(This thing turned out be way too long, so I split it up into two posts. Part Two will be posted tomorrow!)
Justin and I hit the road on Wednesday morning, stopping at a Cracker Barrel along the way and I ate waaaay too much, leaving me with that awful my-tummy-is-going-to-rupture feeling for the rest of the drive. We were pleasantly surprised by our hotel in Marion, IL. Comfortable king-size bed, big desk, comfortable chairs, flat-screen TV, aaaaand a jetted bathtub. Awesome. Luckily for us, there was a 1920s-themed steakhouse right next door to the hotel. Our dinner plans for the evening were pretty much sealed when we spotted the old-timey cars on display in front of the restaurant.
True to form, the first full day we had in So-Ill was an abrupt change in weather from three days of 80 degree weather and sunshine.....to 40 degree weather and grey skies. (We tried to shake the notion that we had brought the horrible Chicago weather with us.) But this was our spring getaway, so weather be damned! We had outdoor plans and we were going to do them on the ONE day in our entire trip that didn't have rain in the forecast. We drove down to the Shawnee National Forest and walked the observation trail at The Garden of the Gods. It was cloudy and a bit chilly, but it actually turned out to be an interesting day to see the park. I've always seen it in the summer, when the sun is shining and everything is green. Going on a grey day in early spring was very different. Less green, small buds, and some fantastic colored moss and weathering on the rocks. I was so pleased with the afternoon that I took a lot of pictures, that you can check out here. They are all scenic with a few cloesups of rock surfaces, if you're into that sort of thing. After our communion with nature, we met up with my So-Ill family at a pizza place in Marion.
Friday had a bit of a slow start. We woke up to rain, so I was crabby. Justin had been dealing with some indigestion/heartburn problems for several days, so that made him crabby. But we got through it and after a lunch with my grandmother, we had talked away the crabbiness and our love-y dove-y spring getaway was back on track. We nixed plans to go out to dinner so that we could both stay in & relax and so that Justin could give his digestive system a rest. We had food delivered to the hotel (and it.was.AMAZING) and watched TV in bed. Ended the night by dropping a vanilla-toffee bath bomb into the jetted tub. Hellooooo, relaxation!
Stay tuned for Part Two!