For pretty much as long as I can remember I've wanted to visit Starved Rock State Park. It's a little over an hour away so there's really no good reason I've never been. I suppose other destinations always trumped it. Anyway, after how much the kids loved the water park resort a few weeks ago I thought we'd try the one near Starved Rock. I'd heard good things about the resort from friends and figured I'd finally get to see the state park.
Friday morning Gene had to go to the DMV for a license plate sticker and I had to go to the podiatrist to pick up my custom orthotics. Hurray for getting older :) We left for Starved Rock a little before 10 and arrived at Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Lodge around 11. I wanted to reserve a room and then head to the state park, but they had a room ready for us! At 11am! And they gave us our waterpark/amusement park wristbands. At 11am!
By this point the kids had seen the waterpark, the huge building that housed the amusement park, the miniature golf course and the castle playground. They don't wanna go on no boring hike by the same boring river that runs through our boring town! They wanna swim and go on rides and play mini golf! Right now! And forever!
Oh, all right kids, we'll swim first. But we're GOING hiking later this afternoon! Swim, swim, swim, check out the amusement park and pile into the van for the less than half mile drive to the state park. Picture with a giant stump, picture with a crooked tree, wander around the visitor lodge museum and eat ice cream cones. (All of this in a period of maybe 15-20 minutes.)
Well, Logan's exhausted with this whole state park visit. He's ready to go back to the hotel. He's tiiiiiiiired. I figured we all could handle the 0.3 mile "hike" to at least see Starved Rock. Whine, whine, whine, drag, drag, drag. We made it all the way there! All 0.3 miles! Soooooooo thirsty, sooooooooo tired. Fine. (Seriously folks, we hike at Forest Park Nature Center a lot. It's lots of uphill climbing and we hike WAY more than 0.3 miles on a PAVED trail.) So back to the van, back to the hotel, and Logan is forced to take a nap. He does! And he wakes up refreshed and ready for rides and the arcade and more swimming.
As an unexpected bonus, a traveling zoo show was at the resort. We attended the 45 minute program and got to pet a turtle, a skunk, a baby raccoon and several other small animals. The woman then brought out a baby leopard, a baby tiger and a baby lion. After the show they did pictures with the baby cats. I know how wrong it was. I know my boss would about kill me if she knew I did it. I know places like this shouldn't really be supported to keep bringing poorly bred big cats into the world. BUT... I got to hold and bottle-feed a baby tiger. And then I got to keep it on my lap and pet it for a couple of minutes. If we're still here today at noon, I think I'll hold the baby lion. Yep, I'm totally gonna do it :)
I suppose it's "possible" that I'll get to hike a couple more trails today. I doubt it. We drove up to the Starved Rock resort (just to see it and drive past while Logan whined) and Gene and I decided we will come back and stay there WITHOUT kids!
Well, guess I better get on my swimsuit and get ready for another long bout in the waterpark. They have some kind of ducky race at 8:45am so that will be a "can't miss" for Kaylin. This place really is fun. Well, as long as I don't have to go on the Tilt-a-Whirl again! I went twice in a row with Logan last night and actually felt a little sick afterward :)