About once a year we try to make it down to southern Illinois for a weekend trip in and around Giant City State Park near Carbondale, IL. It’s a place we’ve been going with my parents since I was a little girl. While my husbands ideal vacation usually involves sand, ocean and warm breezes, I much prefer the stillness of the deep woods, a chill in the air and nothing but dirt under my feet. That’s why I love Giant City State Park so much. It’s secluded, peaceful and just too pretty for words.
(view from the water tower near the Giant City Lodge)
Taking the drive down this familiar road was bittersweet. I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good about hiding my feelings (mostly the sad ones) around my family and especially my children. But this time, it wasn’t so easy. Being here, without my dad, wasn’t fun and it wasn’t easy. My heart ached to hear the excitement in his voice as we drove down this road spotting deer, especially the bucks. After my dad died last March, I thought it would be the hardest thing I’d ever go through. But the reality is, losing someone isn’t all that difficult, it’s missing them that cuts the deepest.
But our trip wasn’t all sad. We got to take the girls on a chilly hike up to Devil’s Standtable before dinner.
It’s a kid friendly hike that doesn’t take much time at all. The trail is lined with unique rock formations, tall bluffs, deep crevices to explore and lots of beautiful fall colors to admire.
The following day we took the girls over to the one-mile Giant City Nature trail that’s a bit more rugged with steep hills. But it’s so worth it! You get to to walk the “streets”, which are pathways between the giant rocks and even this slightly scary one where you walk under this giant boulder precariously perched on the walls.
Between our hiking adventures we stopped in at the Giant City Lodge for breakfast and dinner. My favorite! They serve us some of the best French Onion Soup I’ve ever tasted and fill your table with never-ended bowls of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, dumplings, coleslaw and biscuits.