2011 February - Starved Rock
This was a free trip. Scouts only needed a sack lunch and money for McDonalds or a second sack lunch. We began our trip driving about 60 miles south to Utica, Illinois.

The first part of our day was spent at the Starved Rock Lock & Dam where we could watch American Bald Eagles as they fished in the Illinois River below the dam. Many Eagles were roosting on the trees on Plum Island visible from the Lock & Dam Visitor Center. Inside the visitor center are many exhibits that depict area history, birds and wildlife along the river, and even a full scale pilot house where Scouts could adjust levers and lights and act as captains piloting a river barge. The river was open during our visit. In addition to watching Bald Eagles flying over the river we also saw a river barge pass through the lock.

We first stopped at the Starved Rock Visitor Center to eat our sack lunches and explore the exhibits and information they have on display. From there we headed for the trail. Hiking at Starved Rock is always fun, especially in winter. With the structure of the canyon becoming more rocky and vertical as you hike into it, you get more involved in the scenic beauty of the canyon until you finally end at a breathtaking sight. Giant waterfalls of ice hang frozen in the canyon wall high above you. It provides an unbelievable sight. The boys spent some time exploring the rocky ledges and cave openings and admired the giant pillars of ice and the magical beauty of an amazing winter scene.

We drove along the Illinois River to the city of Ottawa and to Allen Park. The park is home to an excellent sledding hill which was excavated into the high river bank rising to the south of the Illinois River. It is one of the finest sledding hills in the area and one that is well worth the drive. Scouts enjoyed the last hours of daylight sliding down the hill, over and over again.

We visit McDonalds for dinner before returning to DeKalb. Since this trip was on Superbowl Sunday we returned to DeKalb earlier than usual. Other years we have included some of the things detailed below.

We normally also watch Bald Eagles from atop Starved Rock and do more hiking in the canyons. We also visit the William D. Boyce Memorial at the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery. We have sometimes visited the Ottawa Scouting Museum as well.
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