Exploring Utica

Last week I took a road trip to Utica to satisfy my July travel itch.

Cloudscape

It is just 2 and a half hours from home, an easy drive actually when you skip rush hour.

countryroad

I had visited the Starved Rock area a few times, and gradually upgraded my stays from a KOA cabin with plastic mattresses and shared shower facilities to a motel, to a B&B. The motel is now defunct.

oldmotel

I stopped for a sampling of ice cream (on the sweet side) and chocolate truffles prior to heading to the Brightwood Inn.

BrightWoodInn

The Brightwood Inn is a lovely Bed and Breakfast offering cozy rooms with luxurious amenities.

BrightwoodInnPorch

The property is adjacent to Matthiessen State Park, and the grounds have been landscaped as a wildlife habitat to encourage birds, insects and other critters to feed and seek shelter there.

BrightwoodInnHabitat

Sunsets from this vantage point are spectacular.

SunsetView

Every morning a breakfast buffet of cereal, fruit and scones stills ‘den kleinen Hunger’, with warm breakfast, coffee and tea offered in the dining room.

Swallowtail

I enjoyed the herb omelet on an English muffin the first morning, and whole grain blueberry pancakes the next.

TortolaRoomView

Matthiessen, Starved Rock and the I&M Canal Trail are just a short drive from the Inn.

uticawatertower

I perused the one-block downtown of Utica which has 3 pubs.

NorthUtica

There is also a grocery store geared toward campers and other things one tends to forget but need on a road trip.

UticaDowntown

On both days opted to have lunch at Noni’s as it felt more cafe-like and had outdoor seating.

NonisBakeryUtica

The area has a few wineries and several ‘trading posts’ offering leather goods for bikers passing through.

Tradingpost

After some hiking I checked into my room, a haven of tranquility.

TortolaroomBrightwoodInn

I splurged on a tub option, and was quite romanced by its heart shape and the stunning view.

Tortolaroom

There is a lovely bathroom of course.

TortolabathDetails

I read on the cozy lounge, peeked at hummingbirds feeding in the tree, and fully relaxed in this pristine room without any chores for me to do.

Lounging

My first evening I dined at Uptown Grill in LaSalle, which had tablet menus. The heat and late lunch had dampened my appetite, so I had the Asparagus salad. Their cocktails looked delicious, and I would dine here again to sample the other dishes.

UptownGrillAsparagus

The next morning I indulged a massage at Butterfly Landing, which stretched my muscles and helped me further sink into relaxation mode. Next time I want to try a facial in this lush day spa as well.

yellowflowersfield

The second evening I visited Amici in Peru, a lovely Italian restaurant that is decorated to mimic a piazza, with twinkle lights in the ceiling to enhance the ‘outside’ feeling. I could have easily shared the pasta entree, and took some home.

AmiciPeru

The country roads offer lovely prairie and farm field views,

farmview

with some lovely river crossings as well.

StarvedRockBridge

I enjoyed the lush garden and journaled peacefully while listening to a variety of birds.

Journaling

Chairs and tables allow for lounging al fresco.

BrightwoodInnBackpatio

They also have a wonderful porch.

BrightwoodInnPorch

It is amazing how being away from home can put your mind at ease enough to simply watch clouds go by.

cloudwatching

It is good to just enjoy a day and ‘be’.

Americana

Perspective is so necessary in this world of personal and global tragedies.

behappynow

I look forward to returning to this heavenly place.

portaltoheaven

Hiking adventures will be shared in upcoming posts.

barefeet

Where will your summer vacation take you?

haybalessunset

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