"Saw the moon rise over the parking lot,
but it was only a Burger King® sign."
At the entrance to the Giant City Nature Trail.
Stone steps put in place by Civilian Conservation Corps workers in the 30's.
Giant City State Park gets its name from the unusual rock formations along this trail. Gigantic sandstone blocks here have mysteriously drifted apart into gridlike patterns, forming narrow, perfect little "streets."
Balanced Rock on the path.
Underneath the balanced rock.
Looking up from within one of the crevices.
"The Giant City"
As I came across this crevice, I heard a distinct snoring coming from within. I stood there transfixed, in front of the hole, listening for like 5 minutes to some animal sawing wood. From the sound it was a pretty sizable mammal (the crack was about a foot wide at the base). I asked the rangers afterwards what they thought it was and they unanimously agreed it was most likely a bobcat, as those animals are frequently spotted along the base of these cliffs. Pretty cool.
Heading out of the park towards Highway 51, you drive through the tiny town of Makanda, Illinois. This town is famous for two things: Paul Simon, Illinois' beloved bow-tied liberal Senator, was from Makanda. AND when I was a young whippersnapper, just discovering what comics could be, my friends and I would drive out a few times a year into Chicago, to the little comic convention held at the Congress Hotel on Michigan Avenue. It was your typical mid-80's comic-con, mostly dealer tables selling back issues, but there was always this one guy there with a selection of the most obscure, radical, bewildering comics available... Lynda Barry, Gary Panter, the original RAWs, minicomix, bizarro art publications, etc. I'd always make a beeline right to his stuff. That guy was from Makanda, too.
I often think of that dude, selling his weirdo comix at the superhero con, and it inspires me in my work with Spit and a Half. If I could be "that guy" to some young cartoonist, that's something to aspire to.
Anyhow, I drove west out of Carbondale, headed for the River Road, and Chester, Illinois-- the birthplace of Elzie Segar, Popeye's dad.
NEXT TIME: Chester, IL and St. Louis
For more on Giant City State Park, please click here.