Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Illinois Beach State Park

We were out geocaching and took a little side trip to stop at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion.  I can't believe that we live so close and I've never been there.  The area has an interesting history - it was once occupied by 3 Indian tribes, then by trappers and hunters.  During the Civil War it was used as a Union prisoner of war camp and later served as an Army training center for World Wars 1 & 2.  Beginning in 1950, the area has been protected and was turned into a State Park.  The beach itself stretches for 6 1/2 miles and apparently it's the only beach ridge shoreline remaining in the state.  The park has something for everyone with dunes, marshes, plants and animals.  I'd like to go back and explore the hiking trails another day.

It's a short walk to the beach from the parking area....

It was a beautiful clear morning and we could see for miles out onto the lake.  And get this - there were only 2 other people on the entire beach!  I was shocked that it was that empty on a Sunday.

We kicked off our shoes and socks and started strolling along the waters edge.  Before I knew it, Chablis and I were cramming beautiful stones into our pockets.  It reminded me of being on Sanibel Island and snatching up seashells.....

The stones were all worn smooth and were available in a wide variety of colors and shapes...

While Chablis and I performed the "Illinois Beach Stoop," Louie went for a swim....

I didn't have my bathing suit and since we still had caches to find, I didn't want to go swimming in my clothes. But I was very tempted....

Even Snoopy enjoyed the beach....

Afterwards we headed up the road into Wisconsin and did a fun cache called "Pump It Up!"  I know the cache owner and we are very familiar with his hides, so we went prepared.  Do you see the cache?

Even tho we brought our extension grabber, we had to maneuver the car into place in order to reach the cache - it was still a stretch!

Another cache we did was called "It's About Time."  It was hidden near this Carillon Memorial.

This is the Carillon.  Have you ever heard of a carillon?  I hadn't.  Apparently it's a musical instrument that's housed inside a bell tower of some sort.  I thought it looked like a huge wind chime.  While we were standing there it started ringing and it was actually pretty nice sounding.

We searched for the cache and we found the log sheet and a pencil stuffed into some flowers, so we're guessing the cache got muggled.  We signed the log sheet, placed it underneath the memorial plague and when I posted my log, we notified the cache owner that he needed to replace his cache.

Our final cache of the day took us to "PI Prairie's Chiwaukee Prairie."  This geocache was placed in what is now the largest section of prairie in Kenosha County that was never touched by a plow.  It's right on the shore of Lake Michigan and we were happy to get out and walk along the beach again.

This section of beach didn't have as many nice stones as the earlier section did, but you can tell by my pockets that I still managed to find a few to my liking....

Many of you know how much I treasure things I find in nature.  Here are a few of the stones I picked up and brought home.  Can you see the one small stone on the bottom?  It's kind of blue and white.  I'm thinking this might be a piece of pottery and not a stone because of the strange color and design.  Chablis found that one.

I kind of like them all piled up like that.  Sort of relaxing, don't you think? Very Zen....

The stones all look much better when they're wet because you can see the deeper colors and patterns.  If anyone knows what I should use to polish them up so they stay shiny, please let me know.


  1. What a beautiful state park and lovely beach. We pick up stones on the beach, too. Anything pretty or unique catches my eye. Some of yours look like the ones that they crochet around. I know it sounds odd...but there are lots of them on pinterest and they are beautiful. Enjoy your week!

  2. For being a lake, it sure has a nice beach! What a beautiful place. I'd love to visit this area some day. I love rocks, too. I've picked up some pretty ones over the years, and have some green one's from Wyoming. Yours are so smooth, and that does look totally zen all stacked up.

  3. Wow you had to reach to get that one. I am always amazed at how the lakes remind me of the beach minus the big waves. So pretty. Looked very inviting. I am sure you wanted to take a dip. Take your suit next time.

  4. Looks like a great day of beautiful beaches and good finds!

  5. I love your rock finds that entry to the beach reminds me of Sanibel. Looks like you had a great trip. You guys are always doing something as a family. So very cool!

  6. Ahhhh! Love the IBS .... oh probably not a great acronymn for your stoop. I love rocks too but they weigh my pants down when my pockets get full. I swear you & Chablis are the perfect Amazing Race team. xo

    1. Oh, we'd LOVE to be on the Amazing Race - that's our dream!

  7. Hi Kim,

    Your geocaching adventures look like fun. My husband and I have done a few of those; I'd like to try some more sometime. I enjoyed your photos of the beach and Lake Michigan -- lovely!

    Thanks for your comments on my "Mountain Treasures" post. I hope you have a great weekend!

    Denise at Forest Manor

  8. You can use mineral oil to keep your rocks wet looking. That's what they use on sandstone countertops.

  9. I love the music from the "carillon"! There was one on the Li├Ęge Cathedral (in Belgium) and every weekday at 11 someone would play a beautiful piece of music on it for about 10', was beautiful!
    Many old Gothic churches and belltowers in Belgium and Northern France have carillons, and they're very proud of them! Check out this video on YouTube:

    Lol! When you wrote "beach" above I was like "in Illinois?!?!?!" completely forgetting about all the lakes! For me the word beach immediately makes me think of the sea! :p


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