One of the displays at the visitors center at Giant City State Park features animals which can be found in the woods in our neck of the woods. The bobcat is one of those critters. So is Bob the Cat. I'm pretty sure that Bob the Cat could give a bobcat a run for its money.(With apologies to The Who) Who, who, who are you? Who, who? The eyes have it...another display at the park features an impressive great horned owl.

Please read this...Somebody spent too much time in the heat...

A few casual observations before we get started on the good stuff...

...last week, it was so hot that I saw a chicken basting itself...

...speaking of chickens, they were laying eggs that were already hard boiled...

...dragonflies were getting so hot that they were turning into fire flies...

...we were able to pick stewed tomatoes right off the vine...

..."nekkid lady" flowers were trying to stay in the shade so they wouldn't get a sunburn...

...when somebody told me that my goose was cooked, they were right...

...enough of that...let's move on...sooooooo...

"Whose bright idea was this, anyway?" I asked, while stewing in my juices. Literally. That's how hot it was.

"Yours," The Other Half answered.

We had just gotten back into the air-conditioned comfort of our car after taking a bit of a hike on the Stone Fort Trail at Giant City State Park.

Hiking at Giant City, as many of you probably know, is a great way to enjoy some time outdoors. However, I would strongly suggest that you consider doing your hiking at a time when an excessive heat watch has not been issued.

We decided to motor to Giant City because it was close, and yours truly was looking for a way to spend some time with a special visitor we had from the Tarheel State. (As hot as it was, we probably ended up with some tar on our heels.)

We headed to Giant City during the hottest part of the day, early to mid-afternoon, which probably did not make a lot of sense. Oh, well.

Our first stop was at the parking lot located across the road from the Stone Fort Trail. Upon arrival, we spotted a white-tailed deer fawn and, I'm assuming, the little one's mom. They didn't stick around for long, though. Probably looking for someplace cooler.

At first, it didn't seem all that hot. And there was a gentle breeze blowing, too. Early impressions proved to be deceptive. We did make it to the top of the trail (well, a couple of us did). Then, our brain cells, before they had reached hard-boiled stage, suggested that we might want to go where it was cooler.

We headed for the visitors center at the park, which, as it turned out, was nicely air-conditioned. On the way, we saw a groundhog moving as fast as a groundhog dared to move on such a day; the critter appeared to be headed in the direction of some shade.

At the visitors center, we had a nice chat with the park's natural resources coordinator about plans for the upcoming total solar eclipse. She also was kind enough to alert to the possible presence of a mommy raccoon and her young 'uns outside the visitors center. The raccoon family must have been smarter than we were and stayed where it was cool.

The visitors center has some very nice displays featuring Southern Illinois critters, local history, games for the young and young at heart, and there's even an exhibit about f-o-s-s-i-l-s, including the Tully Monster. The Tully Monster is the Illinois state fossil, but you probably already knew that. 

Our little adventure in the sweltering summer heat continued in downtown Makanda, where we found some cold liquid refreshments...and a few more fossils, too.

Yup, yours truly proved that his brain had been boiled by spending some time looking for fossils in the rocks along the railroad track which runs through the heart of downtown Makanda. My fellow adventurers found several nice fossils. They were very kind to point out their finds to yours truly, who didn't find much of anything. We did learn that rocks get really hot when it's really hot.

While we were in downtown Makanda, we also met a reporter and photographer from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. They were working on a story about the aforementioned total solar eclipse, which will happen on Aug. 21. If you make a stop in downtown Makanda, you can see a line which has been painted on the street which is said to show the path of the eclipse.

By this point, we had pretty much melted in puddles. We still managed to make it to a local orchard to pick up some of the bounty of the harvest before we headed home...and collapsed.

...and one last thing...sorry, we're a bit windy...lots going on...

Last Saturday night, at about 9:47 p.m., give or take a minute or two or three, the three of us went outside to enjoy some wonderful Southern Illinois summer heat and humidity in the dark of night. 

Actually, we went outside to see if we could catch a glimpse of the International Space Station. We watched the sky for a few minutes. Saw some stars. Some bugs.

Then, there it was: a bright spot of light in the summer sky, moving from the southwest to the northeast. We watched. We waved. In a few minutes, it was gone, but the special memory will stay with us.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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