Bumbling into Utica

The 19th of September (2016) was the second day of our anniversary week mini-vacation. We had stayed overnight in a rental cabin at Starved Rock State Park. This Monday morning we awoke a bit groggy, having been awake for what seemed to be half the night killing mosquitoes… seems the damper of the wood-burning fireplace was open, and three of the screens had bends in their frames big enough for a Fiat to drive through. I had smashed 4 or 5 midnight marauders in the dark after closing off all the portals of entry, and another 14 in the morning light…

We had coffee, tea, and a light breakfast, and by the crack of 11:00, we were on the trail to St. Louis Canyon for a wake-up hike to see the beautiful 80-foot waterfall there. Leaving from our cabin, it was a short walk on a dirt trail before we got to a wooden walkway…

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came to a set of stairs…

 

and then the canyon…

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We took a few photos and enjoyed the quiet, then headed back to the cabin. We had visited  Starved Rock earlier this year, and The Mrs has much more information and several photos of that trip on her blog-site, Graceuncensored. After returning from our hike and having a bite to eat, we decided to do some touristy stuff and go driving to explore the area.  Just about 1 mile north of the park is the little village of North Utica, although, since probably the 1850’s,  it is commonly just called Utica.  Wondering why? Read here !

It took us only a couple of minutes to drive through the heart of the village when we got there, but I saw some interesting doors that I told The Mrs I wanted to photograph for future Thursday Doors postings. I turned down a side street and we parked right near a gorgeous B&B called Landers House.

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There is a house two doors away from LH that caught my eye so I walked there and took a picture of that door first…

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I had taken this picture of the door at 131 and was walking back towards LH visually framing my next picture in my head, when a white-haired guy about my age who was cleaning screens at LH asked if he could help us. I went into a long, wordy, disjointed soliloquy about visiting Starved Rock, and blogging, and Thursday Doors, and taking pictures, and being an historian, and do you think the owner of 131 would mind if I was taking pictures of his front door….

Turns out, the gentleman I was talking to (John Pappas) WAS the owner of 131. He was the “handi-man” in the hire of Landers House B&B, and had recently bought 131, with maybe the intent to open his own B&B, or maybe he and his wife will open a catering business there. And, “no”, he had no objection whatsoever about me photographing his door. Not only did he like the idea of people taking pictures of doors, he COLLECTS old doors! Actually, it is probably closer to the truth to say he rescues old doors from destruction when old buildings are torn down. What a fascinating person! We chatted for at least 15 minutes, and he gave us a quick tour of the LH grounds. I look forward to a stay at LH sometime in the future (to The Mrs: hint, hint…).

We then wandered through the two block long downtown of Utica, coming across this little pub…

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The owner of the pub, Andy Skoog, is of Swedish ancestry, so that must make it a Swedish bar, right? Well, just down the block at the corner is the local Irish pub (Duffy’s Tavern), of course!

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When we were chatting with John earlier, he had asked us if we had been to Matthiessen Park . We had seen the signs, but had not been there. He strongly suggested we make a stop and at least visit the waterfall. Soooo, having completed our tour of “the Utica strip”, we climbed back into the van and headed back south to go visit Matthiessen Park. I will discuss that in a future posting…

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4 thoughts on “Bumbling into Utica

  1. Thx for checking in Charles! Only problem with posting lots of pics of The Mrs, is everyone would focus on the pictures and not read my oh so smart and clever words! Trying to maintain a balance you know… Those dead plants are corn stalks (I think you UK-ers call it maize, right?). These are ICONIC Midwestern decorations at harvest time (which is now)…. Can’t honestly say why, it just is… 🙂

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  2. SKOOG!!!! you forgot to mention the hilarious fact that there were SKOOG posters everywhere in the area! some skoog or another is running for some office, and i just love that funny name so much! it might have been andy skoog, but it doesn’t really matter, just the funny name SKOOG!

    and, re: cornstalks – it’s for fall and halloween and all of that! do you not have halloween in wales, charles??? halloween is great, because it inolves lots of candy!

    oh, and i can’t imagine ever staying in that lovely b&b, because there is just about almost nothing at all in the town of utica, except of course the SKOOG bar, and the sketchy grocery store where we bought some water.

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