Walktober 2022

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. ~Søren Kierkegaard, Danish theologian and author, considered the first existentialist philosopher

Once again, it’s time for Walktober, the annual group-walk hosted by Robin over at Breezes at Dawn. Participants each take a walk (or bike, skate, whatever) and write a post about it (with photos); then, Robin does a roundup linking to the participants so we can all “walk” together and share our amazing world.

Today, I’m headed to Monticello, Illinois (near Champaign-Urbana) to the Allerton Park and Retreat Center. There are 14 miles of hiking trails (no, we don’t have to explore ALL of them!), but lace up your sneakers and join me. It’s a gorgeous day — clear and sunny, with morning temps in the 50s, but it will warm up as we go.

Built as a private residence in 1900 by artist/philanthropist Robert Allerton, the Allerton Park and Retreat Center offers 1,500 acres of woodland and prairie, 14 formal gardens, hiking trails, a reflecting pond, and an impressive mansion:

I was told the mansion’s first floor is open to the public unless previous events have booked it. The day I visited, it was closed, but I couldn’t resist snapping a sneak shot of what I think was called the grand gallery:

In 1946, the property and buildings were donated to the University of Illinois; today, Allerton is considered one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois. Conferences, summer camps and concerts, retreats, and community programs allow visitors to experience nature, history, and art … free of charge. Let’s visit one of those gardens. Here’s the entrance:

You might have noticed the path is lined with immense arborvitae:

Ever wonder what it feels like to be inside a wall of trees? I did, too! Reminds me of some movie or other, I can’t remember which:

The next is the triangle parterre garden. “Parterre” is French for “along the ground” and features symmetrical garden beds with gravel paths between … and no flowers:

I understand the gardens are most striking in Spring and Summer when the flowers are in bloom. There wasn’t much in the way of Fall color, to my disappointment.

Robert Allerton was a Chicago native who held a lifelong appreciation of art and traveled the world, bringing pieces home with him. This 7-foot high statue called Adam is a copy of the one made by Auguste Rodin:

The next is called the Avenue of Chinese Musicians. Why? I don’t know, but even Allerton guides think their features are Westernized:

Here’s a closeup so you be the judge:

The House of the Golden Buddhas is a concrete gazebo with two teakwood Siamese Buddhas:

This is one of two Chinese Maze Gardens with goldfish sculptures:

The map I got from a fellow visitor says this is the reflecting pond. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get close enough to really see it because the area was closed because of a prior group meeting. The water looks pretty murky though, don’t you think:

The lady at the Information Desk told me the Sunken Garden is popular for wedding ceremonies. I forgot to count how many steps down it is from the rest of the property, but it really is sunken (and used to serve as the mansion’s garden dump!):

One of my favorite spots was the Fu Dog Garden. Featuring 22 lapis lazuli-colored sculptures purported to ward off demon spirits, this garden combines two things I like (the color blue and dogs!):

Here’s a closeup of one. He’s got the Sit command down pat:

Thanks for joining me on my walk — and thanks again to Robin for organizing Walktober. If you ever need a nudge to keep moving, remember this:

Exercise! — because zombies will eat the slow ones first. ~Internet meme

21 thoughts on “Walktober 2022

  1. Debbie, first, I love the saying you shared by Seran Kierkegaard because it is totally my own feelings about walking. And being that I live in a city, walking is something I do every single day; many times in a day. I LOVE to walk! And for me, it’s the best exercise for my own body.

    Second, STUNNING photos! I especially love the one of the garden you shared. And I think the movie that you might be thinking about is, “The Shining”, because it had a walking maze in the back of the hotel that was made of TALL trees/bushes.

    And speaking of Rodin, we have a Rodin Museum here in Philadelphia that has “Adam”, and also the “Thinker.”

    And oh my…that concrete Buddha gazebo is just gorgeous!

    Thanks so much for taking us on your walk, my friend. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Have a terrific Tuesday! X

    • I love to walk, too, Ron (probably a good thing, since Monkey requires daily exercise!). How wonderful that you’re able to see the “real” Rodin pieces! That’s one thing I miss about living in a small town, the museums. You can learn so much from having that sort of thing at hand.

      Glad you enjoyed my walk. I look forward to Walktober every year and fortunately, I got this year’s walk in before the really cold weather arrived. We’ve had a gorgeous Fall thus far! xx

    • Oh, Eliza, it truly was! Next time, maybe I’ll be able to hike some of the trails, maybe in the Spring/Summer when the weather is warmer and the flowers are out. And maybe next time, I’ll be able to get more pictures of the mansion’s interior — it looked fabulous, from the little I was able to see!

  2. Looks like a fantastic place and surprisingly free of people! I love that it has all the Oriental stuff – was it the original owner who created all these different gardens or have they been added over the years? Thanks for taking us along on your walk!

    • That scarcity of other visitors was one reason I opted out of all those hiking trails, ha! I didn’t want to get lost in the woods alone. But what I did see was lovely. Apparently, this property began as a family farm; the various gardens were added rather piecemeal, as were the sculptures and other artwork. Allerton gifted the house, grounds, and farm acreage to the University of Illinois in 1946 for use as an education and research center, a forest preserve, and public park. It’s really a treasure! Thanks for accompanying me on this walk, FF!

    • You’re a long way from “home,” Cindy — perhaps you need a trip back to reacquaint yourself with the area? If so, let me know, and I’ll be glad to accompany you to a place like Allerton. I do believe one could spend hours there … and probably not see it all!

  3. Fu Dog Garden is my favorite on your Walktober, Debbie. Are all the dogs in the same sit position? That is a request that Yorkie will no participate when I ask! Yorkie sits only when self motivated.

    • TD, I think all the doggies are sitting pretty. I didn’t go by each and every one, but they looked like they were. It’s a favorite spot of mine, too! For some reason, Monkey is a good sitter — he knows he gets something special when he does, so I guess he’s motivated, ha!!

    • Thank YOU, Robin! You’re the one doing all the Walktober work, you know!! Those Fu dogs were an amazing sight, especially with the sun lighting up their colors.

    • HaHa, we can only hope, Pat! Glad you were able to join me virtually. Yes, Monkey and I do try to walk every day. He’s miffed he wasn’t invited on this outing, but having not been there in many years, I didn’t know if it was dog-friendly. Turns out, it is!

  4. Hello Debbie, I enjoyed seeing the images of your walk in Illinois. You had a beautiful blue sky that day which sets off the sculptures and structures in the gardens nicely. I like that kind of place where there are lots of separate spaces. Makes it interesting to see what is around the next corner. 😀

    • Thank you, Cathy, for joining my walk. You’re right: it was a gorgeous day for getting out and about. And it wasn’t too crowded, giving me the opportunity to stroll as slowly as I wanted and take pictures!

  5. Looks like such an enjoyable and interesting walk, Debbie! Those lapis lazuli-colored dog sculptures really stand out in the garden. I like the mix of long walkways and more intimate spaces, like the one with the maze. My daughter would have appreciated the Auguste Rodin statue of Adam. When we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art years ago we kept circling back to look at the Rodin sculptures, “one more time.” She was enchanted.

    • Thanks for joining me, Barbara! It was an especially pleasant walk: the weather was perfect, and there weren’t crowds blocking the views. Those Fu dogs in their bright blue paint really stood out, too.

  6. I am so behind! I don’t know what happened but I never stopped at Robin’s to read about all the walks…until NOW! Well, I guess it just extends the pleasure of the October walking we all did…right? You had a lovely ramble in the park, it looks like fun. We have a sculpture garden here that I keep meaning to visit…but now it’s cold….another excuse to put it off until spring.

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