Blog

hd-blog Welcome to our blog page!  In here you can find out about some things that are going on in the area or maybe some insight into things you can do.  Every once in awhile, you may even catch us just writing down some of our thoughts and day to day activities.  So, Please feel free to have a look around and let us know if you have any questions!

Aronia’s The new SUPER FOOD!

In the Fall of 2011, we planted over 1800 Aronia berry bushes. What is an Aronia berry and why are you growing them you ask? The aronia berry has the highest concentration of antioxidants present in any fruit. We all know the importance of antioxidants in keeping us healthy and fighting diseases. Just this property of the aronia berry ought to make it a top contender for the healthiest fruit/berry ever. Because it is rich in antioxidants, it has a very high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value, almost 80 units which is probably the highest amongst fruits. However, there’s more. Aronia berries also have a lot of flavonoids which help the body in its fight against viruses, cancer causing elements, also known as carcinogens and different types of allergies.

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We will be selling them on the market, but we will also be making jams, jellies, wines, syrups, muffins, trail mix, smoothies and many other things with these incredibly healthy little berries.

The Aronia bush itself is very attractive bush that will reach over 10 feet high and turns a lovely red in the fall.

Recently we have joined the Midwest Aronia Association and we have met a lot of interesting people.  One of whom was Mike Mathiasen of Harvest Moon Farms, out of St. Charles Iowa.  Mike is trying to do something marketable for the Aronia berries.  First off he’s come out with a Aronia juice blend called Aro (pronounced Arrow). The aronia berry drink, ARO, has no added sugars, corn syrup or artificial sweetener and no preservatives. It has been designed to be a tasty and efficient means of adding powerful antioxidants to your diet using the aronia berry. Your daily “strive for five” serving of fruits and vegetables can be largely accomplished with just this little bottle. Drink this 3-5 times each week and reap the many benefits that a diet rich in antioxidants can offer, including less joint stiffness and protection against a variety of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia.

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Uptown Grill and August Hill Winery

If you need another good reason to stay at the Brightwood Inn, I’ve got two for you!  We’ve had for awhile now tickets to get  free tastings at August Hill winery, but now we also have tickets to get a free appetizer at the Uptown Grill!

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So after you check into the Brightwood Inn and get your tickets, you can cruise up the road to August Hill and get a free wine tasting plus 10% off most anything you can purchase there. They have a beautiful back patio that you can enjoy a glass of one of their many award winning wines on and they also just added on with another beautiful room that they call the lounge.  Everything August Hill does is always First Class!

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Then after you are done there, you can head on over to the Uptown Grill for a wonderful dinner.  They have an extensive menu with a lot of wonderful food to choose from. There you can get a free appetizer (up to $10.00 value!) with the purchase of and entree or sandwich. The Uptown Grill is another classy place where you can always expect great service and great food.

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Then when you are all done, you return to the Brightwood Inn, where you can sit outside for awhile and enjoy the peace and quite amid the beauty of nature. Listen to a chorus of Katydids and tree frogs serenade you while looking at the stars.  Then finally return to your room where maybe a relaxing hot tub awaits you, or maybe just a big ultra comfortable bed is waiting to embrace you and rock you to sleep.

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Then in the morning, a full complementary breakfast awaits for you.  Our breakfasts are made from scratch and made with wholesome ingredients.  And when we can, we even use ingredients straight from our own garden!

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Then after being fully nourished, it’s time to hit the trails at one of the most visited state parks in the country! Starved Rock State Park.

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It’s all waiting for you here at the Brightwood Inn!!  Give us a call or reserve on line today!

Butterflies

At the Brightwood Inn we have 14 acres of land.  The front 2.5 acres are designated for our Aronia bushes and starting next year we will apply for an Organic license.  That means that for the past 5 years there have been no pesticides used on our property.  Everything that we grow, we grow in a sustainable way.  Now tie that in with the fact that we are surrounded on three sides by Matthiessen State Park and you could see why the Brightwood Inn is the perfect place to grab your Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders (or you can borrow ours) and look for many different species of Butterflies. GST 1  In this picture we have a Giant Swallowtail on a milkweed plant in our backyard.  On a side note, we don’t consider Milkweed a weed at the Brightwood Inn.  Anywhere it wants to grow, we let it.  Milkweed is danger of being eradicated because of all the harmful pesticides being sprayed by our agriculture system and milkweed is a valuable part of our ecosystem.  If it is eradicated, other species will fall, especially many species of butterflies.GST 3  But I digress, so back to the Giant Swallowtail.  Now it’s hard to judge the size of this butterfly from this picture, so I want you to hold out your hand flat and look at it.  These butterflies are slightly larger than that.GST 2  We also have a couple of other Swallowtails around here.  We have the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and the Eastern Black Swallowtail.  Neither are as large as the Giant, but equally pretty.

We also get a lot of Monarchs and or Viceroys out here as well.  Monarchs are one of the Butterflies that are dependent on the milkweed plant for reproduction.  So not only do we let the wild milkweed grow where we can, we will also be planting a milkweed patch in our acreage somewhere next year. monarch visit http://makewayformonarchs.org/i/archives/598 for more information on the decline of Monarchs in this country.

Stay close to our Blog as we will be posting more pictures and information on the Butterflies of the Brightwood Inn!!

Sky Dive Chicago Summerfest

This Saturday kicks off the SDC Summerfest.  It’s a week long skydiving party! And the Brightwood Inn is only 19 miles away!!

Skydive Chicago’s annual Summerfest continues to grow with each passing year and this summer is without a doubt going to be U-N-R-E-A-L. Summerfest 2015 will celebrate its 14th year of bringing jumpers from all over the world together and is set to pave the way for the future of all that is boogie awesomeness.

As a proud host to the 2015 Vertical World Record Attempts, Skydive Chicago invites you to join us this July to celebrate blue skies, great friends, and history in the making. As always, there will be plenty of aircraft to choose from, world class organizers for all levels and disciplines, industry leading vendors, and mega parties to keep you moving all day and night. Your only disappointment would be missing this year’s event!

http://www.sdcsummerfest.com/

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http://www.skydivechicago.com

Skydive Chicago is built on a dedication to the sport of skydiving unseen anywhere else. It is located on 220 acres of private land with amenities like cabins, camping, swimming pond, Tiki Bar, Eat Up Cafe, RV hookups, shower house, disc golf course, Sky Lounge, student training programs (AFP), gear shop, rigging loft and more. It is also the home of several World Records, multiple local and national competitions and the largest skydiving festival of the year.

We here at SDC want to encourage everyone to make a first jump, and we only hope it’s with us. We want you to experience the thrill of flight, which you will never forget. Our instructors take the time to make your first skydive not just a ride, but hopefully your first of many. Want to pull your own parachute? Want to steer your own canopy? We want you to be as big of a part of your experience as possible. (If you just want the thrill ride, we can do that too) We give real instruction and strive for safety above all else, so if you have any questions just ask!

Golf Packages

Golf Packages are coming soon so stay tuned!  We have over 13 courses to choose from!

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Ottawa Two Rivers Wine Fest

June 5th 6th and 7th – Ottawa Two Rivers Wine Fest is more than just a wine fest.  Not only will there be lot’s of Illinois wineries to sample from, but there will be craft beer, Jazz and Lobster!!

Here’s a little blurb from the Ottawa Mayor to better describe it.  And we’d like to add that everyone who ever stayed with us and went to this had a GREAT time!!! Also get more info here http://ottawa2riverswinefest.com/  and here https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ottawa-2-Rivers-Wine-Fest/114565435287416

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Welcome to the 5th Annual Ottawa 2 Rivers Wine Fest!

For 5 years now, we have enjoyed working with our principle partners – the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association, Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Ottawa Visitors Center – to once again bring you the best of Illinois wine and outstanding jazz. And, again this year, we are pleased to offer fresh grilled lobster in conjunction with Ottawa’s Noon Rotarians. The success of the past FOUR years has been overwhelming!

It’s because of Ottawa’s setting – comprised of the 2 Rivers and beautiful historic architecture, and the friendly faces, exceptional shopping and dining options – that so many people pick us for a perfect place to visit and conduct business.

While you are here we hope you get a chance to explore all of Ottawa’s history, including a stroll through beautiful Washington Park – the site of the first Lincoln-Douglas Debate – as well as the nearby Reddick Mansion. You are sure to appreciate the beauty of our streetscapes, and are certain to find a number of unique, quality stores to browse, as well as a lovely selection of dining options throughout Ottawa. Spend some time exploring our Antique District on West Main Street, the specialty booths of our Botanical Fair on Court Street and everything Old Town has to offer during the festival.

We hope you enjoy your time spent in Ottawa and plan to return soon. Cheers! And, Pick Us for shopping, dining, history, and so much more!

Robert M. Eschbach, Mayor

Memorial Day Weekend is Coming!!!

Only two rooms left for two days or more.  Otherwise there are a couple for Friday only and Sunday only.  Looks like decent weather to kick start the summer.  It was a long brutal winter, time to get outside soak up some vitamin D and breathe that fresh beautiful unfrozen air.  Let me think of some outside things you could do….. Hike, Bike (on the canal or Mountain Biking), Canoe, Skydive, Zip Line, Horseback ride… and the list goes on and on. We are just two minutes from Starved Rock State Park and the Illinois and Michigan Canal, plus we are surrounded on three sides by Matthiessen State Park.  Matthiessen is one the lesser known state parks in the area but is equally as beautiful.  You can hike inside the canyons and see the waterfalls or you can hike the bluff and look down on it all.  Either way, it is quite beautiful.  And after a a nice day of being outdoors, you can rest up in one of our beautiful rooms and get ready to go out for dinner in one of the many restaurants close by.  We have a wide range of restaurants for you to choose from, we have a a couple of lists here at the Inn and a basket full of their menus, so that when you check in, you can peruse the different menu’s until you find something that you both can decide on.  We also have directions to them all as well.  If you feel like staying in, there is a Pizza place and a sandwich shop that delivers out here!

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And during Memorial day weekend, everyone at the Bightwood Inn would like to take a moment and think of those who gave everything so that we may live in this country with the freedom that everyone deserves!

EAGLES and ICE-FALLS

I rarely sit down long enough to watch the weather, but in an unusual moment last night I saw Jerry Taft talking about the weather for this weekend.  I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. Temperatures in the mid to upper 30’s Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  Mostly sunny to partly cloudy.  This is going to make for a great 4 days.

Yesterday we took a 2 hour hike at Starved Rock State Park.  Our guests have been telling us about how beautiful the frozen waterfalls are.  We decided to chuck all the work we needed to do, get some fresh air, and see for ourselves what everybody is talking about. It was well worth the 4 minutes it took us to get from Brightwood Inn to Starved Rock.  We wanted to go to Wildcat Canyon so we parked in the parking lot by the lodge and took off.

I had boots with good traction so hiking was not a problem. The trails are snow packed and can be slippery so bring your YakTrax, walking stick, and whatever else you use to make it easier to get around. Be sure to dress warmly and layer up.   As long as you keep your extremities warm hiking is a pleasure!   The important thing is to get out there and see the sights you will never see in the summer.

The great thing about hiking in winter is that all of the leaves are off the trees and bushes so you can see the rock formations that are hidden in summer.  Staved Rock definitely deserves the title of 7th Wonder of Illinois as there is no other place like it, that I know of, in Illinois.

In a short time we reached our destination, Wildcat Canyon.  The ice-fall was magnificent.  There were some men that had been ice climbing so there was an orange rope off to one side of the fall.  If you look hard you can see it in the picture, but it did not deter from the beauty of the fall.  Standing at the bottom of this fall looking all around I realized that in the summer you don’t see these beautiful formations.  I have hiked Starved Rock hundreds of times, but I was seeing it for the first time!!

We then decided to head towards the dam to spot some eagles.  They were there in abundance.  The river is frozen, but the dam keeps the water open. Eagles and gulls were circling around searching for prey.  There were at least 8 eagles circling around.  You could see many many more white heads perched in the trees around the Illinois Waterway Visitors center.  Be sure to bring your binoculars so you can get a better look at them.   Some of our guests recently said that they were standing on one of the bluffs and and an eagle flew very close to them.  The eagle banked and they were able to see it’s entire wingspan.  They both said they gasped at the same time because it was so big and awesome to behold!

Heading back to the lodge we stopped by French Canyon.  We got as close as possible, but without YakTrax could not get all the way up to the ice-fall.  It looked very nice even though we were only partway up.   Since no one knows what card Mother Nature is going to deal us on any given day, I hope I have stimulated the desire in you to take a hike!  You won’t be disappointed.

Before you leave to go hiking we’ll treat you to a yummy, fresh, home made breakfast with delicious hot coffee.  Once you’ve hiked a while you can go to the Starved Rock Lodge, warm up a bit, have a hearty lunch and then get back on those trails.  After your hike you can come back to the Inn and sip some hot chocolate by your fireplace, or in your hot tub.  Sounds like a great day.  HAPPY HIKING!

Eagle Watch Weekend

Bald Eagle watch weekend is January 24th and 25th.  We hear that Starved Rock Lodge is sold out but we still have a few rooms and Starved Rock is only a few minutes away.  Here are the activities for that weekend.

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Bald Eagle Watch Weekend is set  for Saturday & Sunday,  January 24 & 25, 2015! 

Starved Rock Trolleys will be running all weekend. Unlimited ride wristbands are just $1 per person and may be purchased upon boarding. 

Raptor Programs plus Falcon and  Osprey Programs have been planned! A variety of  events will take place at Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock Visitor Center and the IL Waterway Visitor Center. On the day of the show, tickets for raptor shows will be available (at no charge) beginning at 8:00 am at Starved Rock Lodge and 9:00 am at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center.  Advanced tickets will be available for purchase, on-line for $3 each starting January 1 at www.illinoisaudubon.org. Click here for advanced tickets.

Children’s Activities, Educational Exhibits and Eagle Viewing available at all facilities throughout the weekend. The Starved Rock Trolley Shuttles will run both days with stops at Starved Rock Lodge, the Starved Rock Visitor Center and the IL Waterway Visitor Center. Wristband are $1 per person per day.

 

2015 Bald Eagle Watch Program Schedule
(Saturday, January 24 & Sunday, January 25)

8am Starved Rock Lodge Tickets for day of show available
9am Illinois Waterway Visitor Center Tickets for day of show available
10am Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock Room “Birds of Prey” presented by  Illinois Raptor Center
10am Illinois Waterway Visitor Center John James Audubon presents “The Washington Eagle –and other raptors I have known” as portrayed by Brian “Fox” Ellis
10am Illinois Waterway Visitor Center Native American Dancer
11am Starved Rock Lodge, LaSalle Room Illinois Department of Natural Resources Osprey Release Project
11am Illinois Waterway Visitor Center Wildlife Photography — Eagles by Chris Young
Noon Illinois Waterway Visitor Center Native American Dancer
1pm Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock Room “Birds of Prey” presented by  Illinois Raptor Center
1 pm Illinois Waterway Visitor Center John James Audubon presents “The Washington Eagle –and other raptors I have known” as portrayed by Brian “Fox” Ellis
1pm Starved Rock Lodge, LaSalle Room Stories from the River Valley, special guest storyteller Steve Seaborn
2pm Illinois Department of Natural Resources Visitor Center, Kaskaskia Room The Art & History of Falconry with Rich Escutia
2pm Illinois Waterway Visitor Center Native American Dancer
3 pm Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock Room “Birds of Prey” presented by  Illinois Raptor Center
3pm Illinois Waterway Visitor Center John James Audubon presents “The Washington Eagle –and other raptors I have known” as portrayed by Brian “Fox” Ellis
4:30pm Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock Room (note: Saturday only) Youth Owl Calling Contest (note: Saturday only)

Cross Country Skiing

We had a beautiful 5 and a half inches of snow the other day.  A beautiful white powder that is just perfect for cross country skiing.  A little known fact for our area, Matthiessen State Park not only has  six miles of cross country skiing trails but they also rent cross country skis.  http://www.a1trails.com/xc_ski/il/il8.html

022It really is fun and exhilarating to be shushing through the beautiful trails, surrounded by nature, peace and quiet.  Fresh air and exercise will do the body and mind good!  The temperatures are suppose to rebound for this weekend into the 20’s, the winds are suppose to die down and I think that is some perfect cross country skiing weather!

 

baldeaglefreebirdpicturIf your not up for the skiing, the Bald Eagles are back in force.  I see them every year and I can’t get enough of them.  They are so grand and majestic.  I sure am glad the Benjamin Franklin didn’t get his way and that our national bird is not the Turkey.  Now we have Wild Turkeys in the area as well and they are fun to watch too but as for a national symbol… I’ll take the Bald Eagle, hands down.  We also have some Eagle nests in the area that we can point out to you.  If you’ve never seen one, it’s truly something!  They are so big, I think two humans could crawl up inside it and be quite comfortable.  I am not exaggerating.

ice falls 034And as always, just going for a hike in a winter wonderland is just fun as well.  I can’t update you on the waterfall situation, I haven’t been myself yet and none of our guests have reported back to me but I’m sure the bluffs and all this snow look beautiful right now and with these temperatures, the snow ain’t goin nowhere, anytime soon!

 

So whether your here for some skiing, birding or just hiking, our Starved Rock Lodging is perfect for you.  All our rooms have fireplaces, some have hot tubs and all have great views!  We are just 2 minutes from skiing and four minutes from the Eagles.  Stay Warm Everyone!!