Last week I took a road trip to Utica to satisfy my July travel itch.
It is just 2 and a half hours from home, an easy drive actually when you skip rush hour.
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.
I stopped for a sampling of ice cream (on the sweet side) and chocolate truffles prior to heading to the Brightwood Inn.
The Brightwood Inn is a lovely Bed and Breakfast offering cozy rooms with luxurious amenities.
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.
Sunsets from this vantage point are spectacular.
Every morning a breakfast buffet of cereal, fruit and scones stills â€˜den kleinen Hungerâ€™, with warm breakfast, coffee and tea offered in the dining room.
I enjoyed the herb omelet on an English muffin the first morning, and whole grain blueberry pancakes the next.
Matthiessen, Starved Rock and the I&M Canal Trail are just a short drive from the Inn.
I perused the one-block downtown of Utica which has 3 pubs.
There is also a grocery store geared toward campers and other things one tends to forget but need on a road trip.
On both days opted to have lunch at Noniâ€™s as it felt more cafe-like and had outdoor seating.
The area has a few wineries and several ‘trading posts’ offering leather goods for bikers passing through.
After some hiking I checked into my room, a haven of tranquility.
I splurged on a tub option, and was quite romanced by its heart shape and the stunning view.
There is a lovely bathroom of course.
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.
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.
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.
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 â€˜outsideâ€™ feeling. I could have easily shared the pasta entree, and took some home.
The country roads offer lovely prairie and farm field views,
with some lovely river crossings as well.
I enjoyed the lush garden and journaled peacefully while listening to a variety of birds.
Chairs and tables allow for lounging al fresco.
They also have a wonderful porch.
It is amazing how being away from home can put your mind at ease enough to simply watch clouds go by.
It is good to just enjoy a day and ‘be’.
Perspective is so necessary in this world of personal and global tragedies.
I look forward to returning to this heavenly place.
Hiking adventures will be shared in upcoming posts.
Where will your summer vacation take you?