Mike Ward, of Marion, Ill., looks out over the Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area in the Shawnee National Forest last Friday in southern Illinois. Mike and I served together as Marine Corps reconnaissance scouts in the Vietnam War a long time ago. A much longer time ago – how about more than 320 million years ago? – rain and wind began to carve out the sandstone bluffs on which Mike is standing in this photograph. The Garden of the Gods covers more than 3,300 acres of the Shawnee and reaches into three counties – Hardin, Pope and Saline. Autumn is a great time to visit.
T.E. Griggs is a writer, editor and photographer and a retired U.S. Marine.