Well, our journey to “Metaphorical Maine” has come to a close, I think. We had set aside 3 weeks and actually came back in 10 days. We added a day trip after two days of rest, but I think we’re home-based again. Steve has re-activated his online bookselling business, so that means we’ll be no more than 2 days away from home now. Did we actually go to Maine? No. The weather report for the northeast was predicting “rainy and cold” for the entire first week. We figured that might dampen our spirits, so we headed south. We ended up staying the first night in exactly the same spot where we stayed on our first trip together 4 years ago…in the car, pulled into a picnic area in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. We slept in the car from 3 a.m. until dawn, then found a proper campsite at the Pound Lake Hollow area. We enjoyed hiking on Beaver Trail 006 in the forest and the Rim Rock Trail. There was no moon; the stars were bright enough to guide us on a night hike (no flashlight) the second day down to the lake where we startled a beaver. At least I think it was a beaver. We never actually saw him, but either he was pounding the surface of the lake at intervals from different spots with his powerful tail, or someone was throwing bricks into the still, dark water from somewhere very well hidden! Here’s a little gallery of shots from the Shawnee National Forest.