Absolute Bliss

I have been wanting to travel to southern Illinois to visit the Shawnee National Forest for a while, but it's a 3 hour drive.  Finding the time to get away always seems to be a problem.  We decided there was no time like the present.  We loaded up the car and away we went!  To the Garden of the Gods!

They certainly weren't lying when they named this place!  Easily the most beautiful place I've ever been.  None of the photos could capture the awesomeness and beauty of this forest.  

We packed a small tent and supplies *just in case* we arrived to find an available campsite.  We arrived around 11:30AM at Pharaoh campground.  The campground has 12 sites, no electric, but the sites did have excellent fire rings, tables, toilets, and water.  It was a self-pay location and I'd say a steal for only $10 a night.  Even though I wasn't really expecting to find a site, we lucked out and there was ONE empty site!  It was so quiet, so beautiful.  It was breezy and we thought the wind would die down once the sun set, but all night I could hear the wind blowing through the pine trees.  Then about midnight, the coyotes began to have conversations.  Loud conversations that carried with the wind through the valley.  Slightly creepy, slightly awesome all at the same time.
I pieced these images together, but if you click you can see a larger version.
After we got back home I found so many more trails and items to visit the next time we go.  There will definitely be a next time!  We're already planning another trip (since we didn't much plan this one!) for October.  The kids have a week off of school so a nice long weekend with the Gods seems like the perfect getaway!

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