Flashback Funday: Kankakee River State Park

Saturday, May 21 was a warm and sunny day. I know from my three years on Earth that you don’t always get nice days in May. And when that nice day in May is also on a Saturday, you have to get outside and play! You definitely can’t sit around in the house all day.  It was time to figure out where to go today!

"Let's get out there and explore!"
“Let’s get out there and explore!”

We don’t usually plan our adventures in advance, preferring a more spontaneous modus operandi. You never know what kind of fun you’ll get into that way! Besides, Levi and I like to be surprised. We like living in the moment! After some Internet research and some discussion between MaMa and Pops, we agreed to check out the Kankakee River State Park, in Bourbonnais, IL.

Since we all knew the drill for a day trip, it didn’t take long for us to get in the car and be ready for the quick ride down to the park, which is located in both Will and Kankakee counties.  It’s 4,000 acres in size, so it’s no wonder it’s located in two counties. One just couldn’t contain it!

"Let's blow this pop stand!"
“Let’s blow this pop stand!”
"Come on already, geesh!"
I’m always ready first!

The car ride to a new destination is always filled with excitement and anticipation. Levi is usually whining and crying out, ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet?!?’ He actually starts that up about 3 minutes after we leave the house. He isn’t much for delayed gratification. I happen to love the car ride. Probably because I get to sit up front on MaMa’s lap. That’s definitely one of the advantages of being a small dog!

Riding in the lap of luxury!
Riding in the lap of luxury!

The surroundings where the park is located was home to a number of different Native American tribes, including the Illini, Miami, Kickapoo, Mascouten, Chippewa and Potawatomi between the 1670’s and the 1830’s. After 1832, when the Potawatomi ceded their land along the Kankakee and Illinois Rivers to the United States, most of the Native Americans left the area. It was eventually settled by a group of French Canadian fur traders. Later in the 19th century, an amusement park opened, which drew crowds from Chicago until it closed in 1920. After that, it became a popular location for summer cottages. The area along the Kankakee River became a park in the 1930’s when 35 acres of land was donated by Ethel Sturges Dummer, a Chicago area philanthropist. The rest of the land was donated later by Commonwealth Edison.

Since the park is so big, and encompasses land on both sides of the river, we had no idea what we would find when we got there. MaMa had read about a number of different trails, including a three mile trail along a tributary of Kankakee River, called Rock Creek. That trail goes through a gorge along cliffs! We didn’t end up on that trail though, mostly because we had no idea how to find it! Maybe next time we go, we will do a little bit more planning, because those cliffs sound exciting!

Instead we ended up walking on a trail that ran right along the river, which was also pretty cool! There were a lot of great river smells!

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Remember to watch your step!

Along with the interesting smells there were plenty of cool things to check out. You just have to be careful walking around though, because lots of people fish along the river, and at one point, I got caught up in some fishing line! Luckily MaMa got me untangled, and after that I was more cautious about where I put my feet.

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"I wonder if they've got any fish in that boat?!"
“I wonder if they’ve got any fish in that boat?!”

Since it was such a pretty day, Levi and I insisted on sitting for a photo shoot. The backdrop of the trees and the river just couldn’t be beat!

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Levi worked all of his angles that day! BOL!!

The day soon turned from warm to really warm, and we decided to find a place to sit in the shade. Luckily there are lots of trees and shady places to sit near the river, because after exploring, sitting is my favorite thing to do!

"This spot looks like a good place for a sit."
“This spot looks like a good place for a sit.”

When it was time to venture a little further along the river, I decided it was too hot to walk, and that’s when I got to go for a ride in my Outward Hound dog sack! It is the perfect size for me to sit and relax with my little head hanging out, while MaMa does all the work!

"Does she always have to be so embarrassing? Ugh?!"
“Does she always have to be so embarrassing? Ugh?!”

Considering the park is 4,000 acres and we only walked about one mile before turning around and going back, we will definitely need to visit the Kankakee River State Park on another day. The gorge and cliffs sound really cool, and I bet that we’d get some pretty neat pictures there too! But until then, pictures of Levi and I enjoying the area along the river will just have to do.

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My overall assessment of that park is…more information is needed, so we will be back! Knowing how much more there is to see there is reason enough for us to make a return trip.

My Origin Story – Tobacco Store Beginnings

No known pictures of my puppy months exist, but I probably looked something like this.
No known pictures of my puppy months exist. I probably looked something like this! Cute, huh?

I was born in the great and windy city of Chicago in May of 2013, adopted by a family with a little girl, little boy AND a German Shepherd puppy. Life was great! They called me Chloe. My German Shepherd brother let me play with him and didn’t mind that I’m a little bit cuckoo (I really can’t help it, I have an exuberance for life!). I guess my owners didn’t exactly feel the same way, because after just a few months, the Mom of the family told the Dad that she didn’t want me anymore and kicked me out of the house. Luckily, the Dad owned a Tobacco Shop, so I had a place to go to keep me off the streets.

“…I have an exuberance for life!”

I spent my days tied up to a 20 Foot, red plastic lead, chewing on pillows or my towel/toy (TT). I didn’t have any other toys or bones to keep me busy, so I decided to make a job for myself. I was able to get just close enough to the front door to make a good greeter. People were constantly coming in, and I’d bark, bark, bark my hellos and goodbyes. When I was real lucky, a customer would bend over to pet me and I’d give them sneak-attack licks on their face (to this day, I’m a pro at the sneak-attack face-lick!)

I must have been pretty good at my job, because a lot of people seemed to like me. I enjoyed being so social, even if the hours sucked (I never got to leave) and it got pretty lonely after hours. When the store closed at 10PM, everyone left. Except I didn’t get to leave, or go home, because I no longer had one. Whoever was closing up the smoke shop that day, would put me in my crate with my TT, shut off most of the lights and leave me by myself for 12 hours. From 10PM-10AM, I was locked up in my crate with only TT to keep me company. There were loud noises and things that went bump in the night. I whined and barked at first, but realized acceptance was best. I would fall asleep curled up next to TT, dreaming of a life I didn’t know yet, running through fields and exploring the outdoors, adventures and travels and beautiful places. I dreamt of it all!

“…acceptance was best.”

Every day was a new day and the possible joys of the next day were what kept me from giving up hope during those long, dark hours alone. I had hopes for a new home and a happy family. I didn’t know what was coming, but I knew it wouldn’t always be like that. It couldn’t be! I was too cute, friendly and full of potential to spend my life as a tobacco shop pup!