On the heels of 2 openings and an intense week prior, I decided to go off on a little cabin retreat.
My home is a disaster area from the flurry of creating and continuous appointments, and I had no energy to clean, but I also couldn’t think or process amid all the clutter.
So the best thing to do was to get away and allow my brain to re-set before facing the chaos and getting organized again.
A few years ago I happened upon the perfect log cabin getaway near Chicago, the White Pines Inn.
I had stayed at a lovely B&B in Oregon (Illinois) to visit the state parks nearby, and I promptly took a brochure from the White Pines Forest Inn on my last day of that 2005 visit.
This settlement was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, offering an employment program for young men during the Great Depression while also implementing a nature conservation program.
The cabins are nestled in the woods, offering a lovely peaceful setting.
They all have (shower) bathrooms with a fridge, heat and A/C, a gas fireplace, cable TV and DVD player and fully furnished bedding (which I upgraded to cozy flannel sheets).
A far cry from the AOK log cabin retreat I took on another outing where I was basically camping in something more sturdy than a tent.
The trails are all a mile or less long and loop around the cabin ’settlement’ so even if you inadvertently traverse a different-colored path, you eventually end up at base camp again, perfect for the lone wanderer.
Some are more difficult than others so I highly recommend sturdy boots and a walking stick to explore the forest.
Day one was glorious so I snapped oodles of photos to catch the light.
I gave up on this photo-op.
The colors were magnificent, and some unexpected.
There is a restaurant just steps from the cabin circle, where hearty breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, for under $15.
The chicken pot pie was delicious (as were the meat loaf and the pancakes, which don’t look as great on camera).
It offers senior discounts so you see many retirees having their meals here.
I was tempted to crash the fire pit party of another visiting couple, but they forgot the S’Mores ingredients (they also come four times a year–great idea!).
The scenery and the safe surroundings were a balm to my Autumn-loving soul.
The next day I spent the rainy morning getting a hot stone massage in a cabin just outside of the forest.
After that I was determined to get more walking in to continue loosening my limbs, and the drizzle wasn’t a deterrent with rainboots and a rain coat.
One section of the park has a tree identification area, which is more illuminating in the spring or summer, but still taught me a lot.
The Grey Squirrel Trail gets a bit narrow at times (just the width of one’s feet), so I recommend a walking stick with this one.
Stairs are plentiful along the trails as well.
Along with well-placed resting areas. There is also a handicapped-accessible trail and some cabins offer handicapped accommodations.
I came upon some spectacular mushrooms.
In the afternoon it was clear enough to take the aptly named Sleepy Hollow trail, which warrants a separate post.
I was showered in gold several times.
Here is a lovely article on what makes leaves drop.
After my muscles were thoroughly stretched I settled into an adirondack chair for some reading.
I continued cozied up by the fireplace into the night.
The next day temperatures were much cooler, and though I was tempted to spend another night, I packed my belongings and moved on to Lowden State Park (which I will report on in an upcoming post).
Next time I’ll definitely do a 3-night stay, as getting away from the hustle and bustle (and only having WiFi in the restaurant) did help me get back to being in the moment, rather than continuously thinking of what’s next.