Starved Rock State Park

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Every week approaching summer seems to get longer as we have to stare at beautiful days from inside buildings. One thing that I didn’t think I would miss about warm weather is being out in it. I never used to be an outdoorsy person, and I don’t think I would put that in personal description about myself now, but cabin fever has me dreaming of fresh air and long walks. Now the beloved beach is a different story, but the woods are a new thing for me. It leaves me reminiscent of my day trip to Starved Rock State Park in Olgesby, Illinois this past summer. The midwest is not known for much other than strange metal beans and pizza, but I will give it some credit for maintaining our nation’s natural beauty at a few more hidden gems.

Why Make the Trip to Starved Rock:IMG_6456.jpg

  • That moment you step out of the car, whether your from one or 10 hours away, is going to be a great feeling. Before the heat hits you, but after the air conditioning has been giving you goosebumps, is pure bliss–and you don’t quiet know what is ahead.
  • The views are amazing from the top of the highest mountain or the deepest part of a valley.
  • Horseback riding and boat tours are apparently offered and I am sad I missed them but you shouldn’t.
  • You can’t get a better workout than running from a giant spider or searching for that one hidden trail.

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Specifics:

  • Waterfalls: I never thought I would see a waterfall in a place so close to my everyday suburbs. I believe my friends and I made it to the biggest one, and while it was still not huge it was still breathtaking.
  • Lodge: Starved rock isn’t just a bunch of trees, but an occasional wedding destination or lunch outing. Taking cover for an hour or two in the lodge is perfect for getting reenergized for the next trail, especially when they have a great menu.
  • The River: Some of the trails go right along the water. It’s no ocean, but the breeze coming off the water and openness comes as a nice second.

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I can imagine my experience would have been even better if it hadn’t been the hottest day of the summer when I trekked through the woods. Now you definitely won’t see me camping anytime soon, but I am ready to hit some East Coast hiking trails soon! Being around actual mountains is a real treat that I could get used to.

Have any of you ever been? How about East Coast destinations? 

Constantly Curious,

Casey

 

Picture This: How I See Things

This past weekend has been one of the craziest of my life. Typing has never felt so good as my voice is fading from the past few days as I go through rushing for sororities at my university. I have luckily been able to talk a lot about how much I love to write! More on that later, but due to my hectic schedule I did not want to leave you all hanging and I was not about to skip a post! I promise this sorority will not  affect consciousofcasey again, but for about the first time in my life I was not prepared for not having time to write! I thought I would take the limited time I have to share some photos. They say pictures say a thousand words, which saves me a lot of time for not having to write those words myself.

I take a lot of pictures, whether they be of food or landscapes, so these are just a few of my favorites that kind of fit well together. The following pictures take you on a journey from Chicago to New Jersey. I have taken all of these in the past 6 months or so… Enjoy!

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Photo 1: Somewhere between it all
Photo 2: New Jersey
Photos 3, 5, and 6: Ocean City Boardwalk
Photo 4: Ocean City, New Jersey

Only after this post goes live will I post any of these photos on Instagram. I did not want this post to just be a copy of my Instagram feed, but new perspectives and images. I am just an amateur with an iPhone, but looking through these now remind me how much I love photography.

Do any of you know any good cameras for traveling? I am hoping to save up for one soon, but I am so lost on what is good for someone who wants to experiment more with manual, still have the option for automatic, and take really high-quality shots without carrying around something giant!

See you with more words next time,

Casey

 

What I’m Going to, and What You Should, Miss About Chicago

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Two days from now I am leaving my hometown, and for once I have no idea when I will be back. No Thanksgiving or Christmas pulling me home this time. While I couldn’t be happier to be heading back East, leaving is a strange feeling. I didn’t always like Chicago, but my eyes have really opened up to it these past couple years.

While I do not actually live directly in the city, I thought I would share what I am going to miss most about Chicago and what parts of the city are really worth seeing. The best part is that you could see or go to most of these in just one day!

1. Navy Pier

IMG_5096.jpgThe first time I went to Navy Pier was to see a play in middle school. Last time I went was this summer with my two best friends. All the times in between are a blur, except the awkward magic that is prom. Navy pier has so many activities to offer, but the long, historical ferris wheel ride is my favorite. I have yet to play mini-golf there, but I have heard that it is pretty fun too!

2. Anywhere with Deep DishIMG_9639.jpg

Luckily for all of us deep dish can also be found in the surrounding Chicago suburbs AND be shipped anywhere in the America, so there are always opportunities for deep pizza. Giordano’s in my go-to, but Gino’s East is another Chicago classic. East coast pizza is amazing, but deep dish has a special place in my heart and stomach.

3. The ArchitectureIMG_2366.jpg

I learned to really appreciate Chicago architecture when my basic photography class went around the city taking photos. From the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park to the random banks near Union Station, I find the building’s and their histories beautiful. Walking from place to place in the summer is the best way to see it all.

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4. The Willis (*Sears*) Tower

Probably the most touristy place on this list, but the wait in line is worth it. The view reaching from the horizon of the lake to the surrounding suburbs is stunning, even on the cloudiest of Chicago days. I don’t mind heights, so I find sitting on the ledge is the best part!

5. The Lincoln Park Area

IMG_9074.jpgFull of one-of-a-kind shops and the Urban Outfitters surplus store, the neighborhoods near Lincoln park makes me think that I could have maybe survived going to school in Chicago. It is a quiet alternative to the magnificent mile with its suburban townhouses and zoo animals–both in the zoo and on campus.

Honorary mentions to Lollapalooza, the people of Chicago, and the suburbs, all of which have their good and bad moments.

Distance is definitely going to make my heart grow fonder, but i’m not going to miss Chicago winter that will, of course, be over soon after I leave.

Any Chicagoans think I missed something? Anyone heading to Chicago soon?

Your Resident Chicago Suburb-ean,

Casey

 

 

My Kind of Off-Season Get Away: CT, USA

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Nothing sounds better to me right now than a nice trip. I was lucky enough to travel a lot during my college search, and going to college itself it such a traveling treat with so many new places to explore near campus. While I want nothing more than to travel to new places, returning to my favorites come as a close second. Not even the freezing cold temperatures would keep me back.

While my mom and I flew to Connecticut about ten months ago, the stressful four hours at UConn have been practically repressed from my memory as the rest of my short time in Connecticut was so amazing. I recommend you check this place out if you ever get the chance!

Madison, Connecticut Highlights

The Emptiness

Going to Connecticut in the off-season is not going to be the warmest or most energetic, but you will get the best service. It could be my own introvert-ness, but nothing beats an almost empty dining room or a full beach for two. It creates a peaceful air about the area that is a rare experience.

The Food

You have all probably caught on for my love of food. The Madison Beach hotel is a IMG_4752.jpgseafood lover’s dream. Unfortunately I would not define myself as one, but I still enjoyed my shrimp meal. The real treat is Christy’s, a short 30-second drive from the hotel. The actual restaurant was adorable, which matched the amazing pancakes, eggs, and bacon that were delicious. The picture I have does not do them justice.

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Panorama of Stoney Creek

The Surrounding Area: Stony Creek BeachIMG_4772.jpg

During my short time in CT, my mom wanted to take a trip down memory
lane in a town that was just a quick detour from our way to the airport. We simply drove through Branford, and it was so different from what I have grown up in. For that it was amazing. My mom said it had barely changed since she lived there, making it that much more adorable.

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The Pure Beauty

Connecticut is so breathtaking in the barren winter and beginning of spring, I can only imagine how amazing it is in the summer. The Madison Beach Hotel is right on the beach, right next to tons of houses. It is all surrounded by the ocean wave sounds and breezes– all of which I am a sucker for–but I think anyone would fall for the coast here.

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Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall–Connecticut is an amazing destination that I hope to explore more as my life shifts more to the East Coast. It is only the tip of the iceberg for my New England and traveling adventures.

I hope I have single handedly boosted Connecticut’s tourist rates, if the hopeful reboot of Gilmore Girls hasn’t already.

Are any of you from CT and find my love for your home area strange? Have any of you been or are considering going?

Continue Wanderlust-ing

Casey

 

My Road Trip & Travel Essentials

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I sleep better on planes and in cars than in my own bed.

I believe this stems from the many hours I spent staring out of the window of my family’s red SUV while we drove as many as fifteen hours to Ocean City, New Jersey (From Chicago). It should have only taken twelve hours, but my brothers could never control their bladders or stomachs.  I can still picture the small television we had in back of our car and I can practically feel that back seat car sick feeling I got from watching it. That’s why I always stared out the window. As long as this trips were, I loved them. I miss them and the time I spent with my family.

I find myself going on road trips less and less often, but now I am about to take a road trip that will not be followed by another one just one or two weeks later. My mom and I are leaving at five AM to drive to OC, then we will drive another 1.5 hours to drive me to school a few days later.

I think that after all of these years of road tripping, I have picked up a few tips. I am no expert, but I am gonna share them anyway. Although no parents probably read this, I picked up a few things from my parents to make the ride smoother for the young ones and drivers.

Packing:

  1. NEVER pack stuff on top of the car. I will never forget hearing our roof storage zoom off our car and tumble onto the highway on our way home from Nebraska (another one of my family’s 6 hour+ road trip destinations).
  2. Do not bother with suitcases if you do not have to. Baskets and bags stack better. I may find this helpful only because my trips are usually to family houses where I could unpack and use the baskets for dividing laundry, but if that is also your case than this will really help.
  3. Keep snacks easily assessable. Maybe even leave someone in charge of them. My family’s car had captain seats (with no seat in the middle) so we kept ours between them.
  4. If there is ever a time to overpack, this would be it. You don’t have to worry about luggage weight and you never know when you”ll get stuck in the middle of nowhere. 😝

The Drive

  1. Bring pillows. Or a fluffy blanket. Make it really feel like your just at home.
  2. Entertainment is key. I prefer music over movies, but if technology is not an option then games are always fun while the sun is up. Classics like the license plate and alphabet games are great–the first time. If music is your thing, then make a playlist! Avoid those rainy day tunes and throw in some fun #tbt tunes.
  3. Keep a trash bag. It’ll keep the unpacking easier and it just makes you feel more civilized while you basically live from your car for a day.
  4. Do not discuss anything serious. Awkward moments might become hours if the wrong things is brought up.
  5. Car air freshers are life savers.

Looking back a lot of these things may be common knowledge, but at least its all in one place! Some of these things can be applied to a plane (hence the travel essential part of the title), so I hope everyone can use some of these tips and make the most of their travels.

When I think of having my own family, I imagine going on road trips just like my family did. It’s probably a good thing I do not remember the bad parts, except the time I threw up at a truck stop. I guess I’ll find out then how fool proof my own advice is. Before then I’ll use these tips as I travel the world, which I am probably the most excited about. Road trips on the left side of the road or in the desert. Oh the possibilities.

Please share any other tips and tricks you have!

Casey