host recommended as a great place for children, and it sure is. It’s one of the most amazing playgrounds we’ve ever seen for children, both big and small. It was built by the family of a young man killed nearby in a car accident to memorialize him. The main theme is dungeons and dragons, and the whole structure looks like a huge castle, with ramps, stairs, secret passageways, covered walkways etc. Both in the castle-structure and all over the grounds are many statues of dragons, wizards, knights, and many others. Heraldic flags flutter and heraldic signs dot the whole structure. It’s very popular and a lot of fun.

One entrance to Boo Castle Park

We enjoyed our stay in this area of Illinois so much that we’d really like to return in the fall, when we can imagine that the fall colors will be glorious. And we’d love to stay in the cabin again, so we are crossing fingers that we can!

Thanks again to the cabin host.

http://www.winetrailcabins.com

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