Cabins at White Pines State Park

The wind is whistling through the pines. The changing of the seasons has painted the forest in blazing reds, oranges and yellows. The air is crisp and the one-room cabin at White Pines State Park, built with red cedar and Douglas fir, is the perfect retreat in the woods.

First constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the 16 log cabins that make up the White Pine Inn have been recently renovated but still retain their rustic charm. Each cabin is equipped with a shower, a gas fireplace, a queen-sized bed and a television. For a more rugged and pared-down experience, camping is also available for $10 per night. Campsites at White Pines State Park are loaded with amenities including flush toilets, showers and electrical hookups.

Visitors to the park, which is the oldest in Ogle County and the third oldest in Illinois, have a plethora of activities to choose from. In addition to camping in cabins and tents, hiking and picnicking are other popular activities.

A 300 acre plot of land for deer hunting is located within the. Both firearm and archery deer hunting are allowed in an area that includes woods and open fields of brush. For more information, consult the hunter fact sheet.

White Pines State Park is also home to the White Pines Inn Restaurant. The restaurant is famous for its Paul Bunyan Breakfast, which is served family style. Sauk Valley Newspaper regularly awards the White Pines Inn Restaurant with its “Best Buffet” title for the Sunday morning Paul Bunyan Breakfast. The award-winning offerings include all-you-can-eat eggs, pancakes, American fries, toast, sausage and bacon. The lunch menu includes homemade soups, sandwiches and entrees such as chicken pot pie. At dinner time, steak, lake fish and other seafood items are added to the menu. Dinner at the White Pines Inn Restaurant wouldn’t be complete without its famous peach cobbler and red raspberry pie for dessert.

White Pines State Park is remarkable in that it offers something for every taste and interest. It is the perfect place to enjoy a camping trip, a family outing or a business event.

Can you imagine Halhauntedhouseloween without haunted houses? It’s a tradition and the holiday wouldn’t be the same without them. There are a plethora of haunted houses to enjoy around Illinois.

Check out the House of Torment in Morton Grove for a “multi­layered psychological thriller” that has been named one of the scariest haunted houses in the United States.  The attraction boasts zombies, deadly creatures and murderous insects.

Or head to southern Illinois and visit Alton, one of the most haunted small towns in America. Take a haunted ghost tour through the town, based on the best-selling book by Troy Taylor, Haunted Alton. The book includes an in-depth look at all of the locations on the tour, plus the detailed history of Alton and the surrounding region. It's a chilling look back in time at the strange tales, unsolved mysteries, and many ghosts of the Alton area.

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Brandace Cloud is a professional artist based in Wilsonville. She has a studio there and in Staunton. Cloud works in a variety of media, but specializes in photography and clay.


ILI: How long have you been an artist or when did you start? Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion?
BC: I have been making [art] most of my life, although I never realized that making [art] could be a living. My dad always encouraged me to work hard and make lots of money. But he also, through his actions and through his words, told me to find something I love to do. He worked hard his whole life working jobs he never really loved, so that our family could have a big fancy house and lots of things. While going through college I went through several different career choices. I tried for electrical engineering, computer programing, business, and then graphic design. I received my associate’s degree in Graphic Design from Lewis and Clark Community College and was still trying to make lots of money, but found that art was what I really loved to do. I continued on to Webster University, where I figured I could still make money while taking photographs. I continued on that path until my final year when I took a clay class. The first day of class, I realized THIS was my calling. I was a potter. I was meant to play with dirt and fire. I have been a potter for six years now, and I’ve never looked back… never again doubted what I wanted to be.

ILI: Illinois has been factored into your work in the past. What does being able to live and work in Illinois mean to you?
BC: Illinois is a major factor in my work through the images I put on my pots. I live in rural Illinois, where my “natural” landscape is plowed fields and stray trees. When I wondered what to decorate my pots with, it was intuitive to adorn my pots with images inspired by this landscape. In my tiny town of 600, my house sits on a dead-end street where owls live and play. These creatures also make their way onto my pots, but now have been abstracted to those parts of the animals that intrigue me the most – their eyes, their ever-searching, seeking eyes. What I learned from Webster was that as an artist I need to always be paying attention, always looking, always searching. Now the owl eyes float in a field of color, ever-searching, looking, wondering. My work would not be this, if not for my home in rural Illinois.

ILI: What do you like about Illinois?
BC: The thing that I love most about Illinois is the landscape that inspires me.

ILI: What is your favorite medium to work in?
BC: I am a potter at heart. Although I can work in other materials, clay is my passion.

ILI: What artist inspires you and why?
BC: I am inspired by the artists around me. I feed off the creativity of my friends and those that make [art] around me, including my students! I teach art to kids as young as two years old, all the way through adults. The kids that I teach are unafraid of working, of creating. They are fearless. They make art for themselves. That is an inspiration.
If there is one professional artist that truly inspires me, it is Susan Bostwick, an artist that I admire and work closely with. She is a fellow potter, and Susan has taught me so much about how to be a successful artist through her optimism and joyful approach to art. Her work can be found at https://susanbostwickceramics.net/.

ILI: Where can people view or purchase your work?
BC: They can find it online on my website, www.brandacecloud.com, on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/cloudstudios/ and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BrandaceCloudStudios.

Kickapoo State Park leafs - Photo by Daniel SchwenWith a length of 390 miles from north to south and an ideal climate for deciduous trees, Illinois is one of the most uniquely-situated places to view fall foliage.

Because the state is so long from north to south, fall comes to Illinois several times. It first comes to the northern part of the state in mid-September and works its way gradually south as the weather cools and each region hits its “peak” fall colors at a different time. In northern Illinois, leaves have already begun to change color and will soon reach their peak, turning otherwise mundane vistas into breathtaking, picturesque landscapes.

One of the best ways to experience fall in northern Illinois is to visit the Cemetery Hill Trail at Cook County Forest Preserve’s Paw Paw Woods.

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Brian TeeThe Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is launching a Zika virus awareness campaign with actor Brian Tee, known as Dr. Ethan Choi on the television series Chicago Med.

Tee, who recently welcomed a new baby girl into his family, is hoping to raise awareness on the public health concerns of Zika virus and what people can do to prevent the infection of unborn babies who may suffer birth defects.

First identified in Africa in 1947, Zika virus is a mosquito-borne infection that has spread significantly across the world since the first reported case in Brazil in 2015. For most people, Zika is a very mild infection and isn’t harmful. However, Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Consequently, infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.

Inspired by his role as a doctor on Chicago Med, and as a new parent, Tee will star in television and radio commercials with information on preventing Zika-related birth defects and the importance of preparing for and having a healthy pregnancy.

The Zika virus education campaign will air the commercials statewide in cooperation with the Illinois Broadcasters Association (IBA) Public Education Partnership program. They will broadcast on more than 200 radio stations and IBA member television stations.

For more information on Zika virus, go to www.dph.illinois.gov.

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