And answer I do by retreating to the far, far northwestern corner of Illinois, which along with southwest Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota, and northeast Iowa is known as the Driftless Area.
This area derives its name from being unglaciated in a region that had many glacial episodes, going back nearly two million years to the Pleistocene Epoch.I feel fortunate, indeed, to be familiar with this area having friends and family living there now and once living there myself. It is an easy 3 hour drive from Chicago so for me it is a favorite get-away.
Having escaped the leveling effect of continental glaciers, the ancient land surface has been exposed to essentially continuous weathering and erosion. Several thousand feet of bedrock strata may have been removed during an overall span of some 243 million years. This erosion carved a series of deep valleys into the gently tilted bedrock formations with the Mississippi River Valley draining the entire region.
On May 25th a friend and I took a driving and hiking tour of Apple River Canyon State Park and Mississippi Palisades State Park. They are within 30 miles of each other. Apple River Canyon is a small park of only 297 acres. Mississippi Palisades SP actually begins at the confluence of the little Apple and the mighty Mississippi. It is about 10 times larger at 2,350 acres consisting of upland woods, steep bluffs, caves, sink-holes and, of course, Ol' Man River himself. According to a park ranger, this is the least visited State Park in Illinois and that is a cryin' shame. Evidently it was over-run by meth-cooking outlaw motorcycle gangs for several years but more recently the authorities have won out. In the whole of both parks on an incredibly beautiful day we saw only one other human, a fisherman.
Any help identifying the wildflowers whose names I did not know or improperly named would be most appreciated. I hope this diary gave you a feel for my neck of the woods. There is great beauty when we don't just look but see. Thanks for stopping by.